The story of Panthirukulam dates back approximately 375 AD – 415 AD. Vararuchi, an eminent scholar in the court of the ancient Indian Emperor Vikramadityan was the father of the twelve children born to Panchami, a Parayi (low cast) woman. He was the author of various sanskrit manuscripts which included astronomy, grammar and many more. He was one of the nine gems (nine Wisemen who were known as ‘navaratna’] in the court of Vikramaditya. One day, the King asked his scholars to quote the most important sloka of Ramayana. Everyone was spellbound, as each and every line of Ramayana are equally prominent. The Emperor asked Vararuchi to present an answer. As it was something difficult, Vararuchi asked the king to grant him a time period of 41 days and set out a journey by promising the King that he would be back on the 41st day. He wandered in the neighbouring Kingdoms in search of an answer to the question, but nobody could satisfy him. On the penultimate day, upon returning to the court, being exhausted and desperate, he took rest under a tamarind tree. The night goddesses, who came and settled comfortably on one of the branches of the tree in the form of kaalameni birds where talking to each other. Being a scholar, Vararuchi could follow their conversations and he was listening intently even though he was asleep. They were talking about the birth that happened in a nearby ‘paraya’(shudra) family. When one of the birds asked who will marry the new born girl in the future, the other one answered that it would be ‘Vararuchi,’ who is lying under the tree. They also added up that he does not, know the most important sloka and word of Ramayana, which is infact,’ Mamvidhi’. Then, they recited the 4 lined sloka which is the most auspicious in Ramayana.
“Ramam Dasaratham Vidhi,Mam Vidhi Janakathmajam Ayodhyamataveem Vidhi,gacha thaatha yatha sukham.“
Vararuchi was extremely delighted to have an answer to the question. He rushed to the court and recited the sloka before the King and explained it in various ways. The king and the court were extremely gratified. They appreciated Vararuchi and the King rewarded Vararuchi for his intelligence and laudable wisdom. Vararuchi, even though .was happy to please the King, had a grievance about the prophecy that he would marry a low cast woman in the future. Hence, to curb his destiny, he convinced the King by stating that, the ‘paraya’girl child born could bring a calamity to the whole Kingdom if not killed. But as it was a girl the King doesn’t want to kill the child,Hence, they decided to abandon the child in a raft made from the stem of the banana tree in the river by sticking a lamp stick on her forehead. Vararuchi reassured himself that the newborn child would definitely die within sometimes with the lamp stick on its forehead. But fate had something different in store. While Vararuchi took a sigh of relief for saving himself from the predicted fate, the abandoned girl was found by a brahmin, who took that beautiful and charming infant to his home. The childless couple felt blissful and accepted it as a divine gift. They thanked God to have that girl and adopted and looked after her as their own daughter, calling her ‘Panchami’.
Days passed by and Vararuchi decided to have a journey. During his journey, he reached the brahmin’s house where Panchami was brought up. The courteous brahmin was delighted to treat Vararuchi. But, Vararuchi put forward five extraordinary demands for accepting his hospitality. ( He asked for a fine silk cloth to wear after the bath. Then, a hundred people must be fed before he eats. A hundred items must be served for his meal. Finally, he demanded four people to support him afterward). His clever daughter, Panchami, reassured her father that she will solve out the demands of Vararuchi. Even though frightened and confused, the brahmin was sure about her daughter’s diligence. Thus, they were successful to make Vararuchi content with the special offerings he demanded. Panchami puzzled out the conditions of Vararuchi(They offered a clean cloth of fine material to wear in demand for the silk cloth. Performed a vaisya ritual which is equivalent to making100 Gods happy. Then in plantain leaf served the meal along with a special preparation with ginger which is equivalent to 101 curries. Then provided betal leaves, areca nuts and lime paste which symbolize three people to be eaten. Finally, he was given a cot to take rest so that the four legs of the cot supported him like four people.).Convinced by the exemplary intelligence of the brahmin’s daughter Vararuchi expressed his desire to make her his wife. Wholeheartedly, the brahmin handed over his daughter to Vararuchi as his wife.
One day, after their marriage Vararuchi noted a scar on his wife’s forehead, during their private conversations. Being shocked he asked her about the scar. The innocent girl revealed that she had been abandoned in a river by sticking a lamp stick on her forehead. Vararuchi was spellbound with regression and depression and self-confessed the truth. He realised the impossibility to alter ones own destiny. He revealed the whole story to Panchami, which made her to be adopted by the Brahmin couple. Panchami was shocked and desperate that she was quite unsure on what to do. Finally, Vararuchi decided to go on a pilgrimage as he was ostracized and didn’t want to stay at home.
They travelled to various places and reached near Bharatapuzha. There, she gave birth to his elder son. Vararuchi asked if the child has a mouth. When she answered ‘yes’, he asked her to leave the child and to follow him. She was shocked but was helpless to disobey him. Being bewildered, she left the child in mourning with a heavy heart. The same thing happened for all the other children whom she gave birth to. Being very much desperate and annoyed by her husband’s actions, she decided to tell a lie after her 12th delivery. On the contrary, Vararuchi had decided to allow her to have her 12th child, when she says ‘yes’ to his regular question. So, fate had its play in her last delivery too. After giving birth to the 12th child, Vararuchi, as usual, asked if the child has a mouth. Being prepared, Panchami said a firm ‘No’. Vararuchi, being shocked, asked her to take the child. When they were about to rest, Panchami decided to feed her child. Alas! the child had no mouth. The sacred and a mother who suffered a lot was dumbstruck to see how her words came true. Vararuchi placed the child on a hillock, who soon became an idol. They called him ’Vayillakunnilappan’.
The rest of the children were adopted by people of different castes. All of them were magnificent personalities with some extraordinary and supernatural powers. They performed miracles and were well known for their remarkable wisdom. They all believed to be the incarnations of Lord Vishnu. They, through their lives, tried their best to demolish the superiority of the upper castes. They questioned the caste discrimination and untouchability. They united and acted together to be the epitome for the whole society. These benevolent personalities tried to establish an egalitarian society, where there is no place for any kind of discrimination. They exhibited some ways to obviate the atrocious situations prevalent in society during those days. Though they could not accomplish their goals because of the conspiracy of the upper caste, their positive spirits could still bring incredible changes to the whole society.