Guruvayur ekadasi today

Of the 24 Ekadasis in an year, the Vrishchika Ekadasi (Suklapaksha) has got special significance in Guruvayur. After the temple is open on dasami day for Nirmalya darshan (3.00AM ), it is closed only at 9.00 am on Dwadasi Day (12th day), thus allowing continues darshan for devotees throughout Dasami and Ekadasi Days. On Ekadasi day, the Udayasthamana Pooja (continuous pooja) is conducted by the Devaswom itself . After the morning seeveli, on Ekadasi there is a grant elephant procession to the Parthasarathi temple since it is regarded as Geethopadesam Day also. On Ekadasi after night pooja the famous Ekadasi Vilakku and Seeveli with 3 elephants takes place and provides a fitting finale to the festival. Lakhs of devotees attend the festival.

This year also the sanctum sanctorum of the Guruvayur Sree Krishna temple was opened at 3 am on Tuesday (24th Nov 2020). The sanctum sanctorum will remain open till 9 am on Thursday. But only 5000 devotees who registered via online will be allowed to enter the temple due to the COVID-19 restrictions. May be, Guruvayoorappan wants us to remember him through chanting of stothrams like Narayaneeyam and Vishnu sahasranamam and Bhagavad Gita.

Seeveli this morning

By the way, Guruvayoor Ekadashi and Narayaneeyam day are different. Like vaikunta ekadasi is celebrated with great fervor in Tamilnadu Vishnu temples, Guruvayoor Ekadashi is celebrated in a grand manner in Guruvayoor. But Narayaneeyam day is always 28th day of Karthigai month when Sri Bhattathiri completed narayaneeyam. Mostly it falls on 13th Dec. This year also it is on 13th Dec.

Narayaneeyam audio recording and lyrics can be found here -> Sriman Narayaneeyam audio recording and lyrics

(Found this excellent write up from Srinath Mohandas in Facebook about Gajarājan Guruvāyūṛ Keśavan who attained mukthi on Guruvāyūṛ Ekādaśi)

It was on this day, in 1976, Gajarājan Guruvāyūṛ Keśavan, the alpha elephant of the legendary Guruvāyūṛ temple, who stood well over 3.2 meters tall, complete with all lakṣaṇa-s and widely admired for his expressions of deep devotion to Guruvāyūrappan (Guruvāyūṛ Kṛṣṇa), passed away aged 72.

He came to Guruvāyūṛ when Valiya Rāja of Nilambur offered him as one of the 12 elephants to Guruvāyūrappan in the January of 1922. He soon developed a reputation and became the leading elephant in the temple herd carrying the Lord Himself (tiḍambb/ തിടമ്പ്/ utsava mūrtī)! It is said that he never tolerated another elephant carrying Bhagavān on its back. Once when this previlege was given to another elephant, he became disturbed, attacked and chased it away! However, he never harmed anyone. Another time when he was on his way to the temple, he disobeyed the mahouts and started running. People scattered and ran for their precious lives. Except for a poor leper who couldn’t move but stood helpless on the path with folded hands trembling in fear. Those who witnessed swear that they thought the man would be crushed to death, but to their surprise, Keśavan lifted him with his trunk and placed him safely on the pavement, and continued running to the temple. He did no harm to people and property whatsoever! Once he reached the temple he was calm and prostrated at the main shrine.

For over 50 years he served Guruvāyūrappan. On the Guruvāyūṛ Ekādaśi day of 1976 he refused to eat (fasted) the whole day. At the hour of death he prostrated facing Guruvāyūrappan with his trunk raised in salutation and passed away peacefully.

People continue to remember him fondly and commemorate his mukthi day every year.



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2 replies

  1. There is a nice book on Gajarajan Keshavan by Unnikrishnan Puthoor. It captures in detail how in a divinely ordained way he came to Guruvayur, the various incidents associated with his upbringing, the details of the Ayurvedic treatments given to him as he was considered weak, his many pranks and foibles, his firm refusal to do any work not associated with the Lord of Guruvayur, his unwillingness to give the chance of service to any other elephant, and many an unusual incident associated with him and those associated with him.

    One of those thrilling incidents was this. One day, Keshavan ran away from his place, was out of control. He was running in the direction of a school. It was meal time and hundreds of children were around. People ran helter-skelter in fear. The children did not know where to run. It was thought that on that day, many children would e crushed by Keshavan. But seeing the children, Keshavan stood silently by a wall, till all the children went away, and only then did proceed further on his adventure! How do we know this? Well the author Puthoor was one of the children that day! He has seen Keshavan from his fifth to his fortyfifth year, almost daily! ( He was an employee of the Dewaswom Board.)

    The book is also a chronicle of many of the social and religious beliefs and practices of the day. It shows how devout the royal family was. It records how many Ayurvedic manuals were searched for the effective treatment of elephants, the details of the medicines and the ingenuity of the native doctors.

    The book is thrilling and also edifying. We read of Gajendra’s devotion in the Purana. Gajarajan Keshavan has added another chapter to the Purana in our time. How we wish we have one thousandth of the single minded devotion that this divine elephant had!
    Originally written in Malayalam, the book is available in a Tamil translation, though the translation is not very good. I do not know whether there is an English translation.

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