Namboothiri Websites, Calicut, Kerala
(A Voluntary and Non-profit-oriented forum for documenting Namboothiri traditions in web)

Murajapam and the Role of Namboothiris

The "Murajapam" performed at Thiruvananthapuram every six years was a famous ritual in which all Namboothiris of Kerala with veda eligibility (Othanmaar) assemble and continuously recite the entire Vedam in about two months. On the last day, the Maharaja of Travancore enters the Padmanabhaswamy temple and offers a male elephant to the Lord (this is called "natayiruthal"), as a token of appreciation for the successful completion of Murajapam.

It is believed that the Murajapam ritual was started by the then King of Travancore, the famous Marthaanda Varma to atone for the sins of war, such as killing and other crimes in the battle field, through which he had expanded his kingdom, as well as for the general security of his kingdom. In that process, the Maharaja hoped to get the approval of the powerful Namboothiri community for all his activities. It was also hoped that the spiritual power of Lord Padmanabha would be enhanced through Murajapam. It incidentally gave encouragement for Namboothiris for Veda recital.

Murajapam literally refers to the continuous chanting of Vedam from the beginning to the end. All the authorised Namboothiris recite the Vedams in its entirety in seven 8-day segments, completing it in 56 days.

In addition to reciting Vedams, it also includes chanting Manthrams, reciting Sahasranaamam and performing Jalajapam. While Vedajapam and Manthrajapam (Bhaagya sooktham, etc.) are performed on the several Mandapams inside the temple Naalampalam between 6 and 9.30 after the morning Thevaaram, Sahasranaamajapam is done between 2 and 3 in the afternoon in the outer Sivelippuras. After the evening Thevaaram around 6.30, they all stand knee-deep in water on the steps on all four sides of the "Padma theertham" (the sacred tank adjoining the temple) and chant 108 times a particular Rik from the Rigvedam seeking for the destruction of enemies. During the three occasions (Vedajapam, Sahasranaamajapam and Jalajapam) the Maharaja graces the place, circum-ambulates and bows to them. It is not uncommon to have Dwivedi and Thrivedi Namboothiris for Vedajapam, and only Namboothiris are authorised to do the various Japams.

A couple of months before the start of Murajapam, the Maharaja sends invitations through special palace couriers, first to the two Vadhyaans of Thirunaavaaya and Thrissur (for overseeing of Murajapam), Aazhvaancheri Thampraakkal (for his divine blessings), the six Vaidikans - Pandal, Cherumukku, Kaplingat, Perumpadappu, Kaimukku and Thekkat - (who are authorised to make on-the-spot procedural decisions), and Thekkedath Bhattathiri (for performing the Kutikkuneer Veezhthal, representing the Maharaja). All the above, except Thampraakkal are essential to be present at the Murajapam. All Namboothiris (with Vedic eligibility - Othanmaar), Thiruvalla Desis and Mangalapuram Pottis are authorised (chaarthu) to participate based on Vaidikan's recommendations or after a nominal test.

The Aadhyans among Namboothiris normally do not go to any one's place unless specially invited. Moreover, they do not perform Japam, Pooja and offerings to gods for others, and in return, receive "Dakshina", "Daanam" or "Prathigraham". Therefore, they never attend Murajapam. But in later years, quite recently, many among the Aadhyans started being invited for some special reasons or obligations. Apparently, from the time of Sree Moolam Maharaja, every Aadhyan who showed a desire to see Murajapam was invited. They may have numbered around 100, do not have any role in it and usually do not stay for the entire 56 days.

The last Murajapam is said to have been conducted in the year 1111 (ME)

| Article No:6.1 | Last update of this article:17th September 2000 |
Article prepared by: K. D. Nambudripad

Reference: "Ente Smaranakal" - Vol.3, by Kanipayyur Sankaran Nambudiripad, Panchangam Press, Kunnamkulam.

Home | What is New.. | Members | Welcome, Sponsors ! | Search For.. | Your Feedback

Copyright © 2000 Namboothiri Websites Calicut. All rights reserved.