Chattampi Swamikal worked in parallel with his contemporary and soul mate Sree Narayana Guru to bring social equality to an otherwise heavily ritualistic and caste ridden Hindu society that prevailed around the late 19th and early 20th centuries across the present-day Kerala. Chattampi Swamikal also encouraged women to come the fore to play their respectable roles in the society. Swamikal encouraged vegetarianism and professed non-violence Ahimsa. He was open to learning other religions and authored several literary works on spirituality and the history of language. Swamikal took Vivekananda beneath a secluded tree and they spoke in Sanskrit one whole night.
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Swamikal along with his contemporary Sree Narayana Guru strived to reform the heavily ritualistic and caste-ridden Hindu society of the late 19th century Kerala. Chattampi Swamikal denounced the Orthodox interpretation of Hindu texts citing sources from the Vedas. Swamikal also worked for the emancipation of women and encouraged them to come to the forefront of society. He said that the enslavement of women was a manifestation of male arrogance.
Swamikal promoted vegetarianism and professed non-violence Ahimsa. He strongly opposed Christian missionary activities and criticized Christianity. He authored several books on spirituality and the history of language. Chattampi Swamikal was known by different names throughout his intellectually and spiritually enriched life. The swami's original name was Ayyappan, although he was called Kunjan Pillai and later Shanmukhadasan.
He joined the traditional school conducted by Pettayil Raman Pillai Asan, a renowned scholar and writer. It was there that he earned the name Chattampi on account of his assignment as the monitor of the class. The young Kunjan Pillai learned the art of yoga under the guru Thykattu Ayyavu whom he met at the Gurukulam. Kunjan Pillai was also called Shanmukhadasan due to his deep devotion of Lord Subramanya.
It is said that in his youth Kunjan Pillai took to manual labor as a brick worker and later worked as a document writer in Neyyattinkara town, near Thiruvananthapuram. By then Kunjan Pillai was well versed in yoga and spiritual matters and their meeting proved to be the start of a profound and cherished companionship, although the two were of different temperaments.
Later Chattampi Swamikal traveled many places in quest of truth and spiritual knowledge. It was with Chattampi Swamikal that Sree Narayana Guru made his first trip to Aruvippuram, which was chosen as Sree Narayana Gurus abode for meditation and spiritual activities.
Chattampi Swamikal, however, did not stay there for long, although the two maintained their contacts, respect and regard for each other. Chattampi Swamikal has got many disciples Grihastha disciples like Bodheswaran, Perunnelli Krishnan Vaidhyan, Velutheri Kesavan Vaidhyan etc as well Sanyasi disciples like Narayana Guru, Neelakanta Therthapada and Theerthapad Paramahamsa who played a very important role in renaissance and reformation in Kerala.
Toward the end of his life, Swamikal settled down at Panmana, a village in Kollam district. After a prolonged illness, Swamikal attained Maha Samadhi on May 5, His mortal remains were enshrined at his Samadhistanam at Panmana. This site is today called Panmana Ashramam, which is a center for social service and spiritual practices.
Avoid boastful thoughts about your physical achievements and material accumulations. Contemplate over the ultimate reality of existence. That alone will give meaning to life. The whole universe is the manifestation of the one. The apparent differences between different objects are only an illusion. An understanding of this truth will lead to liberation and salvation. This universe is the manifestation of but one mind.
Alienation between one mind and another mind is unnatural. The mind of man is in no way different from the mind of any other creature.
Enslavement of woman is a manifestation of male arrogance. It is against all canons of justice and ethics. It is criminal, immoral Swami led a wandering life and left what he wrote with those who were with him at the time of writing. There was no later attempts to collect and conserve them which led to their gradual loss. A few works that got unearthed and published eight decades after his death and inspiring serious discussion show the value and the extent of the loss that occurred to Kerala society which was at one time unmindful of preserving his works.
Swamikal along with his contemporary Sree Narayana Guru strived to reform the heavily ritualistic and caste-ridden Hindu society of the late 19th century Kerala. Chattampi Swamikal denounced the Orthodox interpretation of Hindu texts citing sources from the Vedas. Swamikal also worked for the emancipation of women and encouraged them to come to the forefront of society. He said that the enslavement of women was a manifestation of male arrogance. Swamikal promoted vegetarianism and professed non-violence Ahimsa. He strongly opposed Christian missionary activities and criticized Christianity. He authored several books on spirituality and the history of language.
The 19th-century Kerala saint instigated reform, inspired his disciple Narayana Guru and directly influenced Swamis Vivekananda and Chinmayananda. The 19th-century teacher broke down caste inequality while reestablishing the traditional Saiva philosophy of Kerala. He argued for rights of women, equal access to education and removal of any restrictions on temple entry. It is a quirk of history that he is less well known even inside Kerala than his disciple Narayana Guru, whose influence remains strong to this day. Vidhyadhiraja Parama Bhattaraka Chattampi Swami, as he is formally called, was born Kunjan Pillai on August 25, , in Thiruvananthapuram, then the seat of power of the Travancore Kingdom and today the capital of Kerala.