Monday, October 20, 2008



Nowadays no one notices the small street named Luke’s lane near G.P.O, even those who know the lane doesn’t bother to know how it got the name. At the end of the street, there is an iron gate and a small board with the name ‘Cookies Holiday Inn’. Once you enter, you are inside another world, with an ambience you will never hope to find in the very heart of the bustling city. Here, time seems to have come to a halt. On the right is an old house with tiled roof, later additions have diminished its beauty and in course of time, it has lost most of its former grandeur. Once it was a fairly large ‘nalukettu’ with all traditional elements like the courtyard and ‘pattayam’. On the right side of the house is a very old sapota tree (Achras sapota) said to be about 200-250 years old.

This was the house of the great Vaidyan, C.Luke (b.1843-d.1894), the eye-specialist who surpassed even European doctors with his knowledge of traditional medicines, handed down from his forefathers. Luke’s ancestors were the members of Thayyil family of Thevalakkara. His ancestors were Brahmins who later embraced Christianity (Krishnan Nampoothiri and his wife Lakshmi Antharjanam (from Kothamangalam) of Thazhamangalathu Madam got attracted to the teachings of Christ and accepted Christianity. Thomman (Jr.), the only son of Krishnan (Thomman) and Lekshmi (Mariyam) learned Sanskrit and Medicine from Viratarajaguru and became a famous scholar and physician. During this period, Maharaja of Travancore invited Thomman (Jr.) to treat King-mother’s eye disease. Thomman succeeded in relieving the eye pain of the King-mother in first attempt itself. Pleased by this, the King gave the title ‘Vaidyan’ to Thomman and his successors). Luke’s father was a well-known figure, as Dewan T. Madhava Row in a letter to Luke says that he personally knows his father who was an able oculist.

Luke and his brother came to the capital city from Kollam during the reign of Aayilyam Thirunal Rama Varma. As the practitioners of traditional medicine, they had to face many challenges as English medicine was gaining its hold in Travancore at that time. Most of the educated noble families opted for English medicines.

But the talented brothers with their sheer dedication managed to get the patronage of many noble families including the royal family. An important achievement in their career was their successful treatment of the Dewan’s son T. Ananda Row (b.1852-d.1919) in 1871 when the latter was preparing for B.A. examination (Ananda Rao went on to become the Dewan of the Princely State of Mysore). In a letter by T. Madhava Row to Luke dated 28th May 1871 the Dewan expresses his gratitude to the brothers who treated his son’s eye disorder. “Two well known European members of the medical profession were successively consulted, but their treatment showed no permanent benefit…… You undertook the treatment accordingly. With apparently very simple appliances and mild treatment you were able in a very moderate time to accomplish what you had promised.” from these words of the Dewan we can get an idea of the simple treatment techniques employed by the brothers. The Dewan further expressed his gratitude by sending Luke a purse containing 150 British Rupees, suggesting him to buy a watch or books with the money.

Luke was appointed as the palace Vaidyan by Maharaja Visakam Thirunal Rama Varma and he was bestowed with a Veerasringala. Luke was employed in Maharaja’s College (University College) as a teacher of scriptures. He played an important role in establishing the Syrian Church in Statue. Luke married Mary, the couple had three children, his eldest son L.C. Koshy was also a prominent figure, he was the curator of the Museum and was also employed in Huzur Kacherri and was the supervisor in charge of the street lighting.

The Maharajas College and the St. George’s Orthodox Syrian Cathedral, Statue.
C. Luke who served three kings starting from Aayilyam Thirunal to Sree Moolam Thirunal died in 1894; he was buried in CSI Christ Church at Palayam. The old tombstone with the inscription ‘Government Oculist’ is still there in the church graveyard.

Luke’s grandson Alexander Koshy, even though not a famous Vaidyan, kept alive his family traditions, treasured the knowledge handed down to him by his ancestors. Some old palm leaf documents on traditional medicine, antique furniture, photographs, portraits and the grinding stones in various sizes are preserved by the family members. A true copy of Sir.T. Madhava Row’s letter to Luke is one of their prized possessions. Kurian, the great-grandson of C. Luke who lives there in a small house made by his father is proud to be a member of this illustrious family.

Before you step out of the gate and merge into the busy streets of the city, take a deep breath and look back, can you still see a man with his large headgear and black coat with the medicine box and people waiting to see him?

Sharat Sunder Rajeev.


Murali RamaVarma said...

Dear Sunder,

Congratulations on your first post on Vaidyan C Luke which is a most interesting one indeed! In a very readable style , you have dug out the story of the family of this eye doctor who had the approval of the Travancore Royalty.

I was privileged to read the letter from Sir Madhava Row to the Vaidyan paying great tributes and also including a princely sum in those days for the treatment of his son Ananda Row.

Thevalakkara Nambis were great physicians of yore. Since you mentioned that the grandpa of Mr.Luke was a Brahmin , it may be worthwhile to investigate if any relations existed with the former.

Once again, let me thank you for this wonderful post.

sharat sunder rajeev said...

thank you for your valuable information,yesterday while i was reading 'manasasmarami',by gupthan nair i found some references about thevalakkara, it was interesting to know that a brahmin from there embraced christianity in 1860's, from a missionary.

spinny said...

Dear sunder
Am spinny,belonging 2 this thayyil vaidyan in thevalakara.its good 2 here more about our ancestors.
my grand father wrote a book about this. but it does not published.
v r anciously looking hw u get this? can u tell more about u.
thank u thank u very much 4 this blog

sharat sunder rajeev said...

dear spinny,
am happy to hear from a member of thayyil family......i have collected this info: from Luke's great grand son, who's my father's friend.....can u contact me via my mail id?....
my id :

Anonymous said...

Dear Sunder,
Thank you for the hard work for collecting and publishing a few of the about vaidyan family. Since Mr.Murali Ramavarma has suggested for finding out wether any relations existed with Krishnan Namboothiri, the grand grand father of vaidyan C.Luke, I would like to give some details regarding them.Damodaran Namboodhiri is the younger brother of Krishnan Namboothiri (Thomman)who were leading a happy life, could not no longer tolerate accepting christianity by his brother.(The present Amachira temple at Thevalakara was their temple) Hence Damodaran Namboothiri left Thazhamangalathu Matom and settled at Kallada(KOLLAM) with their belongings.But due to certain reasons, they again shifted from that place to Kottarakkra .Our assembly Speaker Late Damodaran potti ,Famous poetess Lalithambika Antharjanam are all the descendants of Damodaran Namboodhiri.They all keep the brotherly affection till now with the vaidyan families.
Jacob vaidyan T.J.

sharat sunder rajeev said...

dear sir,

thank you for providing me with this valuable information. Mr. Kurian, Luke's great grand son had told me their connection with Antharjanam's family, but was not sure about the names of his ancestors.
Do you have any info: on Luke's father, his name?... wife's name??
Mr. Madhava Rao in his letter to Luke say that he had known Lukes father, however, i did't get his name....

if you have any info:, please share
thanking you once again,

sharat sunder rajeev,

nirosha said...

i am mother belongs to the thayill vaidyan family, grandfather ,jacob vaidyan ,had written many books regarding family history and i was lucky enough to get a book which he had written which is not published yet.
this blog has inspired me to work on the old book and see more into it.

Sharat said...

hey nirosha, thanks for the comment. am really happy to hear that u had a 'history conscious' grand dad.....treasure his work, n if possible publish me u r lucky to have some one who had recorded family history, i came up with dead ends (many times), while shearching mine....

Anonymous said...

Lalithambika Antharjanam is the Great Grandmother of my friend Abhijith Narayan

Tina said...

Hi Sunder!
I had such a warm feeling in my heart after reading your blog about my family.I belong to the Thekkethayil Vaidyan family in Thevalakkara and in my childhood days I had often visited the Cookies Grand Inn in Luke's Lane.My parents are settled in Trivandrum and we used to have the monthly Vaidyan Kudumbayogam back in those days.
I have a book with me which has a few details of the history.It is called 'Thevalakkara Mappilaveettil Vaidyan Kudumbashala',printed in 1985.
The author has given a generation Chart from Krishnan Namboothiri(Thomman) and Lekhshmi Antharjanam(Mariyam) and five generations after that.
I knew the Brahmin connections through my parents.That, we are related to the famous Malayalam poetess Lalithambika Antharjanam and Damodaran Potty.
My grandfather's brother T.O Alexander Vaidyan was still practising 'Kannu Chikilsa' at Thevalakkara till he passed away around 20 years back.He used to tell us about the kind of medicines that was used for the treatments.One of it being the first excreta of a baby elephant(that is if you are lucky enough to retreive it before the mother of the calf gulped it down herself.)
The land in which the Spencer Palli or the St.George Orthodox Cathedral stands also belonged to the Luke family(gifted by the king) and also the surrounding buildings like Raja's Dry Cleaning. He gave it to the Malankara Orthodox Edavaka.

Tina said...

Hi Sunder!
I was able to get more information from the book that I have.
The father of Krishnan Namboothiri,Damodaran Namboodiri and Yashodhara Namboothiri was Keshavan Namboothiri.Their mother was Devaki Antharjanam from Tharana nalloor manakkal.
Yashodhara Namboothiri later married Padhmanabhan Nambhoothiri from Tharana nalloor manakkal itself.

sharat sunder rajeev said...

Hi Tina
Thanks for sharing this information with me and the readers of this blog…..I am glad that my post was able to remind you the memories from your childhood. All the information I posted were narrated by Kurian Uncle, the great grandson of Luke Vaidyan. The old paintings and photographs I have published as a separate post were also given by him. As a child I have visited the house often with my father, who’s a friend of Kurian uncle. During those days late Alexander Koshy maintained a small clinic in the house. It would be great if you could send me some details about C. Luke’s parents. According to Kurian Uncle Luke’s father was one Coshy/Koshy, who was also a well known oculist of his time, Madhava Rao has also mentioned about him in his letter to Luke.
I hope that your family history book may have some information regarding them.
Sharat Sunder Rajeev.

Anonymous said...


Here is some more trivia about Vaidya family. Malayatoor Ramakrishnan mentions about 'Thevealakkara Vaidya Family' in his book 'Entea IAS dinagal'. Malayatoor was friend of Varghese Vaidyan, who's story was later filmed in the superhit movie 'Lal Salam' with Mohanlal portraying the real life charater of Varghese Vaidyan.

Thevealakkara 'Vadakettatu Kudumbayogam' possess a Vaidyan's history book written by the great historian Sooranad Kunjanpillai. You can get more comphrensive info from that book.

Kunjandi Vaidyan

Manjesh said...

i am posting this link in our vaidyan family page in facebook

K. K. Koshy said...

I am really happy to see the write up on Vaidyan C Luke. I too belong to the family. My paternal grand father was Luke's eldest brother.

Alexander Vaidhyan said...

Great Work, Sharat and all others commenters!!
As a Vaidhyan having origin from the Thevalakkara Vaidhyan family, this story about the royal physician matches with what I have heard from my grandfather, who shares the same name as mine.
Can anyone provide any proofs of the lineage of Vaidhyan family or any other evidence to this? This will help in substantiating this whole thing. If anybody likes to team up with me in this effort, I will be more than happy. Please drop me an email at

Arockiaraj said...

Dear all, Do you information on one physician who lived during 1840-70s. He was awarded as Kocha Vaidyan (Young Physician) title by Travancore King. If so, please email to

Anna Anil said...

Hi Sharat,

Its so overwhelming to see the tale of my family. I am from Vaidyan family and one more thing to add is " Krishnan Namboothirpadu" ancestors were came from "Azhvanchery Thamprakkal". My grand father Late Mr Koshy Vaidyan wrote a book about this in 70's if my memory is right and he quoted the whole chronicle of the family.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sharat,

Am Joseph from Bangalore and a member of the Vaidyan family. It's indeed a pleasant surprise to come across a blog on our family. Many thanks for your efforts. Have a book which was put together in the eighties chronicling the story of the Vaidyans of Thevalakkara - it matches with yours.


BioNests said...

Dear Sharat,

I am LukeAleksander Vaidian. I am of the Eighth generation since we got converted to Christians, from the Bhramin families who were thof the highest ranking.
Their names ended with the extension 'RE (Krishnere, Govindere, etc.)

Really great! The net has done a lot,in spite of many drawbacks. Even though this blog started in 2008, I came across the same only today!
More surprising to me is that my nice niece Teena has put her comments quite earlier. She is my brothers daughter. The Family history book she has referred is the first one to be published from the Vaidian Family;that happened in the early eighties.
The problem with the net is, hardly any lot of the elder generation happen to be there.
I hope Mr Muralee RamaVarma could be from the Travancore Royal family. If so the present inmates of the Kawadiar palace have enough information on our attachment with the palace. We had had official residence right in front of the palace as Physicians, and were getting monetary benefits also to one descendent, till the Privy Purse existed.
For the time being, I would just mention certain facts for the followers information and to further feeds.

Ours is the only family to put the suffix VAIDIAN to our name.

The Travancore Royal Family's Official Logo, the 'SANGHU' could be used on our houses, document/ writing stationary,and vehicles.

The area at Thevalakkara, where the Mappilaveede, the Tharavade of Vaidian Family exits was put up by the then rulers, the extensive ares of landed property was contributed to us, even after evicting certain others , as a single settlement area. That is the reason why we are in this area, with almost 600 christian families concentrated here.

Further, as Anna Anil has mentioned,our forefathers were from the Azhvanchery Family. The Travancore and other Royal Families know the relevance of the Azhvanchery Family.The people who used to travel to Thiruananthapuram(ref the spelling,there is a lot to it) during the 'Murajapam'. that happens once in 12 years for the Royal Family, used to say over night at our place, as a family goodwill, even during the periods of some 60-70 years back.
What happened to the connection and the missing links, the post independence period contributed to many of the values and traditions losing its charm..
Any way I shall be there next time with more info.At present I don't have enough time to spare. Even to get the next contribution from me,you may have to wait for two three weeks.Sorry,I cannot spend much time on the social media. My typing too is poor to add to the problem. So far, with good wishes,..
From BioNests.../ 'HISOwn Keralam'

Anonymous said...

Ancestors of Luke vaidyan were Namboodiri brahmins and they were attracted by the teachings of Jesus and became Christians. This conversion would have happened in the 18th century when there were Namboodiri Brahmins in Kerala, not in the !st century when St. Thomas came to Kerala and there were no Nmaboodiri Brahmins. There have been many voluntary conversions of Brahmins and other higher castes on intellectual grounds after the British established schools and colleges. One Sreenivasas Iyer became a Christian and became a Pastor in LMS Church and he was baptised and given the name Devadasan. Velu Thampi's brother became a Christian and joined the LMS Church. Similiarly many Brahmis and Nairs became Christians, studied at CMS College, Kottsayam and joined the CMS church.


the anonymous comment of 11th Nov 2012 is a bit confusing. the subject of St Thomas' arrival and conversion is of regular discussion. But those who dispute about the aristocratic side of the subject is irrelevant. The achievement of Brahminhood and the elite position of the community is not the subject for vaidian family
As mentioned earlier, the conversion of Vaidian family ancestors happened only 350-400 years back. A generation period is considered to be 50 years and my turn comes as the 8th one. Hence the calculation and assumption, not during the 18th century as referred.
I wish the contributor could be kind enough to reveal his name as this is more or less a private subject and would have much appeal to his views.
The values and traditions someone attains is a contribution and out come of his gene, and the way he is brought up during the childhood, what we could call some sort of 'Natural Selection'
just being from a particular family alone won't serve the enhancements for someones character and other desired qualities.So,being from the vaidian Family or of any such traditional back ground alone won't help.
Further would add the 'Time" matters- the evidence; Dr.Thadagath Avatar Thulasi' of the IIM Ahamedbad.
So far for this,till next.
ALeksande Luke Vaidian

Pattom Radhakrishnan said...

Alexander's quest is genuine. But historical records say Rev. Thomas Norton was the first missionary who came to Travancore. He was soon followed by Benjamin Bailey (1816), Joseph Fenn (1818) and Henry Baker (Sr) (1819) who are popularly known as the "Kottayam Trio". These three concentrated their work among the Syrians, where as the pioneer missionary, Norton focused his work among the outcastes in Alleppey.It is apparent from Missionary records that conversion took place only in the 18th century. In this context, if Krishnan Namboothiri's conversion account is really true, his conversion by CMS missionaries would have occurred only in the 18th century. Since he had married non-Namboothiri Christians, they have continued to attend CMS church. This is confirmed by the existence of Luke's grave in CMS (CSI) Christ Church, Trivandrum

Pattom Radhakrishnan said...

In the Hindu newspaper's metro edition, Melange, dated April 19, 2014 Sharat Sunder Rajeev has wisely avided any Brahmin links to Luke family. There has been an orchestrated move to claim Nambudhiri geneology to some Syrian Christian families alleging they were converted by St. Thomas in 52 A.D. when the saint visited Kerala. The Brahmin families claiming onversion in and around Palayur were Kalli, Kallarakal, Kalliyankal,Plavunkal, Mattamuk, Manavasri, Pakalomattam/Pakalomattom (in Malayalam), Sankarapuri, Thayyil etc. But the eminent Kerala historian, Prof. Elamkulam Kunjan Pillai, has pointed out that there were no Nambudhiris in Kerala when St. Thomas came here. Another noted scholar, Logan. also says that there were no Nambudhiris in Kerala in the 1st century. This is evidenced by the absence of Sanskrit in Kerala literature and temple prayers in the !st century. Any 10 the generation non-Brahmin caste can make fake claim that they were related to E.M.S.Namboodirpad. They can even claim family relationship to the distant relatives of EMS. But it remains only in their phony family history and fanciful imagination. What is the solid proof? No, absolutely nothing.

Rajan Rajiv said...

After the news in the Hindu about Luke vaidyan, there is much curiosity. A meticulous analysis of the movement of Luke Vaidyan's family from Kothamangalam to Kollam is not clearly given. Causes for leaving Kothamangalam have also not been shown. Kothamangalam is having a strong Tamil Brahmin population and the Brahmins have a big temple with a tank. In Luke's account, if Kaladi had been shown for Krishnan Nambudhiri's home, it would have been convincing, for there are Nambudhiris in and around Kaladi. It is also a mystery why Krishnan Nambudhiris's relatives are not living in Kothamangalam today for verification. Probably Luke family would have originally belonged to Kollam.
Conversion of locals before the arrival of European missionaries was done by Persians. There were periodical arrival of Persians. They also went ot Sri Lanka. Like Sri Lanka, Persians didn't stay permanently in Kerala. Most converts were from lower castes. The proof for this is when St. Xavier visited Koch, he was greeted by two Christins. They belonged to mukkuva community. At that time, there were no CMS, pentecost, Latin Catholic or Mar thoma church. The only church was Syrian Christian and the mukkuvas belonged to that church.
Fictious names such as Naraayanan Nambudhiri or Parvathi antharjanam czn be given by Muslims or Christians to claim fake geneology for their families.

Sharat Sunder Rajeev said...

In the light of Alexander Luke Kurian, Pattom Radhakrishnan and Rajan Rajiv's discussions, I would like to share some interesting information I gathered on C. Luke's ancestors. After the article came in The Hindu, I was contacted by a member of the Thayyil Vaidyan family. Through her, I managed to get the family history of the Vaidyan's compiled by Rev. Dr. K. L. Mathew Vaidyan, Cor-Episcopa. According to him and the other old family records I saw with the Luke family, C. Luke was the son of Koshy Vaidyan, Thayyil, who in turn was the son of Koshy Vaidyan (Kumbalathu) (b.1746-d.1824), son of Thomman Thomman a.k.a. Thomman Vaidyan. Thomman Vaidyan lived during the reign of Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma, as according to the family records, he was bestowed the title ‘Vaidyan’ the King, when Thomman successfully treated the Queen Mother’s ailment. Thomman Vaidyan was the son of Thomman (Sr) and Mariam, who had embraced Christianity sometime during late 17th or early 18th century. Thomman (Sr), before the conversion, was Krishnan Namboothiri and Mariam was Lakshmi Antharjanam from Kothamangalam. The family history gives the details of Krishnan’s father too. Krishnan was the son of Kesavan Namboothiri of Thazhamangalathu Madhom (Thevalakkara) and Devaki Antharjanam of Tharanonalloor Mana.
According to family tradition, it was somewhere in Kottayam, probably in Thazhathangadi that Krishnan and his wife encountered the missionaries who were teaching gospel. “Krishnan Namboothiri sought some clarifications about the message and finally a copy of the Holy Bible was presented to him. Returning from Kothamangalam, Krishnan Namboothiri became a fully converted personality and he used to read the Bible regularly with great devotion and inner peace.” This is, in brief, the story of the conversion. If we can go by this family accounts, then, we can drop the discussions on the old story of St. Thomas converting the Brahmins. I knew that there will be differences in opinions, especially when you deal with such sensitive topics on family history, which is why I deliberately excluded this section on conversion in my write-up in The Hindu.

Sharat Sunder Rajeev.

Rajan Rajiv said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rajan Rajiv said...

You have pointed out that 'through her' you got their family history. The woman who gave you the family history has pointed out : "Thomman Vaidyan was the son of Thomman (Sr) and Mariam, who had embraced Christianity sometime during late 17th or early 18th century. Thomman (Sr), before the conversion, was Krishnan Namboothiri and Mariam was Lakshmi Antharjanam from Kothamangalam." The exact year of conversion is not given but a vague reference, "sometime during late 17th or early 18th century." Pattom has pointed out in his post about CMS missionaries who first came to Kerala. I am quoting from the original source. Rev. C.Y. Thomas, in his book on Madhya Kerala Diocese, says: "Rev. Thomas Norton was the first missionary who came to Travancore in this connection. He was soon followed by Benjamin Bailey (1816), Joseph Fenn (1818) and Henry Baker (Sr) (1819) who are popularly known as the "Kottayam Trio". These three concentrated their work among the Syrians, where as the pioneer missionary, Norton focused his work among the outcastes in Alleppey." There is absolutely no reference to the conversion of Krishnan Namboothiri and Lakshmi Antharjanam of Kothamanglam by the early missonaries in their diaries and journals. Another weird and intriguing fact is the birthplace of Krishnan's father Kesavan is shown as Thevalakkara, near Kollam. But Krishnan was located at Kothamangalam. Fictitious 'Madhom' and 'Mana' can be given to mislead the public.
Travancore Royal family had many official vaidyans. I do not question the skill of Luke Vaidyan. He would have been a competent vaidyan. But manipulated geneology linking him to Namboothri family without any historical evidence has led to this discussion.
Your other articles in the Hindu are quite informative

Anonymous said...

One Prof.(Retd.) Vaidyan was the Head of the Department of Physics,University of Kerala,Thiruvananthapuram and belongs to the clan.

Unknown said...

Isthere any ,link between puthen madom family of chathannoor and vaidian family of thevalakara.

Anonymous said...

Rajan Rajeev,
link to the house built by travancore kings for the parayans in tevalakkara.