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It was this hunter who became Parasurama in his subsequent birth

   It was this hunter who became Parasurama in his subsequent birth. Parasurama was born to the sage Jamathagini and Renuka as their fifth son. His mother Renuka was gifted with the divine power of creating fire with her vision on account of her chastity. The fire created by her was used by the sage for performing yagnas. One day, she suddenly felt giddy and could not create the usual fire for her husband. The sage doubted her virtues of chastity and became so furious that he asked his sons to cut off their mother's head as punishment. Parasurama knew that his father's strict penance and devotion to God would bring back his mother's life. When he noticed his four brothers hesitating and standing passively, he decided to carry out his father's order and cut off his mother's head with an axe. His father Jamathagini was pleased by the implicit obedience of his son and told Parasurama to ask for a boon from him. Parasurama immediately asked for his mother to be revived as a boon and lo!, she was revived. When he affectionately looked at her, he immediately recollected that she was Devi in the little girl's form in his earlier birth. There are many other versions of stories narrated about Parasurama.

   To wipe out the evil affects created due to the system of slaughtering animals and human beings as sacrificial offering, Parasurama created a holy and pious place as a remedial measure. This holy place came to be known as Parasurama kshethram (land of Parasurama), at present known as Kerala. He donated this land to the brahmins who were cows in their earlier birth.

   To bless this place he threw his axe towards the sea. Renuka Devi (in previous birth) is the present Bagavathi (Aadi Parashakthi) who is worshipped as the main deity throughout Kerala state even today. In the great epic of Mahabharatam, the character Gandhari (the mother of Duryodhana) is another manifestation of Renuka Devi and she was also blessed with a divine power of creating a holy fire with her sacred vision itself.

   Swami narrated all these historical and mythological events and correlated the fact that Renuka Devi is the present Bagavathi. He also further added that there is not a single temple for the worship of Parasurama (even though he is the sixth Avathar of Lord Mahavishnu). Swami further explained that Adishankara was Parasurama in his earlier birth and Adi Shankara was born in Kaladi, a small town in Kerala. He prayed during his era to Devi Chamundeshwari and requested Her to come to Kerala to bless the land and make it holy and spiritual. Devi pleased with his ardent devotion towards Her heeded to his request but with a condition. He should walk in the front and She would follow him and that under no circumstance should he stop walking and look back at Her. He agreed to the condition but asked Devi how he was to know whether She was following him or not. She immediately replied that he could hear the sound of Her anklet bells as proof She was walking. She also cautioned him that if by chance any violation occurred of the said agreement, She would stop proceeding further to Kerala at that instant. He agreed to all the conditions of Devi and proceeded in the front, hearing continuously the sound of anklet bells of Devi from the back. When they reached Kollur, Devi stopped for a while. Adi Shankara not hearing the bell sound, got perplexed and he was in a great mental dilemma. He started wondering whether Devi had stopped following him and turned back. Devi immediately stopped there at Kolloor as per the said agreement and told him that since he suspected and doubted Devi's words and failed to have implicit faith, She would stay right there and not proceed with him to Kerala.

   Swami said that even a great sage like Adi Shankara had become a victim of Karma, which made him to fail in front of Dharma (Devi). To a question whether Devi purposely wanted to test Adi Shankara's faith and because of that such an incident occurred, Swami said that it was not so. The actual fact was that the present place Kollur, many centuries ago was the place where Goddess had manifested and lived as Renuka Devi, the wife of Sage Jamathagini and their son being Parasurama. Devi was reminded of Her earlier birthplace and all the connected events at that place and so She stopped for a while. Adi Shankara took it as a test for him by Devi. He felt a shamed and asked for pardon and pleaded for Her divine presence in Kerala. Devi heeding to his request, asked him to proceed to Kerala and reassured him saying that he could see and feel her presence in the form of a Jyothi (divine light) at a particular spot in Kerala. This place where Adi Shankara saw Devi in jyothi form, became famous as Jyothikkara which over time came to be known as Chothanikkara, the most famous temple of Chothannikkara Devi where all the evil effects of ghosts and demonic actions are wiped out and even incurable diseases could be cured by worshipping this deity. One can hear the chanting of the Soundarya Lahari, the divine verses depicting the Devi and Her glory written by Adi Shankara when he was inspired by the divine vision of Devi even today in many hindu families of south India. It is believed that the Goddess Chamundeshari visits the Chothanikkara temple daily in the early morning from 3-5.30 am.

   A divine tanthri after many decades revealed this holy Devi shrine to future generations. The legend goes like this. This tanthri attained divine blessings through a famous sage known as Vilva Mangala Rishi (Vilva — depicting Lord Siva, the God of auspiciousness, Mangala denoting goddess Lakshmi, consort of Lord Vishnu, the God of sustenance and Rishi depicting Lord Brahma, the God of creation, the Generation, Organization and Destruction trinity that is God. The tanthri used to go to the forest to cut grass. He suddenly noticed a stone covered with creepers and another stone in the shape of calf near it. When he went to sharpen his knife on the stone, drops of blood started oozing out from that stone. He was amazed and frightened. He rushed to his Guru Vilva Mangala Rishi and narrated the strange incident. The latter accompanied him to the spot. With his divine power, he quickly grasped the sanctity of the stone and the sacred place. The young girl brought up by the hunter (story related earlier) had changed into this stone after revealing her true form of Devi to the hunter. This Devi is none other than the Keezhkaavu Ammai worshipped by all in Chothanikkara.

   The religious festivals and the paojas conducted for the Devi are in accordance with what Vilva Mangala Rishi had ordained long ago. The Melkaavu Devi (Devi in the upper portion of the temple) depicts peace and is adorned with gold covering. One tanthri visualized this divine form of Devi while watching a dance recital namely Mohiniattam. The Melkaavu Devi is known as Vishnu Mayai. She is the embodiment of all the Gods of all ages past, present and future.

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