Thycaud Ayya (1814-1909) - Study Notes: Renaissance Leaders of Kerala



  • The original name of Thycaud Ayya was Subbarayan.
  • He was born in 1814 in Nakalapuram. He was the guru of Chattampi Swamikal, Sri Narayana Guru and Ayyankali.
  • He was a Yogi cum Family man. Ayya Swamikal started inter-dining  (Panthbhojanam) in Kerala during 19th century even before Mahatma Gandhi thought of it.
  • He argued that any Yogi could install idols in temples, that inspired Sree Narayana Guru to install idols of Siva.
  • Oru jathy, oru matham, oru Daivom” (“Intha ulakathile orae oru jathy than, Orae oru matham than, orae oru kadavul than” ) is the Malayalam translation of Ayyaswamy’s teaching . Sri Narayan Guru popularized the slogan.
  • His grandfather Hrishikesan and his father Muthukumaran were great yogis and were migrated to Tamilnadu from Pampumkadu in Malabar during Tipu Sultan’s aggression.
  • Lord Subramanya was their family deity. At the age of 12, Subbarayan received spiritual initiation from two Tamil Saints, Sachidananda Maharaj and Sri Chitti Paradeshi who used to visit Subbarayans family frequently. 
  • When he was 16, the Saints took him with them to Burma, Singapore, Penang and Africa. During this period Subbaraya acquired and practiced yogic techniques of high order.
  • Returning home after 3 years he continued yogic practices, often entering the state of“Nirvikalpa Samadhi”. 
  • Gradually he acquired the Ashta sidhies or divine powers including that of astral travel, but his Gurus strictly warned him not to use them to gain material advantage.
  • At the age of 27, in accordance with his Guru’s wishes Swamikal visited Kodungalloor Devi temple in Kerala and from there he toured Travancore.
  • It is believed that the Mother Goddess appeared in her “Poorna swaroopam” before Ayya at Thycaud in Thiruvananthapuram, where he destined to spend the remaining part of his life.
  • Swathi Thirunal, the then Maharaja of Travancore, heard about the spiritual eminence of Ayya, invited him to his palace and became his disciple.
  • Swamikal visited Sri Vaikunda Padar of Nagarcoil (Swami thoppu)and visited the famous Maruthwamalai.
  • When his father left to Kasi, Subbarayan had to look after the family.
  • To obey his Guru ,Ayya married Kamalammal from Kollam and the couple had three sons and two daughters.
  •  However Ayya continued his spiritual practices while living the married life. Ayya was a great scholar in Tamil and gained good proficiency in English. He used to deliver spiritual discourses at the “Ashtapathana Sabha”in Chennai.
  • Ayya was supplying goods to military camp in Chennai, where he came in contact with the Mess Secretary Mc Gregor who learned Tamil and Yoga from Ayya. 
  • During the reign of Maharaja Ayillum Thirunal, Mc Gregor became the Resident of Travancore .He appointed Ayya as the Manager of his Residency in Thycaud.
  • From 1873 up to a week before his  Mahasmadhi on 20th July 1909 Ayya continued in the post. People respectfully called him “Superintend Ayya”.
  • Swamikal kept strict discipline in work and was extremely punctual. At his residence he spent most of his time in meditation and in initiating and instructing his disciples inspiritual practices.
  • Ayya used to deliver lectures on Bhakthi, Yoga and Vedanta in Jnanaprakasha Sabha at Pettah, during which leading literary, social and spiritual personalities in and around Thiruvananthapuram used to meet Ayya Guru.
  • Swamikal with the help of Manonmaneeyam Sundaram Pillai, the first MA holder of Travancore, founded the famous “Saiva Prakasha Sabha” at Chalai, Thiruvananthapuram.
  • Thycaud Ayya passed away in 1909.
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