Sri.Vidyadhiraja Chattambi Swami Thiruvadikal was one of the most worshipped spiritual leaders of our country. Chattambi Swamikal was born on Chingam 11, 1029 (ME) (August 25, 1853) in a nair family known as Ulloorcode, near Kollur Mutt in Kannanmool, Thiruvananthapuram. Vasudeva Sharma (Anandasharma) was his father and Thirunanga mother. Parents called him by name Ayyappan, but he was known by per name ‘Kunjan’. He could not join a school for his studies due to the poor condition of his family.
It was in 1882 at the Aniyoor Temple near Vamanapuram that Chattampi Swami 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.
He studied Malayalam, Sanskrit and Tamil languages from this ‘Asan School’. He supervised the class and therefore, he came to be known as ‘Chattambi’, which means ‘monitor’.
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.
Seeing Nanu Asan’s(Sree Narayana Guru) interest in Yoga, Chattampi Swami took him to his Yoga teacher who was in the service of the British Resident in Trivandrum. This Yogi was known as Thycattu Ayyavu. The relation of Chattampi Swami and Narayana Guru with Thycattu Ayyavu is known to posterity only from the accounts of their devotees. It seems both of them loved and respected their teacher very much. Some people believed that Chattampi Swami initiated Nanu Asan into an esoteric mantra. On that account they insist that Chattampi Swami should be recognized as the spiritual preceptor of Narayana Guru. Narayana Guru did not consider himself to be a disciple of any particular person. He once said that his Guru was God and Man. When the controversy on Narayana Guru’s relationship with Chattampi Swami became heated up his own disciple Tampi (afterwards Nataraja Guru) asked him of the rumored Guruhood of Chattampi Swami. He said’ he had no objection to any one thinking of Chattampi Swami as his Guru. Chattampi Swami always looked upon Nanu Asan as an equal and made no claim for himself as his Guru. Nanu Asan always referred to Chattampi Swami intimately as ‘Chattampi’ and described him to others as a “veritable Vyasa of our time.” The Guru even qualified Chattampi Swami as a Sadh-Guru.
Chattampi Swamikal has got many disciples Grihastha disciples like Bodheswaran, Perunnelli Krsihnan Vaidhyan, Velutheri Kesavan Vaidhyan etc. as well Sanyasi dsciples like Neelakanta Therthapada and Theerthapad Parmahamsa who played very important role in renaissance and reformation in Kerala.
Some of the golden sayings of Chattambi Swami are as follows:
There is only one mind for the entire world; Thought should precede every action; Avoid boastful thoughts about your physical achievements and material accumulations. Contemplate over the ultimate reality of existence. Eschew eating the flesh of dead creatures; Living organisms have been created to be loved, not eaten; It is high time that we tossed those imagined differences between man and man into the Arabian sea; Woman cannot be fettered by any power in the world. She is the symbol of the creative force and the presiding deity of the universe; Knowledge is as essential for human existence as food and nobody should be denied access to it.
- 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
Works of Swamikal
Swami led a wandering life and left what he wrote with those who were with him at the time of writing. There was no later attempts to collect and conserve them which led to their gradual loss. A few works that got unearthed and published eight decades after his death and inspiring serious discussion show the value and the extent of the loss that occurred to Kerala society which was at one time unmindful of preserving his works. Recently Centre for South Indian Studies has initated Chattampi Swami Digital Archive (CSDA) project as an attempt to collect and collate documents related to Swami that still exist. Major works of Swami available in print are:
- Advaita Chinta Paddhati
- Keralathile Desa Namangal
- Kristumata Nirupanam
- Jivakarunya Nirupanam
- Devarcha Paddhatiyude Upodghatam
- Devi Manasa Puja Stotra Vyakhyanam
- Nijananda Vilasam (published by Narayana Gurukulam, Srinivasapuram, Varkala)
- Pranavavum Sankhya Darsanavum
- Prapanchathil Stri Purushanmarkkulla Sthanam
- Pracheena Malayalam (published by Kurukshethra Prakasan, Kaloor, Cochin)
- Pracheena Malayalam Part II ( A hundred year old manuscript discovered recently by Vaikkam Vivekanandan, published by Centre for South Indian Studies)
- Bhasha Padma Puranam
- Malayalathile Chila Sthala Namangal
- Vedadhikara Niroopanam (published by Kurukshethra Prakasan, Kaloor, Cochin)
- Chila Kavit Sakalangal
- Chila Kathukal
- Chila Sambhashanangal
- srichakra puja
The following works are not Available, but are mentioned in “Life and Works of Chattampi Swamikal” (Chattampi Swamikal: Jivitavum Kritikalum), Dr. K. Maheshwaran Nair, page 87, 2nd edition, 1995, published by Dooma Books, Trivandrum)
- Advaita Panjaram
- Adi Bhasha
- Ozhuvilodukkam (Translation)
- Chidakasa Layam
- Tarka Rahasya Ratnam
- Parama Bhattara Darsanam
- Punarjanma Nirupanam
- Brahmatatva Nirbhasam
- Bhugola Sastram
- Moksha Pradipa Khandanam
- Vedanta Saram
- Shanmata Nirupanam
- Sarva Mata Samarasyam
- Stava Ratna Haravali
“Ascetic and holy man who tried to break the Brahmin hold on the performance of religious ceremonies. Attacked caste and associated with Izhavas. Said to have taught yoga to Sri.Narayana Guru” – thus wrote Robin Jeffri.