Parasurama Kshethra


Parasurama, the famed warrior-sage was son of Maharishi Jamadagni and his virtuous wife Renuka. It is believed taht once teh peace loving ashrama of Sage Jamadagni was besieged by King Kartavirya Arjuna and his Kshatriya army who wished to forcibly abduct the divine cow Surabhi. When the god man refused to part with his beloved cattle, teh king razed down his hermitage and brutally murdered the sage himself. Parasurama who had been away at the time returned to find his home pillaged and his mother crying in agony. Seized by grief Renuka Devi struck her chest twenty one times. Unable to bear his mother's anguish and blinded with rage, Parasurama took a terrible vow. He swore that he would extract revenge by wiping the Kshatriya race off the face of the world twenty one times, each for the time his mother struck her own chest. And so he set out, gained knowledge of the divine weapons and arms by taking up severe penance to appease Lord Shiva.

However this took a toll on his virtue. The sage sought the advice of learned men and sought dissolution for the misdeeds and sins of killing innumerable Kshatriyas. Parasurama was suggested to donate a fertile and beautiful landmass to the Brahmins. Parasurama once again took up severe austerities and sought the help of Varuna, the God of the Oceans and Bhumidevi, the Goddess of Earth. With their blessings he proceeded to Kanya Kumari, stood facing the northern direction and threw his favorite weapon, the battle-axe (Parasu). To show his reverence, the Sea God, Varuna receded to the spot where this weapon lay. This land, known as Parasurama’s land is present day Kerala.
There are myths concerning the origin of Kerala. One such myth is the creation of Kerala by Parasurama, a warrior sage. The Brahminical myth proclaims that Parasurama, an avatar of Mahavishnu, threw his battle axe into the sea. As a result, the land of Kerala arose and was reclaimed from the waters. [2]

Parasurama was not ever the incarnation of Maha Vishnu. He was the sixth of the ten avatars (incarnation) of Vishnu. The word Parasu means 'axe' in Sanskrit and therefore the name Parasurama means 'Ram with Axe'. The aim of his birth was to deliver the world from the arrogant oppression of the ruling caste, the Kshatriyas. He killed all the male Kshatriyas on earth and filled five lakes with their blood. After destroying the Kshatriya kings, he approached assembly of learned men to find a way of penitence for his sins. He was advised that, to save his soul from damnation, he must hand over the lands he had conquered to the Brahmins. He did as they advised and sat in meditation at Gokarnam. There, Varuna -the God of the Oceans and Bhumidevi - Goddess of Earth blessed him. From Gokarnam he reached Kanyakumari and threw his axe northward across the ocean. The place where the axe landed was Kerala. It was 160 katam (an old measure) of land lying between Gokarnam and Kanyakumari. Puranas say that it was Parasuram who planted the 64 Brahmin families in Kerala, whom he brought down from the north in order to expiate his slaughter of the Kshatriyas. According to the puranas, Kerala is also known as Parasurama Kshetram, ie., 'The Land of Parasurama',as the land was reclaimed from sea by him.

This legend, however, may be a Brahmin appropriation of an earlier Chera legend where a Chera King, Velkezhu Kuttavan, otherwise known a Chen Kuttuvan flings his spear into the sea to claim land from it. [3] The myth of Parashurama is debatable as the legendary king Mahabali, under whose rule Kerala was the land of prosperity and happiness, was granted rule over hell (Patalam) by Vamana the avatar of Vishnu, who actually comes before the avatar of Parashurama according to the avatar stories of Hindu mythology.

One legend of Kerala even makes Parasurama a Pandya ruler. [4] In another legend, the Pandyas themselves are the manifestations of Parasurama. [5] P.N. Chopra writes, "Parasurama is deemed by the Keralites as the father of their national identity." [6] The Kollam Era is also known as "Parasurama-Sacam". [7] Travancore Rajas claim descent from Chera King Bhanu Bikram, who according to legend was placed on the throne by Parasurama. [8] Scholar K. Narayanan Sivaraja Pillai mentions, "Even as the West Coast owes its very rudiments of civilized life to Parasurama...". [9] In the Keralolpatti, Parasurama is said to have selected goddess Durga (Kali) to be the guardian of the sea-shore of Kerala. [10] According to legend, Chera King Kuttuvan Chera (also called Kota Varman) once enraged, threw an into the sea, thereby causing it to retreat and the land to dry. [11] According to another legend, a Pandyan called "Vadimbalamba ninrapandyan" threw his spear into the sea, hereby causing the same effect. [11] There is another story of Ukkira Pandiyan obtaining a spear from the Sivan of Madura, and throwing it into the sea, causing the shore to retreat. [11] Tradition says that Parasurama minted gold coins called Rasi and that in Travancore, he sowed them and buried the surplus in Cairns. [12]

According to the legends, Lord Parasurama created the land between Gokarna and Kanyakumari. Lord Parasurama the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu was the son of Sage Jamadagni and Renuka. As a mark of repentance for Kshatriya Nigraha sin, Parasurama meditated at Gokarna and invoked Lord Varuna (the Lord of the Oceans). Parasurama asked him for a boon. To absolve himself of the sins he had committed, he wanted to donate some land to the Brahmins. There was no land available because he already donated the whole land he obtained by the 21 round Kshatriya Nigraha to Sage Kashyapa. Lord Varuna told Parasurama that he would give him as much land as he wished. He told him to fling his Parasu (axe) from where he stood at Gokarna. The land from Gokarna till the point where the axe landed would be given to him was the boon that Lord Varuna promised him. The throw of the `axe' from Gokarna to Kanyakumari created Kerala. Parasurama donated this land to the Brahmins and settled Brahmins there in 64 gramams or villages.

32 out of the 64 gramams are in the Tulu speaking region (in between Gokarnam and Perumpuzha) and the remaining 32 gramams are in the Malayalam speaking region(in between Perumpuzha and Kanyakumari) in Kerala. Those in Kerala listed in the Keralopatti, the narrative of Kerala history are

1. Payyannoor 2. Perumchelloor (Talipparambu) 3. Alatthiyoor 4. Karanthol 5.Chokiram (Shukapuram) 6. Panniyoor 7. Karikkau 8. Isaanamangalam 9. Thrussivaperoor 10. Peruvanam. 11. Chamunda (Chemmanta) 12. Irungatikkootal (Iringalakkuda) 13. Avattiputhur (Avittathoor) 14. Paravoor 15. Airanikkulam 16. Muzhikkalam 17. Kuzhavur 18. Atavur 19. Chenganatu(Chengamanadu) 20. Ilibhyam 21. Uliyannoor 22. Kalutanatu. 23. Ettumanoor 24. Kumaranalloor 25. Kadamuri 26. Aranmula 27. Tiruvalla 28. Kidangoor 29.Chengannoor 30. Kaviyoor 31. Venmani and 32. Neermanna (Niranam)

After the creation of these gramams, Parasurama had consecrated 108 Shiva temples and 108 Durga temples for the well-being and prosperity of the people in Kerala . Among these 216 temples, the Lord Shiva of Gokarnam Mahabaleswara Temple in the north and Goddess Kumari of Kanyakumari temple in the south were considered as the protectors of Kerala. The first Shivalaya created by Parasurama was the Thrissivaperoor Vadakkunnatha Temple and the last one was the Thrikkariyoor Mahadeva Temple.

The names of these temples were given in the famous 108 Shivalaya Nama Stothra. This stothra is written in Malayalam and is anonymous. There are many temples with the same place names. Also some old names do not exist or their names have changed. So I have included temples with the same place names as a single group in this 108 shivalayas. So in this list you can find more than 110 Shiva temples in Kerala. It is clear that this stothra was composed in Thrissur region of Kerala because 64 temples were located in this region(9 in Palakkad district, 43 in Thrissur district and 12 in Ernakulam district). District wise distribution of rest of the temples are - 4 in Thiruvanathapuram, 5 in Kollam, 3 in Pathanamthitta, 6 in Alappuzha, 11 in Kottayam, 1 in Idukki, 7 in Malappuram, 4 in Kozhikkode, 1 in Vayanad and 5 in Kannur. Now 2 temples are in Karnataka and one is in Tamil Nadu. The full version of this stothra is given below.

Legend says that all these 108 shivalayas were built by Parasurama. But in the legends of many temples we cannot see such a connection. There is no dispute that these hymns which we have been singing for years have influenced the devotees minds.

The 108 great Shiva temples in ancient Kerala were

1. Dakshina Kailasam Thrissivaperoor Vadakkunnatha Temple

2. Udayamperoor Ekadasi Perumthrikkovil Mahadeva Temple
    Peroor Kaipayil Shiva Temple

3. Raveeswarapuram Temple Kodungalloor
    Iraveeswaram Mahadeva Temple Kudamaloor

4. Sucheendram Sthanumalaya Perumal Temple

5. Chowara Chidmbareswara Temple

6. Mathoor Shiva Temples

7. Trippangott Shiva Temple

8. Mundayoor or Mundoor Shiva Temple

9. Thirumandhamkunnu Mahadeva Temple

10. Chowalloor Shiva Temple

11. Panancheri Mudikkode Shiva Temple

12.Koratty Annamanada Mahadeva Temple

     Thrukkoratty Mahadeva Temple

13. Puramundekkat Mahadeva Temple

14. Avanoor Sreekandeswaram Mahadeva Temple

15. Kolloor Mookambika Temple

16. Thirumangalam Mahadeva Temple

17. Thrikkariyoor Mahadeva Temple

18. Kunnathu Mahadeva Temple

19. Velloor Perunthatta Mahadeva Temple

20. Ashtamangalam Mahadeva Temple

21. Iranikkulam Mahadeva Temple

22. Kainoor Mahadeva Temple

23. Gokarnam Mahabaleswara Temple

24. Ernakulam Mahadeva Temple

25. Pazhoor Perumthrikkovil Mahadeva Temple

26. Adattu Mahadeva Temple

27. Parippu Mahadeva Temple

28. Sasthamangalam Mahadeva Temple

29. Perumparambu Mahadeva Temple

30. Trukkoor Mahadeva Temple

31. Panayoor Paloor Mahadeva Temple

32. Vytila Nettoor Mahadeva Temple

33. Vaikom Mahadeva Temple

34. Rameswaram Mahadeva Temple Kollam

35. Rameswaram Mahadeva Temple Amaravila

36. Ettumanoor Mahadeva Temple

37. Edakkolam Kanjilassery Mahadeva Temple

38. Chemmanthitta Mahadeva Temple

39. Aluva Mahadeva Temple

40. Thirumittakkod Anchumoorthy Temple

41. Cherthala Velorvattom Mahadeva Temple

42. Kallattupuzha Mahadeva Temple

43. Thrukkunnu Mahadeva Temple

44. Cheruvathoor Mahadeva Temple

45. Poonkunnam Mahadeva Temple

46. Trukkapaleeswaram Mahadeva Temple Nadapuram

47. Trukkapaleeswaram Mahadeva Temple Peralassery

48. Trukkapaleeswaram Mahadeva Temple Niranam

49. Avittathoor Mahadeva Temple

50. Kodumon Angadikkal Perumala Tali Maha Shiva Temple
      Parumala Valiya Panayannarkavu Temple

51. Kollam Anandavalleeswaram Mahadeva Temple

52. Kattakambala Mahadeva Temple

53. Pazhayannoor Kondazhi Trutham Tali

54. Perakom Mahadeva Temple

55. Chakkamkulangara Mahadeva Temple

56. Kumaranalloor Temple
      Enkakkad Veeranimangalam Mahadeva Temple

57. Cheranelloor Mahadeva Temple

58. Maniyoor Mahadeva Temple

59. Nediya Tali Mahadeva Temple

60. Kozhikkode Tali Mahadeva Temple

61. Thazhathangady Tali Mahadeva Temple

62. Kaduthuruthy Tali Mahadeva Temple

63. Kodungalloor Mahadeva Temple

64. Vanchiyoor Sreekandeswaram Mahadeva Temple

65. Thiruvanjikkulam Mahadeva Temple

66. Padanayarkulangara Mahadeva Temple

67. Truchattukulam Mahadeva Temple
      Kadungalloor Chittukulam Mahadeva Temple

68. Alathoor Pokkunni Mahadeva Temple

69. Kottiyoor Mahadeva Temple

70. Truppaloor Mahadeva Temple

71. Perunthatta Mahadeva Temple

72. Truthala Mahadeva Temple

73. Thiruvalla Thiruvatta Mahadeva Temple
      Thukalassery Mahadeva Temple

74. Vazhappally Mahadeva Temple

75. Puthuppally Changankulangara
      Puthuppally Thrukkovil Mahadeva Temple

76. Anchummoorthy Mangalam Mahadeva Temple

77. Thirunakkara Mahadeva Temple

78. Kodumbu Mahadeva Temple

79. Ashtamichira Mahadeva Temple

80. Pattanakkad Mahadeva Temple
      Mattannoor Mahadeva Temple

81. Uliyannoor Mahadeva Temple

82. Killikkurussimangalam Mahadeva Temple

83. Puthoor Mahadeva Temple

84. Chengannoor Mahadeva Temple

85. Someswaram Mahadeva Temple

86. Venganelloor Mahadeva Temple

87. Kottarakkara Mahadeva Temples

88. Kandiyoor Mahadeva Temple

89. Palayoor Mahadeva Temple

90. Taliparamba Rajarajeswara Temple

91. Nedumpura Kulasekharanelloor Mahadeva Temple

92. Mannoor Mahadeva Temple

93. Trussilery Temple

94. Sringapuram Mahadeva Temple

95. Kottoor Karivelloor Mahadeva Temple

96. Mammiyoor Mahadeva Temple

97. Parabumthali Mahadeva Temple

98. Thirunavaya Mahadeva Temple

99. Karikkode Kanjiramattam Mahadeva Temple

100. Cherthala Nalppathenneeswaram Mahadeva Temple

101. Kottappuram Mahadeva Temple

102. Muthuvara Mahadeva Temple

103. Velappaya Mahadeva Temple

104. Chendamangalam Kunnathoor Tali Mahadeva Temple

105. Thrukkandiyoor Mahadeva Temple

106. Peruvanam Mahadeva Temple

107. Thiruvaloor Mahadeva Temple

108. Chirakkal Mahadeva Temple