Vilwamangalam Swamiyar

Vilwamangalam Swamiyar or Vilwamangalathu Swamiyar is the name of more than one saint who lived in India. The first Vilwamangalam, a Swamiyar belonging to Naduvil Madhom, who lived in the 8th century. The spot of his samadhi is to the west of Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple. The second saint who belonged to Thekke Madhom,Thrissur lived during the middle of 14th century. He was an ardent devotee of Lord Guruvayoorappan[by whom?]. Both the Swamiyars were native to Malai Nadu. The first Swamiyar was born in Sukapuram Gramam in Kerala. The second Swamiyar was renowned all over India. Bengalis believe that he was born in Bengal while Odias believe in Odisha, though tradition in Kerala implies that he belonged to Panniyoor village. "Sreekrishna Karnamritham" is his devotional masterpiece, written under an unspecified name "Leelasukan". The second Vilwamangalam is closely associated with several famous temples in Kerala such as Thiruvarppu, and Cherthala Kaarthiaayani.

Due to the popularity of Sreekrishna Karnamritham the author became a legendary figure, and every part, province of India claimed him for itself.[1]

Vilwamangalam and Sree Padmanabhaswamy TempleEdit

The first Vilwamangalathu Swamiyar, while residing near [Paramel Thrikkovil Temple, Kombathukadavu,Puthenchira, ] in Trichur District, prayed to Lord Vishnu for his darshan or "auspicious sight". The Lord is believed to have come in the guise of a little boy who was mischievous. The boy defiled the Idol which was kept for Puja. The sage became enraged at this and chased away the boy, who disappeared. After a long search, when he was walking on the banks of Arabian Sea, he heard a pulaya lady threatening her child that she would throw him in Ananthankadu. The moment the Swami heard the word Ananthankadu he was delighted. He proceeded to Ananthankadu based on the directions of the lady of whom he enquired. The Sage reached Ananthankadu searching for the boy. There he saw the boy merging into an Iluppa tree (Indian Butter Tree). The tree fell down and became Anantha Sayana Moorti (Vishnu reclining on the celestial snake Anantha). But the edifice that the Lord assumed was of an extraordinarily large size, with His head at Thiruvallom, navel at Thiruvananthapuram, and lotus-feet at Thrippadapuram (Thrippappur), making him some eight miles in length. The Sage requested the Lord to shrink to a smaller proportion that would be thrice the length of his staff. Immediately the Lord shrank to the form of the Idol that is seen at present in the Temple. But even then many Iluppa trees obstructed a complete vision of the Lord. The Sage saw the Lord in three parts – thirumukham, thiruvudal and thrippadam. Swami prayed to Padmanabha to be forgiven. The Swami offered Rice Kanji and Uppumanga (salted mango pieces) in a coconut shell to the Perumal which he obtained from the pulaya woman. The spot where the Sage had darsan of the Lord belonged to Koopakkara Potti and Karuva Potti. With the assistance of the reigning King and some Brahmin households a Temple was constructed. Koopakkara Potti was made the Tantri of the Temple.[2]( history: Aithihyamala by Shri Ulloor)

The Ananthankadu Nagaraja Temple still exists to the north west of the Padmanabhaswamy Temple. The Samadhi (final resting place) of the Swamiyar exists to the west of the Padmanabha Temple. A Krishna Temple was built over the Samadhi. This Temple, known as Vilwamangalam Sri Krishna Swami Temple, belongs to Thrissur Naduvil Madhom.[3]

God's visitations ("Seeing Gods") [4]Edit

Once, on a Vrishchikam Kaarthika day (Kaarthika star-day of the Malayalam month Vrishchikam), when he went to Vadakkunnathan Temple in Thrissur, the deity was "missing". On his stepping out of the temple, he found the god sitting on the south wall facing south; apparently waiting to watch Kumaaranalloor Kaarthiaayani's arrival after her bath and fully attired. Ever since, a Pooja is performed on the south wall on the Kaarthika of Vrishchikam every year.

On an Ashtami day, he visited Vaikom Temple but could not find the deity in the sanctorum. When he carefully searched, the lord was found disguised as an old Brahmin sitting and eating among a crowd of Brahmins enjoying a Sadhya next to a pillar in the north "Chuttambalam". Since then, during every feast in the temple, a plantain leaf is placed near that pillar with all dishes of the feast served.

During an Utsavam in Ambalappuzha Sri Krishna Temple, Swamiyar found the missing god serving feast to the Maaraars in the "Naatakasaala" (drama hall). Even to this day, the Naatakasaala feast for Maaraars is given much importance owing to the supposed divine presence.

On one of his sojourns, while approaching a forest area near Cherthala, the Swamiyar came face-to-face with seven divine women (angels). On approaching them, one ran away but fell into a very muddy part of a pond. When he extricated her, her hair was full of mud, and that was the reason for the place to get the name "Cherthala", and the deity Cherthala Kaarthiaayani.

He is also said[by whom?] to have seen the deity at the site of Eravikulangara Temple.

If these legends are to be believed, there must have been more than one Vilwamangalam Swamiyar, since historically these events must have occurred in different periods. Ulloor S. Parameswara Iyer believes that there were at least three Swamiyars.

Sreekrishna Karnaamritham [4]Edit

Vilwamangalam Swamiyar had a local Ambalavasi for Sambandam, whom he loved dearly. He would visit his wife across the river every night overcoming any obstacles. On a very stormy night, he took off with a torch ("choottu", lighted bunched palm leaves) and somehow managed to cross the river using what appeared to be a log with a rope at one end. After crossing the river, he tied the log to a tree using the rope. Hearing about the trouble he had taken to visit her every night, she told him that he would have obtained Moksha, had he diverted all that energy and single-mindedness to pray to (please) God.

These words of his wife really shook him and there was a revelation in him, which led him to create his devotional masterpiece - Shree Krishna Karnamrutam, which he wrote under an assumed name "Leelasukan". Next morning he left his wife telling her that she was henceforth his mother and teacher. At the river-bank he found that the log he had used the previous night was actually the dead body of a man, and the rope - a dead python. After reaching home and taking bath, he arranged for Punyaha to be performed on him, and soon thereafter he sought Sannyasa and became the "Vilwamangalathu Swamiyar". His mother was Neeli and father Damodaran. [5]

Vilwamangalam Illam [4]Edit

The illom of the first Swamiyar was located in Sukapuram and it is non-existent now.

Regarding the second Swamiyar, there are several versions as to where his illom is located - Tavanur, Puthenchira, Kasaragod and other places have stated claims.


One version claims that Vilwamangalam is the same as "Vella" Illam of Tavanur (from "Thapanoor", the village of the "Thapaswi", the saint). The compound and basement remnant of this Illam exist nearby even today. Also in the vicinity on the north bank of Bharaathapuzha is Thirunavaya Navamukunda Temple apparently built for Swamiyar's mother to pray to Vishnu during her old age. Even today, on the Vella Illam basement, "Yogeeswara Pooja" is performed in a grand way on the Sraadhham day (death anniversary) of the Swamiyar, adding to the belief that Vilwamangalam is here. The Swamiyar's writings about Mookkuthala Bhagavathy, Sukapuram Dakshinaamoorthy and Thriprangottappan appear to substantiate this view. Ulloor S Parameswara Iyer suggests the original Sanskrit name would have been "Kodandamangalam" which translates to "Villumangalam" and changed to Vilwamangalam and hence to Vella.


Some believe that his "Poorvaasramam" (pre-sannyaasam home) was in Puthenchira, between Kodungallur and Mala in Mukundapuram Taluk of Thrissur district. He is said to belong to one branch of the Vella family of Panniyoor which settled there, and later this family as well as their property got merged into Mechery Mana of Paravur. The Paaramel Thrikkovil temple of Puthnchira is said to be that of Sreekrishnan, Vilwamangalam's "Paradevatha". A homestead of 57 cents near Anappara was set apart as Vilwamangalam's, which continues to have rituals. The paddy fields there are still known as Vilwamangalam "Paadam".


The people of Brahmapuram Desam of Kasaragod district are of the opinion that Vilwamangalam belongs to that place. They believe that it was in their Ananthapura Lake Temple that Sreekrishnan chided the Swamiyar to meet again in Ananthan forest. They also claim some connection between the Swamiyar and a temple near Kaithapram, and that the spring in the Theertham was generated by him.

Olayambadi[citation needed]Edit

Meenkulam sri krishna temple (8 km away from kaithapram). Claims that, on the way back from kaveri visit, the swamiyar came to the wild flat rocky area in the evening(where the temple and pond situated now). There was no source of water at the place to take bath for the swamiyar. Ardent krishna devotee- swamiyar prayed krishna for the water and krishna appeared and asked him to close his eyes to get the solution. Then the krishna enlarged his body, with his right bare foot stepped on the rocky place and generated spring in the foot printed deep surface and it became like a pond ( still people can see the two meter depth/four meter length foot print under water rock surface-like a deep muddy foot print). As per the swamiyar's concern about the purity of water without fish, krisha created large fishes(still visible) and asked him to take bath and pooja. Fish and pond (meen and kulam in Malayalam) known as the place-meenkulam and later on built the temple. Vilwamangalam swamiyar Mattham situated near to the temple with an ancient large cave. Believes that centuries ago vilwamangalam or other followers may be done meditation in this cave. Variety of pooja pots also had excavated from this cave decades ago.

Other claimsEdit

During his stay in the Mattham at Trichambaram, after gifting Vadakke Mattham and properties to Othanmaar Mattham, Vilwamangalam reached Vishnumangalam temple near Edaneer Mattham, before starting off to Banaras. He stayed in Edaneer Mattham as requested by the Yadava families of Trichambaram, and under the care of those local families who later took up Sannyasa, apparently from Vilwamangalam Swamiyar.

These events took place around 500 years ago. There may have been twelve Swamiyars there and ten could have been given up for adoption to Perumpadappu. Ulloor S. Parameswara Iyer and others state that there have been three from Vilwamangalam family had become Swamiyars, and that one of them might have offered the afore-mentioned Sannyaasa.

There is one Vilwamangalam family listed among the Saagara Dwijans. It is likely that his disciples might have stayed with him and perhaps later they began to be referred to as Vilwamangalam.

Teachers [4]Edit

Sureswaracharya, the disciple of Sree Adi Shankara, was the guru of the first Vilwamangalam.

One of the Leelasukan's teachers was named Eesaana Devan. Somagiri an expert in Thaanthrik traditions may also be considered Leelaasukan's Guru (teacher). Ramachandra Budhendran and Paapaayallaya Soori, both from Andhra Pradesh, were his commentators.

Works [4]Edit

Bilvamangala's Balagopalastuti; folio 16 verso - 17 recto
  1. Sreekrishna Karnaamritham
  2. Sreechinham
  3. Purushakaaram
  4. Abhinava-Kausthubha-Maala
  5. Dakshinaamoorthy-Sthavam
  6. Kaalavadha Kaavyam
  7. Durgaasthuthi
  8. Baalakrishna Sthothram
  9. Baalagopaala Sthuthy
  10. Sreekrishna Varadaashtakam
  11. Vrindaavana Sthothram
  12. Bhaavanaamukuram
  13. Raamachandraashtakam
  14. Ganapathy Sthothram
  15. Anubhavaashtakam
  16. Mahaakaalaashtakam
  17. Kaarkotakaashtakam
  18. Krishnaleelaa-Vinodam
  19. Sankara-Hridayamgamaa
  20. Subanda-Saamraajyam
  21. Thinganda-Saamraajyam
  22. Kramadeepika

A grand total of 22 works.


  1. ^ The contribution of Kerala to Sanskrit Literature; K.Kunjunni Raja; University of Madras 1980; page 31,33
  2. ^ "Legend And History".
  3. ^ Bayi, Aswathi Thirunal Gouri Lakshmi (1995). Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay, India.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Vilwamangalam Swaamiyaar".
  5. ^ Note: From: The author of Sri Krishna KarnAmrutham is Bilva Mangalar (AD 1220–1300). He was a contemporary of Swami Desikan (AD 1268–1369).

External linksEdit