Chattampi Swamikal : biography
Sree Vidyadhiraja Parama Bhattaraka Chattampi Swamikal (1853-1924) was a Hindu sage and social reformer. His thoughts and work influenced the launching of many social, religious, literary and political organizations and movements in Kerala and for the first time gave voice to those who were marginalized. Chattampi Swamikal denounced the orthodox interpretation of Hindu texts citing sources from the Vedas. Swamikal along with his contemporary, Nārāyana 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 conversion activities 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 staying with these friends.
Swamikal also worked for the emancipation of women and encouraged them to come to the forefront of society. He stated that ancient religion and law in India gave equal status to women and that their role is very important in family and society.Chattampi Swami (1953.Reprint). Prapanchathil Stree Purushanmarkulla Sthanam (The position of women and men in the universe). Quilon, Sadabdha Smaraka Grantham. p. 154 He stated that it was the misinterpretation of ancient texts resulting from male arrogance that degraded the position of women and their enslavement.
Meets Subba Jatapadikal
In one of the Philosophical Conferences organized annually by the Travancore Kings at the Palace complex adjacent to Sree Padmanabha Swami Temple Kunjan Pillai met Subba Jatapadikal from Kalladaikurichin in Southern Tamil Nadu; a renowned teacher well versed in Tarka, Vyakarana, Mimasa, and Vedanta. Both were impressed by the other and Kunjan’s wish to learn at Kalladaikurichin under him was granted. He spent many years learning under Subba Jatapadikal. There he acquired deep and extensive mastery of all sastras in Tamil and Sanskrit. He also learned Siddha medicine, music, and martial arts. During this period he was greatly influenced by the works of Kodakanallur Sundara Swamikal a great Advaitin. He later translated his work Nijananda Vilasam containing the cream of Vedanta into simple Malayalam to guide spiritual aspirants. The long years at Kalladaikurichi laid the firm foundation of his future greatness.
All the later disciples of Swami consider Naryana Guru as Swami’s first disciple and they love him as their elder brother and respect and consider him with great reverence. In 1893 Swami met his second disciple Neelakanta Theerthapada a great Sanskrit Scholar and an expert in treating snakebites. He was also a Sanskrit scholar respected throughout India by that time. Inspired by the master he prepared many works interpreting Advaita for the common man. He also reformed the social and religious rituals and rules and prepared manuals for them. He attained Samadhi in 1921 and Swami installed a sivalinga above his Samadhi peeta, which is the only temple, consecrated by him.Nanu Pillai, Pannisseri and Krishna Pillai (1920). Neelakanta Theerthapada Swami Charithra Samuchayam. 1920 In 1898 Theerthapada Paramahamsa became Swami’s disciple Inspired by Swami he also worked for removing the caste related injustices in Kerala society. He established many ashrams and also Theerthapada System for the line of sanyasins following Swami’s teachings and methods.Vidyananda Theerthapada and Ramakrishnan Nair C (1962). Sree Theerthapada Paramahamsa Swamikal. Kottayam, Theerthapada Ashram Swami Chinmayananda,Patchen, Nancy Freeman (1989). Journey of a Master; Swami Chinmayananda: The man, The path , The Teaching.. Bombay, Chinmaya Mission Swami Abedananda,Kumaran Tampi, T (1911). Abbhedananda Gurudevan. Trivandrum, Lakshmi Nivas. and many other great saints ascribes to Swami the responsibility for their turning to spiritual life. Swami has also many grihastha disciples like Bodheswaran, Perunnelli Krishnan Vaidhyan, Velutheri Kesavan Vaidhyan Kumbalath Sanku Pillai etc. as well sanyasi disciples like Neelakanta Therthapada and Theerthapada Parmahamsa who played very important role in renaissance and reformation in Kerala.