Chattampi Swamikal

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Nārāyana Guru


Sree Vidyadhiraja Parama Bhattaraka Chattampi Swamikal (b:1853 - d:1924) was a Hindu sage and social reformer. Swamikal along with his contemporary Nārāyana Guru, strived to reform the heavily ritualistic and caste ridden Hindu society of the late 19th century Kerala.

Chattampi Swamikal denounced the Brahminical interpretation of Hindu texts citing sources from the Vedas. Swamikal also worked for the emancipation of women and encouraged them to come to the forefront of society . He said that the enslavement of women was a manifestation of male arrogance. Swamikal promoted vegetarianism and professed non-violence (Ahimsa). He strongly opposed Christian missionary activities and criticized Christianity. He authored several books on spirituality and the history of language.

Chattampi Swamikal was known by different names throughout his intellectually and spiritually enriched life. The swami's original name was Ayyappan, although he was called Kunjan Pillai and later Shanmukhadasan.

Early life

The Swami's father was Vasudeva Sharma, a Namboothiri, and his mother was Manga Devi of the Ullukod Nair tharavadu located in Kollur village of southern Travancore. It is said that in his youth Kunjan Pillai took to manual labour as a brick worker and later worked as a document writer in Neyyattinkara town, near Thiruvananthapuram.

The young Kunjan Pillai learned the art of yoga under his guru Thykattu Ayyavu. He later became a disciple of Perunnalli Krishnan Vaidyar, a renowned scholar and physician of central Travancore. It was there that he earned the name Chattampi on account of his assignment as the monitor of the class . He was called Shanmukhadasan due to his deep devotion of Lord Subramanya.

Soul mate of Sree Narayana Guru

It was at Pettayil Raman Pillai Asan's Gurukulam that Kunjan Pillai first met the young Nanu Asan. By then Kunjan Pillai was well versed in yoga and spiritual matters and their meeting proved to be the start of a profound and cherished companionship, although the two were of different temperaments. In those days Nānu Āśān was a soft-spoken introvert while Kunjan Pillai an outspoken extrovert. Swamikal took Nānu Āśān, who was in search of a mentor, to his guru Thykkattu Ayyavu.

Later Nānu Āśān and Chattampi Swamikal travelled together to many places in quest of truth and spiritual knowledge. It was with Chattampi Swamikal that Nārāyana Guru made his first trip to Aruvippuram, which was chosen as Nārāyana Guru's abode for meditation and spiritual activities. Chattampi Swamikal, however, did not stay there for long, although the two maintained their contacts, respect and regard for each other.

Maha Samadhi

Toward the end of his life Swamikal settled down at Panmana, a village in Kollam district. After prolonged illness, Swamikal attained Maha Samadhi on May 5, 1924. His mortal remains were enshrined at his Samadhistanam at Panmana. This site is today called Panmana Ashramam, which is a centre for social service and spiritual practices.



Teachings of Chattampi Swamikal

* Avoid boastful thoughts about your physical achievements and material accumulations. Contemplate over the ultimate reality of existence. That alone will give meaning to life

* The whole universe is the manifestation of the one. The apparent differences between different objects are only an illusion. An understanding of this truth will lead to liberation and salvation

* This universe is the manifestation of but one mind. Alienation between one mind and another mind is unnatural. The mind of man is in no way different from the mind of any other creature

* Enslavement of woman is a manifestation of male arrogance. It is against all canons of justice and ethics. It is criminal, immoral

Major works of Chattampi Swamikal

* Nijananda Vilasam (Published by Narayana Gurukulam, Srinivasapuram, Varkala)
* Kristhumathachedanam (Published by Kurukshethra Prakasan, Kaloor, Cochin)
* Pracheena Malayalam (Published by Kurukshethra Prakasan, Kaloor, Cochin)
* Vedathikara Niroopanam (Published by Kurukshethra Prakasan, Kaloor, Cochin)
* Pillathalolippu
* Advaithachintha padhati



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