(Last Updated on : 02-03-2010)
Guruvayoor Keshavan is still considered to be a star amongst the elephants possessed by Lord Krishna. Extreme love and devotion towards the God not the specialty of man only and there are numerous examples of animals who were remembered for there deep love and emotion and their faith towards the Lord. The legends of pachyderm devotees are the most common in the state of Kerala and these are told time and again to the young children in order to create in their mind, from the young age, a sense of love and respect towards their religion. Guruvayoor Keshavan and Gajendra Moksham are the two well-known and renowned legends of this state. Guruvayoor Keshavan and Gajendra are the best examples of elephants who were illustrious devotees and their reverence and devotion to the Lord are much higher in plain than that of human beings.
Guruvayoor Keshavan is one of the legendary Kerala elephants. He is considered to be the first elephant of the state who acquired such a wonderful fame as a result of his love, devotion and faith towards the supreme god or almighty. He is regarded as the most prominent devotee elephant of Guruvayoor, the deity at Kerala. Born in the year 1904, the elephant Guruvayoor Keshavan was gifted to the Kerala Guruvayoonr temple by the royal family, Nilambur, at the tender age of ten years only. For the days he lived, the devotion and respect of the elephant towards the Lord Guruvayoorappan or Lord Krishna
was amazing. Keshavan was a huge and imposing presence in the premises of the temple till he remained alive. There is a belief that the elephant held his head always higher in comparison to his peers and demonstrated a weird perceptivity or sixth sense. There are several tales with regard to the devotion and love of the elephant towards the Lord which are narrated till date in Kerala. As a result of his intelligence and good behaviour and his love and devotion towards the Lord Guruvayoorappan, the authorities of the temple, who are called Devaswom, gave him the name Gajarajan or the King of elephants.
The renowned worshipper Lord Guruvayoorappan took his last breath on the highly auspicious day of Guruvayur Ekadasi which was on the 2nd of December, 1976. People of the area believed that the elephant fasted the last day and he fell down being faced towards the temple and his trunk being raised as if he gave his last salute or respect to the Lord. The very day of the death of Guruvayur Keshavan is till date observed and grandly celebrated Gajaraja Smarana in Guruvayoor. On this day, a procession of dressed up elephants move towards the temple and one of the elephants garland the full-size statue of Guruvayoor Keshavan which was erected in his honour.
The elephant, Guruvayur Keshavan still lives in the heart and mind of the Keralites through the narratives they get to hear from their older generations. The elephant is also honoured by the erection of his full-sized statue. Today, on each and every day of festivity, the existing leader Gajarajan Pathmanabhan along with other 63 elephants of the family congregate before the statue of Guruvayoor Keshavan to bow down and shower flowers in respect and love of their forefather. On this festive moment, an elephant race is organized on the first day of the ten day long festival and the winner in the race is given the permission to stay in the temple premises to enjoy special means for that year.