Imagine a crocodile – doesn’t it symbolize fear and danger to us? Our minds are full of movies where we see crocodiles killing and eating up humans! But this crocodile is going to change your image of crocodile-kind.
Babia, a crocodile who lives in the famous Ananthpura Lake Temple in Kerala for over 60 years is a legend with the folk there. A crocodile has always been seen as a guardian at this temple for centuries and Babia is no different. He is a vegetarian who does not harm anyone – not even the fishes in the lake! Also, his food is the temple’s prasad that is made out of rice and jaggery! The devotees fearlessly feed the crocodile, like a cow or an elephant! Unbelievable isn’t it?
The Ananthapura Mahavishnu temple is said to be over 1000 years old. It is considered to be the ‘mulsthanam’ or source of Swami Anantha Padmanabha in Thiruvananthapuram.
Just like every other incredible thing – Babia’s story also has a few folk tales associated with it. There is a legend about the presence of crocodiles in the lake since a lot of years. According to the temple’s website, when Sage Vilvamangalthu Swami was doing penance, Lord Krishna took the avatar of a small boy and played pranks on him. Angered, the Swami pushed him with his backhand. That is when the boy transformed into a divine aura and hastened into the cave. A divine voice echoed, “Now if you want to see me, come to Ananthankadu”. That is when the Swami realised that the boy was Krishna and then ran to the cave, looking for him. He travelled Southwards in search of Lord Krishna and at last, reached the location of the temple where he had other visions of Krishna. That is why the temple was set up here.
On the North-East corner of the lake, there is still a big cave with a small pit with a perennial presence of water in it, which is considered to be a sacred spot as it is believed to be the cave where Lord Krishna disappeared. That cave is what the crocodile, Babia is supposed to be guarding.
There is one more story about how a soldier once shot a crocodile dead in the lake and a few days later, died of snakebite. People believe that his death was a curse put on him by the ‘serpent God Anantha’.
The temple also states that before Babia, there were two other crocodiles and right after one dies, another appears on its own. They also say that there are no water bodies nearby which have crocodiles, so that appearance of crocodiles here is a complete mystery.
How true do you think it is?
Preview Photo: Noeljoe85 / Wikimedia Commons