ANAMIKA

'(The Blog) With No Name', perhaps best described as a stream of notes and thoughts - 'remembered, recovered and (sometimes) invented'.

Friday, July 29, 2005

'Vaayill(y)aakkunnilappan'

That is the name of the presiding deity of a small hilltop shrine in north-interior Kerala. The name means 'The Mouth-less Lord of the Hill(-shrine)'; the 'y' in the spelling is optional and is an artefact of Malayalam phonetics; any similarity, vague or otherwise with allegedly tongue-twisting names like 'Nahasapeemapetilon' is purely accidental; there is nothing troublesome to the tongue in this 'Mallu' name, if one knows the lingo that is (As an aside, I am reminded of a (very decent) Western travel guide to India which refers to 'Gangaikondacholapuram' as a terrible challenge to pronounce!)!

Just like any other temple-site, there is a legend associated with this place; indeed this story is but a small fragment from a vast cycle of legends, myths and folklore called 'Parayipettu Panthirukulam' (well, there we go again!). Once in the distant past, a certain couple, a scholarly brahmin husband and his even more gifted 'low-born' wife, chose a life of continuous travel (probably it was the husband's unilateral choice!). Whenever a baby was born to them, the husband would ask: "does the child have a mouth?"; the wife would answer "yes" and the husband would immediately abandon the child saying "the One who gave it the mouth will give something to fill it as well!". Finally, eleven children having been thus abandoned, the hapless mother lied, to save her twelfth born from an unknown future: "he has no mouth" and then, the new-born's mouth sealed up on its own! The father 'seated' (buried?) the child on top of a hill nearby; and the couple resumed their journey...

The place came to be known as the abode of the "mouth-less Lord" (each of his elder siblings were found and brought up by various people and all of them came to be known to posterity for their brilliance, piety, wit and great works - they include 'Perunthachan', the legendary master-craftsman, 'Pakkanar', a Dalit of legendary wisdom, 'Thiruppan Azhwar', a mystic-poet of Srirangam in Tamil Nadu,...). One could add here, the (mysteriously ruthless) father of them all, was a half-brother to King Vikramaditya of the 'Vetala' story cycle - and that is yet another trip!

I paid a visit to the Mouth-less Lord's abode last week. One could see two temples there - dedicated to Siva, who the Lord seems to have got identified with (the how of it is not obvious) and to his consort, Shakti. It was occasionally drizzly and very gloomy - a monsoon late afternoon; there were very few people about. Neither temple seems to have any 'marker' of the original site where the Lord was 'seated'.

Beyond the temples, the hill slopes down; I found a narrow trail threading tree-filled, darkly green compounds - it eventually opened out, past a pond, into a stretch of freshly planted rice paddies... It would have been nice to have gone walkabout into those realms; but the impending night-fall - and more deep purple clouds were piling up above - and the prospect getting stranded there made me retreat.

On the bus back home, with the steady monsoon rain hammering away on the shuttered windows, I reflected: a couple of hours previously, when I had asked another passenger where to get down from the bus to reach the temple, he had asked back: "Are you going to the temple?". "er, ..to meet someone near there" - I had answered, rather clumsily.

6 Comments:

  • At 1:52 AM, Blogger Sumesh said…

    Hi Nandu,

    This seems a nice place to spend a quiet afternoon. You should get yourselves a digital camera to illustrate your posts with!

    So when are you coming back to Pune?

    -Sumesh

     
  • At 8:33 AM, Blogger Nandu said…

    Excellent post - came to your blog after being directed here to get some ideas for a trip to Madras and the Chola temples in the towns nearby that I am planning....

    AND, what's even more astounding is that I, too, am a Nandakumar R (what does the R stand for in your case?). Incredibly enough, you seem to be called Nandu too, and yes, I know EXACTLY how it feels in terms of the whole Nandkumar/Nand'A'kumar pronunciation issue with people from the north of India - I grew up in Bombay.

     
  • At 2:38 AM, Blogger rathri said…

    Are you the same Nandakumar who wrote the novel 'Nilavilikkunnilekkulla Kayattam' in Mathrubhumi weekly? Thought of asking because one of his short stroy collection is named 'Vaayillakkunnilappan'

    -rathri

     
  • At 4:11 AM, Blogger R.Nandakumar said…

    Thanks Sumesh, for the suggestion. The landscapes of rural Kerala in monsoon can really make a shutterbug go berserk.

    Thanks Namesake,
    When you visit the Chola heartland, do give yourself something like a week there - there is so much to see and experience. And Happy journey!
    The 'R' in my name is for 'Ramavarma'.

    Rathrincharan,
    I am not the author of 'Nilavili...'. I have heard that title but not read it.

    Just to add, there is not much of a 'kayattam' to see the 'Lord without a mouth' - the temple is but a few tens of feet above the road.

     
  • At 11:01 AM, Blogger Myna said…

    Nandhan bhai,

    (Note the h as I feel adds more respect).

    I keep wondering why a person of your calibre is not making headlines. Now at least you have found a way to be heard, I am sure there will be a good set of interested people out there. I am fascinated (as always) by the breadth and depth of your tastes.
    Remember, you have been a fellow traveller and kindred spirit before one of us (or both of us) decided to maintain silence for a while. Can't wait to talk to you!!!

     
  • At 10:31 PM, Blogger R.Nandakumar said…

    thanks suresh!
    and yes, wonderful to meet you, albeit virtually, all over again!

     

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