Serving God, Saving Lives
is known to city folks as the water reservoir from where drinking water
to the city is treated and pumped. But beyond this, dam, Aruvikkara is
also a place of immense natural beauty. With a recently completed
Children's Park and the opening of a DTPC snack bar, it is fast emerging
into a local holiday retreat for the lower/middle income families. The
place also has a Bhagavathi Temple which harbours the faith of many
thousands in the locality.
there are times when Aruvikkara finds itself in the news for all the
wrong reasons besides pipe bursts. Amidst the natural beauty lies
nature's traps that lay concealed in the green waters of Aruvikkara’s
streams. The path towards the bathing spots in the stream passes through
the temple compound. Even from afar, the sight of white letters and
images drawn against a red background warns about the dangers of the
spot. But no one is aware of the dangers more than Unnikrishnan.
have been associated with this temple since the age of five; now I am
forty nine years old,” he says, detailing his long association with the
temple and the stream. “And in these years, I have saved 66 lives from
being drowned in the numerous eddies in the stream; I have kept account
of each of them in my mind.”
a.k.a V Jagannathan (which he says is his real name) currently
oversees the functioning of the marriage auditorium built adjoining the
temple and also manages the shop selling an assortment of things to
devotees. At forty nine years of age, Unnikrishnan has spent his entire
life in Aruvikkara and has managed to accomplish feats that most fail to
achieve in a lifetime.
He shares with Yentha some of his life-saving experiences!
around dusk, I was sitting in the shop and I hear someone cry, coming
from the stream below. Someone, who had gone to have a bath, had fallen
into a eddies in the stream. I ran down and reached in time to pull him
ashore. He lived for another twenty years before dying of some illness.”
Then he recalls a more recent one...
six months back, there was a bunch of youngsters who had come to take a
bath in the stream. They were warned about the dangers before allowing
them to use the spot. But one of them tripped on the moss covered rock
surface and fell into the stream and got sucked into a eddies. Another
one tried to stop him from falling and in the process he too fell into
the stream. A third one attempted to rescue the two, but found himself
pulled along into this life-death predicament. I ran to the spot after
calling for help and managed to pull out the kids just in time.”
had been instances of people getting washed away in the stream, but
captured alive kilometres away further downstream. Unnikrishnan says it
is the youngsters that account for most of the accidents that take
place at Aruvikkara.
just don't get it no matter how seriously or how in-detail we explain
things to them. The beautifully laid out rocks designed by the years of
water flowing through their surface and the apparent narrowness of the
passing stream presents danger with the perfect camouflage of beauty.
What they don't realise is that in areas where the water lies pooled has
got well-like eddies from which escape is impossible without external
Unnikrishnan is proud of having been able to save so many lives from
drowning to death and is more than happy to talk about it, he declines
with a gesture of indifference any praise that comes to him.
isn't me who is doing all these things; it is the goddess of this
temple. The goddess sees and knows everything. I have been assigned the
role of a saviour many times by her, and I am glad that I am in her
service, in carrying out the good deeds,” he says.
is just an average person, leading an average life, sheltering a deep
rooted faith in the idol that he daily worships. But there are 66 lives,
many of them still alive, who are indebted to him for every moment of
life given to them after their fateful visit to Aruvikkara.
Unnikrishnan, a.k.a V Jagannathan has accomplished in life is not
something with materialistic implications. But things go beyond daily
life and average chores to meet the line separating heroes from those
who are not. In a world where heroes are made and their acts hardly
validated, Unnikrishnan stands apart as an unsung hero whose acts will
live on through the lives that he has saved.