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Religion 101: Everyone’s Protective, Brave Guardian Warriors

Marmadesam Vidaathu Karuppu Warrior Religion K Balachander

I trust in every religion or society, there always been some form of guardian angels or warriors who will either looks after you personally, family or even a specific village and so on.

When I was in Cambodia on a work assignment, one of the things I did after I came back to the hotel and had my dinner is to watch an old Tamil serial titled “Marmadesam Vidaathu Karuppu” which has a few interesting subplots. Image source: Kavithalayaa

Marmadesam Vidaathu Karuppu

One of the subplots in the Marmadesam Vidaathu Karuppu serials is related to the guardian warrior known as Karuppu Sami who is a well known Kaval Deivam. In Tamil, Kaval means Guard or Protect and Deivam means God or Deity.

The mystery is highlighted in the very first 2 episodes where the young Rajendran found himself alone at the Karuppu Sami’s temple at the dead of the night due to his friend’s prank. He then is met with a man who looks like Karuppu Sami and who carries him back to this house before disappearing into the background.

Karuppu Sami is one of the regional Tamil Hindu male deities popular among the rural social groups of Tamil Nadu and parts of Kerala (Sabarimalai, Achenkovil and small shrines).

He is one of the 21 associated folk-deities of Ayyanar and is hence one among the demigods or Kaval Deivams of the Tamil heritage. He was believed to come from the Kerala region (Erumeli) as an assistant to Ayyanar (Ayyappan) during the Sangam Age.

He was a local hero and then after his passing, the locals eventually worshipped his spirit (a Dravidian practice) and he was elevated as a “Kaval Deivam”, just like Ayyanar was.


This is the trigger point for me to start looking at the Kaval Deivams and how it is impacting our daily life.

Chinese’s Datuk Gong

In Malaysia, have you ever noticed that wherever there is new construction of building takes places, there will be a small shrine set up by the developer or contractors? It is meant to keep the place and people who are working in this place safe and protected from any bad/negative elements. The shrine at my workplace is at the car basement and I see often cars stopping by the shrine and people praying before going off to park their cars.

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Then there are also prayers to Datuk Gong by some Chinese in the country.

To most Malaysian Chinese, Datuk Gong is a local guardian spirit that resides in trees, anthills, caves, riverbanks and in strange stone formations. A Datuk worship usually begins after a person is granted a vision of the Datuk’s spiritual form.

Some common forms are a white tiger and the form of an old man dressed in white. A Datuk can also be “invited” to reside outside (never indoors) family home for spiritual protection and luck.

The structure of Datuk worship is diversified according to localities. For example, in the old quarters of Georgetown, the presence of The Seven Brothers or Tujuh Beradik is common while in the royal town of Klang in Selangor, most of the spirits worshipped are believed to be members of the royal court (Sultans, officers, warriors etc.), each with their own unique identity.


A Familiar Madurai Veeran

Madurai Veeran Warrior Kaval Deivam

Image of Madurai Veeran – Veeramakaliamman Temple, Singapore. Source: Wikimedia

Personally, I am more familiar with another Kaval Deivam – Madurai Veeran as I have participated in numerous prayers involving this deity and have a small altar at the front of houses like most Indians and Chinese. Next to Shri Ganapathi – the remover of obstacles, Madurai Veeran is the other that one gives respect and ask for protection before leaving the house.

Madurai Veeran (lit=Warrior of Madurai, also known as Veeran) is a Tamil folk deity popular in southern Tamil Nadu, India. His name was derived as a result of his association with the city of Madurai as a protector of the city.

Madurai Veeran is worshipped as a guardian deity by the people. The folklore is that the town of Madurai was troubled by bandits and the Pandyan king ordered Veeran to resist. Veeran then met Vellaiyammal, a royal danseuse, who was attracted to him because of his looks and skill in various arts. She asked him to teach her the Natya Shastra (tenets of dancing).

The Pandyan king, who was himself attracted to Vellaiyammal, did not appreciate this development and viewed this as an affair. Some of his generals, who hated the closeness of Veeran to the king, used the opportunity to inform the king that the delay in suppressing the robbers was deliberate as Veeran was conniving with the robbers themselves.

Furious, the king ordered a traitor’s death for Veeran, who was taken to the gallows and had his limbs chopped off. Hearing of this, Bommi and Vellaiyammal attend the gallows to see the severed limbs and chastise the king for his injustice.

The legend says that Veeran is brought back to life by the virtues of both these women and is vindicated by the presence of gods. Veeran, thereafter retires to a cave beneath what is now Meenakshi Amman Temple.

A shrine was later erected at the east gate of Meenakshiamman Temple by the Pandyan king. The story persists through the singing of songs and street theatre.


There is also a famous Tamil movie starring MGR on the history of the Madurai Veeran but trust me that it is nothing but the softer commercial version of the original.

Malaysia’s Pahlawan Guardians

dayak warrior sarawak orang asli

Guardian warrior is not limited to warriors from ancient India but also in Malaysia where there were strong and famed pahlawans (Hang Tuah is one but not without controversies). Malaysian warriors also include Orang Asli warriors the more famous being the Dayak warriors in Sarawak. Image source: Pinterest

When I was working with a local bank many moons ago, I recall a story told by a hotel manager on how till today Pulau Besar in Malacca has unexplained incidents and once a time was a focus place for warriors to do their learning in martial art.

Then I recall an incident that happened when I was small and when we were in Tanjung Malim for a relatives wedding.

As usual, the whole neighbourhood was alive given several houses within the same vicinity were hosting the wedding guests. But by certain hours, almost everyone has gone to sleep except a few of my elder cousins and their friends. We did not know what happened but they had a great story to tell all of us the next morning.

It was way after midnight (more of the wee morning), my cousins and their friends were still busy chit-chatting loudly until one of them seemed possessed. The entity that “possessed” one of them identified itself as a “Pahlawan” (warrior in Malay) and apparently out on patrol around the place. He was not happy with the guys being outside the house at this hour when they should be inside the house sleeping. Apparently, they were chased, scolded and was beaten for their mistaken of being outside.

The rest of them who were outside were shouting for help and even knocking on the door but surprisingly no one in the house could hear them. This went on for sometime before the entity left them. Lesson learned and no one dared to be outside wee hours in the morning.

Was the entity that “visited” the guys was another form of guardian warrior similar to Tamil’s Kaval Deivam? Knowing that it is not safe to be outside of the house at wee hours, was the entity looking after these guys but decided to teach them a lesson so that they don’t do the same again?

Speaking of warriors, it is interesting to note that Tanjung Malim was apparently was first explored by 6 Bugis warriors:-

Kawasan ini pada awalnya diterokai oleh enam orang pahlawan Bugis dan dinamakan sebagai Tanjung Jambu. Pada sekitar tahun 1870, berlakunya perang saudara yang besar di negeri Pahang diantara dua orang anak Bendahara Pahang yang bernama Wan Ahmad dan Wan Mutahir.


Final Thoughts

No thanks on how the notion of religion is manipulated for hidden agendas and how much dirty politics happens with the excuse of religion, I prefer the notion of morality than religion for the betterment of society. Hinduism and Buddhism do have a more matured outlook on things compared to the Abrahamic religions. Yes, it upholds the concept of karma which makes more sense – you do good, you get good, you do bad, you get bad.

Despite the advancement in science and technology, there still remains many things in this world that remains unexplainable and attributed to simply to hands of God. Perhaps these mysteries will be unrevealed in due time once we have advanced in science and technology.

The same has to be said of the mystic world – perhaps it is an extension of a parallel world or perhaps it is a portal sort of. The impact and influence of these mystic forces cannot be discounted. Whilst I always try to be rationale and pretty sure there are good explanations behind it, there are things that are out of the norm. There are things that I cannot disregard – after all, it is something I saw and heard with my own senses and some have been documented and caught on video.

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The concept of a guardian angel is nothing new in any society and has always come in many forms and names. If you ask me, it is nothing but an added comfort that there is another layer of the unknown positive forces somewhere out there that keep a close eye on you, your family or your neighbourhood. But the idea of the guardian angels that are in form of brave warriors with high virtues has been an interesting one and does instil a stronger sense of positive assurances.

What is your take of this?

Have you experienced the touch of a guardian angel? Do you feel better when you pray to your guardian angel before embarking on a journey or important tasks?

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