Bilvamangala Thakur’s birth place in Kerala
By Balaramkrishnadas jps
Like many other mystique Vaishanva personalities of Vraj, Bilvamangala Thakur perhaps would have occurred in many places as he pleased, causing ordinary people to conclude there were 10 Bilvamangalas etc. Thus based on a version of the local people ,but keeping though that Srila Prabhupada narrated quite similar but not exactly the same story, listening to their age old beliefs, an ancient place and people who relishes the nectar of Bhakti latent in their village traditions (na budhibedam janayet) we dare to put this across!
ISKCON TSKP from Salem India led by Gokulchandra Prabhu, chanced to visit a historical place on the 12th of February –the so called birthplace of Bilvamangala Thakur, a south Indian Brahmin devotee of Lord Krishna! It is a village called Puthencira in the south parts of Thrissur, the central district of Kerala, India. There, there is a 100 acre paddy field named after Bilvamangala Thakur,an oldest Krishna(Balagopal) temple with the Bilvamangala’s pushpa samadhi, and an elephantine- rock, whatever is left of a rock garden of the yore days. The chief administrator of the temple, Sri Ravi, showed us a 20 minutes documentary film based on very many historical references and also talks by present heirs of say one Cintamani, an aristocratic lady of Matilkam, Triprayar to substantiate the claim and eventually, a valid government document, indicating the said Rock Garden as Bilvamangalam Mana (house) Vaka( right).
A boy of 18 called Leelasuka was living there it seems in Bilvamangalam Mana(Brahminical House), 800 years ago at Puthencira. His horoscope indicated a crisp marriage with a human- apsaras which will but not happen .His father thus persuaded him to take up spirituality .He ends up at Vadakkunathan, the oldest Siva temple of AD 800 s situated at Thrissur. Meditating on Parambrahman and serving a personality called Somagiri, contemporary advaita sanayasi disciple of Padmapada who is inturn sishya of Sankaracarya,he almost attained salvation except that he happened to see one day morning a fair girl having slim waist and serpentine eyes and lost himself to her as she walked past the temple sanctorum with her many maidens.
Her image instantly replaced the Kilashnath who was at Leelasuka’s heart of hearts. Leelasuka wanted to know about her whereabouts and finally through a sort of divine inner-vision travelled to Mathilakam near Triprayar and located her in Payyakal, an aristocratic house of high repute. Yes, the same girl, bearing a very beautiful name Cintamani and surrounded by attractive maidens. Cintamani greeted him and offered many items to eat and drink. He became mad with passion towards her feminine beauty. They remained like that for hours exchanging sweet words. Cintamani reckoned him to be great spiritual person of higher purpose so forbade him to have attraction to her. But knowing the depth of his infatuation for her she allowed him to visit her after 7 nights and 8 days for nuptial relationships.
On the 8th day ,one of the heaviest rainy day ,he lost track of his self- existence and swam across the river, boarding a corpse, taking it for a log of wood and climbed the compound wall of Payyakal, holding on to the head of a python. Having shut all the gates and doors Cintamani got surprised at the presence of Leelasuka Bilvamangalam in drenched and tired condition at the dead of night. Cintamani chastised him in most learned language but unabusively. She offered him her life and body to please him. He was thus contented-but not she. She said to him to forget her and get attracted to the personal form of Brahman that is Srikrishna.He had lost all his powers to do so but.
They then associated mutually as if husband and wife (ironically called sambandham in local language)under the superintendence of the memory of SriKrishna. Cintamnai was very rich and beautiful but above all a self realized soul and a devotee of Krishna ever since her early childhood, being an orphan herself. She visited Lord Shiva leaving no chance for a good marriage alliance, like any other country ladies did, till she was 24.
Consequently she chanced to meet Leelasuka and knowing well the circumstances, she carefully addressed Leelasuka as ‘Swami’ ever since she met, and intuitive of his divine potencies she worshiped him as if a devadasi (she was later to be known as roaming Dasiamma) .He became her deity.
One day morning Bilvamangala after scores of arguments with his dear Cintamani ( he could not bear the separation from her even a moment) left for a place few miles away in the banks of Periyar River for completing the annual sradha karma of his father. He could not but keep his mind focused to the details so he returned desperately sometime by midnight, back to Payyakal where he saw Cintamani doing pooja to Saligram. Both of them embraced first and then paid obeiscance to Saligram together. As Leelasuka got up he was awe-striken to see Krishna of about 8 years of age standing infront of him. As soon as the Lord smiled and vanished he hugged his consort and wept in ecstacy, feeling that she was the very cause of that darsan . He immediately in that ecstasy, yelled out Verses after Verses in praise of Balagopal and they say Cintamani as Saraswathy scribed it all down on a palm leaf. Yes, you guessed : what those verses were to be known later as Cintamani installed Bilvamangala Swamy in her heart and bade him farewell at a boat jetty as he sailed away to the glorious sanyasa order. It is belived that theirs was not any ordinary relationship as one may mundanely perceive for one’s own pleasure! She is his revered guru as he indicated in SriKrishnakarnamrta.
While on boat Bilvamangala saw in the river some blood. Following an intuition he dived only to come up with the deity of the Balagopalji , now presiding at Paramekovil(temple on rock). They say Krishna and Bilvamangala had a relationship of a mischievous boy and his dear dad. Krishna use to climb all over his body in pretext of a neighbourily lad while he performed puja. Bilvamangala tolerated all this as he knew the boy was Krishna only.
Balagopal & Bilvamangala
One day an annoyed Krishna fed up with his devotee’s sadhana bhakti perhaps, urinated in to his acaman cup and all over the flowers. Bilvamangala pushed him away with the back of his palm. Krishna took that as a great offence and started climbing down the temple steps. Without looking back Krishna told him : “If you want to see me again come to Anantankad( the forest Ananata)”. Bilvamangala gifted all his lands to Mecherimana and left his home for ever. The Mecheris offer a plantain leaf of rice for the past 800 years till today to their Saligram in the name of the great saint. Bilvamangala roamed and roamed for years searching for Anatankad!. One night as he was taking rest he heard a tribal mother chastising her crying baby in pitch darkness. He heard“If you cry again I will throw you into the Anantankad”. He approached the woman and enquired where is Anantankad? She replied : “you are sitting on the edge of it”. Restricting himself all night Bilvamangala entered the forest in the morning. There he had an amazing darshan of Maha Vishnu with Brahma sitting on His navel lotus, Lakshmi at His lotus feet and many many other devas surrounding Him .He also saw Naradamuni. With in seconds he heard the laugh of an young lad spreading through the forest and there stands his Balagopal. Bilvamangala got Lord’s blessing that He will appear to him as he calls His Name.
Later, King Martanda Varma Maharaja of Travancore built a magnificient temple of Anantapadmanabha Swami in that forest and also built a new city around it. Tiruanatapuram has been the capital of Travancore kings since then.
When Gokulchandra Prabhu in his mesmerizing speech told Puthenchira people that what we are saying is what exactly Bilvamangala would have asked them to do 800 hundred years back, that they should chant Holy Name of the Lord, Hare Krishna, they went crazy and started jumping to the tunes of Hare Krishna for one hour-most of them ladies, young and old. We distributed 120 malas and several books. Sankirtandas spoke well. Chittahari sang throughout.Toshanakrishna kept the wheels on road steadily despite some unaccounted prasadam!
Ramnarasimhadas talked for a marathon 3 hours in local language. Rijil Ravindran coordinated many a things with Ravi the Chief Adminisatrator and Balachandran a committee member of Parametrkoil.They had arranged Pulav, Chana,Salad and Pappad cooked by Cinmaya caitanyadas, a local. Sweet? Only one puree with sugar stuffed, for Krishna! They wanted us to come again and again. We are following it up, of course!
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