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AD 1045 - 1729: Ettara yogam and Ettuveetil Pillamar

Posted by Arun Mohan ~ on ~ 0 comments

AD 1045 - 1729:  Ettara yogam rule in Temples of Southern Kerala.

The Ettara yogam rule was formed in the year 1045 AD, Ettarayogam means committee of eight and a half members. The committee members include six potty Brahmin family members, one pushpanjaly brahmin family member and one kaaranavar (protector of temple) from a nair family and the venad king. Each of the members have one vote each for deciding the temple matters, except for the king who has only a half vote. King has no power in managing the temple matters, although the owner and ruler of land.  The potty families of the committee are Kupakkara, Athiyara of vanchiyoor, Athiyara of kollur, muttavilla, Neisseri, Karuva and the Srikaryattu, while the nair family is karanatta kurup ( kaaranavar) and a half member, king. This trusteeship was passed hereditarily and was represented by the old male members of the above mentioned Brahmin and nair members. Later the temple lands in venad kingdom were divided into eight houses (districts) and for each district, a governer from the nair family is appointed with the title of Pillai. Hence they are together called as Ettuveetil Pillamar.

Ettuveettil Pillamar and the Venad Kingdom History:

Due to their strong influence in Temple committee, Ettara yogam became highly superior to the weak venad kingdom. Later during the second half of 17th century, the members of Ettara yogam (Ettuveettil Pillamar) are strong enough to challenge the decisions of Venad rulers. The clashes between both Aditya Varma Maharaja (1718 to 1721) of Venad Kingdom and the trustees of temple become common during that days. When Aditya Varma tried to build a palace in Trivandrum, Ettara yogam members opposed it. They poisoned the Aditya Varma and killed the six children of Umayamma Rani (who ruled the venad from 1677 to 1684) by drowned in the water pond called Kalipankulam. This incident leads to a weak venad rule and ended with the fall of Rajah Rama Varma (1724-1729).

Ettuveettil Pillamar and the Marthanda Varma History:

On the demise of Rajah Rama Varma in 1729, Marthanda Varma becomes the king under Marumakkathayam law of inheritance. Marthanda Varma formed the Travancore kingdom and becomes the first king of Travancore. This irked Ettuveettil Pillamar and they tried to assassinate the king several times.  Inorder to challenge the Marthanda Varma, they supported the Kunju Thampis (the childrens of late Rajah Rama Varma), who are looking for a revenge. However Kunju Thampimar were killed by the Marthanda Varma, near Nagercoil. This incident marks a fear among Pillamars. On an Arrat Festival, the king Marthanda Varma arrived with an escort and started to attack the pillamar, who gathered together for festival. The eight of them were either killed or migrated from the place. The king seized their homes. The palaces in Trivandrum such as Ramanamadom and Thevarathu Koikal are believed to be built from the woods and timbers taken from the palaces of Ettuveettil Pillamar story. Thus the feudal rule of pillamar came to an end in the 18th century.


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