June & July 2019


Social Reforms

Ayya Vaikunda Nather stayed at Swamithoppu and sent his disciples far and wide to carry his message to the masses. He mainly had five disciples named with Pancha Pandavas as Mailady Sivathaanu (Dharma Cheedar), Kailasapuram Pandaaram ( Bheeman Cheedar), Pillayarkudiyirippu Arjunan (Arjunan Cheedar), Kulachal Subbayyan (Nakulan Cheedar ) , Thamarakkulam Harigopalan (Sahadevan Cheedar ). He asked his five disciples to preach his principles and lead a holy life . He gave a Pathiram (guideline for a systematic life based on his principles ) to them and insisted to adhere it strictly.

People congregated at Swamithoppu to get his blessings and called AYYA. Ayya used the holy mud - Namam - and the holy water- munthiri patham to cure the people of their illness and absolve them from sins. He preached a new prayer which his followers called as Pothippu. People came to him with their first produce like banana bunch, arecanut bunch, paddy, betal leaves and flowers.

Ayya Vaikundar advised his followers to practice Dharma. Annadhanam was considered as the important form of Dharma. Ayya Vaikundar's preaching about temple worship was of great significance. He discouraged idol worship. Ayya Vaikundar discouraged slaughtering of animals in the name of sacrifice. He discouraged keeping Hundis in temples and also giving Kanikka (offerings). He advised His followers about day-to-day life. He asked them to be good to their enemies too. He advised them to be kind and generous to those who came to them, chanting his name. He asked them to abide by the law of the land and not to be covetous.

Ayya Vaikundar organized SAMA PANTHI BHOJANA in each and every place of worship in the name of ANNA DHANAM. People irrespective of their castes had to sit together and have food prepared in temple. He asked them not to use any spoon but to serve the food with their own hands. It was a time when one cannot imagine eating food cooked by lower castes. Ayya Vaikundar used to send his disciples to different villages and advised them to have meals with the other low caste people. Once he sent a group of people with two of his disciples to a small village called Karupaarai, near Thalakulam. He asked them to have meals from one Pitchammal's house. Pitchammal, who had prepared food for the disciples as per the wishes of Ayya Vaikundar, was awaiting them for quite a long time. On the way the disciples understood that Pitchammal belongs to Dhobi Caste.So they returned to Swamithoppu without going to her house. Disappointed by this, Pitchmmal dug a pit and buried the rice and other items she had cooked for them. Ayya Vaikundar knew this caste discrimination and strictly instructed his disciples to go back to Pitchammal's house and have food from there. They reached there on the third day. On seeing them, Pitchammal opened the pit and found the rice and other items as fresh as just cooked. The disciples had the food and praised Ayya Vaikundar.

AyyaVaikundar integrated his followers and purified them at Thuvayal Panthy.In those days ,cleanliness was most wanting among lower caste people.Consumpion of toddy and tobacco was a daily practice. The low caste insisted fish in their diet. Ayya Vaikundar wanted to bring a social change among lower castes. So he conducted Thuvayal Panthy. Ayya wanted his people to be vegetarians so that they could naturally gain respect in the society. So he advised his followers to be strict vegetarians. At Thuvayal Panthi people were very disciplined and they had three times sea bath and they washed their clothes thrice a day. They used to have raw rice and green gram cooked in salt water. They had food only once a day. This was practiced for six months at Vagaai Pathy.

Later, they were moved to Mutta Pathy and Thuvayal Panthy was continued there. Here , they used only vegetables and boiled rice. They used well water for cooking and bathing. After the completion of training at Thuvayal Panthy, Ayya Vaikundar advised his followers to move to various places to spread Ayya's cult.

Ayya Vaikundar established NIZHAL THANGALS to convene people at a common place of worship .The daily rituals conducted here were called PANI VIDAI and the priests were called as GURUS. To educate the people, children and adults, the Nizhal Thangals were used. Ayya asked the devotees to teach and advised them to read and propagate his writings.(Nizhal Thangals can be compared to traditional schools of Budhist Cult prevailed before the brahmanical feudal caste system).

The NIZHAL THANGALS were simple buildings and worship at these centers were also very simple. Here everybody is expected to be very clean mentally and physically. One can pray according to his /her will and pleasure.No poojas or poojaris . No karpooram or arathy. agarbathy or candles. No offerings or hundis. Ayya Vaikundar instructed that it was not necessary to worship God with sophisticated rituals and mantras. He said that God wants love not rituals and anything offered with love is acceptable to God. In Bhagavad Gita (9.26), Lord Krishna says:

'patram puspam phalam toyam yo me bhaktya prayachati tad aham bhaktya-upahrtam asnami prayatatmanah'
"If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it"
Equality was also strictly maintained here .There was no difference between the rich and poor. When a devotee enters in to a temple with a turban on the head , a full length dhothy around the waist and with out any dress on the upper part of his body, he can see all other devotees dressed in the same way.

Idol worship was totally prohibited in the Nizhal Thangals. Ayya says in the book AKHILA THIRATTU that the power of God can not be confined to any limits. God is omnipresent (anywhere and everywhere). Usually a saffron cloth was spread over a chair , a rudraksha was placed over it and a MIRROR mounted on the wall behind this.The Guru lights the Kutthu Vilakku daily.The language used in Nizhal Thangal were strictly Tamil. Ayya wrote his books only in Tamil.

In those days,animal sacrifice was conducted even in big temples by high caste hindus.The bali peetom was seen in almost all temples. Ayya Vaikundar raised his voice against this practice. AKHILA THIRATTU speaks clearly against this evil.

.... Enakakaumberyal enangezhu mamuniyae Adukidai kozhi aruthu peli edathar ....

Ayya Vaikundar never permitted his devotees even to break coconuts in Nizhal Thangals because he thought that this practice was also a different form of sacrifice. He established Nizhal Thangals at Chetti kudiyiruppu, Agastheeswaram, Paloor, Choonda vilai, Vadali vilai, Kadampankulam and Pampankulam.

Ayya Vaikunder envisioned the nature and its systems very keenly. According to him birds and animals do not violate the nature's law. They are punctual. They reach their homes before sunset. Once they had mating for reproduction, they wait for the next season. But human sexuality has no ethics and is uncontrolled.

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