Valiya Raja (King) of Nilambur offered one of his 12   elephants to Lord Guruvayurappa, as a fulfillment of his vow when he got back his entire property intact from the mutinies at the time of the Malabar Mutiny, during which he had fled to Trichur. Aged 10 years, he was named Guruvayur Kesavan.  He was noble and kindly, yet mischievous and stupid.  To remove his lunacy, he was given better made holy by the Melshanti (Head Priest) - believed to be an effective treatment for stupidity, and made to perform bhajan by attending all the 3 siveli.  All this transformed him into an idol elephant.

       He would bend his front legs only before those who held the Lord's thidambu (idol) to enable them to climb on him.  Others who held the umbrella, alavattam etc. had to climb by his behind legs. Very companionate, he never harmed anybody.  Even when he was inside and outside Guruvayur, not destructive; He would proceed to the temple, take a round and occupy his place.

      Once he was hurrying to the temple, disobeying the mahouts.  Everybody in the unity fled for fear of being trembled once by it.  Except a poor, helpless leper.  As the people watched with fear, they were astonished when they saw that Kesavan had actually lifted the leper with his trunk, placed him safely in a corner, and proceeded straight to the temple.

      In 1973, Kesavan was honored with the title of "Gajarajan"(King of elephants) when the temple was for the first time, celebrating the golden Jubilee of the services of an elephant.  On the fateful day December 2nd, 1976 on the famous Guruvayur Ekadasi day, Kesavan started shivering as soon as the thidambu was placed on his head, which was then quickly transferred to another elephant.  Kesavan was taken to the Kovilakam compound near the temple where he lay with his trunk stretched towards the Lord, never to raise again - at the age of 72, having served the Lord for 54 years.


     A 12 - feet high concrete statue of the elephant Kesavan has been executed by the Devaswam at the spot in front of the Panchajanyam Rest House - a fitting memorial indeed for a unique devotee

 

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