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Supreme Almighty, The Parabrahma
Malayalam, Tamilഗുരുവായൂരപ്പന്‍, குருவாயூரப்பன்
AffiliationVishnu (Worshipped as Krishna)
MantraOm Namo Narayanaya
WeaponSudarshana Chakra (Disc), Panchajanya (Dextral Conch), Kaumodaki (Mace), Padma (Lotus)
ConsortShri Lakshmi

Guruvayurappan (Malayalam: ഗുരുവായൂരപ്പന്‍, (transliterated guruvāyūrappan)) also often written Guruvayoorappan, is a form of Vishnu worshipped mainly in Kerala. He is the presiding deity of Guruvayur temple, who is being worshiped as Shri Krishna in his child form, also known as Guruvayur Unnikkannan (Guruvayur baby Krishna). Even though the deity is that of chaturbahu (four handed) Vishnu, the concept (Sankalpam) of the people is that the deity is the infant form of Lord Krishna. The deity represents the purna rupa (full manifestation) revealed by baby Krishna to his parents Vasudeva and Devaki immediately after his advent in Kamsa's jail. So this is the reason why baby Krishna is worshipped on a Vishnu deity. The temple is located in the town of Guruvayur, Thrissur district, Kerala, India, which is named after the deity itself.

The word Guruvayurappan, meaning Lord of Guruvayur, comes from the words Guru (ഗുരു) referring to Brihaspati, the Guru of the Devas, Vayu (വായു), the God of Wind and Appan (അപ്പന്‍), meaning 'father' or 'Lord' in Malayalam. Since Guru and Vayu installed Krishna's deity, the name Guruvayurappan was given to the deity.[1][better source needed]

It is believed that the idol of Guruvayurappan was worshipped by Vasudeva and Devaki, the parents of Krishna, and represents the full manifestation of Vishnu, and later was worshipped by Krishna, an Avatar of Vishnu Himself. The deity is made of a stone called "Patala Anjanam" or black bismuth and is in the standing pose with four arms, carrying the Panchajanya (shanku or conch), the Sudarshana Chakra (chakra or disc), the Koumodaki (gada or mace) and padma (lotus).[2][better source needed]

Story of the Deity[edit]

Sri Guruvaayoorappan Temple in Morganville, New Jersey, United States
Sree Guruvayurappan Temple, Salem

Though the main story about the idol is just starting since the story of Lord Krishna, its antiquity goes long back, since it is believed to have constructed by Lord Vishnu himself. The story is told in detail in the section 'Gurupavanapura Mahatmyam' from Narada Purana. King Parikshit, the grandson of Arjuna and the son of Abhimanyu, died of a bite by the poisonous snake Takshaka, due to a curse which fell upon him. King Janamejaya, his son, wanted to avenge his father's death by killing all the snakes, including Takshaka, and for that, he conducted a fierce yajna called 'Sarpastra' (Snake sacrifice). Thousands of innocent snakes died in the yajna fire, but Takshaka could not be killed because he had drank amrit. Due to this act, Janamejaya was affected by the curse of snakes, and got affected by leprosy. He tried numerous ways to cure his disease, but none of them worked. He lost his hope to live. At that time, sage Atreya (the son of sage Atri) came to visit him and told him to worship Lord Mahavishnu in Guruvayur. He then also told the glory of the temple. It is as follows:

Long ago, in the beginning of Padma Kalpa,[a] when Lord Brahma was undergoing his work of creation, Lord Mahavishnu appeared before him. When the Creator[b] told that he and his creations want 'mukthi' without the bondage of 'karma', Lord Vishnu made an idol of himself and presented it to his friend. Lord Brahma worshipped the idol with deep obeisances for a long time, and in Varaha Kalpa, he gifted it to a sage named Sutapas and his wife Prsni, who were meditating upon Lord Vishnu for begetting a child. Sutapas and Prashni continued their prayer after getting the idol, and finally the Lord appeared before them. When they expressed their wish, which was that they want a son just like the Lord, he told that would himself be born as their son in three successive births, and in all the three births, they could worship his idol made by himself.

As he said, in the first birth in Satya Yuga, the Lord took birth as Prsnigarbha, the son of Sutapas and Prsni. In that birth, he prophesied the importance of brahmacharya and gave darshan to his devotee Dhruva, to whom he made a special universe called 'Dhruvaloka'. When Sutapas and Prsni were reborn as Kashyapa and Aditi, the Lord took birth as their son Vamana in Treta Yuga. Finally, when they were reborn as Vasudeva and Devaki, the Lord took birth as their eighth son Krishna. In all the three births, they had the fortune to worship the holy idol of Lord Vishnu made by the Lord himself.

After coming back from his studies, Lord Krishna took the idol worshipped by his parents to Dwarka, his new abode. He built a temple for the idol here, and daily worshipped the idol with deep obeisances, despite being an avatar of Lord Vishnu himself. Finally, Dwapara Yuga came to an end. Now it was time for the Lord to return to his original abode. Before leaving to Vaikuntha, he called his friend and disciple Uddhava and told that Dwarka would be affected by a serious Tsunami a week later, and the lone non-natural survivor of the flood will be the divine idol worshipped by his parents in three births. He also advised him to hand over the idol to Brihaspati, the Guru of Devas who would come at that moment, and leave to Badrikashram for doing penance for the rest of the lifetime.

As the Lord prophesied, there came a huge Tsunami on the week followed. Dwarka, which was filled by beautiful palaces, gardens and lush greenery, was completely destroyed in the Tsunami. Only the top of a huge mountain survived. Uddhava had already left to Badrikashram for doing penance, and before leaving, he called Brihaspati and informed him about the idol. By the time Brihaspati reached Dwarka, everything was over. But soon, he saw the holy idol of Lord Vishnu floating on the seawater. Brihaspati was overjoyed, but he could not go near the idol due to the nature of the Tsunami and also it was floating towards the other side. Then he called Vayu, the wind god and one among his important disciples. Vayu, with the help of Varuna, the sea god, created huge waves towards the point where Brihaspati was standing. Brihaspati took the idol in his hands, but he could not answer where to install it. Suddenly, sage Parashurama appeared there and told them to install the idol in an apt location in Bhargava Kshetra.[c] the land made by him with his axe.

According to the wishes of the Sage, Brihaspati and Vayu took the idol on their hands, and travelled by sky southwards through the sky to find an apt location in Bhargava Kshetra. Suddenly, they saw a large, beautiful lake on the western side of Bhargava Kshetra, very close to the sea. Nearby it, there was lush greenery. Birds chirped allover. Animals were running happily. Breeze spread everywhere. Brihaspati and Vayu realised something divine there. No sooner, they saw Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati dancing on the lake shore. Brihaspati and Vayu landed on the ground and prostrated before the divine parents of the world. Lord Shiva told them that he was waiting for their arrival, and that the apt location for installing the idol of Lord Vishnu was none other the place where they were standing. He also told that it was there the ten princes called Prachetas came for penance upon Lord Vishnu for attaining the status of Prajapati, and he discoursed Rudra Gita to them. Lord Shiva then declared that since the idol is to be installed by Brihaspati, the Guru and Vayu, the place will be called as 'Guruvayur', and devotees will find solace from the troubles of Kali Yuga.

After hearing this, Brihaspati called Vishwakarma, the divine architect and told him to construct a temple for the deity. Vishwakarma constructed the temple within minutes, with all the necessary components. Brihaspati and Vayu installed the idol with all necessary rituals. Lord Shiva performed the first pooja to the deity. Demigods headed by Indra showered flowers. Sage Narada sang songs. Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, who were present throughout the divine moment, later shifted themselves to Mammiyur, a place on the opposite bank of the lake, where they appeared as a Swayambhu Linga along with their children Ganesha, Kartikeya and Shasta. Since the idol was installed by Brihaspati and Vayu, the place came to be known as Guruvayur, and the deity came to be known as Guruvayurappan, meaning 'The Lord of Guruvayur'. It is considered that Lord Vishnu resides here with his full power as in Vaikuntha, and thus the place is called 'Bhuloka Vaikuntha'. A darshan here is considered to be complete only by worshipping Lord Shiva in Mammiyur. All problems will be solved by this, and even if you die, it is considered great.

After hearing this story, Janamejaya proceeded to Guruvayur along with his family, and stayed there for a year. During these days, he worshipped the Lord with deep obeisances and also visited Mammiyur temple to worship Lord Shiva. Finally, on the day before the end of his worship, he had a darshan of Lord Krishna, after which his disease was cured. He returned to his country, and lived happily thereafter.

Construction of the temple[edit]

The Main entrance to the temple

An astrologer told a Pandya King that he was destined to die from a cobra bite on a particular day. He was advised to go and pray before Guruvayurappan. The king spent years in meditation and prayer at the feet of the deity. One day, the King realized that the time of his death had passed. He came back to his palace and asked the astrologer why the prediction was wrong. The wise man showed him the mark on his left foot where the cobra had bitten him. Since the king was wholly absorbed in the Lord, Who alone can dispense with fate, he did not feel the sting. In gratitude, the King built the temple at Guruvayur and set apart funds for the daily routine of the temple. Most of the current temple building dates to the 16th and 17th centuries, although rich devotees funded extensions and additions later. The deepastamba (column of lights) was erected in 1836 by a devotee from Thiruvananthapuram. The temple has gopurams in the east and the west. The eastern gopuram has an inscription which refers to the town as "Gurupavanapura". The western gopuram was built in 1747.[3][better source needed]



King Manaveda and Vilwamangalam:King Manaveda told Vilwamangalam about his ambition to view Krishna[4][5] The next day the Swamiyar told him that Guruvayurappan has given his consent and Manavedan can see Guruvayurappan playing in the early hours of the morning at the platform of the Elanji tree.He could only see and not touch Him.When as per this agreement, Manavedan saw Guruvayurappan in the form of little child Sri Krishna, he was so excited that he forgot himself and, rushed to embrace little Sree Krishna.Guruvayoorappan immediately disappeared saying, "Vilwamangalam did not tell me that this will happen ".However, Manavedan got one peacock feather from the head gear of Bhagavan Krishna.

The peacock feather was incorporated in the headgear for the character of Sri Krishna in the dance drama Krishnanattam based on his own text krishnageeti which is composed of 8 chapters viz, Avatharam, Kaliyamardanam, Rasakrida, Kamsavadham, Swayamvaram, Banayuddham, Vividavadham and Swargarohanam.[6] It was performed near the sanctum sanctorum of the Guruvayur Temple. On the ninth day, Avatharam was repeated as the Samoothiri felt that it was not auspicious to end the series with the demise of Lord Krishna. The blessed art form is still maintained by guruvayur devaswom and staged as an offering by devotees.

Shopkeeper and boy: Once, a poor little boy could not get even a morsel of food to appease his hunger, and stole a banana from a nearby fruit shop. Being a devotee of Lord Guruvayurappan, he dropped half the banana into the 'hundi' and he ate the other half. The shop-keeper caught hold of the boy and accused him of the theft. The boy admitted his guilt. The shop-keeper did not have the heart to punish this innocent boy, but to teach him a lesson, he ordered him to walk around the temple a certain number of times. The shop-keeper was aghast when he saw Lord Guruvayurappan follow the little boy around the temple. That night the Lord came to the shopkeeper in a dream and explained, "Since I have also had a share in the stolen banana I am bound to share the punishment, too. So, I followed the boy around the temple." [2]

Nenmini Unni: Once a Nenmini Namboodiri, the main priest (melsanthi) at the Guruvayur temple, instructed his twelve-year-old son to offer the Nivedyam to the Lord. There was no assistant priest (keezhsanthi) on that day and the Nenmini Namboodiri had to go out on an urgent engagement, as called by a devotee. The son, Unni, offered a Nivedyam of cooked rice to the Lord; in his simplicity, he believed that the deity would eat the food, but the deity did not move. Unni bought some salted mangoes and curd from a neighborhood vendor, thinking that the Lord would prefer this, mixed the curd with rice and offered it again. The deity again remained unmoved. Unni cajoled, requested, coaxed and in the end threatened, but the deity remained unmoved. He wept because he believed he had failed and shouted at the Lord, exclaiming that his father would beat him. The Lord could not bear it any more, and made the Nivedyam disappear. The boy left the temple satisfied. Unni did not know that the Nivedyam offered to the Lord was the Variyar's prerequisite. When Variyar returned to the temple, he saw the empty plate and became very angry with Unni, but Unni insisted that God had, in fact, eaten the offering. Unni's innocent words made Variyar furious, as he believed the boy had eaten the offering himself and was lying. His father was about to beat Unni, but just then an Asareeri (celestial voice) was heard saying, "What Unni told is right. I am guilty. Unni is innocent. I ate all the food that he had offered me. There's no need to punish him". [3] Nenmini family is still there in Guruvayur, and has lots of wealth attached to it. It also sponsors the Saptami (7th day) Vilakku during the annual Ekadasi festival in the Malayalam month of Vrischikam.

Statue of Poonthanam Namboothiri, Guruvayur

Poonthanam and Melpathur:Poonthanam was a contemporary of Melpathur Narayana Bhattathiri, another famous poet associated with Guruvayur. Melpathur, the author of the Sanskrit work Narayaneeyam, was a famed scholar who out of pride refused Poonthanam's request to read his Jnanappana, a work in Malayalam.[7] Legend has it that Guruvayurappan, impressed by Poonthanam's humility and devotion preferred his works to those of Bhattathiri's and once even rebuked Bhattathiri for ignoring Poonthanam's Santhanagopala Paana saying he preferred Poonthanam’s genuine bhakti to Bhattathiri’s vibhakti.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kalpa is a time period in Hinduism. There are 14 Kalpas, which are divided into 14 Manvantaras, which are themselves divided into 71 Chaturyugas each. It is believed that a Kalpa is one day for Lord Brahma, who is the Creator god in the Hindu mythology.
  2. ^ According to Hindu mythology, Lord Brahma is one among the Trimurtis, along with Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva, though worshipped rarely. He undergoes the job of creating the universe, while Lord Vishnu preserves it and Lord Shiva destroys it.
  3. ^ Bhargava means the descendant of Bhrigu. Sage Parashurama, the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu, was a descendant of sage Bhrigu, and thus he was called Bhargava or Bhargava Rama (The latter being told to differentiate him from Lord Rama, the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu, who was called Raghava and Raghurama being the descendant of King Raghu. Bhargava Kshetra is considered to be the land between Kanyakumari in the south and Gokarna in the north, which mainly includes the present-day Kerala, but now also includes parts of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka states too.


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ [1].
  7. ^ "Stage for Bhakti". The Hindu. 17 September 2010.
  8. ^ "To lovers of Krishna, in Tamil". The Hindu. 19 July 2012.

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