The Kanadi Kuttichathan Kavu is the most holy and ancient Vishnu Maya Temple in the state of Kerala providing relief to sorrows and showering blessings and prosperity to all the devotees irrespective of caste, creed or religion. This temple having many epics and with rare historical importance is situated 20 km South-West of Thrissur in Peringottukkara, a land made sacred by the footprints of many great sages. The presence of Brahmasree Vishnubharatheeya Swami, the sage-like Spiritual Guru and the Madathipathi of Kanadi Kavu, who had the fortune to have a holy glimpse of the sacred effulgence of Kuttichathan Swami through a strict lifestyle of religious discipline fills the devotees with a desire to have a strong spiritual life. The all-merciful and sympathetic Swamiji observes the temple rites strictly and leads his life as a ritualistic.
Thousands of devotees visit this temple every day. After listening to the orders of Vishnumaya, the son of Mahadeva (Chathan – Balasasthavu), they offer the remedial measures to overcome their personal sorrows as per the instructions of the Madathipathi and return home with a tranquil mind. There is a legend that Sastha was originally Chathan, the change of name coming through many years of usage, who was worshipped by the tribals and the Dravidians who were the owners of this land before the arrival of the Aryans. Many devotees believe that just as Ayyanar became Ayyan and then Ayyappan and Ayyappa Swami, the Lord who pronounced, protected and advised dharma became Dharmasastha and his boyhood adventures are what we see today as the wonders performed by Kuttichathan or Balasasthavu (The boyish form of Sasthavu).
Saghatavar, a great sage who had mastered all knowledge, lived in a hermitage in the beautiful forest on the banks of the river Gomati. He was heartbroken as his son Viswakethu possessed all the bad habits. Exasperated by the evil deeds of his son, the sage expelled him from the hermitage. At about the same time, a play of fate was taking shape in another part of the world. Keyoori, the only daughter of Vikalasuran, who belonged to the clan of Mahishasura, was walking in the garden, gathering flowers when she saw a handsome young man and fell in love with him. Unaware of the fact that the young man was a Gandharva, the Princess became his wife without anybody else knowing about it.
But very soon Vikalasuran came to know of the relationship between Keyoori and the Gandharva, and in a fit of anger killed the Gandharva. Keyoori, who had brought disgrace to the clan of the Asuras was bound up and left in the forest. Viswakethu, who had been expelled from the hermitage and Keyoori who had been banished from the Palace, met in the forest. They lived happily as husband and wife in the forest. It was then that the soldiers of Vikalasuran chanced to see Keyoori. Informed about this by the soldiers, Vikalasuran ordered them to catch Keyoori and bring her before him. Vikalasuran then imprisoned her in an underground cave.
Sukracharya, who came to know about the events, knew through his transcendental vision that the child growing up in the womb of Keyoori would be instrumental in destroying the whole clan of the Asuras. He instructed Vikalasuran to leave Keyoori in the forest. Left alone in the forest once again, Keyoori, worn out by hunger and thirst, reached a hermitage and begged for some drinking water. It was the hermitage of Saghatavar, the father of Viswakethu. The members of the hermitage welcomed her and gave her food according to the norms of welcoming guests. When Saghatavar reached the hermitage he saw that Keyoori was pregnant and he understood that the child in her would destroy all the sages. Saghatavar, therefore, instructed the other sages to perform a homam (offering holy materials in a sacrificial fire while chanting mantras) for removing Keyoori from the face of the earth. The sages started the homam and from the dark smoke that issued out of the sacrificial basin, an evil apparition appeared.
The sages asked the apparition to eat Keyoori. But it refused to eat Keyoori who was pregnant. The apparition then created a black beetle from its left eye and sent it into Keyoori’s womb. Almost instantly, Keyoori gave birth to a baby boy. Though Viswakethu reached the spot at that time, the apparition had already eaten Keyoori up. Viswakathu also died from the arrows of the soldiers of Vikalasuran. The orphaned child was seen by a tribal hunter who had come to gather wild honey from the forest. He saw that the child was holding his right palm tightly closed and drops of blood were falling from it. The hunter opened the little palm and saw that a strange-looking beetle (Bhrumgam) was lying dead in the small palm. The hunter removed the beetle but the mark remained on the palm. Since the mark of bhrumgam was seen in the palm, the child was named Bhrumgan. As the child was growing up in the house of the hunter, the child’s parents started visiting him like ghosts. As he realized that the clans of the Sages and the Asuras were responsible for his being an orphan, an intense desire to destroy both of them grew strong in his mind even when he was a child. That was why Bhrumgan undertook penance to please Brahma.
Siva’s Stay in the Forest and Koolivaka:
Mahadeva and Sree Parvathi took on the guise of sages and went round the world as if on a pilgrimage. Passing through forests where the trees and plants had dried up due to the absence of rain, they reached a forest called Koolikundan. Seeing the pilgrims, the King of the Mala Arayans, (foresters) named Marathan received them respectfully and took them to his house. He then requested them to make a hermitage near the Kooliyar (Kooli River) and stay there for some time.
Accepting the request of Marathan they decided to stay there. Marathan had a beautiful young daughter named Koolivaka. Blessed with all the attributes of youth she looked as beautiful as one of the damsels of the Devas. Sree Parameshwaran accidentally saw Koolivaka having a bath in the river at night in the bright moonlight. Seeing the beautiful girl with all the attractive features, Sree Parameshwaran became affected with desire and requested her to allow him to spend some time alone with her in that beautiful place. The maiden was perplexed at this request. To save her virginity, she told him that she was having her monthly menstrual period and told him that she would meet him after four days when she was clean and disappeared into the Palace. To protect her virginity, Koolivaka, who was a devotee of Sree Parvathy, started worshipping the Devi. Sage Narada, who knew all that had happened in the past, present and future, was aware of Koolivaka’s devotion to Sree Parvathy.
Sage Narada informed Sree Parvati that it was time for the incarnation to be born for killing Bhrumgasura, who was terrorizing the Devaloka. He requested her to protect the virginity of her devotee Koolivaka and at the same time make it possible for the incarnation to be born so that an important aim would be fulfilled. To protect the virginity of her devotee and to pave the way for the birth of Sree Chathan, who was Sree Bhootanadhan, Sree Parvathy reached the appointed place in the guise of Koolivaka, the forest girl. Blinded by passion, Sree Parameshwaran was unable to recognize that the girl who had come to him was Sree Parvathy and in that state of ignorance he became associated with her.
The Incrnation of Lord Chathan:
Within three and three fourth Nazhika (A measure of time, One Nazhika being equal to 24 minutes) the pregnancy was completed and Sree Parvathy gave birth to Chathan Swami. The Goddess then appeared before her devotee Koolivaka and informed her of what had happened. She then bestowed on the baby the mark as well as the ornaments of Kailas and gave Koolivaka the responsibility of bringing up the baby. By the grace of God, the breasts of Koolivaka, who was still a virgin, started producing milk. Thus Chathan grew up as a smart boy in the forest drinking the milk of the forest maiden. There was a wild Bison that threatened the other animals as well as the foresters who lived there. One day it came to attack Koolivaka also.
Chathan and his friend Karineelapetta Karimkutty decided to control the Bison that had attacked his foster mother. After a fierce fight in the Rudra forest, the Bison was brought under control. Chathan made the Bison his vehicle and riding on it, he came in front of his foster mother. With this incident, Chathan became the hero of the forest. This son of Kailasam learned the martial arts and the art of magic from the teachers in the forest. Looked after fondly by his foster mother as well as all the animals in the forest, he became a well built and strong man by the time he was eight years old. All this while the Devas were somehow tolerating the actions of Bhrumgasura and waiting patiently for the time to come when Chathan could perform the duty associated with his incarnation.
Sree Chathan’s Journey to Kailas, Kukshi Shasthavu:
The incarnation, known as Kukshi Shasthavu in Sanskrit and Kuttichathan in Malayalam, the son of Siva was the personification of fury, who was to kill Bhrumgasura who had gained the boon from Brahma that he should not be killed by any weapon. While wandering about in the forest on his vehicle, the Bison, and playing upon his favorite musical instrument the Eezhaara, and enjoying the beauty of the forest, he happened to meet Sage Narada, with the Veena in his hands. From the Sage, Chathan came to understand that he was born to kill Bhrumgasura. Soon Chathan set out for Kailasam after getting the blessings of his foster mother. Seated on his Bison, he reached Kailaasam within a second by using his magical powers.
He assumed the appearance of Vishnu with his Maya and prostrated before Parameshwara who was surrounded by his followers, the Bhootaganas. Waking up from his meditative slumber Paramashiva blessed him with his palms on his head and affectionately made him sit on his lap. Lord Shiva then pronounced that since he had assumed the form of Vishnu with his Maya, he would also be known as Vishnumaya.
The advice given by Sree Parameswara:
Sree Mahadeva told his son about the creation, evolution, the present state and the final dissolution of the world. He also advised him on devotion, knowledge and meditation as the ways for seeking salvation. He then told him, ’Son, your mother, the personification of all power, is here. Go and prostrate before her.’ As he reached near her, he was excited to hear the sweet and loving voice of his mother and prostrated before her. The mother, the manifestation of power, held him close and made him sit on her lap. She then told her son that Bhrumgasuran has been troubling the world for a long time, as he is strengthened by the boons he got from Brahma. The object of your birth is to kill him. I bestow on you the excessive power that is in my possession”. Devi also advised him on matters related to the tricks of illusion and the strategy of war. She also gave him two short sticks which were of paramount importance in warfare. The Devi, the mother of the entire world, blessed her son with success in killing Bhrumgasura.
The Killing of Bhrumgasura:
After his visit to Kailasam, Sree Chathanswami came to his foster mother, Koolivaka. At about the same time Sage Narada who had also visited Kailasam reached the palace of Bhrumgasura. After receiving a warm welcome, the sage told the King that he had chosen a suitable girl for him. She was more beautiful than even the damsels of heaven. The Sage then disclosed that the girl was the daughter of the King Marathan of the tribals of the Koolikund forest. The Sage then informed him that though he was the strongest of men, it would be impossible for him to win Koolivaka. Bhrumgasura became enraged on hearing this. He asked the Sage how it would be difficult for him, who had terrorized even the Devas, to get a mere forest girl for himself. He immediately sent an army to captureKoolivaka and bring her to him.
At the borders of the forest, the army of the Asura met Chathan Swami’s constant companion, Karimkutty and his friends. After a brief battle, the army of the Asura had to return defeated. Angered at this, the Asura king got a bigger army and went to capture Koolivaka. Sree Chathan came to know through his transcendental power that the Asura King was coming for an encounter. He, with his magical power, created a wall of trees standing close together, around the forest to prevent the Asura army from entering the forest. The Asura army could not enter Koolikund forest. Bhrumgasuran ordered the soldiers to cut down the trees and make a way to enter the forest. The Asura was surprised to see that the number of trees went on increasing as they cut down each tree. Still, he ordered the soldiers to set fire to the forest. Enraged on seeing the action of the Asura, Sree Chathan prayed to his parents and his teachers and going to the top of the Koolikunnu sprinkled some water on the roaring fire. Within a second the fire was extinguished.
The Arrivalof The Kuttichathans:
Bhrumgasuran heard somebody laughing and on looking up he saw a boy on top of the hill. Immediately the Asura started talking to him with contempt. But soon he realized that though he was still a boy he was not an ordinary person. So Bhrumgasuran blew the trumpet calling for a battle without wasting time in conversation. The battle that followed was so severe that the whole world was shaken. The battlefield echoed with the sound of the arrows in flight from both sides. On the seventh day, an arrow struck the little finger of Chathan’s right hand and drops of blood fell on the ground. Immediately four hundred Kuttichathans came up from there. All of them looked the same and it was impossible to say who the real Chathan was. Confused by this Bhrumgasuran started using the ten special arrows that he had got from Brahma.
As each of these special arrows came towards them, one of the Chathans would catch it and swallow it to prevent the arrow from touching the earth. Thereby they killed themselves in order to assure the victory of Sree Chathan Swami who was their leader. Ten of those Kuttichathans killed themselves and with it, the special arrows also were finished. As Bhrumgasura stood confused about what to do, Sree Chathan decided to use the two sticks that Sree Parvathy had given him. The two sticks came towards the two sides of the Asura’s chest and started beating the spots where his life had been kept in two parts. The Asura could not withstand the heavy beatings delivered by the two sticks. Unable to stand the pain, the Asura fell down and met his death. Sree Chathan Swami had fulfilled the mission for which he had taken incarnation and from that time onwards he remained on earth as a protector of his devotees.
KONNAMUTHAPPAN, KUTTICHATHAN AND KANADI KAVU:
Centuries ago the princely states in Malayalakkara (Kerala) used to wage battles every now and then. Chazoor, one of the princely states belonging to the Cochin State, suffered defeat in almost all the battles. The King who ruled the land understood that what he needed was a good commander of the army who was patriotic, faithful and proficient in warfare. The search for a faithful man to lead the army was on. At last, the King of Chirakkal Kovilakam offered to send one of his commanders named Konnamooppan, who was well known as a commander and also as a highly-skilled soldier. Thus Konnamuthappan, who was proficient in both the Kadathanaadan and Tulunaadan warfare, reached the palace at Chazoor. Muthappan soon realized that to win battles they needed the presence and blessings of a powerful and easy-to-please deity. So he undertook a severe penance to please the deity of his family at Kalarivathukkal Devi temple in Kannur. The Goddess soon appeared before him.
Konnamuthappan requested the Goddess to give him the Mantram that would enable him to please and possess Chathan Swami, the son of Sree Parameshwara. Pleased at her devotee’s penance the Goddess told him the Moola Manthram to make Chathan appear before him and the Dhyana Manthram to worship him every day. He then went to the Himalayas and following the advice of the Naga Sages, entered into a severe penance. Vishnumaya Kuttichathan Swami soon appeared before him, and he returned to Peringottukara with the deity.
History reveals that after that the princely state won all the battles with the neighboring states under the leadership of Konnacharyan and annexed them to the Chazoor Kingdom. The ancient family house of Kanadi stands at the place that was given to Konnamuthappan, free of tax, to stay, to run his martial school and to consecrate his deity, the Vishnumaya Chathan who was ever visible to the commander. Brahmasree Vishnubharatheeya Swami, who is the eldest male member of the family and the spiritual preceptor now, is the descendent of Konnamuthappan (Konnacharyamuni).
A number of copper plates and Palmyra leaves with inscriptions about the greatness of Konnacharya Swami have been preserved as a treasure at Kanadi Kavu even today. It remains as a wonder that even in this age dominated by scientific thoughts, many devotees who arrive at Kanadi Kavu with their worries and complaints find themselves relieved of their burdens and are shown a better life by Lord Vishnumaya, who protects those who pray to him and punish those who defy him. Belief comes only from one’s own experience. What you have been told and what is considered hearsay will not last long. Experience is the basis for eternal belief.
Blahayil Mooppil Nair and Sree Konnacharyan:
The temple at Triprayar was under the control of the Blahayil Thampuran, who had absolute control over the land and its people. History records that the temple had to be closed for six years around the Malayalam Era 1000, because of some mishaps in the family. An astrological consultation was held to see the truth behind some of the mishaps that had happened in the family. It was made clear at the consultation that the Lord at Triprayar was unhappy about the closure of the temple and this was being made known to the family through Chathan. The Blahayil Thampuran sent an emissary to Konnamuthappan, requesting him to do whatever was necessary to remedy the displeasure and save his family. The day and the time for the pooja approached. The rites were in progress. Towards the end, Konnacharyan was infused with the presence of Vishnumaya and declared that he knew about the red hot iron chain that the Thampuran had kept at a corner of the compound in order to test Chathan. The Thampuran was wonderstruck when the secret was thus made public. Konnacharyan then wore the red hot chain around the neck.
Vishnumaya and the Lord of Thriprayar:
Devotees of the Lord at Thriprayar believe that Hanuman Swami and Chathan Swami stand as guards for Sree Rama Swami on either side of the sanctum sanctorum, though there are no idols consecrated for them. When the procession of the Lord of Thriprayar is taken to the Aarattupuzha Pooram accompanied by a retinue and the traditional orchestra, it stops at Kanadi Kavu for the Traditional ‘Para’. There will be no poojas offered at Kanadi Kavu from the time of the ‘Para’ till the Lord of Thriprayar returns to his temple the next day. The belief is that Chathan Swami will be accompanying the Lord of Thriprayar on his journey.
The pilgrimage to Sabarimala and Sree Chathan Swami:
It is a practice continued through many years that the pilgrims going to Sabarimala after following all traditional austerities, from the beginning of Vrischikam to the Makarasamkramam, come to Sree Vishnumaya Kuttichathan Kavu to bow before the Swami and receive his blessings after performing poojas there. They believe that when they proceed to Sabarimala carrying the twin bundle which is believed to be the burden of the sins from the previous births and the difficulties experienced in the present life, Chathan Swami will be with them looking after them and protecting them.