Chattampi Swamikal

Chattampi Swamikal

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Category: Religion

Chattampi Swamikal Profile

  • Name:
  • Chattampi Swamikal
  • Other Name:
  • Shree Vidhyadhiraja Chattampi Swamikal
  • Born:
  • August 25, 1853
  • Died:
  • May 5, 1924
  • Father:
  • Vasudeva Sharma
  • Mother:
  • Nangelikutty

Chattampi Swamikal Biography

Sree Vidyadhiraja Parama Bhattaraka Chattampi Swamikal, shortly known as Chattampi Swamikal was a Hindu sage and social reformer. He is also called Sree Vidhyadhiraja Chattambi Swamikal. His thoughts and activities have catalyzed many social movements and reforms in Kerala society and he preached thoughts of equality among all. Swamikal along with his contemporary, Narayana Guru, during 19th century strived hard to fight against caste system and social injustice that existed in Kerala a century ago. Swamikal also worked for the emancipation of women and encouraged them to come to the forefront of society. He propagated the principles of Ahimsa and vegetarian food as well. He strongly opposed the conversion activities of the Christian missionaries though he was not against Christianity. According to him, different religions are different paths leading to the same place.


Chattampi Swami was born on 25 August 1853 at Kollur, a suburban village of Thiruvananthapuram in southern Travancore. He was born to Vasudeva Sharma and Nangelikutty. He was known as Ayyappan in his younger days and his pet name was Kunjan Pilla. He was the class leader of his class. Class leader was known as ‘Chattambi’ in those days. That prefix got added in his name later. It is also believed that as Kunjan was a mischievous student of the class, he got that name. Chattambi literally means ‘Mischievous Person’.   


In his early childhood he learnt letters and words from children of his neighbourhood. He learned Sanskrit by overhearing the classes at a Brahmin house nearby. Seeing this, his uncle took him to the traditional school conducted by Pettayil Raman Pillai Asan, a renowned scholar and writer. It was during that time he became monitor of the class and later the title, ‘Chattambi’ became a part of his name.


After completing his studies under Subba Jatapadikal, he spent long periods of learning and under a Christian priest. He learned Christian meditation and learned Christian Religion and philosophy. Then he lived with an old Muslim well versed in Koran and Sufi mysticism. He taught him principles of Quran. Thus it was revealed to him that the basic concepts of all religions are the same and that people are fighting each other due to misbelieves and misinterpretations. Thus he started his fight against such social evils and superstitions that existed in the society.


Contributions of Swami were in the forms of single stanzas, muktakas, bhajan songs, essays, critical works, translations, commentaries, short notes, and letters. But the sad part is that due to neglectance and unmindful of preserving his works, we have lost majority of his works. He was a wanderer and left what he wrote with those who were with him at the time of writing. However a few of his works were able to recover and still efforts are going on with the project - Chattampi Swami Digital Archive (CSDA). The school organization of Thiruvananthapuram, Shree Vidhyadhiraja runs in his name which has branches all over Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam.

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Updated: September 12, 2013

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