The Kadamattathu Kathanar has an incredibly dark story yet to reach a wide audience.
Deep in the heart of Kerala, a Southern state of India, amidst lush greenery and serene surroundings, lies the Kadamattom Church – a testament to the rich history and cultural heritage of the Saint Thomas Christians.
And at the heart of this church’s story is the legendary figure of Kadamattathu Kathanar (roughly translated to the Priest of Kadamattom) — a Syriac Orthodox Church priest who possessed supernatural powers beyond belief.
Revered as Kadamattathachan (Father Kadamattom), he wielded his magic not for personal gain but for the common good of the people he served. As the stories go, his powers were a manifestation of the collective experiences and beliefs of the locals – a legacy that lives on through the tales of magic and sorcery surrounding his name.
Despite the lack of written history, the legend of Kadamattathu Kathanar continues to inspire and captivate all who encounter it, a living reminder of the enduring power of faith and the human spirit.
The Origins of Kadamattathu Kathanar
From humble beginnings in the small village of Kadamattom in North Travancore, Poulose – or Kochu Poulose (Little Paul), as he was affectionately known – emerged from a poor Syrian Christian family with little hope for the future.
His father had died when he was just a child, leaving him without any siblings or close family to turn to. For a brief period, he was cared for by his mother before her passing, after which he was taken in by the Persian priest Mar Abo.
And as time went on, the priest realized that Poulose was not only a religious boy but also intelligent and efficient. He took the young Poulose under his wing, providing him with a quality education under a renowned teacher and even teaching him Syriac and Liturgy of the Mass.
It wasn’t long before Poulose was ordained as a Deacon, earning the admiration and respect of those who now knew him as Deacon Poulose.
How Kochu Poulose Became the Infamous Kadamattathu Kathanar
As the story goes, a local priest owned a herd of cattle that he entrusted to a young servant boy for grazing on the nearby hills. One day, while the boy was out tending to the cattle, a tiger appeared and killed one of them.
Terrified, the boy returned to the village to inform the priest what had happened. Without hesitation, the priest and Deacon Poulose sprang into action, calling the villagers to help them search for the missing cattle herd.
As the sun began to set and the search party fanned out in all directions, a sense of desperation began to set in. Would they be able to find the lost animals before it was too late?
But just as the light was fading, a miracle occurred – all of the cattle, save for the one that had fallen prey to the tiger, returned safely to the village. It was a moment of both relief and wonder and a testament to the strength of the community and their unwavering faith in the power of prayer.
However, before long, the priest grew anxious when he realized that Deacon Poulose, who had ventured out to search for the lost cattle, had failed to return. Despite launching search parties in every direction that night, there was no trace of the deacon.
As the days passed, and still there was no sign of him, the villagers began to fear the worst – that he had fallen victim to the same fearsome tiger that had claimed one of the cattle.
Despite the mounting evidence against him, the priest steadfastly refused to give up hope that Deacon Poulose was still out there, fighting for his life and determined to find his way back home.
Indeed, Poulose was still alive.
As it turned out, Poulose had become lost in the dense forest, where he stumbled upon a secluded community of ancient tribal people known as the Mala Arayas. According to legend, it was from these cannibalistic tribes, who lived in underground dwellings, that he learned to hone his mystical powers.
The leader of the tribe, who took a liking to Poulose, allowed him to stay with them for many years, during which he delved deep into the mysteries of magical performances and learned their closely-guarded secrets.
Though Poulose lived with the tribes for a number of years, he longed to return home. Subsequently, Paulose managed to escape from the tribe, and the Mala Arayas searched for him relentlessly, but to no avail.
According to legend, Kathanar evaded their clutches by taking refuge inside the church when the cannibalistic tribes unleashed a devilish storm to destroy the church and capture him. Iron hot chains were conjured, and the church door was whipped.
The Kathanar prayed to Mother Mary for deliverance, and fortunately, the doors stayed shut until the townspeople arrived to scare the Arayas away.
The doors of the church still bear the scars from that catastrophic event as a testament to the power of the Mala Arayas and the miraculous escape of Kathanar.
After the arrival of Paulose in Kadamattom, Mar Sabor, the Bishop who ordained him as a priest, left the place. Kadamattathu Kathanar is often depicted in popular culture as a legendary vampire hunter.
According to local folklore, he possessed supernatural powers and could vanquish vampires with ease. It is believed that he used his knowledge of sorcery and magic to combat these undead creatures that plagued the region.
Though numerous great deeds marked the life of Kadamattathu Kathanar, his deeds are passed on orally, and only some verifiable records exist. Although he wrote several books on sorcery, they are illegible and incomprehensible.
His ancient texts and manuscripts on sorcery remain locked in the Church nilavaras (church vaults) and undeciphered.
Deep within the church’s attic lies a forbidden vault, shrouded in mystery and guarded by 27 locks. Inside, hidden away from prying eyes, are palm leaf manuscripts inscribed with ancient tantric mantras and sinister spells.
The ancestors believed that even a single uttered word or a stolen glance at the cursed scripts could unleash unimaginable horrors. Only those who know the counter spells to remove the magic dare to approach the cursed tomes.
Origins of the Kadamattom Church
According to records, the church was founded during the 9th century AD. It was gifted to Mar Sabor, a Middle Eastern monk from eastern Syria, by the Ayikunathu Karthas, a prominent Nair family of Kadamattom. Legend has it that one of Kartha’s children was afflicted by an unidentified illness that local doctors could not cure.
Mar Sabor arrived in Kadamattom at the same time and was able to cure the child. As a token of gratitude, the Karthas gave him the land on which the church now stands.
Kadamattathu Kathanar and the Spirit of Kalliangat Neeli
Chevalier K. V. Paulose’s book about Kadamattathu Kathanar details his legendary accomplishments, including the taming of Yakshis (vampires, or nature spirits).
One of the most famous stories is about the Yakshi named Neeli from Pazhakannur near Thrissur, Kerala, who went on a rampage for years.
The True Story Behind the Kalliangat Neeli
The legend of Kalliangat Neeli can be found lurking in the dark tales from Southern India. This Yakshi, once worshiped in her maternal form, was considered uncontrollable and wreaking havoc across the land until she was subdued for good by the Kadamattathu Kathanar.
Her story is told through Southern songs, Villaticchan songs, and folk tales, as well as in the historical narrative of Marthandavarma by Ramanpilla.
The story of the infamous Kalliangat Neeli begins nearly 1200 years ago as the tragic story of Alli, the daughter of Karveni, a Devadasi (dancer) from Pazhakannur (modern-day Pazhayannur in Kerala). Alli was a beauty who fell in love with the priest of the Shiva temple in her village, and they later married.
But Nambi, the temple priest, saw an opportunity to marry Alli for money. When Karveni, Alli’s mother, discovered Nambi’s promiscuity and recklessness, she kicked him out of the house.
In a cruel twist of fate, Alli leaves with him despite her mother begging her not to, and on the way, Nambi savagely beats her with a stone to steal her precious jewels. He then escapes and leaves her for the dead.
Soon, Anujan Ambi, a passerby, finds Alli near dead and tries to save her. However, she soon dies, and Anujan kills himself in remorse.
Both of them are later reborn as Nilan and Neeli, the children of a Chola monarch. Then, awful things happened across the Chola kingdom. During the night, cattle were lost. The Chola monarch is told by his astrologers that the children are to blame for this.
Unable to kill his children, he decides to abandon them on his kingdom’s outskirts.
The kids were left behind in Panchavankat, the southern boundary of the Chola Kingdom, close to Nagercoil. Later, the nearby community of Pazhakannur transformed into a refuge for kids. The vengeful kids start wreaking havoc in the region.
After a few years of poltergeist activity in the woods, a sorcerer in Nagercoil is summoned by seventy local custodians of the village. He manages to stop Nilan and destroy him. But he was unable to stop the vengeful Neeli.
After realizing that Nilan was killed, Neeli kills the sorcerer by seducing him when he returns to Nagercoil.
Meanwhile, Anandan, a merchant and the reincarnation of Nambi (the priest who killed Neeli’s previous incarnation, Alli), is preparing to travel to the ancient port of Muziris for business. Neeli catches up with him on the way but cannot harm Anandan since he’s carrying a sacred knife given at birth by astrologers who saw his grim past-life sins.
As he’s walking through a forest, Neeli makes her presence and displeasure known in the form of a terrible storm, spooking Anandhan out, and he flees.
Neeli transforms a coal stick into a child, disguises herself as the merchant’s wife, and follows him through the forest. Despite her cries of “Why have you left me?” the merchant knew it was not his wife and realizes it was Neeli in disguise.
He quickly flees the area, aware that his wife and child would not be in that remote location at such a late hour. Neeli pursues him relentlessly, but the merchant’s magical knife kept her at bay.
In desperation, he sought refuge with the 70 Vellalars, who governed the nearby village of Pazhakannur, and implored them to save him from Neeli Pisasu (demon).
Neeli approaches the Vellalars and complains that the merchant was her husband, who had abandoned her and was fleeing from his duties toward her and their child. She weeps uncontrollably, earning the moniker “Neeli Kanneer,” which translates to “crocodile tears” in English.
Using her persuasiveness, she convinces the 70 custodians of the village, who were part of the Vellalar community, to grant her the authority to spend the night with him, much to the young merchant’s dismay. He was certain that she intended to harm him.
The authorities agreed to her request and ordered the villagers to lock the couple and their child in a nearby hut, adjourning the case until the following morning. Anandan begs the council to reconsider, citing that Neeli is a demon, but the Vellalars promise him that he is in good hands and reaffirm that they have no evidence to believe Neeli is a demon.
Neeli interrupts the scene, demanding that the council take away the knife he was carrying, claiming that it could be used to harm her when they were alone in the hut. Hence, the villagers remove the knife and lock the couple and their child in the nearby hut for the night.
The following day, the 70 Vellalars, who had promised to protect the young man and were responsible for his safety, enter the hut where Anandan was supposed to spend the night with Neeli and their child, only to discover that he had been brutally murdered and dismembered.
The vengeful spirit of Neeli had exacted her revenge after waiting for decades.
This tragic incident left the 70 guardians filled with remorse and self-blame. Understanding that a demonic spirit outwitted them and they could not save the life of an innocent merchant, they dug a pit at Thiruvalangadu.
The Vellalars then lit a massive fire in it and collectively committed suicide by jumping into the flames.
Even today, the Pazhaiyanur Neeli Temple Mandapam is a reminder of this gruesome incident.
After this, the spirit of Neeli lived under a Kali paala tree (a banyan tree) and gradually evolved into a mother goddess; after killing Ananda and the seventy Uranmas responsible for her and her brother’s deaths, she finally had to rest.
However, she doesn’t let anyone disturb her and physically assaulted all travelers who tried to pass through her path in the forest.
Decades later, tired of her behavior, the villagers of Pazhakannur approached the Kadamattathu Kathanar to help capture her. However, due to a mistake, she was released from her tamed state, and the priest had to chase her all the way to Mannar near Parumala, where she was found hiding in the forest.
He manages to capture and subdue her spirit, and she finally attains moksha (release from the cycle of rebirth impelled by the law of karma).
Kathanar has an interesting story associated with yet another Yakshi. During the time when the capital of Travancore was Padmanabhapuram, there was a forest that people were forced to use as a route between Thiruvananthapuram and Padmanbhapuram.
A Yakshi disguised herself as a beautiful woman and would wait for travelers to pass by. She would request white lime for her pan and chat with them, enticing them to follow her deep into the forest. Once inside, she would kill and consume them. As a result, people became scared to take that route, and the Yakshi started catching people from nearby villages.
The village elders sought the help of Kathanar, who went to the forest and offered the Yakshi an iron nail. Initially hesitant, the Yakshi finally accepted. Kathanar recited some magical words and inserted the nail into her head.
He then walked back to Kadamattam, and the Yakshi followed him. After walking for four to five days, they reached the house of an old woman at Kayamkulam. Kathanar offered the old woman to keep the Yakshi as domestic help.
After lunch, the old woman combed Yakshi’s hair and removed the iron nail from her head. Immediately, the Yakshi regained her powers and became invisible. Kathanar later found the Yakshi at Parayannarkavu, a small temple, and took a promise from her not to harm people.
She was allowed to stay there and became famous as Panayanarkavu Yakshi or Parumala Yakshi.
A South Indian movie on the Kadamttathu Kathanar, called Kathanar – The Wild Sorcerer: Part 1, will be released in theatres in late 2023 or early 2024.
Next, read about the Disappearance of the N844AA Aircraft. Then, about the Headhunters of the Nahanni Valley in Canada, who is on the Lookout for Lone Prospectors!
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