Vallabhassery Govindan Vaidyar
In the year 1928 Nagambadam Temple at Kottayam the idea of a
pilgrimage to Sivagiri was mooted. Two lay disciples, Vallabhassery Govindan Vaidyar
and T K Kittan, approached the Guru with the idea of a pilgrimage for Ezhavas. The
conversation gives great insight into the Guru’s perspective and practicality (and to his
wiry sense of humor), so it is included verbatim here:
Guru: Pilgrimage? To Sivagiri? Interesting. They can bathe in the springs there.
Pay their respects to Sarada Devi. Very good, tell me more.
Disciples: We request that the Swami declare Sivagiri as a pilgrim center for
Ezhavas of Kerala.
Guru: Well, the Janardhanaswami temple at Varkala, that is already a pilgrim
center. Will Sivagiri also become holy?
Disciples: We have no entry to the normal Hindu holy places. If we try to go
there, they insult us, make things difficult for us, and we end up spendin g a lot of
money. If you declare it as such, Sivagiri will become holy. The Swami just has to
Guru: So if I declare it as such, Sivagiri will become holy. You truly believe this?
Disciples: We have no doubt about it, Sure.
Guru: Let’s see: I say it is holy and the two of you believe it. That makes three of
us. Is that enough?
Disciples: If the Swami declares it as such, two million Ezhavas and all the other
depressed communities would recognize Sivagiri as a place of pilgrimage.
Guru: Such faith you have! Very good, I concur.
Disciples: It is desired that it be an annual pilgrimage. Please advise us as to the
month, date, week, and star.
Guru: Let them come to Sivagiri at the time of the Europeans’ new year.
January 1 st . By our reckoning, that is roughly 16 or 17in the month of Dhanu
(Sagittarius). That’s a good time.
Disciples: What vows and penances must the pilgrims observe?
Guru: People find it difficult these days to observe long and difficult penances.
Many may not. Let them observe for ten days the Five Purities of Sri Buddha.
Disciples: Should there any special clothing they should wear?
Guru: White is for the householder; saffron for monks; black clothes for
Sabarimala pilgrims. Let it be yellow for Sivagiri: the colors of Sri Krishna and
Sri Buddha. That would be good.
Disciples: Should pilgrims wear rudraksha beads?
Guru: No, Let but they can grind the beads up in a little water and drink it. That
may do them some good. Any other queries?
Disciples: Nothing more
Guru: Do you know the Five Purities of Sri Buddha?
Disciples: Yes, we do.
Guru: Tell me what they are.
Disciples: Body purity, food purity, purity in mind, purity in speech, purity in
Guru: Yes, it will be enough to observe these. Besides, just because I said yellow
clothes nobody should go out and buy yellow silk. It is not even necessary to have
new clothes. They can just use their normal white clothes, and dip them in
turmeric water. Later when they wash them they will become white again. The
pilgrimage must be without any pomp. Humble. Chant the praises of God. Do not
defeat the purpose of the pilgrimage through pomp and circumstance and noise.
Do not spend a penny unnecessarily. You must learn to save. The community is
backward in education and wealth and cleanliness. This has to change; it has to be
changed. Do you have any more questions?
Guru: What is the objective of this pilgrimage? Is there any?
Disciples: But you told us the objectives.
Guru: Those were the mechanisms. Are the objectives the same as the
There was no response.
Guru: Once a year a bunch of people from various parts of the country travel to
Sivagiri wearing yellow clothes. They walk around, bathe, eat, spend money, and
then go home. What do they accomplish by all this? Nothing. Just spent money
and time. This is not proper. Every act should have a purpose. Take the following
The objectives of the Sivagiri pilgrimage are the following:
8. Technical training
There should be a series of talks about these topics. Invite experts in these fields
and ask them to speak. People should listen carefully and pay attention. They
should then try to put these into practice. They should succeed in that. Then the
people and the land will advance. Not only Ezhavas, but through Ezhavas others
will also progress. Thus life can be made worthwhile. This is the main aim of the
Sivagiri is the spiritual and vital centre of all Sree Narayana organizations. Gurudev must have founded Sivagiri Mutt, for achieving his imaginary model world, where all live in brotherhood without caste discriminations and religious rivalries. The spiritual organization, Sree Narayana Dharma Sangham operates under the leadership of the ascetic disciples, with Sivagiri Mutt as the centre.
The Sivagiri Pilgrimage(Sivagiri theerthadanam) started with 5 people in year 1932. In 2006, the 75th year(platinum jubilee year ), the number of pilgrims has increased to 30 lakhs.