Kanjirottu Yakshi

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Kanjirottu Yakshi (Chiruthevi) is a folkloric vampire. She was born into an affluent Padamangalam Nair tharavad by name Mangalathu at Kanjiracode in Southern Travancore (now in Tamil Nadu). She was a ravishingly beautiful courtesan who had an intimate relationship with Kunju Thampi, the rival of Marthanda Varma of Travancore. She was murdered by her servant and she turned into a Yakshi, waylaying men with her beauty and drinking their blood.[1]

Mangalathu Chiruthevi[edit]

Chiruthevi was a courtesan who had as her clients the high and the mighty. But she was infatuated with one of her many servants, Kunjuraman. Kunjuraman, a Pondan Nair (palanquin-bearer), was a fair, tall, well-built and handsome young man. She and her brother Govindan used to ride on Kunjuraman's back to nearby places. Chiruthevi enjoyed torturing Kunjuraman physically and mentally. A predatory sadist, she derived immense pleasure from humiliating him, spanking him, making him carry unbearably heavy objects, burning his feet with hot metal rods and strangling him. She did everything possible to separate him from his wife.

In course of time, the unmarried Govindan and Kunjuraman became bosom friends. They often shared the same room. Chiruthevi was not quite comfortable with the growing fondness of her brother for her lover. But she did not act.

Chiruthevi hatched a plot and liquidated Kunjuraman's wife. Once Govindan was travelling on Kunjuraman's back when the former revealed the details of the plot. Days later, Kunjuraman strangled Chiruthevi to death when they were sharing a bed. Govindan winked at the crime and protected his beloved friend.

Chiruthevi was reborn as a vengeful Yakshi to a couple at Kanjiracode. She grew into a bewitching beauty within moments of her birth. Though she seduced many men and drank their blood, her heart was set on the handsome Kunjuraman. She told him that she was willing to pardon him if he married her. Kunjuraman flatly refused. The Yakshi channelised all her energies in tormenting him. Devastated, Kunjuraman sought the assistance of Mangalathu Govindan, who was a great upasaka of Lord Balarama. Govindan was for a compromise. He said that the Yakshi could have Kunjuraman for a year provided she conformed to three conditions. One, she must agree to be installed at a temple after one year. Two, after many years the temple will be destroyed and she must then seek refuge in (saranagati) Lord Narasimha for attaining moksham. Three, she must pray for Govindan and his relationship with Kunjuraman not only in their current birth but also in their subsequent births. The Yakshi swore upon 'ponnum vilakkum' that she would abide by all the three conditions. Thus the compromise formula worked.[2]

Kanjiracottu Valiaveedu Temple[edit]

A year later, the Yakshi was installed at a Temple which later came to be owned by Kanjiracottu Valiaveedu. The members of Valiaveedu started worshipping this Yakshi besides their Guardian Deity, Sri Ramanuja Perumal (Lord Krishna accompanied by Sri Rukmini and Lord Balarama).[3] Devotees used to offer Pongala to Yakshi Amma on Pooram in the month of Meenom and on the first Fridays in every Malayalam month except Meenom.[4] The Temple does not exist any more.

Kanjirottu Yakshi and Sri Padmanabhaswami Temple[edit]

After taking refuge in Lord Narasimha of Thekkedom, the Yakshi is now believed to be in the Mahabharatakonathu Kallara of Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple. As Princess Aswathi Thirunal Gowri Lakshmi Bayi observes, "Disturbing her peace would be a disaster especially if her current quiet temperament reverts to the menacing nature that was once hers."[5] The enchanting and ferocious forms of this Yakshi are painted on the south-west part of Sri Padmanabha's shrine.

Sundara Lakshmi[edit]

Sundara Lakshmi, an accomplished dancer and consort of HH Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma, was an ardent devotee of Kanjirottu Yakshi Amma.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kaimal, Kesava. 'Thekkan Thiruvithamkurile Yakshikal'. Srinidhi Publications, 2002.
  2. ^ Nair, Balasankaran. 'Kanjirottu Yakshi'. Sastha Books, 2001.
  3. ^ Nair, Balasankaran. 'Kanjirottu Yakshi'. Sastha Books, 2001.
  4. ^ Nair, Balasankaran. 'Valiaveedu Charithrathil'. Sastha Books, 1999.
  5. ^ Bayi, Aswathi Thirunal Gouri Lakshmi. 'Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple' (Third Edition). Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 2013.