COCHIN THIRUMALA DEVASWOM

History


Lord Ventakesha Of Gosripuram with Bhudevi and Sreedevi

Installation
The installation of the deity was also carried out as per the instructions of the Lord who appeared in the dream of the King. The installation was to have taken place at an auspicious time, which would have been signalled by drum beating. But as the fate would have it, just at the moment the signal was expected to be heard, some crows flying over the Dunubhi (drum) dropped a few twigs, which gave out a sound similar to a drum beat. The installation ceremony took place immediately, which was later found out to be on an inauspicious time. Only when the king heard the real drum beat, did he realise his mistake. The king was grief stricken and depressed. However, the Lord appeared in his dream to pacify him saying that it was His wish that the installation took place at an inauspicious time for it was His wish to leave the city for Gosripura, which became the city of Cochin later.

After the passing away of the king, a massive fire occurred in the temple. The priest threw the idol to an abandoned well to save it from the ravaging  flames. Swami Vijayendra Theertha of Kumbakonam Matt of Madhavacharya lineage while on a tour to the pilgrim centres, made a halt near the well where the idol was lying. During the evening prayers, a serpent appeared suddenly with raised hood in front of the Swamiji and signalled to follow it. After crawling for a while, the snake slithered down the well and disappeared. On his inspection, the swamiji saw the idol of Lord Venkateswara. The Swamiji salvaged the idol and after performing the pooja, he left for the nearby village to spend the night. In his sleep he got a divine revelation to go to Gosripura with the idol as the Lord wanted His idol to be installed there permanently.

As per the direction of the Lord, Swamiji reached Cochin where he was welcomed by Mala Pai, the head of the Cochin Mahajanams. He expressed his desire to swamiji that the idol of the Lord be handed over to him for worship by the public. Swamji wanted the idol to be given a bath and the  rich headman of the Mahajanams offered to give a shower of gold coins to the Lord. However, inspite of trying many times, the top most part of the crown remained unfilled. Puzzled by this strange incident, they took the advice of the astrologers who opined that the Holy bath should be given with gold coins received from all the 360 families of the Mahajanams residing at Cochin. Though a holy bath was offered to the Lord with gold coins collected from all the families as per the astrological advice, the coins failed to cover the top portion of the idol yet again. It was then revealed that a Brahmin who was living in a roofless shanty was left out without receiving the contribution. Mala Pai immediately rushed to the house of this Brahmin and requested him to contribute his mite. The old man who was very poor offered a coin, which was his sole earning. Mala Pai went back to the swamiji and showed him the contribution of the poor  Brahmin. As directed by the swamiji, the coin was held at the top of the crown and Voila- the crown was filled to the brim in no time! The Astrologer explained that the Lord was more pleased with this poor man’s contribution than the rest. The Lord whole heartedly accepted the offering given with devotion by the poor. As the Lord is always pleased with the offerings made by the poor, he has to be named ‘Daridra Narayan’.

Later a temple was constructed for the Lord. Swami Sudhindra Theertha,  the immediate successor of Swami Vijayendra Thirtha of  Kumabakonam Mutt performed the first installation ceremony (Prathishta) of Lord Venkateswara in 1599 AD in the lunar month of chaithra on a full moon day when the moon was in conjunction with Chitra star. In commemoration of the installation ceremony, a 6 day festival called Araat was introduced, which is being observed even today with pomp and religious fervour.

The Portuguese attack

The temple was destroyed by the Portuguese in 1662, the Konkani households were ransacked, shops looted and there was widespread chaos and panic. The local community fled with the idol of Venkateswara to the nearby village of Udayamperur in Tripunithura where they remained as refugees without proper shelter and other amenities. They later set up their habitations in 16 different places, half of which falls in Travancore and the remaining in Cochin.

Details


Lord Ventakesha


The return to the home town 

When the Dutch defeated the Portuguese in 1663, the displaced community returned to their home town and established a new thriving community in Cochin. A new temple for Lord Venkateswara was constructed, which was consecrated in the year 1719 AD. Later, Thirumala Devaswom helped the Raja of Cochin in restoring the city that suffered serious damages in the attack of Tippu. Archival records say that over 700 measures of paddy was given to the  Raja of Cochin in meeting the daily requirements.

In the Year 1791, during the reign of Sakthan Tampuran, many Konkani merchants were penalised and prosecuted for having refused the contribution of jaggery, in violation of the agreement the Dutch had made with the king in the year 1772. The Raja of Cochin also made an illegal demand of 30,000  varahnas from Cochin Thirumala Devaswom and upon refusal, the trustees of the devaswom were imprisoned in Tripunithura. To protest against the high handedness of the king, Konkanis closed down all the  business establishments in Mattancherry and Cochin. Soon, the Dutch Commander asked the Raja to release the Trustees and reminded him that his demand was in contradiction to the terms of the agreement.

On 12th October 1791, many leading Konkani merchants including Dewaresa Kini were massacred, shops plundered and the merchants were taken away by force. Three overseers of the Temple Thirumala Devaswom were ordered to be put to death for their refusal to hand over the treasure belonging to the temple. To tackle the atrocities of the raja, the Dutch sent an army to attack the Mattancherry palace of the king, which was promptly repulsed by the royal forces. This war came to be known as Dewareshan war. Many Konkanis fearing indictment, left the country in ships and some were given shelter in Cochin Fort.

Some of the persecuted Konkanies fled to Thuravoor and Aleppey in Travancore with the idol of Thirumala Devar and told their grievances to the Raja through Dewan Kesavadas who assured them of a safe stay at Aleppey.

The  idol of the Lord was installed along the banks of the Alleppey canal. Immediately Sakthan Tampuran made a representation to the Travancore king based on the repatriate treaty between the states and asked the Konkanis mahajanams   to be sent back to Cochin an the idol to be handed over to the raja of Cochin. On knowing about the order to be issued by the Raja of Travancore, the four Adhikaris of the temple fled the territory to various places . While the first one went to pandalam , another one retreated into the forests , the third adhikari went to Rameswram and the fourth one to Tellicherry to meet Dewaaresa Bandari , an ally of the British and the commercial agent of the raja of Travancore. The Adhikari requested Devaresa to request the King to allow them to stay in Travancore and be treated as refugees who came to the State for shelter. The Raja accepted the request and changed the order that they can return to Cochin when they desire and till then they can stay in Aleppey without any fear.

However, Sakthan Tampuran made many attempts again to bring back the Thirumala deity from Aleppey to Cochin by involving the Dutch.  The king requested the Dutch commander that the Thirumal devaswom funds deposited in the Secretariat should be made available to the Prime Minister ( Paliath Menon) who in turn will receive it on behalf of the Devaswom to make arrangements for the temple ceremonies before choroonu ( the first rice eating ceremony of the new born  prince. The Raja also stated in his letter that astrological revelations say that the Cochin Royal family had incurred the wrath of the Thirumala deity.



After the demise of the King in 1805, Raja Kesava Das succeeded him and took great interest in bringing back the idol to Kochi and he sought the help of Col. Munroe in restoring the idol of the Lord. However, the request was turned down by the then Resident as the Travancore officers believed that the prosperity of Aleppey was due to the presence of the image of the God.

The Konkanies in Aleppey started doing extensive business, built warehouses, which led to the development of the port of Aleppey. The Government of Travancore built a new pagoda, guarded by the Sepoys of the Brigade,  which was aptly named as Thirumala. This was when the Konkanies of Cochin decided to recover the image of the Lord at any cost. On 7th February 1853, the image was brought back to Cochin. The Maharaja of Travancore filed a complaint  that the idol be restored to Travancore and a long drawn legal battle ensued between the two states.



The First Pratishtha was performed by Swami Sudheendra Thirtha, the disciple of Swami Vijayendra Thirtha of Sree Kumbhakonam Mutt in the year 1599 AD.



The Second Pratishtha was performed by Swami Devendra Thirtha, along with his disciple Swami Madhavendra Thirtha of Sree Kashi Mutt in the year 1719 AD.



The Third Pratishtha was performed by Swami Bhuvanendra Thirtha, along with his disciple Swami Varadendra Thirtha of Sree Kashi Mutt in the year 1881 AD.



The third installation ceremony in the temple in Cochin was conducted with religious fervour with all the rituals like Aarattu and ulsava paddhathi among others.


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