Chattambi Swamikkal

Sree Chattambi Swamikal
The Great Scholar Saint of Kerala (1853 1924)

His religious quest and discovery, his austere simplicity and great self-denial, his humble sharing with others the light with which he himself was illumined, his loving tenderness for all living creatures are all inspiring and instructive for all time.

CHATTAMPI SWAMIKAL, as he is popularly known, was not an organiser or a propagandist. He strictly adhered to the characteristic virtues of an ideal sage practising Ahimsa (Non-violence), Sathya (Truthfulness), Asteya (Non-stealing), Brahmacharya (Celibacy) and Aparigraha (Non-Acquisition) as an exemplar of this mode of life. His influence widened the vision of many and imparted self-confidence to innumerable people, leaving a mark in the religious attitude of a large section of people.

Material deprivation failed to dampen his spirit and penury could not hamper Swamikal from becoming a mastermind by his own latent genius and prodigious intellectual industry. In spite of the narrow and restrictive conventions that existed in his times, he mastered many branches of art and learning. His painstaking study of Tamil and Sanskrit from competent scholars outside Kerala gave him remarkable command over Vedanta. His gifted mind found no rest till his proficiency in Yoga measured up to ostensible results. He travelled miles and miles on foot in search of knowledge, and when he acquired it, he wandered again as the inspirer of people. Chattampi Swamikal strove to educate people in egalitarian doctrines and to liberalize traditional religious ritual practices by his writings and example.

He was the precursor of many liberal trends, but he was not an avowed social reformer. While exposing the sacerdotal pretensions of the high priests of society and demolishing the arrogant claims of the top rungs in the ladder of caste hierarchy, in his polemical writings, he never precipitated inter-communal envy or bickerings. He was urged by a sense of historical justice rather than personal pride. He always extended his hands to those below him to raise them up. His vision of unity (Samadarsana) was the outcome of his vedantic conviction that Atman is Brahman, that each man is potentially divine and that all existence is one: the essence of Vedantic Wisdom.