Today (September 03) is the 162nd birthday of Chattampi Swamikal. Sree Vidyadhiraja Parama Bhattaraka Chattampi Swamikal (1853–1924) was a Hindu sage and social reformer hailing from Kannammoola in between Petta and Ulloor in Thiruvananthapuram. Ayyappan was his original name and he was born to poor parents Vasudevan Namboothiri and Nagamma.
Natives used to call him, Kunjan and later he was known as Kunjan Pillai. His thoughts and work influenced the launching of many social, religious, literary and political organizations and movements in Kerala afterwards and he was the pioneer to raise voice for the marginalized and deprived. Chattampi Swamikal denounced the orthodox interpretation of Hindu texts, citing sources from the Vedas.
Swamikal along with his contemporary, Narayana Guru, strived to reform the heavily ritualistic and caste-ridden Hindu society of the late 19th century Kerala. Swamikal also worked for the emancipation of women and encouraged them to come to the forefront of society. Swamikal promoted vegetarianism and professed non-violence (Ahimsa).
Swamikal believed that the different religions are different paths leading to the same place. He strongly opposed the religious conversion attempts of the Christian missionaries, but was not against Christianity. Chattampi Swamikal throughout his intellectually and spiritually enriched life maintained a large number of friends from different regions of Kerala. He authored several books on spirituality, history, and language, engaging with these friends.
Swami Vivekananda, the revolutionary sage when visited Kerala and had a meeting with Chattambi Swamikal. The duo inspired Nairs to become leaders and instilled confidence among them. It was a remarkable meeting for both the yogis. Vivekananda who was searching for a proper explanation of the effect of Chinmudra (Touch of thumb and index finger on meditation) got the perfect answer from Chattambi Swamikal.
Vivekananda’s enlightened thoughts on eradication of social inequalities had a profound impact on Chattambi Swamikal, who was already against such discriminations. It won’t be an exaggeration to say the meeting was a catalyst for social reform movements in Kerala launched by Chattambi Swamikal and Sree Narayana Guru.