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Kuttichathans are a class of demons worshipped in folk Hinduism in Kerala state of India. According to legends, there are around 390 Kuttichathans each one vary in their nature and power. Vishnumaya, the youngermost of the Kuttichathans is considered to be the most powerful and is most widely worshipped. Names of other Chathans are Parakkutty, Arukolai, Karuthachan, Mookkan, Kappiri, Kurudi, Karimkannan, etc.[1]

God of Profit and Sorcer
Vishnumaya Chathan riding a Water buffalo
Other namesChathan, Chekuthan, Satan
AffiliationHindu god
WeaponMantra Vadi (Magic wand)
Mountപോത്ത് (Water buffalo)

Kuttichathans except Vishnumaya are often portrayed in dark colors sometimes with horns and tail. Unlike his brothers, Vishnumaya is considered to be a virtuous Chathan and is often depicted in white color. Vishumaya means "resemblance of Lord Vishnu". He got his name because of his similarity with Lord Vishnu in his appearance.

Vishnumaya Chathan is believed to be a son of Shiva and Kulivaka – a tribal woman, while in some versions Parvati disguises herself as Kulivaka.

According to Hindu mythology Shiva while on a hunt happened to hear a sweet voice in the jungle. He was surprised to find that it was a tribal girl's voice, "Kulivaka" (Pronounced as Koolivaaka) - a girl of immense beauty. The solitude of the forest area called 'Kuli' vanam, and the sheer beauty of the forest girl, made the Lord lustful. He informed Kulivaka of his wish and told her to wait for him until he returned from his hunt[citation needed]

Kulivaka, who was a devotee of Parvati realized that mating with the lord would bring forth the wrath of the goddess upon her; but she feared the wrath of Shiva, in case she refused him. She prayed to her Goddess to save her from the predicament. Parvati, pleased with her innocence appeared before her and revealed her true identity. In her previous birth Kulivaka was Manaswini, a servant in the retinue of Parvati. One day she happened to breast-feed Ganesha who was a baby at that time. Parvati didn't appreciate the fact of a servant breast-feeding her baby. She cursed Manaswini that she would be born in a chandala(outcaste) family. When Parvati's anger subdued, she took pity on Manaswini. Devi Parvati blessed her that although she will be born as a chandala, she would get the opportunity to breast-feed the son of Shiva.[citation needed]

Devi disclosed that it was pre-ordained fate that made possible her meeting with Lord Shiva and his passion for Koolivaka. She told the girl that she herself would take the form of Koolivaka and deceive Lord Shiva. She also informed Koolivaka that the son born from such a union would be the killer of Jalandhara, a powerful Asura. Thus revealing the course of fate, she sent the innocent girl away.

The pseudo Koolivaka started swinging on a creeper attached to a jackfruit tree and waited for the arrival of Lord Shiva. A child with divine power was born through their union. Lord Shiva arranged a buffalo for the protection of the child. This divine child who came to be known as Kuttichathan or Karuthachan was given to Koolivaka for rearing. Koolivaka thus became the mother of Kuttichathan, son of Lord Shiva fulfilling the boon of Parvati.

Karuthachan lived with Koolivaka for about seven years. The tribals loved the boy who saved them from many dangers. He roamed the jungle riding his buffalo and playing a musical instrument known as "Ezhara".[citation needed]

On his seventh birthday, the tribals held a feast in his honour. During the feast the sage, Narada manifested himself. He revealed to Kuttichathan the secret of his birth. Moreover, Narada advised Karuthachan to visit his true parents in Kailash. He also told Kuttichathan the true purpose of his birth.[citation needed]

Karuthachan started his journey to Kailash with the permission of his foster mother and friends. He rode on his buffalo to Kailash. When he was about to reach Kailash he realized that Nandi would not allow him to enter Kailash in his present form. So he took the form of Lord Vishnu. On seeing their son, Shiva and Parvati were very happy and hugged their son. Lord Shiva blessed him, saying, "You invoked the form of Vishnu by Maya (magic). So you will be known as Vishnu Maya". Moreover, he taught him the art of warfare and the secrets to kill Jalandhara (an asura who had been harassing the Devas).[citation needed]

Jalandhara was an asura who had got a boon from Indra and he was terrorizing the three worlds (Heaven, Pathala (Nether World) and Earth). Kuttichathan challenged him to battle. After a fierce battle, Karuthachan took the form of Sudarsana Chakra with his Maya to behead Jalandhara. Sensing danger, he escaped and hid himself in the seas. Vishnumaya as Chakra followed him. Due to the heat of the fiercely revolving Chakra the water where Jalandhara was hiding started to boil. Unable to bear the heat, Jalandhara came out and he was promptly beheaded. Thus came the end of Jalandhara. With the killing of Jalandhara, the power of Vishnumaya was recognized by the Devas. Indra invited him to Heaven. But Kuttichathan declined the offer saying that his place was among the poor people who needed his protection. Karuthachan returned to his own people.[citation needed]

Another powerful Asura called Briga saw Koolivaka in the forest and wanted to take her as his wife. He came with a large force and tried to capture her. Karuthachan along with his elder brother, "Karinkutty" resisted the attack. Kuttichathan was injured in the conflict. From the blood that fell on the ground, there arose 400 new "Kuttichathan"s. Sensing his immediate defeat, Briga used ten Brahmastras against Vishnumaya, ten Kuttichathans valiantly swallowed the weapon and gave up their life. The remaining 390 Kuttichathans defeated the army while Karuthachan killed Briga with his Kuruvadi (short Stick).

Some of the famous Ancient Traditional Vishnumaya Temples in Kerala are Avanangattil Kalari first vishnumaya temple (moolasthanam)kizhakkumuri, peringottukara, Thrissur district, Kerala, India. Avanangattilkalari sree vishnumaya temple. The temple is more than 100 years old, actual age is unknown. Kottarathil Sankunni (1855-1909) (real name: Vasudevan) was a well-known author of Malayalam literature, born on 23 March 1855 in Kottayam, Travancore. He made significant contributions in both poetry and prose. He started compiling the legends of Kerala in 1909 and completed the work in eight volumes over a quarter of a century. "Aithihyamala" (Garland of Legends), is a collection of stories of legends prepared by Kottarathil Sankunni. The works on the legends were collected and published by Sankunni in the famous Malayalam literary magazine of the nineteenth century, the Bhashaposhini. Later, they were collected in eight parts and published by the Reddiar Press in Quilon, sometime in the early twentieth century. India's first writers' cooperative, the National Bookstall started publishing these articles as collections on behalf of the 'Kottarathil Sankunni Memorial Committee' in 1974 and later this was taken up by another publisher, D. C. Books, in 1991. Such is their popularity that, from 1991 till 2004 almost 150,000 copies of these stories were distributed.

Other important temples include, Karumanthra Shree Vishnumaya Temple Meloor, Kannanchira Shree Vishnumaya Temple, Perigottukara Devasthanam, Kanadikavu Kuttichathan Kavu situated in Thrissur district of Kerala. Most of these temples were built few years back, most of the idols were brought from karanayil devasthanam sree vishnumaya temple. Particularly in Thrissur district most families have temples with the vishnumaya idol as the main deity.[2][citation needed] In addition to these famous temples, Lord Vishumaya is one of the main deities in Pakkalippallam Temple (situated in the valley of Chembra peak, in the midst of forest) in Wayanad district of Kerala. Lord Vishnumaya is also the main deity of Hindus in central Kerala.

According to the old historical sources, Puchanellur Battathiri first prayed to god Shiva and goddess Parvati. Through his prayer Shiva and Parvati were satisfied but they instructed him to pray to the god Karuthachan. He prayed (upasana) to the god Sree Vishnumaya. With Continuous prayer god Sree Vishnumaya and his 390 Kuttichathans blessed him. He built a 'pooja'(worship) room at his own house (punchanellur mana). God Vishnumaya's blessing bore fruit. After a few years, Bhattathiri started thinking about maintaining family line and status. He had only one daughter called Ettinarayani. She could not follow the rule of vishnumaya upasana (pooja ) to god sree vishnumaya. Same time at Avanangattil kalari there were two brothers unnithaman and kelluuni. They were maintaining kalari. They were praying to god Ganesha. But they desired to do Upasana to a ugra moorthi (demonic deity) who can help win over enemy's. When they set about searching for that, they heard about Karuthachan and Punchanellur Bhattathiri. Unnithamman panicker and kellunni panicker visited Puchanellur and they requested for help. Puchanellur Bhattathiri agreed to give hand of his daughter to them and provide manthra's to propitiate God Vishnumaya. In exchange Bhattathiri requested Ganesha moolamathra's. Avanangattilkalari Unnithaman panicker and kellunni panicker agreed for exchange. When they returned to avanangattilkalari they started upasana(continues prayer). After 41 days god Vishnumaya aka Karuthachan blessed them with his 390 brothers. After that unnithaman panicker requested Vishnumaya, that until his return god need to protect his family and give blessings in Avanangattilkalari. He went to a well near to Avanangattil kalari, which had no water but steps and started praying and sacrificed life for family. Before he started praying he instructed his brother kellunni to close well opening. He never returned. As per given word, Karuthachan continues to bless karuvannur karanayil devasthanam vishnumaya temple.


  1. ^ Iyer, L. K. Anantha Krishna. Cochin Tribes And Castes Vol. 1. p. 143.
  2. ^