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Monday, January 14, 2013

Swami Vivekananda's visit to Kerala and meeting with Chattambi Swami

When the world celebrates 150th anniversary of birth of Swami Vivekananda, the revolutionary sage who spread the knowledge of Vedanta and Upanishads to The West, it is worthy to remember the visit of Swami Vivekananda to Kerala and his meeting with Chattambi Swamikal, who inspired Nairs to become leaders and instilled confidence among Nairs.

It was a remarkable meeting for both yogis. Vivekananda who was searching for a proper explanation of Chinmudra got the perfect answer from Chattambi Swami. Vivekananda’s enlightened thoughts on eradication of social inequalities had a profound impact on Chattambi Swami 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 Swami and Sree Narayana Guru.

The meeting of the two towering personalities occurred during Swami Vivekananda’s Kerala visit in early December 1892 at Ernakulam. Vivekananda was the guest of W. Ramaiya, secretary of Diwan Peshkar of Kochi. Many people came to see Vivekananda and Chattambi Swami also went to see him. But seeing a huge crowd around Vivekananda, Chattambi went back. Later, when people told Vivekananda about Chattambi Swami the former said he would call on the latter.

Esoteric knowledge on Chinmudra

Chattambi was then living at one Sankar Menon’s home. He took Vivekananda beneath a secluded tree and they spoke in Sanskrit one whole night. They discussed many things and according to historians, Vivekananda who was searching for a proper explanation on the neurodynamics of Chinmudra asked Chattambi the question.

Vivekananda got a satisfactory explanation and he bowed and thanked Chattambi. Chattambi unfolded the esoteric meaning of Chinmudra and its role in achieving higher levels of consciousness. Quoting from an old commentary on the Brahadaranya Upanishad, Chattambi is said to have, explained that when the tips of the forefinger and index finger touch together a vibratory energy would be produced, and it would flow up to the Sahasrara Padma of the aspirant elevating him to a higher stage of consciousness.

Needless to say both were impressed with each other.  Swamy Vivekananda who earlier termed Kerala a mental hospital pained by the untouchability and other social evils existing here, after meeting Chattambi wrote in his diary that “I have met a real man in Kerala.” Chattambi was also full of praise of Vivekananda and said when he sang it sounded like a golden pot. Chattambi also praised the knowledge of Vivekananda.

Before coming to Kerala, Vivekananda was a guest of Dr. Palpu(a leader of Ezhava community) at Bangalore who made Vivekananda aware of the discriminations based on caste that existed in the state and had asked Vivekananda to do something to eradicate it. Vivekananda when landed in Kodungalloor in Kerala later, had a first hand experience of the discriminations in Kerala as he was denied permission to enter the Devi temple there. The temple authorities told swami that non keralites were denied permission to enter as there was no way they could ascertain their caste.

 One can say with conviction that the anti-discriminatory movements launched by Chattambi Swami and Sree Narayana Guru were inspired by Vivekananda. Chattambi Swami’s “Vedadhikara Niroopanam” (A review of Vedas) ascertained that even Sudras are empowered to learn and interpret Vedas. Sree Narayana Guru later launched anti-caste movement which uprooted caste system in Kerala. These movements saved Hindu community of Kerala and those historic personalities accomplished their mission.


  1. it's posted by "Progressive Hindu Nair" and blog's name is "travencorenairs"... and you talk about social descrimination....

  2. Yes I am proud of being a Hindu Nair and being non discriminatory. It is Pseudo-progressives who have created a notion that one cannot be proud of one's heritage and non-discriminatory.

    Will love to one's own parents encourage anyone to attack somebody else' parents? No Similarly being proud of own caste and religion also do not prompt anyone to discriminate against others. So there is nothing contradictory in this.

    Now it seems you have been heavily indoctrinated at some hypocritical hate mongering ideological camps of pseudo-liberal, left fundamentalist groups who claim to be victims as a ploy to attack others.

    1. Nothing to be proud of the race one born in, because atman cannot be classified in any sect, as it is the vibration of divine cosmic entity, if you are proud of your mortal body then your vision is so limited....Ashtavakra Gita explains that even varnas are myth....

  3. Dear "Progressive Hindu Nair" Ji:

    Namaste. You are doing a good job with your articles and with so much knowledge. Need of the hour is Hindu Unity where Hindus are an endangered species who will be wiped out from the map of Kerala if Muslim population growth continues at this pace. I am a Tamil brahmin whose forefathers immigrated to Kerala over 500 years ago to Kerala and we are 50:50 Malayalee and Tamil. My belief is that the brahmin is responsible for ruining Hinduism and that is explained this article by a revered acharya of recent times.

    So, I take every opportunity help needy Hindus through financial support or knowledge sharing especially to the lower castes of Hinduism and by appreciating their contributions in SatSangs etc to instill religious pride in them.

    I currently live in Phoenix Arizona, USA and work on Airport Automation projects at American Airlines. Live here with wife and two children. Would like to correspond with you regarding anything related to the welfare of our Hindu brethren.

    Jai Hind,
    Rama Krishnan

    1. Namaskar

      i am based in Trivandrum and actively engaged in VHP activities. I just happened to see your comments in this blog and thought we share some common interests, viz hinduism and hindu society. It would be good to interact further in the regard through mail to :

  4. Swami Vivekananda said Kerala is a “lunatic asylum”. He wrote in a letter to Pandit Shankarlal of Khetri, from BOMBAY, in 20th September, 1892 – “To what a ludicrous state are we brought! If a Bhângi comes to anybody as a Bhangi, he would be shunned as the plague; but no sooner does he get a cupful of water poured upon his head with some mutterings of prayers by a Pâdri, and get a coat on his back, no matter how threadbare, and come into the room of the most orthodox Hindu — I don't see the man who then dare refuse him a chair and a hearty shake of the hands! Irony can go no further. And come and see what they, the Pâdris, are doing here in the Dakshin** . They are converting the lower classes by lakhs; and in Travancore, the most priestridden country in India — where every bit of land is owned by the Brahmins, and the females, even of the royal family, hold it as high honor to live in concubinage with the Brahmins, nearly one-fourth has become Christian!.” In another lecture “The future of India” he said “Was there ever a sillier thing before in the world than what I saw in Malabar country? The poor Pariah is not allowed to pass through the same street as the high-caste man, but if he changes his name to a hodge-podge English name, it is all right; or to a Mohammedan name, it is all right. What inference would you draw except that these Malabaris are all lunatics, their homes so many lunatic asylums, and that they are to be treated with derision by every race in India until they mend their manners and know better. Shame upon them that such wicked and diabolical customs are allowed; their own children are allowed to die of starvation, but as soon as they take up some other religion they are well fed. There ought to be no more fight between the castes.”

  5. Historically, our country was never a single state, but a coglomerration of small priencely states. In short looking at the varan vayastha was a very cunny way of making the sudras toil for the pleasure and service of the other three varans. And then historically all around the earth the nobles enjoyed at the prespiration of the commernors, and Aristorcrate went on to say all the wealth of the rich is the labor of the poor. The point is that we need to learn from history what is good that has to imbibed and not good praths denounced. I am from a priest caste, but our nation and the right part of our vedas and equality should be the pillars of emancipation.