Pisharody Samajam, a cultural and social organization of Pisharody
Community. Pisharody Community has contributed a lot in
the fields of intellectual and cultural movements in
Kerala and elsewhere. Even though Pisharody Community had
formed an organization years back aiming at the
development of not only pisharody community but for the
needy persons of other communities also. It was registered
in 1977. Pisharody
Samajam has succeeded in inducing the better off members
to institute a number of scholarships on merit as well as
means basis to help young boys and girls in their higher
education. Grants are also made available to needy
families for medical treatment, conducting marriages and
as monthly pension to the aged with no other means of
The Samajam has headquarters in Thrissur in
its own two storied building with branches in Kerala and
outside. Samajam brings out a Magazine namely 'Thulaseedalam'
to disseminate information on the members' activities as
well as encourage literary output.
authoritative data is available about the origin of Pisharody community. A mixture of historical facts, fiction and legends is
in circulation about the community.
In the elite Namboodiri Brahmin families in Kerala, who had the
right to study vedas and perform yagas such as somayaga and
athirathram and where the male members devoted their whole life
time in studying vedas, only the eldest son was permitted to
marry. Some times they may take two or more wives. Some of these
vedic scholars used to take to sanyas (ascetic life)
later in their life, even if they had wives and children.
Those who become sanyasis go to the swamiyar madhoms (priestly
houses) and spend the rest of their lives there. They are not
supposed to see their wives and children after they adopt
sanyasa. The wives and children are also not allowed to see
their husbands who become sanyasis.
Before one is
accepted as sanyasi, one has to perform many vedic rituals.
After these are finished, the man has to immerse himself in the
river, pull out two strands from the sheaf of hair on the head (kudumma),
remove the sacred thread (poonool) worn on the body and come out
of the water naked. There upon, another Brahmin should
receive him with saffron cloth and dandu (stick) and give
him alms (bhiksha). Sanyasis are supposed to live on alms
begged from others.
be two or more sanyasis in a Swamiyar madam. The elderly
swamiyars (sanyasi’s) are called Sree Gurukkal (revered teacher). The Sree Gurukkal used to
call the younger swamiyars, shara or pishara’s. Pisharadi may
be formed from the shara stem by adding adi, the word for
reverence. ( Adi in Malayalam means foot or and thiruvadi is the
equivalent of sree padam in Sanskrit, meaning great or revered
feet like that of a god. Other community names like Nambidi,
Vellodi, Nedungadi etc. also take the suffix adi like this).
believed that the Pisharadees of today are the descendants of
the Pishara’s of the old days. The close similarities between
the funeral rites of Pisharadees and Swamiyar’s point to this
possibility. The body of the deceased is placed eastward in a
seating posture in a pit of two_and_a_half kol (kol
is an old length_ measure) by one_and_a_half kol and is
filled with salt.
' PISHARA '
There is also a story that the pishara got corrupted and were
called pishara_odi (pishara who deserted Sanyasa). There is an
interesting story about this. Once upon a time, a Namboodiri
decided to become sanyasi. When the rituals to be performed for
transformation to sanyasi life reached the stage of
pulling out of hair strand from his head, he could no
longer bear the ordeal and refusing to pull out his hair he went
back. Thus the Namboodiri who retreated without pulling_out (pizhathe)
hair came to be called pizhathe_odi and later pishara_odi.
same story is told in many places with slight regional
variations. In northern Kerala, the term Pisharodikal is used,
whereas in southern parts it is Pisharadikal.
It is also said that the vishahari adiikal from Tamil Nadu could
be the predecessors of Pisharadees. They were visha (poison)
hari’s (curers). The vishahari adi may have got corrupted to
visharadi and then to pisharadi.
The word "Pisharody" can be derived from 'Pisharakan'
means 'Ambalavasi', a person related with temple and temple related jobs (Kazhakam). The
house of a Pisharody is known as 'Pisharam' or 'sharam'.
Pisharadees are related with temple and temple related
jobs (Kazhakam). Kazhakam is classified in to 3 groups. "Malakettu
Kazhakam, Vilakkeduppu Kazhakam and Adichuthali Kazhakam. Most
of the pisharams are situated near temples.