Lord Brahma of Tavanoor
Thursday, October 08, 2009 | Author: Vishnu

In a place named ‘Thavanoor’ on the banks of river ‘Bharathapuzha’ (also known as ‘Nila’) in Malappuram District of Kerala, India; there is a temple dedicated to Lord Brahma. Though no one worships here, there were some stone inscriptions around the walls of this temple, which the language was unknown (As per the studies from University of Calicut archaeology Dept). What is so interesting about this temple of Lord Brahma?

In Hinduism, cosmic functions of creation, maintenance and destruction (or transformation) is personified by the concept of “Trimurti”, also known as the Hindu Trinity. This is an iconographic representation of the cosmic power by the forms of Lord Brahma serving the function of creation, Lord Vishnu serving the function of renewal and preservation and Lord Shiva serving the function of dissolution or destruction that precedes re-creation.

Although Brahma is one of the three major gods in Hinduism, few Hindus actually worship him. Today, India has very few temples dedicated to Brahma, as opposed to the tens of thousands of temples dedicated to the other deities in the Trimurti.

According to a story in the Shiva Purana, at the beginning of time in Cosmos, Vishnu and Brahma approached a huge Shiva linga and set out to find its beginning and end. Vishnu was appointed to seek the end and Brahma the beginning. Taking the form of a boar, Vishnu began digging downwards into the earth, while Brahma took the form of a swan and began flying upwards. However, neither could find His appointed destination. Vishnu, satisfied, came up to Shiva and bowed down to him as a swarupa of Brahman. Brahma did not give up so easily. As He was going up, he saw a ketaki flower, dear to Shiva. His ego forced him to ask the flower to bear false witness about Brahma's discovery of Shiva's beginning. When Brahma told his tale, Shiva, the all-knowing, was angered by the former's ego. Shiva thus cursed him that no being in the three worlds will worship him

According to another legend, Brahma is not worshiped because of a curse by the great sage Brahmarishi Bhrigu. The high priest Bhrigu was organizing a great fire-sacrifice (yajna) on Earth. It was decided that the greatest among all Gods would be made the presiding deity. Bhrigu then set off to find the greatest among the Trimurti. When he went to Brahma, the god was so immersed in the music played by Saraswati that he could hardly hear Bhrigu's calls. The enraged Bhrigu then cursed Brahma that no person on Earth would ever invoke him or worship him again.

By contrast, early Buddhist texts describe several different Brahmas coexisting in the same universe; some of them think they are "all powerful" creators of the world, but they are corrected by the Buddha. The myths, characters, and functions of these Brahmas are distinct from those of the Vedic Brahma. However, at least one of the Buddhist Brahmas is identified as being the object of worship of pre-Buddhist Brahmins. The Buddha described the Vedic Brahma as a misunderstanding, or mistaken remembrance, of one or more of the Buddhist Brahmas, as explained in the Brahmajala-sutta.

As these parts of Kerala is considered as old Jain and Buddhist settlements, before the arrival of Vedic Brahman’s, we are not sure about the origin of this temple. If this temple is dedicated to Brahma of Hindu’s or one of the Brahma of Buddhists or to any other god (which was later converted).

Anyhow this small temple in this village throws lots of mysterious questions to the minds of history curios.

Mamankam and Chaver
Tuesday, June 16, 2009 | Author: Vishnu
On the banks of the river ‘Bharathapuzha’ or ‘Nila’, in Malappuram District of Kerala, India, there is a small village named ‘Thirunavaya’. This place was once the capital of the Kingdom of Cochin ruled by ‘Perumpadappu Swaroopam’, the royal family of ‘Cochin’ (or ‘Cochi’) and then ruled by many rulers till it was captured by ‘Saamoothiri’, king of Kozhikode (Malabar).

‘Thirunavaya’ was also famous for the great ‘Mamankam’ Festival, The festival and trade fair lasting for 28 days, held once in 12 years, in ‘Navamukunda Temple’, on the banks of the river ‘Bharathapuzha’. ‘Mamankam’ is believed as one of the most prominent festivals and trade fair of Kerala from middle age. A huge number of traders from different parts of current Kerala and Tamil Nadu came here to trade here.

During those times, Kerala state was fragmented into many small kingdoms, the rights for this festival remained with different rulers at different times like ‘Perumals’, the ‘Chera’ king of ‘Kodungaloor’ and then to Perumpadappu Swaroopam and then to rulers of ‘Valluvanadu’, ‘Vellattiri’.
Then between 1353 and 1361, ‘Saamoothiri’, the king of ‘Kozhikode’ (Malabar) fought a series of small battles named ‘Thirunavaya War’, to capture the small states nearby, including Thirunavaya; forcefully took over the sole right of conducting Mamankam and proclaimed himself as the protector (Raksha Purusha) of these states and temple.

When Saamoothiri started conducting Mamankam; all adjoining kings send their flags to Saamoothiri as a proof of their loyalty. But the king of Valluvanadu used to send a Suicide squad of 18 members named ‘Chaver’ from different families in Valluvanadu to assassinate Saamoothiri, while he will be present at ‘Nilapaadu Thara’, protected by his soldiers, watching Mamankam. The Chaver soldiers were believed to be from families ‘Putumanna Panikkar’, ‘Chandrath Panikkar’, ‘Kokat Panikkar’, ‘Verkot Panikkar’, ‘Elampulakkad Achan’, ‘Kulathoor Varier’, ‘Uppamkalathil Pisharody’, ‘Pathiramana Vellody’, ‘Parakkatt Nair’, ‘Kakkoot Nair’, ‘Mannarmala Nair’, ‘Cherukara Pisharody’, Velluvanaad Royal House and two Namboothiries.

These Chaver used to fight till death and their dead bodies are believed to be buried in a well nearby named ‘Manikkinar’ and pressed and covered with help of elephants.
The last Mamankam was believed to have conducted in 1755, where the Saamoothiri had a hair breath escape from an 18 year old Chaver soldier named ‘Putumanna Kandaru Menon’ from ‘Putumanna Panikkar’ family. Anyhow in 1765, the Mysore king ‘Hydarali’ defeated Saamoothiri and this festival ended forever.

There still remains a banyan tree at Thavanoor, on bank of Bharathapuzha, which is believed to have witnessed the entire Mamankam Festivals.
Mamankam is also believed to be the grand ceremony where all kings of Kerala will assemble to elect their emperor and the trades fair conducted in these 28 days are economically so important for each kingdom.

No body will be able to tell us the truth for sure, except the Banyan tree who witnessed it all.
Friday, June 05, 2009 | Author: Vishnu
“Chamravattam” is a small village in Malappuram District of Kerala, India; situated on shores of a river “Bharathapuzha”, also known as “Nila”. This place is famous for the presence of a temple situated in an island about 100 meters inwards in to Nila, dedicated to lord Ayyapa. As a part of custom, Innumerable pilgrims visit this temple on their way to the famous “Sabarimala” temple during the season.

What make this temple special are the peculiarities in the temple design, location of the temple and the method of worship (Pooja).
Unlike other Hindu temples; the Sanctum sanctorum of the temple, where “murti” of “lord Ayyappa” is installed, is below the ground level and the murti is installed in sand; as if the temple was built around the idol which was already there. The reason for this is believed to be that the idol was not installed by anyone but as a miracle emerged from the ground by itself and is still growing. This phenomena is names as “Swayambhu”, meaning Self-manifested or that which is created by its own accord. The method of worship also differs here slightly as, unlike other temples, bell is not used here for pooja.
This temple is situated in a small island about 100 meters inwards the river, which immerse in water during the monsoons. Temple will be so much waterlogged that the water level will be about 4 feet high inside the temple.

The name Chamravattam originates from Sambaravattam, named after a saint named Sambara Maharshi, who used to meditate on the banks of the river. After years when the
tapasya was over, he advised a brahmin that this is lord Ayyapa and on the method of Pooja ; this is believed to be the reason for the difference in the method.
New studies point that during earlier years, Chamravattam could have been a part of the Jain settlement as a part of the Jain country ruled from sravanabelgola and the name of the river ‘Bharathapuzha’ is named after the mythical Jain king “Bharata”. The statues, pots and utilities made of clay found in this place, even today, may be pointing to the same fact and to the differences in pooja and the concept of lord Ayyappa (Lord Ayyappa is considered to be married in this temple, which is not the case in others).
You may notice that this place is not mentioned in many old Hindu stories and according to the old sayings around here, places towards west of Thirunavaya , including Chamravattam, is considered to be part of Arebian sea. Due to this belief, devotees perform the rituals for the dead at Thirunavaya, considering it as the end of the river.
Studies also suggest that Aryabhata, the great mathematician-astronomer from the classical age of Indian mathematics and Indian astronomy is from Chamravattam, which also may mean that Chamravattam was a part of old Jain kingdom.
Anyhow, if we try to observe from so close by, these colorful places and stories become just ruins of some not so colorful events, which is at the level of decay. Believe me; the way to look at myth is from a distance. What we see from there takes us to somewhere which may not have existed historically, but in peoples mind.