Kanyakumari was earlier part and parcel of Travancore Kingdom. Social barrier, well-knit in those days was highly visible in Travancore. Some people who boasted themselves of higher echelons always treated others as downcasts and untouchables. These people who called themselves of high castes always occupied all the government posts ranging from diwan to peon. The untouchable men were not permitted to wear clothes below their knees while women not allowed to cover their chest region with clothes. A law enacted in Travancore forbade the people so. The people who were treated as downcasts were literally people of higher castes, well-built and highly intellectual. The so called high caste people opined that such hard working, intelligent and well-built people would be always a threat to the higher echelons and hence, a social barrier was knit so as to deny them the privilege and rights that were due to them.
Maharajan was born in such a low-caste society. The family deity of Maharajan's family was Elankamanian. Maharajan's mother helped her son to grow with more love and devotion towards their family deity. On one occasion when Maharajan happened to read the special edition, "Skanthavasagam," he developed hatred ness towards Elankamanian and shifted his devotion towards Subramanian and began worshipping the god. Still, Maharajan did not have even an iota of peace and happiness in. his life. Hence he decided to go Chidambaram on a pilgrimage to worship the god there. With great difficulties, Maharajan reached Chidambaram. it was the festival season there. Maharajan could not obtain his peace in Chidambaram. He felt dejected and disappointed. Being physically tired and mentally exhausted, he sat against a stone pillar in the temple and began to sleep. He had a vision in his sleep. The Lord appeared to him in white robes and asked him,” Why did you come here? It is an offence. Rectify your mistake. I rebuke you. If you do so, you will get forgiveness. Stand up and go. I will teach you the way you should go, I will instruct you and advise you." And then the Lord disappeared.
Maharajan got awakened and came out from the precincts of the temple. He believed in the words of the Lord, 'I will teach you the way you should go' and began walking towards Tanjore and reached his Christian sister's house. It was Sunday morning and the worship was being held in the church. Maharajan did not want to enter the church. Instead he stood outside the church and began watching the worship. His legs dragged him into the church. Rev. Colabb was standing on the pulpit sharing the word of the Lord. During the message, he thundered, "Jesus is the Lord, and He is the way to 3 salvations. Whoever believes Him ~ will attain salvation and eternity."
Maharajan's heart was filled with happiness. He accepted Jesus Christ as his personal saviour. Rev. Colabb saw the firm faith of Maharajan and baptised Maharajani, christening him as Vedamanickam which meant 'Carbuncle of God'. Thus, Maharajan, now called as Vedhamanickam was admitted into the church.
After a few days, Vedhamanickam met Missionary John in Tharangampadi and learnt from him about the administration of church and different aspects of running a printing press. He spent some more months on learning more about scripture. With the knowledge of scripture and gospel tracts Maharajan alias Vedhamanickam came to his native place, Mayiladi to meet his parents and other relatives. His parents who were eager to collect the vermilion and holy ashes from Chidambaram were disappointed when Vedamanickam offered them gospel tracts saying that it was the vermilion and holy ashes from Chidambaram.
Vedhamanickam preached the word of the Lord to his family members saying that through Jesus Christ alone, one could obtain salvation. After few days, Vedhamanickam's family accepted Jesus Christ and as a result, a congregation of three members was formed. Through Vedhamanickam's life of witness, many persons had accepted Jesus Christ. At the same time, stiff opposition erupted.
In order to prevent the propagation of Gospel and spreading of Christianity, evil designs were initiated by those of the higher castes. A religion with teachings similar to those found in the scripture was inducted to counter the fast spreading of Christianity.
Vedhamanickam approached Rev. John Colabb and explained him about the turmoil faced by the Christians and hence he sought him to send a foreign missionary to Travancore.
Missionary Ringeltaube came to Mayiladi and took charge of the church there. Because Maharajan was convered into Vedhamanickam trouble was fomented. False accusations were levelled against Vedhamanickam and as a result, he was put into troubles. But, Vedhamanickam did not give up his faith and hope on the Lord. He led his life based on the verses of the Bible.
Vedhamanickam was eager enough I I to build a church in Mayiladi. But the diwan did not permit him to do so. Without giving up hope, he again met Colonel Macaulay and the diwan with the help of Ringeltaube. Since permission to construct the church was delayed, he was forced to stay in Kollam for a few days. During his brief stay in Kollam, he was burdened to preach the word of God to the people of Kollam in Malayagam language.
Because of his fathomless amount efforts and energy, a church was built in Mayiladi in 1809. Meanwhile, Velu Thambi, the diwan of Travancore joined hands with the diwan of Cochin to fuel violence. Since Christianity was spreading rapidly in Travancore, diwan Velu Thambi spread rumours in Travancore stating that Christians were about to implant crosses in temples. This rumour spread like wildfire and hatredness and bitterness were sown among the non-Christians.
A warrant was issued to arrest Vedhamanickam. To escape from the arrest warrant, Vedhamanickam took shelter in the caves of the neighbouring mountains. Through deceit, Vedhamanickam was arrested by the jawans of Velu Thambi. But through the incessant prayers of Mayiladi Christians, he was released. Neither Vedhamanickam nor Christians of Mayiladi were perturbed by these persecutions.
Towards the end of the year 1809, Vedhamanickam was ordained as a catechist. Many persons had accepted Jesus Christ. Many persons, proclaimed as down caste, were under the burden of heavy taxes. Vedhamanickam brought this issue to the notice of Ringeltaube. The heavy burden of tax was abolished to the delight of the people.
After two years of his ministry in Tamilnadu and Travancore, Ringeltaube in 1816, handed over the responsibility of ministry to Vedhamanickam and returned to his native place. From that day onwards, Vedhamanickam's burden towards ministry increased manifold. He visited the sick and prayed for them and the sick got healing.
Vedhamanickam was known for his integrity and sincerity towards the society. The diwan of Travancore requested Vedhamanickam to oversee the maintenance work of Puttanaru canal.
IN 1817, Vedhamanickam handed over the church responsibilities to Rev. Mead. He worked along with Rev. Mead for nine years. During those years, Vedhamanickam helped the untouchables to come from the darkness to light and lead a life of freedom from the clutches of slavery and bondage.
He used to pray three times a day. In due course of time, a tumour developed on one of his knees and this incapacitated him to pray on knees. He realised that he was on the threshold of death. He told Rev. Mead who was standing nearby, 'I am unfit to stand nearby the Lord. But since Jesus Christ has forgiven my sins, I will happily face the Lord." The whole night he was on prayers and the next day he breathed his last.
My dear brother / sister, Vedhamanickam offered his heart and soul for the uplift and betterment of people forsaken by others. In our country, many villages are in need of such Vedamanickams. Will you be one such to enable the Indian villagers to know that Jesus is the Lord?
How wonderful it is to see a messenger coming across the mountains, bringing good news, the news of peace! He announces the victory and says to Zion, “your God is king!" (Isaiah 52:7)