02 Oct A Brief Biography of Kaviyur Samikal or My Ampotti
A Brief Biography of Kaviyur Samikal or My Ampotti
(A rough translation by firstname.lastname@example.org of an essay by MP that appeared in a Souvenir published on the occasion of the Silver Jubilee of Maha Samadhi of KaviyurSamikal).
In ME 1105 (AD 1928), during the month of Makaram (Jan-Feb), the masonry platform around the Pipal tree of the VadakkanParavur Sri Mookambika temple, a “shining star” popped up all on a sudden. Mr.AchuthanPilla (AP), a temple staffer was the first one to notice this new “star”. After the morning worship, while coming out of the temple, AP came across this “brilliant and glowing face” sitting under the pipal tree in a deep meditative mood or state. And an oversized white headscarf covered the head and back. At that sight, MrPillai instantly prostrated before this ascetic with devotion and deep sense of respect.
The small talk that afterwards ensued between the ascetic and AP, led to the inference that this Guru is one who said farewell to his own people and province and took to sanynas. In this state this ascetic roamed about in the country and the platform around the pipal tree is only a stop over before beginning of another trip to some place else.
However, this guru had spent some days there in the vicinity of the temple with the service, assistance and company of AP. A wise man once said “ Do not worry about to look for the place of origin of a river or the details like nativity and place of birth etc. of an ascetic”. Knowing this fully well, AP decided to continue the worshipful relationwith the ascetic as long as and as hard as he could. AP, along with other likeminded people, also resolved to continue the association with this Guru, ascetic or sanyasi in the coming days.
But after a while, this ascetic and Mr. Pillai,together moved over to Vaikom. Those days at the Vaikom temple, there was a Thiruabharanam (=gold ornaments of deity) office and an officer specially appointed for assessing the size and worth of the gold ornaments of the temple. For the entire state of Travancore and its temples, there was only one such office and officer. It is sort of a touring office. Once the assessment work at a particular temple is done and over, the office along with the officer and other staffers will shift themselves to the premises of the next temple in line for assessment (and administered by the Travancore Temple Authority). The VaikomThiruabharanam Office had staff contingent of one Officer, two clerks and two peons. It was a coincidence that one MrGopalaPillai, own brother of AP was an officer in the VaikomThiruabharanam Office. Konniyur Narayanan Nair, KattathuraGopalakrishnaPillai, Suchindram Raman Nair were thereamong the other staffers.
Perhaps the friendship with these people of Thiruabharanam officecould have been one of reasons for AP to take the Samiji over to Vaikom. All the members of the crowd in the small office equally reverentially treated Samiji and took care of Samijis needsdutifully, devotionally and sincerely. Despite the fact that all those guys at the Vaikom office were already married, each one of them was initiated by samiji to lead the life of a Karmayogi –a simple god fearing life with a daily routine of meditation and chanting of verses praising the lord, and pooja concluding witharathi.There was no need to abdicate the family or duties and obligations to family, children or the possessions in the life of a Karmayogi. Afterwards, though AP went back to Paravur, but with a vow to get back to Vaikomas frequently as he could to personally see the face and feet of Samiji.
After a span of six or so months the VaikomThiruabhranam Office was shifted to KaviyurMahadevar temple environs, to start the work of counting and estimating the worth of gold ornaments in that temple. In fact, the VaikomThiruabharanamteam of disciples took along Samiji also to Kaviyur and all started jointly living in a rented house to the west side of the temple. There was only one kitchen and the members of the team took turns to do the various chores. Including Samiji, all sat together on the floor to eat together. The only difference was that Samiji did not eat cooked rice at all, instead lived on milk, vegetables and fruits. These days at Kaviyur, not only that Samiji gifted and blessed the streaming visitors with the holy bhasmam (cow-dung ash), but were also given a stomach full meal too.
Story has it that as the monthly pay of the team occasionally could not cover the expenses of this Kaviyur“hermitage”, the team had to buy the foodstuff on loan also. Anyhow, such monies were duly paid back completely. By this time, the news of the miracle man at Kaviyur spread like wild fire and kept attracting a regular stream of visitors. Many regulars started inviting Samiji to bless their homes by a visit or even an overnight stay.
As usual, alongside, some vicious minds created several imaginary stories discrediting Samiji. For e.g., one such is the story that Samiji is none other than AlumootilSreedharan, who jumped the prison, to avoid death by hanging for a criminal murder charge conviction and waiting for his turn to be hanged to death. Other stories that got instant currency were that Samiji knows how to make gold out of any piece of metal; Samiji knows the technique printing currency notes identical to the real ones; Samiji goes out of Kaviyurvillage once a while, as he belongs to a wealthy family;or Samiji has the knowhow of curing some incurable illnesses. Some simple minds indeed believed some of the aforesaid stories.
In one morning,some of the boys who went to the Kaviyur temple tank for a playful bath saw to their surprise a corpse or human body floating in the waters of the tank. The legs of the body anyway remained folded. The kids made an alarm to get the attention of the elderly in the neighbourhood. Naturally, a crowd of people quickly gathered around the tank and kept growing in number. Presumably, the crowd thought that it was a dead body of some poor unlucky guy. To check out the body, some youngsters swam to the floating body to discover that it was none other than Samiji floating in Padmasanor lotus posture but of course in the ponded water.Samiji sort of intentioned to prove that with the yoga practice and not by magic,one could even float in water.
Samiji was well versed in Ayurveda and in fact gave prescriptions to cure some chronic diseases. For instance, the BhagawanteKazhayam in my dad’s diary (which I still keep securely) is one such prescription, given to my eldest brother, Valsan. The story is that my eldest brother Valsan in his early childhood had been suffering from scabies like condition.When he was put into a regime of the Kazhayam twice daily for three days the boy was completely cured of the condition. Even to this date I take the same Kazhayama least once every year.
In the historic past, several yogis had used Rasa prayogamto convertsome metal to gold. But the only condition was that such gold shall be thrown away and not given to anyone to safe keep as ornamental gold. Samji himself created gold on the occasion of a PournamiPooja held in KalluparaEndamthuruthil, and very promptly threw it away into the Manimalariver.
Even in spite of contra propaganda, Samiji continued the yogic life and work, prayers and pooja, founding schools, serving food to a mixed crowd of people of different castes, helping children to enroll in schools and encouraging them to continue with studies etc.
One year after coming to Kaviyur,Samiji denounced the white robes for saffron clothes. Then started travelling from one end of the Travancore to the other. He met several scores of people and informed them the worth of ascetic life with prayers and poojas and brought many to his fold. Where ever local people came forward Samiji performed Pournamipooja (on Full moon day) blessed the people who participated in the pooja and spoke to the crowd at length about the need for leading a life of Karmayogi- a combination of duties to the family and to the god. Alongside, the cash gifts donated and/or given to Samiji also slowly went up. Thus there was money available to meet the needs.
By that time, the KviyurThiruabhranam office also shifted to elsewhere. But Samiji decided to shift from Kaviyur to Kidanganur, but the noun Kaviyursamikal did stay with him. Samiji was known by that name till he bade farewell to his disciples and followers or till his Samadhi in March 1960.But VijayanandaSamikal was the name Samiji got from his own guru’s face. Samijicontinued his travel within the state and parts of southern Tamil Nadu to propagate his vision of service to god, i.e., conduct of Pournamipooja, living a karmayogi like life. By that time Samiji finally decided to settle in the village of Kidanganoor, where the school and asramam complex were subsequently established. This is the complex where the Samdhistal memorial temple stands now.
In the early days, individuals like Konniyur Narayanan Nairand KattathuraGopalakrishnaPillai devoted and dedicated themselves to Samiji, just like many others from other parts of the state. (The author of this Malayalam original also declares that in order to avoid lengthy narrations, he is forced to desist from elaborations about people who donated and entrusted everything at the holy feet of Samiji. But continues…..)
Yet, if reference is not made about two brothers and two sisters of Samiyarmatom (Thirunelli), the Thovala village officer GovindanAchary, ErachikulamSubramoniaPillai, ParsalaJanardananPillai, PottiveluPillai, KollamcodNarayanaPijjai, KattathuraParamesaranPillaisar (my own dad), it will be a major lapse on my part.
Other names that warrant mention here are KumbazhaAmma and family, Makkapuzhaamma,KodaymAchuthaPanicker, Ramanvaidyar, PaliyilKochukrishnaPillai, Barrister NarayanaPillai, Kaviyur Raman Pillai, KaviyurKochukrishnaPillaisamy, VallamkulamPanickersar, N.GovindaMenon, Asarisar, Velusamy, C.N. Krishna Pillai, ParamuPillai and such others also belong to the long list of devotees.
MarukaraPamesaranPillai donated the land where the asamam and school complex stands today. Other devotees like Kallukalayil Krishna Pillai, MulayakalayilPappuPillai, SaraswathiAmma, Rasammasar, Panchaliamma, Vaidyan Narayanan Nair, Palathittayilamma gave away every thing in their command to Samiji and to the growth of the asramam. Sami Vijayananda Das had donated his person and tangible assets at the lotus feet of samiji.
It is my duty also to mention (notes the original author) about Eranakulam Krishnan Nair photo studio owner, S Padmanabhan Nair, who devoted and donated time, effort and money to the continued growth and forward march of the asramam school combine. It was Circa 1936 or 37, when samiji and KottayamKilirurSivasankaraPillai made a visit to the Eranakulam Krishnan Nair studio and met Padmanabhan Nair. SivasankaraPilla had a job in some business house at Eranakulam. The studio was operating in a rented building along the side of Padiathukulam, in the market road at Eranakulam. The studio, a one man show by Padmanabhan Nair, did not have any appreciable business and rather it was quite dismal.
In fact, Samiji did visit the studio quite frequently. Nair had pictured Samiji in different asana poses and the copies were sent to different parts of the state and especially to the devotees for a price. As the sales picked up in this area, Nair enthusiastically pursued making the copies of the asana poses of samiji for sale. This new line of business instilled great confidence in Nair’s mind and fuelled the fire in his own mind about Samiji.
Without any reservations, Nair had spent money as well as time with Samiji. Their relationship was some thing better than that of a guru and disciple. Samiji addressed this photographer disciple as Nair. Once Samiji asked Nair if the latter could support education of one kid in Ernakulam for which the answer was in affirmative only. Nair supported the cost of education of this kid up to graduation from college. This young man is none other than Kochukrishnan(a house hold name among the members of the Pournamisangham) alias was M.P. Krishna Pillai among the public eye.
The Samiji’s mind perhaps would have been hurt due to the inability of Kochukrishnan to lead an ascetic life style, and involving himself in the day to day running of the asramam-school combine. In fact, Kochukrishnan in the midst of the tumultuous political and uncertain social realities focused his mind away from the pursuit asceticism.
When Samiji was in the hospital where his great soul left behind the mortal remains and moved skyward to heaven, Kochukrishnan was attending a press conference in distant Patna- a trip Samiji had okayed whole heartedly.
Exactly after one year of Samadhi, a beautiful Siva temple was built on top of Samadhi stal or spot where the Sivalingam stands facing the eastern sky. KanippayurSankaranNamboothiridesigned the temple, while the Sivalingaprathishta was carried out by SankaruKandaru of Thazhaman madam. The sivalingam was placed at the spot by Bhakthanandasamikal. A falcon circled over the new temple at the time of placing the Sivalingam and there also occurred a mild drizzle- a signature of the natures showering to bless and cleanse the site of the temple and environs.
Sri Nair of Eranakulamhad liberally supported the temple project and hopefully such benevolent actions will ensue from the same mind in future days and years also. With a humble request to readers of this essay, I (M.P) humbly pray that the lapses and misses if any in the foregoing text may kindly be pardoned.
Dr. Thrivikramji rendered the English language transcription of the original Malayalam essay. The original essay ended with the letters M.P. in parenthesis. I presume that the MP is M.P. Krishna Pillai or Kochukrishnan of Samiji. This essay appeared in a Souvenierdtd. 8-4-1986 published in commemoration of Silver Jubilee of Samadhi of KaviyurSamikal and my Ampotti.