Parashurama Kshetra Part 3

Why refer to legends at all?

Before proceeding to our next topic, the Chozha and the Pandya connections of Keralite kings, I wish to answer the question, ‘Why should we refer at all to legends, when it is historic events that we are interested in?’

My sincere contention is that legends often furnish very useful information. The stuff they are made of could be more fantasy than fact, but their symbolism always carries truth. When the stories are truly ancient, only the bias of an old timer is added to the fantasy and modern readers with different kinds of modern ideas and prejudices can approach the symbolisms without difficulty and make sense out of them. Has not the stage-wise evolution of living beings on earth been found by modern thinkers as being symbolized by the ten avataras of Vishnu, spoken of in the Bhagavata and other puranas? Has not the Flood been referred to in tales being carried by groups of men living in different parts of the world?

It is also necessary to preserve the stories carefully so that they can be studied by succeeding generations to whom they belong, with varying values and truths occurring to each generation. In fact, this has indeed been meticulously done by Indians through the ages, from karnaparampara days till today. In western countries, where the population can be considered substantially Abrahamic, Greek and Roman classics continue to be studied dispassionately, as they are part of the western culture, not because everything mentioned in the classics is believed.

If facts are indeed present in legends, as is disconcertingly evident in a number of cases, they are likely to be enmeshed of course in fantasy, too distant in time, also somewhat difficult to explain but never too hard to unravel. The efforts are always seen to be rewarding. An intelligent researcher does not look for complete correspondence with truth derived in other ways. He is happy with a few nuggets of truth every once in a while.

But how did these facts get into very old legends in the first place? How were they preserved and conveyed?

Have you listened to fables from an old relative, when you were a child? Were you embarrassed by the unlikelihood of birds and animals talking to each other or to men, having emotions and feelings just like us and capable of showing great wisdom or plain foolishness like a number of us? Did not the essence of the stories always get through? Is it any more difficult to forget about Hanuman being a monkey or Jatayu being an eagle and to appreciate the nobility of their beings? Why read into the friendly meeting of the Vanaras and a human prince, a hostile intent to contain or drive away Dravidian forces by Aryan forces?

As I remember mentioning in a different blogsite some two years ago, there is some thin evidence favouring the source of the Narayana idol in Guruvayoor Devaswom being from somewhere north of the Vindhyas. I wrote, ‘Do you recall, as I do from an old visit, that the Murti does not have the typical broad or somewhat snub nose, characteristic of the region, which however  is the case when the Murti is fully decorated wth sandal paste or other device? The sthala purana claims that the image was formerly worshipped by the Yadu kings. It had probably accompanied the party that crossed Rajasthan long ago all the way from Mathura to Dwaraka, when Krishna and Balarama changed their capital to protect their people from the attacks of the Jarasandha clan. Are there any other data available? It is of course not advisable to do anything that will disturb the sacred routines of the Devaswom.’

Elsewhere I have also commented that a future archaeologist who chances upon a copy of a Harry Potter novel by J. K. Rowling would be able to get plenty of data about 20th century England, if he just skips the wizardry elements.

We are unlikely to find and indeed have not found archaeological evidence for civilized human beings having existed on this planet and in India hundreds of thousands of years and more ago, as would be required, if we assume verbatim the manvantara, kalpa and yuga periods being routinely described in our puranas and the happenings, which appear to be records of interactions between civilized men, demons, gods, animals and birds. It is of course easy to dismiss all the events described as fantasy.

We know, however, that if the world does not arrest its present lopsided technological progress and rates of consumption of resources, the present available humankind can become extinct soon. What is to prevent an assumption that civilizations somewhat like ours, but with some additional unimagined features have existed long before and have been totally destroyed, with artifacts sunk so deeply into earth because of the time lapse, that we cannot hope by digging to find evidence of their ever having been around? Unless of course, just sufficient genes with vague memories survived, evolved, got strange recalls which can be called revelations and have conveyed these to some persons, who recorded them in some works, which were recast in a dozen ways later.

Or again did such revelations to unconnected modern human beings take place from memories left not in human genes only, but also in a function such as a super-consciousness that pervades all of known space? Is this function responsible for sudden, path breaking revelations suddenly occurring to seekers of truths in all disciplines of knowledge including spiritual ones?

{xtypo_quote_left}Let us bid affectionate farewell to Ayyappan and get back to Onam and Trivikrama. Onam is the short form of the Tamil name of the star-cluster  Shravana, namely Tiru-Onam. This cluster, Aquarii occurs in the Makara (Capricorn) rasi/ region of the Zodiac. The benevolent placing of Hari-Trivikrama’s foot must have come down like a blessing on Bali as he kneeled with folded hands and a happy smile. The region is reputed to be Kerala, but where, in Kerala?{/xtypo_quote_left}

In  Part 4 in this series we will examine the known, not legendary, history of Kerala kings, Cheras, who were well connected with Cholas and Pandyas, like whom they spoke the language Tamil while possibly being more versed than their fellow Tamil Kings, in Sanskrit. I would however anticipate in Part 3 itself, legends associated with a Pandyan origin ruler Rajasekharavarman, who ruled a small part of the Travancore Rajya (in Kerala) of his time called Pandalam, and submitting to the authority of the Travancore kingdom.

This king was childless and considered himself blessed when he found a handsome infant lying unattended in the jungles. The authors of Bhutanathapurana tell us that this was a re-manifestation of the holy child born to Isvara and the Mohini vibhuti of Vishnu, so conceived as to become the Dharma Sastha of the Indian countryside dwellings, village after village, and also to seek out and kill Mahishi, the demoness-sister of Mahishasura who was roaming the jungles near Pandalam, causing untold havoc to innocents.

Mahisha’s advent had been in a far away yuga and his sister had special boons which allowed her to go scot free all this while, is the import. That the purana is recent and refers only to Rajasekhara Pandya of a few centuries ago and not in ‘the time of legends’ is also clear from the delineation of Rajasekhara’s personality. More significantly, there is the introduction of a close friend of Prince Manikanthan (the divine manifestation known popularly as Ayyappan) whose name is Vavar and whose origin is Yavana (Arabia, most likely). Some of the many rituals and practices indicated in the purana are still being observed in Kerala. Therefore Ayyappa’s advent is intended to be taken as only a few centuries old. His birth to Vishnu-Mohini and Siva could have been long long ago, but he is depicted by this modern purana as having remanifested as the long lived mahishi was not leaving the saintly denizens of Pandalam’s forests alone. Indra and the Gods in the celestial regions got involved and Dharma Sastha reemerged.

{xtypo_quote_right}After all, if Parashurama Kshetra came back from the sea, it is highly likely that the Bali- subjugation theatre also reappeared. Some wise men in Kerala have decided that the place is Tirukkatkara, known as Thrikkakkara in modern Kerala. A bustling technological University (the Cochin University of Science and Technology has developed near the very old temple area, where Lord Vishnu and his consort, both have shrines. So has Bali.{/xtypo_quote_right}

 Ayyappan is enshrined in a temple at Sabari hill near the Pampa river. The similarity to names in the Valmiki Ramyana is most probably fortuitous. But, look, the Ayyappa story talks of the meeting of Ayyappan and the venerable Sabari of the Matanga Ashrama, thus prompting one to consider a distant past during Ramayana time, when Orissa and Kerala were adjacent to each other. Fanciful! Are the Mahendragiri in Orissa and the Mahendragiri close to Kanyakumari once-neighbours and part of the same mountain, reputedly Hanuman’s launching pad? Even if the mode of Hanuman’s transport is beyond possibilities for our imagination, Ramayana keeps throwing at us names of places continuing to be geographical entities in our present day.

Recorded history talks about a Kulasekharavarman who was the first King of the second Chera empire. He was known to be a great scholar in Tamil and Sanskrit and a great devotee of Vishnu. His devotion was exemplary and brought him the respected title of Azhvar. His son Rajasekhara was a great scholar in Tamil, too. He was very devoted to Siva and was reputed to have visited Siva shrines in Chola and Pandya lands, apart from meeting the famous Saivite saint, Sundaramurthi Nayanar. He was also provided the nayanar title during his lifetime, Cheraman Perumal Nayanar.

Was this Saivite saint-king, Rajasekharan, whose queen was reported to be a devout worshipper of Vishnu, the inspiration of the Bhutanathapurana, as his lineage, personal traits and merits, prompted destiny to choose him to be the foster-father of the beloved deity of Sabarimala, Hariharaputra Dharma-Sastha? If so, the divine baby must have chosen to appear in the Pandalam neighbourhood sometime in the early decades of the 9th century AD, even though the original manifestation can be deemed to be yugas older. So if Visvakarma and Parashurama were respectively involved in building the temple and creating the Lord’s image as wished by Manikanthan Ayyappan, both must have arrived for the purpose from celestial regions. Traditionally, however, Parasurama never left Kerala. This is his home, his Kshetra.

Let us bid affectionate farewell to Ayyappan and get back to Onam and Trivikrama. Onam is the short form of the Tamil name of the star-cluster  Shravana, namely Tiru-Onam. This cluster, Aquarii occurs in the Makara (Capricorn) rasi/ region of the Zodiac. The benevolent placing of Hari-Trivikrama’s foot must have come down like a blessing on Bali as he kneeled with folded hands and a happy smile. The region is reputed to be Kerala, but where, in Kerala?

After all, if Parashurama Kshetra came back from the sea, it is highly likely that the Bali- subjugation theatre also reappeared. Some wise men in Kerala have decided that the place is Tirukkatkara, known as Thrikkakkara in modern Kerala. A bustling technological University (the Cochin University of Science and Technology has developed near the very old temple area, where Lord Vishnu and his consort, both have shrines. So has Bali.

Keralites worship all three with fervour on Onam day. Lakshmi is called Bhagavathi, as indeed the Mother principle is called wherever she is worshipped in Kerala. Vishnu whom Nammazhvar invoked as Krishna here, is worshipped by the locals as Thrikkakkaraiappan. Bali as Kerala’s own Bali Maharaja. His annual visit to the land is gratefully celebrated. Not very far ( about 10 miles to the south0 is Thrippunithura, where Vishnu is worshipped as Purnatrayesa. The Lord who has taken and completed the three (steps?).

(to be continued)

More posts by this author:

Please follow and like us:

Co Authors :

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.