Lord Ayya Vaikundar (c.1809–c.1851; Tamil : அய்யா வைகுண்டர்), is believed to be the tenth avatar or incarnation of Lord Vishnu, also called as Sriman Narayana Vaikundasamy or Narayana Pandaram, was a 19th-century social reformer and iconoclast who worked for the upliftment of downtrodden people in the Kingdom of Travancore. He is central to the Hindu denomination of Ayyavazhi, as per holy scripture. Akilattirattu Ammanai says that he was Lord Vishnu. In order to attain human form, Lord Vishnu used the body of previous (Lord Krishna) avatar for the incarnation of Lord Ayya Vaikundar, kept in Parvatha Ucchi Malai (a mythical mountain believed to be in this region) after the completion of the Lord Krishna Avatar. In order to attain natural growth of the human body, Lord Vishnu used the soul of Sampooranathevan a deva also called Mudisoodum Perumal, he was granted moksha (liberation from the cycle of death and birth, synonymous with heaven) before the Lord Ayya Vaikundar Avathar in the sea.
Tamil is a Dravidian language predominantly spoken by the Tamil people of India and Sri Lanka, and by the Tamil diaspora, Sri Lankan Moors, Douglas, and Chindians. Tamil is an official language of three countries: India, Sri Lanka and Singapore. It is also the official language of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Puducherry. It is used as one of the languages of education in Malaysia, along with English, Malay and Mandarin. Tamil is spoken by significant minorities in the four other South Indian states of Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and the Union Territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It is one of the 22 scheduled languages of India.
Asocial reformer is anyone who advocates for reform of a certain area of society. Crusader and meliorist are used as general synonyms for social reformers. Different types of reformers. Abolitionists, or emanipisits for example were social reformers who focused on putting an end to slavery.
The Kingdom of Travancore (Thiruvithamkoor) was an Indian kingdom from 1729 until 1949. It was ruled by the Travancore Royal Family from Padmanabhapuram, and later Thiruvananthapuram. At its zenith, the kingdom covered most of modern-day central and southern Kerala with the Thachudaya Kaimal's enclave of Irinjalakuda Koodalmanikkam temple in the neighbouring Kingdom of Cochin, as well as the district of Kanyakumari, now in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The official flag of the state was red with a dextrally-coiled silver conch shell at its center. In the early 19th century, the kingdom became a princely state of the British Empire. The Travancore Government took many progressive steps on the socio-economic front and during the reign of Maharajah Sri Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma, Travancore became the second most prosperous princely state in British India, with reputed achievements in education, political administration, public work and social reforms.
The exact date of birth of Mudisoodum Perumal or Muthukutty is unknown. It is mostly placed in either 1810 or 1809,while others follow the view of Akilam.
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Sampooranathevan also known as Muthukutty was born in 1809 to Ponnu Nadar and Veyilal Amma at Poovandanthope in the Kanyakumari District (part of Travancore then). They initially named the child Mudisoodum Perumal, meaning "Lord with a crown". But the people complained to authorities about the name and they forced the parents to change his name to Muthukutty.
Kanyakumari district is the southernmost district in Tamil Nadu state and mainland India. It stands second in terms of population density among the districts of Tamil Nadu and next only to Chennai district. It is the richest district in Tamil Nadu in terms of per capita income, and also tops the state in Human Development Index (HDI), literacy and education. The district headquarters is Nagercoil.
Muthukutty was a religious boy who had special interest in Lord Vishnu. The holy book Akilam mentions that he set a pedestal for Lord Vishnu in his house.At age of seventeen, Muthukutty started to live with Thirumalammal from the nearby village of Puviyur and she lived with him only to serve him during his public activities. Thirumalammal had been married, but left her former husband to marry Muthukutty. According to quotes found in Akilam, they had a male child, who was sired by her first husband. Muthukutty earned his living as a Palmyra palm climber and as an agricultural laborer.
Pooviyoor is a hamlet near Swamithope in the Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu, India.
Borassus is a genus of five species of fan palms, native to tropical regions of Africa, Asia and New Guinea.
Ayyavazhi scripture Akilam tells of a legend of a child who was born dead. Next, immediately the soul of Sampooranathevan was installed into the body, kept in Parvatha Ucchi Malai (a mythical mountain believed to be in this region) after the completion of the Lord Krishna Avatar. According to the legend, the parents found the child still for a time immediately after birth, then the child began to behave normally. Thereafter, that boy grew up called Muthukutty in human history and Sampooranathevan in Ayyavazhi mythology.
Ayyavazhi is a henotheistic belief that originated in South India. It is cited as an independent monistic religion by several newspapers, government reports, journals, and academic researchers. In Indian censuses, however, the majority of its followers declare themselves as Hindus. Therefore, Ayyavazhi is also considered a Hindu denomination. Officially (legally), it exists within Hinduism as a Hindu denomination.
Ayyavazhi mythology is the mythology of the growing South Indian religious faith and a sect of Hinduism known as Ayyavazhi. The main source of Ayyavazhi mythology is the Ayyavazhi scripture, Akilattirattu Ammanai, and its supplement, Arul Nool. The Akilattirattu Ammanai is a recitation by Mayon to his consort Lakshmi. It is divided into three sections: pre-incarnational events, incarnational events and post-incarnational events.
Ayyavazhi followers believe that Lord Vishnu itself incarnated as Lord Ayya Vaikundar during an encounter with a deity Goddess Lekshmi.
As per Akilam, Muthukutty in his twenty-fourth year, he was struck by illness and suffered for a year. His mother took her sick son to the temple at Thiruchendur, during a festival there. He went into the sea and disappeared. The parents searched for his body for one day. According to the legend, the day itself inside the sea Muthukutty also known as Sampooranathevan was granted moksha by Lord Narayana. Thereafter Lord Narayana itself incarnated as Lord Ayya Vaikundar as a son of Supreme Lord Narayana and Goddess Lekshmi, that is considered to be the unique in ayyavazhi mythology. On the third day, Lord Ayya Vaikundar appeared on the sea-shore. On seeing him, Muthukutty's mother mistook him for her son and tried to embrace him. He told her that he was no longer her son, but the son of Supreme Lord Narayana.Then he started walking towards Detchanam. This place became a holy place for the devotees of Ayyavazhi and they erected a temple there named Avatharappathi. This event is celebrated during the festival of Ayya Vaikundar Avataram.
Tiruchendur is a panchayat town located at the Coromandel Coast off the Bay of Bengal, in the Thoothukudi district of Tamil Nadu. It is home to Thiruchendur Murugan Temple, also known as Arulmigu Subramaniaswamy Temple which is a Second Arupadai veedu and one of the ancient Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Muruga.. Tiruchendur is well-connected by road and rail with the rest of Tamil Nadu and India and the nearest railway station is Tiruchendur railway station. Tiruchendur is just 53 km from Tirunelveli.
Moksha, also called vimoksha, vimukti and mukti, is a term in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism which refers to various forms of emancipation, enlightenment, liberation, and release. In its soteriological and eschatological senses, it refers to freedom from saṃsāra, the cycle of death and rebirth. In its epistemological and psychological senses, moksha refers to freedom from ignorance: self-realization, self-actualization and self-knowledge.
Detchanam literally means south or the land of south. It is also used to represent the Deccan Plateau and south India. In Akilattirattu Ammanai the word Detchanam represents the land of South India with Swamithoppe as its centre, and including a vast area of land, south-east to Kanyakumari.
Lord Ayya Vaikundar, who arose from the sea at Thiruchendur (per Akilathirattu Ammanai) on 20th of the Tamil Month of Masi (4_March_1831 CE, Friday) is considered a unique avatar by the followers of Ayyavazhi. Akilam, speaks about it in great detail, as summarized below:
In each of the five yugas prior to the avathar of Lord Ayya Vaikundar, as each fragment of Kroni (evil or Devil) came into physical form, the Lord Vishnu incarnated as well, destroying them. However, in this the sixth yuga, the evil was called Kali, (not the Hindu deity)and having no physical form (see Pre-Incarnational Events for this account) he occupied the mind of people of earth as the Mayai (illusion), causing them to behave discourteously. Kaliyan claimed, it was impossible to destroy him by the use of weapons in this yuga as in the previous ones as he held the boon from Supreme god Shiva, that is the reason Lord Narayan, to incarnate as "pandaram" in the world to destroy him.
Since God incarnated as "pandaram" the avathar of Lord Ayya Vaikundar in three stages.
- The first stage of Avatar was the born dead child (birth of the Body).
- Next, immediately the soul of Sampooranathevan was installed into the body, along with the body of Narayana kept in Parvatha Ucchi Malai (a mythical mountain believed to be in this region) after the completion of the Lord Krishna Avatar. This was the second stage of the Avatar.
- Then in the sea (during the 24th year), the soul of Sampooranathevan was granted moksha (liberation from the cycle of death and birth, synonymous with heaven), unified to the Ultimate Soul. Now, Lord Narayana itself incarnated as Lord Ayya Vaikundar in the body of human being (Muthukutty) also known as the body of Narayana kept in Parvatha Ucchi Malai (a mythical mountain believed to be in this region) after the completion of the Lord Krishna Avatar. (see:The Incarnation) This is the third stage of Avatar and from then he was called Lord Ayya Vaikundar. Then Lord Ayya Vaikundar was given Vinchai by Narayanar.(see: Vinchai to Vaikundar).
According to Akilam Lord Ayya Vaikundar was not merely Narayana and not merely Shiva, and not merely Brama but all three. He had supreme power for the responsibility to destroy the evil of Kali.
Another view is that Lord Vishnu did not take a human body and showed only a bodily appearanceto mankind based upon quotes in Akilam.
Upon reaching Poovantanthoppe, (present-day Swamithope), he undertook a penance. The penance consisted of three stages, each spanning two years. A tradition describes his postures during the six-year tavam as follows: during the first two years, he stood inside a six feet deep pit; during the next two years, he squatted on the ground; and during the last two years, he sat on a raised platform. His appearance was squalid, "long and entangled plait of hair" and frayed clothes. He spoke less and subsisted on frugal meals.
Akilattirattu speaks of his incineration of evil spirits as an important event in Lord Ayya Vaikundar's incarnation. It took place when he was performing his penance, which he had announced to be the means of destroying the kalimayai - the illusory evil force. He gathered the people and caused some of them, both male and female, to be possessed of the evil spirits (peyattam).The possessed ones danced in front of the crowd as if the evil spirits had come upon them. Vaikundar, then, ordered these evil spirits to make an oath, in front of the people, to surrender their powers and incinerate themselves. When he had finished his orders, the dancers fell flat on the ground and burned.
Similarly, Vaikundar performed another action to 'seize the esoteric evil powers'. Akilam says that he took away the powers of those who knew to perform witchcraft, sorcery and other magical rituals. People living in the hills, called as Kanikkarar, were believed to be powerful shamans, having powers to contain or to provoke the demons. Vaikundar, in a trance, made some of them testify that they had surrendered their powers. People grew appreciative of Ayya's actions. They began addressing him as Vaikuntasami. This implied an attribution of divinity to Vaikundar.Vaikundar exhorted the people as follows:
There are no demons, no devils. No ill effects of magical practices,
No disease, no pain and no extortion of taxes,
And, therefore, live courageously.
Lord Ayya Vaikundar has five disciples (citars). According to holy scripture Akilattirattu Ammanai the Pandavas of previous Dwapara Yukam was made to take birth in this Kali Yukam as Citars of Vaikundar. They are Dharma Citar, Bhima Citar, Arjunan Citar, Nakulan Citar and Sakatevan Citar.
The fame of Vaikundar began to spread in the countries of Travancore and Tirunelveli and he was gradually recognised as a religious person with extraordinary powers.He was addressed as a Pantaram, a religious person hailing from and serving the ordinary folk. Akilattirattu addresses him as Narayana Pantaram.
People came to listen to his teachings and instructions, to be cured by him of different diseases, to witness, worship and serve a religious person. Vaikundar encouraged the people to come together around a well to take a ritual bath, irrespective of caste. He encouraged them to dine together in his presence.
He stressed that he had come to abolish Kali Yukam and to usher in an age of Dharma Yukam, when the now-oppressed and suffering people would be liberated and rule the land under his leadership. 'Uplift of the lowly is dharmam’was a constant refrain in his teachings. People were encouraged to serve as catalysts for the destruction of Kali by transforming themselves to be 'people of Dharma Yukam' and to acquire a new character. The new character would come upon them, he said, if they learned to live with self-respect, social dignity and fearlessness. Underscoring the importance of self-respect and social dignity, he said, ‘if one lives with dignity and self-respect, the kali would destroy itself’ . He said when people grew out of kalimayai, Dharma Yukam would unfold and in that age, he would rule over the people as Dharma Raja, the king of Dharma Yukam.
According to the legend as per holy akilam, when Kaliyan was born, he got the boon from Supreme god Shiva, which has more powers than compare to which he got on previous yuga's. When he was on the way to earth, Lord Narayana was in the form of Pantaram stopped him and asked him to fight with. When Kaliyan was ignored, Lord Narayana asked him to promise, "going forward i won't fight or distrupt any Pantaram. If i will do so, will lose everything and will go to hell".
That is the reason Lord Narayana has taken his tenth avathar on this kaliyuga as Narayana Pantaram.
He made some controversial statements like mentioning the travancore king as ‘Devil in Ananthapuri’ and the British rule as ‘Rule of White Devils’. Against the background of the growing popularity of Vaikundar and the convergence of people around him in multitudes, a complaint was lodged against him with the king of Travancore. The Travancore king Swathi thirunal arrested Vaikundar in 1838 and imprisoned him at Singarathoppu jail in Travancore. After 110 days of imprisonment, on March 26, 1839 he was released by Swathithirunal on the advise of Thycaud Ayya who was the Guru of Swathi thirunal Maharaj and a disciple of Vaikundar as well.
After returning from the prison, Vaikundar inspired a group of his devotees to undertake a religious exercise called Thuvayal Thavasu.He also performed miracles. He married Saptha Kanniyar as Narayanar (see: Marriage with the Seven Virgins), the Seven deities in the form of Ekam (see:Marriage with the Deities). He initiated festivities (see: Festivals and Celebrations)." The deities were made to 'come upon' some of the female devotees who became their human media and a marriage ceremony was performed. Ceremonial processions were held amidst singing, incantations and shouts of joy by the followers. Several rites and rituals were instituted during these occasions.
Later Lord Ayya Vaikundar was invited by his devotees to their homes and treated in a grand manner. By way of soliciting his blessings, his devotees carried him to different places. During these occasions, he laid foundations in various places for small shrine-like centres, called Nizhal Thangals. Lord Ayya Vaikundar came to recognize five individuals as his closest disciples. Through one of his disciples, Hari Gopalan Citar, he wrote the holy book, called Akilam.
Lord Ayya Vaikundar returned to Vaikundam on 3 June 1851. According to Ayyavazhi followers, he has returned to Vaikundam.However, this date is disputed, as Samuel Mateer mentions the year as 1848. As he returned to Vaikundam, his body was interned in a tomb and, around that, a pati (temple) was later built. His devotees continued to visit this site and performed the rituals as they used to do when Vaikundar was bodily present. His life and works remain the foundation of the Ayyavazhi. The head temple of the Ayyavazhi religion is the Swamithoppepathi and is located in the Village of Swamithope.
The film Ayyavazhi released in 2008 was based on the life of Lord Ayya Vaikundar.
Akilathirattu Ammanai, also called Thiru Edu, is the main religious text of the Tamil belief system Ayyavazhi. The title is often abbreviated to Akilam or Akilathirattu.
Sampooranathevan is a mythical figure found in Ayyavazhi mythology. He was considered a powerful Deva of Deiva Loga.
Kroni is a figure in Ayyavazhi mythology. He is the primordial manifestation of evil, and manifests in various forms of evil, such as Ravana and Duryodhana, in different ages or yugas. In order to counteract and destroy the evil of Kroni's manifestations, Mayon incarnates as Avatars such as Rama and Krishna. He shares many similarities with the demon Kali of the Mahabharata and Kalki Purana.
Dharma Yukam is the state of absolute bliss as per Ayyavazhi mythology. Dharma Yukam is described in the Akilam seventeen in Akilattirattu Ammanai. It is related to Dharmic moksha and to Abrahamic heaven.
According to Akilattirattu Ammanai, the scripture of the Ayyavazhi religion, Ayya Vaikundar, the Incarnation of God in Kali Yukam, has five Seedar (disciples). They were in the previous Dwapara Yukam as Pandavas who were transmigrated as disciples of Vaikundar in this Yuga.
In the literature of Hinduism, Vinchai are proclamations and instructions to the newly born child Vaikundar, by his father Narayana, also known as Vishnu, one of the three godheads in Akilattirattu Ammanai, the source of Ayyavazhi mythology. Three such Vichais took place during the period of Vaikundar; the first in Thiruchendur, immediately after his incarnation; the venue second and third Vinchais are in Muttapathi (sea), one by one between his incarnational activities.
The following outline is provided as an overview and topic guide to Ayyavazhi:
Ayyavazhi theology is the theology of a South Indian religious Faith and officially a sect of Hinduism known as Ayyavazhi. Several fundamental theological beliefs distinguish the Ayyavazhi tradition from Hinduism.
Ayyavazhi and Hinduism are two belief systems in India. Although Ayyavazhi continues to officially exist within Hinduism and is considered by some observers to be a Hindu denomination, members of the religion claim that it is independent. The most notable distinction between Hinduism and Ayyavazhi is their different approaches to the concepts of good, evil and dharma.
The Ayyavazhi includes a corpus of teachings of its initiator Ayya Vaikundar in the form of instructions and slogans found in the religious book Akilattirattu.
According to the Ayyavazhi religion, the Ayyavazhi Trinity is the incarnation of God in the current stage of world development. Ayya Vaikundar, the Incarnation, is the combination of the Ultimate God, Narayana, and Human Being. In Akilam immediately after the Incarnation of Vaikundar, he was viewed simultaneously as the Ultimate God, Narayana, and as son of Narayana. As per the earlier deed Narayana had to destroy Kaliyan, but due to the boons that kaliyan claimed Narayana cannot destroy him. And as per the promise made by Kaliyan, he would only be destroyed, if he give torture to any Pantaram. To overcome all these, such a unique way of Incarnation was planned.
The Ayyavazhi symbolism deals with the symbols which are used in or used to represent Ayyavazhi. Though Akilam the scripture of Ayyavazhi does not point out any symbol directly, there are a few symbols which are used for representing Ayyavazhi which came into practice gradually.
The Parvatha Ucchi Malai is a mythycal mountain believed to be near Ayotha Amirtha Gangai as per Akilattirattu Ammanai the source of Ayyavazhi mythology.
The purpose of this chronology is to give a detailed account of Ayyavazhi from the beginning of the incarnational events of Vaikundar to the present time. Question marks on dates indicate approximate dates. A star (*) indicates the mentioning of that particular date in Akilam or Arul Nool. All dates but a few are found in the Tamil calendar and so doesn't coincide exactly with the months of the Gregorian calendar. The dates may span over any halves of the two consecutive months (Gregorian).
The Akilattirattu Ammanai the scripture of Ayyavazhi teaches Dharma on two different perspective. One in sociology as charity and truth and another under spirituality to attain the stage of Oneness, unified into Vaikundar. This state of ultimate oneness is called as Dharma Yukam or Dharma Pathi. Akilam also says that, Dharma is the only living wheel. The sociological way is asked to be followed by every one to attain the spiritual state of Dharma.
The ethics of Ayyavazhi are found scattered throughout the primary scripture, Akilattirattu Ammanai. They are also integrated with the meta-narrative mythography. However, regarding ethics, Arul Nool is considered as an accumulation and prophecy of the core concepts found in Akilam. In Akilam, the ethical abstracts are pointed out as "told by God" at several places at different situations to lesser god-heads, devas, saints etc. when asked by them.
Ayyavazhi phenomenology is the phenomenological variations found in Ayyavazhi society, worship centers etc. from their holy text Akilattirattu Ammanai.
Ayyavazhi beliefs are those associated with the South Indian religious faith known as Ayyavazhi. Some of the beliefs of Ayyavazhi are shared with that of Hinduism, and others are unique to Ayyavazhi.
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