I stopped when I heard a bird call of alarm across the woodland enveloping Rariyanellur and a subdued lament in a voice. I could recognize it in the midst of any chaos. I heard the footsteps behind me coming closer. It was obvious, it was Shaju’s. His eyes steadily gazing at the peak of the great Rariyanellur mountain.
Shaju skirted Narayanan who stood blocking his way, taking care not to touch him.
Dragging his exhausted feet, Narayanan retraced his path. “”Let Shaju go, we may take rest”We squatted on the steps.”
”I feel exhausted. What height is the hill ?” The physics teacher in Shaju woke up..”The mountain has 500 feet in height and has an area of 300 acres. The temple is on a flat land of about six hectors on the top of the Mountain.”
Once we crossed the heights and ascents and reached the stretch of somewhat a plain surface, steep terrain with hundreds of concrete steps stretched out before us. We had to continue our journey until we crossed the not so distant peak of Rariyanellur mountain.
”Naranath Bhranthan used to roll up a boulder to the peak of the Rayiranallur hill every morning. By noon, he would reach the top of the hill from where he would let the boulder roll down the hill. This was done to show the fate of people who hoarded wealth.”Shaju commented..’ ”not that alone its the absurd drama called life.”
”Nothingness! To accept the great nothingness of life seemed to be the one end of living. All the many busy and important little things that make up the grand sum-total of nothingness”
“Naranathu Bhranthan belongs to Panthirukulam or the 12-member clan that forms an integral part of Kerala’s mystic culture. Panthirukulam was in fact a genetic order that exposed the vainness of the complicated caste system in Kerala. Many places in the Pattambi-Thrithala region have found a place in Panthirukulam myth. Narayanan added.”
”Naranathu Branthan was born the son of Vararuchi, one of the nine gems of the court of Vikramaditya. (77 BCE TO 15 CE )As the legend goes, he was brought up in the Naranathu Mangalathu Mana, situated near Chethallur in Palakkad.” He had strange ideas when he was there, he used to roll up stones up to the top of Athippatta hills, He came to Azhavegappura Illam of Thiruvegappura, to pursue his studies in Vedas. he continued to maintain the habit. of stone rolling.Rayiranellur, which became his abode.”
”Naranath, the mad, the most popular among the twelve issues of Parayi (Parayi Petta Panthirukulam) was a man with unusual talents. At the same time, he was a social revolutionary who taught against the social evils and blind beliefs prevailed during the period. Those who were unable to understand the revolutionary viewpoints of the man called him mad.”Shaju continued.
”Then our journey can be extended to the villages of Mezhathur, Thrithala, and Velliyankallu where Agnihothri’s silver spear is buried deep on the banks of the Bharathapuzha. We may visit Yajneswaram temple by Velliyamkallu, and Mezhathol Agnihothry Bhahmadattan Nambboodiri’s Vemanchery mana in Mezhathur close to Trithala.There is Pakkanar’s Eerattinkal colony and his bitter free snake wood ”tree”The tour project is ready.. I commented.’
”Kavalappara Swaroopam to which Karakalamma, the only girl child among the Panthirukulam, was adopted, is close to my wives house,” Narayanan added.
”The descendants of Naranath bhranthan live in the house where we parked our bikes at the foot of the hills.”The elder Narana mangalathumanakkal Ashtamoorthy Bhattathirippad being dead before two years lives in the Illam. His elder brother lives close by. The temple on the top and the hillocks belong to them it is run by atrust named ” Sree Dwadasakshari trust.”
“They are proud of being the descendants of Naranathu Bharanthan. Every year they never hesitate to offer ”The annual Bali” in the Star of Moolam in the Malayalam month of Meenam. Naranathu bhranthan is believed to have joined the world of infinity on that auspicious day.
Shaju came at last to a place where more sunshine fell. Since they had not so far to go for light the creepers had woven a great mat that hung at the side of open space in the woodlands; for here a patch of rock came close to the surface and would not allow more than little plants and ferns to grow”.
Shaju found for us the fruit we could not reach, pulled off the choicest from up in the foliage, passed them back down to the outstretched hands. of Narayanan. we munched them. They tasted strangely since I haven’t relished such a one before..
We started again. What fascinated me was the canopy of creepers and shrubs that hung along, outside the way, on either side of the flight of steps that forms the path to Rariyanellur hillocks.
Rayiranellor, which was the main seat for Naranath, the Mad, was a place blessed with the beauty of nature and it was believed to be a meeting place of many divine spirits. He who was a priest and enshrined icons in many temples including Ampalappuzha temple was said to have many divine qualities.”
The wind had erased even the footprints of those who had gone that way in search of eternal peace.
As the peaks of Rariyanellur became visible in the distance, it seemed as if Shaju’s pace quickened. Narayanan walked on at his own pace, listening to the footsteps behind him, the swift intakes of breath.”Let’s stop for a while, Shaju..”
It may be a pilgrimage of sorts. to reach Rayiranallur, near Pattambi, here on the lock down period, to climb the celebrated hill and pay respects to the legendary mystic.
After reaching the top of the hill, we walked towards the temple and sat under a peepal tree. The whole space was walled with dark aromatic bushes and was a bowl of heat and light. Then, amid the soaring of dragonflies in the afternoon sunlight, we sat there leaning against serenity. A small tree, fallen across one corner, leaned against the trees that still stood. A rapid climber flaunted red and yellow sprays right to the top. ”We called it ”bhranthan poov.(mad flower) that revolts with its colour”
We squatted down, parted the leaves and looked out into the clearing. Nothing moved but a pair of gaudy butterflies that danced around each other in the hot air. Holding my breath I cocked a critical ear at the sounds of the mountain. The evening was advancing toward the mountain; the sounds of the bright fantastic birds, the bee-sounds, even the crying of the crows among the woodlands, were fainter.
” Once when Naranath, was meditating, he saw an enchanting maiden, swinging on a Banyan tree and he proceeded towards her. She was swinging through the air, every bit of her swinging, like a bird that swoops for the joy of movement. Her crown of flowers stood over her dark curls, her beautiful warm face, so still in a kind of brooding, was lifted towards him. It was dark and rather cold under the banyan tree. Suddenly a swallow came down from the green canopy. It was almost as if she were a flame that had lit a warmth in her while she was swinging in the middle air. The air here was dark too, there the creepers dropped their tendrils and hooks. His feet left prints in the soft soil and the creepers shivered throughout their lengths when he bumped on them.
He came at last to a place where more sunshine fell. Since they had not so far to go for light the creepers had woven a great mat that hung at the side of open space in the jungle; But when he reached near her, she disappeared leaving a pit and her footprints on a rock.”
”’The Mountain that Naranath had obtained the vision of Devi on first day of the month of Thulam.Thus place where he got the vision was transferred to a temple without an icon of Devi but had the footprint of the Goddess forming a pit. It was on this pit, where the Goddess shrine was made later. The pit was an incessant source of water and the water level in it never went down. So that enough water could be taken to hold ‘Poojas’ and ‘Archana’s’.From there, he experienced the vision of Devi and for the welfare of humanity; he enshrined the Devi and started worshipping her.”
Narayanan unbundled the stories …..
”The pyre where the dead body was placed for burying was burning still. It was the month of makaram when even the giant peepal trees shivered in the mist veiled night.
Bhranthans whole limbs yielded passionately to the yellow flames that poured upwards and shook a great beard of flame three feet in the air. For yards round the fire the heat was like a blow, and the breeze was a river of sparks. Trunks crumbled.Bhranthan lays his earthern pot by the side of the pyre with the
water available and the rice and all he got by begging. He used to sleep also in the same place. One day, When he had started preparing his food over there, He gazed intently at the dense blue of the horizon, A windswept down and shook the pyre flames, a large silhouette appeared with flames flowing from its head, and a blood-smeared tongue protruding from its mouth. She laughed loudly with a deafening sound. When she bared her incisors, lengthened them and then drew them in again, ” Leave the place, run away, all your blood would be inside my belly! I would then chew on your bones and spit them out .”
.”Naranath was very cool and smiled at her. The fierce figure shouted again. “You fool, I am the goddess of the cemetery called ‘Chudala Bhadra Kali’ who spreads my tongue across the death fields, and swallows in one gulp. “Kali’s tongue here is a weapon, to be feared, a reminder that nature ultimately consumes all life. She bares her fangs protruding from the corners of the mouth and her companions who were there to dance. Kali commanded him to leave the place. Naranath refused to leave the place.”
”She thought of this as a plan to usurp the place and so she warned him to leave the place immediately. But soon she realized that he was an unusual man and thus she decided to give him a blessing of his choice. Naranath, the mad demanded to change his time of death. But the goddess who denied this asked him to demand something else. He ridiculed her incapacity in granting wishes. Thus he had demanded to change his elephantiasis disease from his left leg to right leg and he won the consent of the goddess. the mystic yogi accepted a strange boon from her.” Narayanan paused with great admiration.
”It was to this mountain that Naranath, the mad rolled up huge stones. On reaching the top he used to roll them down and burst out to laughter. It is said that he had done it by raising a statue of Naranath, the mad at the south-west corner on the mountain peak. It is the result of the architect called Surendra Krishnan. Along with the 18 feet height statue, there is a symbol of the huge stone which Naranath rolled up to the mountain also.”Shaju revealed the artistic venture.
The sky was pulsating blue with a few wispy white clouds. We walked beneath the canopy of honey coloured slanted sun beams.. Rariyanellur hill lay dreaming all around us evoking awe with the vastness of space as we looked down a picturesque village nestled amid the foothills..
“Narayanan picked up another piece, It was there on the banks of Thootha”Once the moon rose over the Thoothapuzha like the bare shoulder of a goddess. He lay on the vast stretches of sand in Thoothappuzha. The hills gleamed with blue light, and Naranath thought he saw the body of Orion shining in the glimmer of the waters amidst the sapphire night. He loved the stars so deeply.”
“He traced the slot upon which moon rose in moonless night. He believed that everyday moon is there. He is considered as a unique astrologer and a mathematical genius of this era.” He is believed to be the author of ”Parahithakaranam”.
“He gazed intently at the dense blue of thesky , as if a constellation might appear there at any moment connecting the stars .
Lamps died out one by one. The pale rays of dawn, which entered between the openings of the hangings, shone on the livid face and swollen eyes of the Bhranthan. ….Beyond the mountain lay untrodden tracks. Great unseen rains fell on those timeless springheads.””
While coming down I liked the inwardness of the trees , the unspeaking reticence of the old trees. They seemed a very power of silence, and yet a vital presence. They, too, were waiting: obstinately, stoically waiting, and giving off a potency of silence. Perhaps they were only waiting for the end; to be cut down, cleared away, the end of the forest, for them the end of all things. but All twelve children were brought-up by twelve different families belonging to different strata of the society, they cultivated a system still that remains unhurt to some extend. the silence of the forest was more oppressive than the heat, and at this hour of the day, there was not even the whine of babblers.
COURTSEY,,Shaju Thiruvegappura, Narayanan Naduvattam who accompanied me through out the trekking to Rariyanellur mountains.