Oachira Parabrahma Temple
Oachira temple is a very ancient temple, as unique as its name, positioned in Oachira, Kollam district in the state of Kerala, India. The temple is dedicated to Parabrahmam, also called as the Omkaram, the universal consciousness. The temple is a symbol of non-idol worship where the supreme force of nature is revered. The belief is that the supreme power is shapeless and forms the basis of the temple doctrine. Also there are strong beliefs that the name derived from Uvachanchira as Uvachan means Lord Shiva. Unlike the other temples, the Oachira Temple is unique in the sense that it does not have covered structure. People worship the Para Brahma under the trees.
The legend says that once there lived a Brahmin saint. The Brahman was a true devotee and was always involved in prayers and meditation. He had a helper named Unnikkoran. Unnikkoran always had the urge to understand the practices of the saint for him to adopt and worship the almighty but was a little hesitant to ask the saint.
Once, unable to suppress his desire Unnikkoran asked the saint what good can meditation bring, how to meditate? What was God? How was he? The saint was surprised by Unnikkoran’s curiosity but thought of Unnikkoran as an illiterate fool and did not have the patience to explain. Selfish, the saint answered so that he gave out nothing worth understanding that he worshiped the non-idol and supreme power of the Universe. Unnikkoran was all the more curious. “What does it look like Guru?” he inquired.
The saint was all the more irritated, “like that bull over there”, he pointed to a wild bull that was grazing far away. Unnikkoran was overcome with devotion; he joined his palms in devotion and prayer to the wild bull and tracked the bull at his sight until it went far into the forest. The saint was amused by this funny scene and laughed out inwardly at the foolishness of the young man and at the intelligence of his own.
During the next days, Unnikkoran started worshiping the bull everytime the bull came out of the forest for grazing.
The Saint one day decided to travel to Kanyakumari. He asked Unnikkoran to pack for the trip and to join him. Unnikkoran packed for the two with food and clothes. The bags were heavy and Unnikkoran had assumed and packed the bags in such a manner that each bag was heavy enough for one to carry. However, on the day of travel the saint asked Unnikkoran to carry both the bags. The saint, free of burden walked ahead at high speed and poor Unnikkoran with the burden of both the heavy bundles heaved behind him. The saint indifferent to the pain undertaken by Unnikkoran didn’t even care to rest for a while and Unnikkoran was nearly fainting now.
“A white bull follows you, hang the bundles on its back”, someone whispered.
Unnikkoran turned around but found no one other than his idol bull that was following him. Without ado Unnikkoran rested the bundles upon the white bull and walked freely behind the saint with the bull following him. They traveled far distance and finally reached the forest in Oachira. The grooves were full of intervening wines and the bull got stuck among the wines. Unnikkoran carefully untangled the wines and made way for the bull to pass freely. “Come this way and you will not get tangled. Be careful”, the saint stopped for the first time.
“Who are talking to Unnikkoran?” he inquired.
“To the bull, Guru”
“Which bull?” the saint was surprised.
“The bull which carries our bundles, he got tangled in the wines, I see him every day in the forest, he came to my help with the bundles”, Unnikkoran replied innocently.
“Unnikkoran! I see only two bundles suspended in the air! What magic holds them!, Where is the Bull?”, the saint was taken aback.
“Undikkavil ( It is here in this groove)”, Unnikkoran was surprised as well.
The saint, realizing his mistake, fell on his legs and cried in agony. “What sin have I done O God, Forgive me for I tried to fool this poor soul and today he has experienced the darshan of your supremacy”. Realizing the true devotion of Unnikkoran the saint bowed before him in guilt and pleaded to be Unnikkoran’s disciple. The essence of the supreme in the form of bull was propounded far and wide and the groove where the saint felt the power of devotion became the temple premises of Oachira. But when the dispute arose as where to build the Temple it was revealed that the Divine exuberance of the groove can’t be restricted under a single roof and hence the entire premise of the groove became the place of worship. The place where Unnikkoran showed the bull to the saint became the renowned groove “Undikkaav”. Later two banyan grooves were constructed in the premise for shade as well as an abstract form for worship. Various small structures rose to provide shelter to the weary wanderers. And today the Oachira Parabrahma temple resides as a symbol of worship of the Supreme with prime importance to bulls in honor of the bull form that appeared to Unnikkoran. The temple premise also includes the Yakshikkaav where a Yakshi “female nymph form” has been believed to have dwelt nailed into a tree.