How did Tamil Poet and Biblical Prophet Elijah go to Heaven?


Research paper written by London Swaminathan
Post No. 1218; Dated 6th August 2014.

Sangam Tamil poet Palai Kautamanar went to heaven with human body. Chera king Palyanai Selkezukuttuvan helped the poet in this venture. The king was the younger brother of Imayavarampan Neduncheralathan. The Third Ten section of the Patitrpattu (Ten Ten Book) gives the interesting story.
Kautamanar is the Tamilized form of Sanskrit name Gauthama.

The legend goes that Palai Kautamanar, a Brahmana poet, performed ten Fire sacrifices (Yagas, Yajnas, Havans) and in the course of the tenth, the Brahmana and his wife disappeared by going to heaven. In its accomplishment Chera king Selkezukuttuvan helped him.

Tamil epic Silappadikaram referred to this episode in two places (Katturai Katai, Natunar Katai).

Sangam book Pathitru Pattu says Selkezukuttuvan ruled for 25 years. He made a bridge of elephants between the east and west coast of peninsular India just to get water from both the seas for bathing. Ancient kings did such things to show that the entire country was under their rule. The second purpose was to appreciate the holiness of both the seas.

ati rudra
Image of Atirudra Mahayajna conducted by Sathya Sai Baba.

He was a great devotee of Goddess Durga of Ayirai Hills. When he heard that his priest Nedum Bharathan went to forest for ‘Vanaprastha’, he also followed him. The third stage of a Hindu’s life is Vanaprastha, going to forest to spend life in meditation and prayer.

When he asked his royal poet Kautamanar (Gauthama) what he wanted after he sang the decad in his praise, he told that he wanted to go to heaven with his wife in human form. Then the king consulted the learned in the scriptures and did proper fire sacrifice for this purpose. After the ninth round of the Yagas, the tenth and final round came. Suddenly the poet and his wife disappeared!!

We have several references to people going to heaven in special air planes that were sent from the heaven. In the Tamil epic Silappadikaram, the dead husband Kovalan came to take her beloved Kannaki to heaven in a heavenly vehicle. Rama of Valmiki Ramayana also flew in a pilotless plane (Please read my scientific explanation in How did Rama fly his Pushpaka Vimana/ Air Plane?)

Sangam Tamil book Purananuru (verse 27 by Mudukannan Sathanar) says that there were pilotless planes for great people praised by the poets. Such air planes will take them straight to heaven. We know how the great Rishi Viswamitra tried to send Trishanku straight to heaven with human body. Viswamitra’s fire sacrifice helped him to ascend to heaven, but he was denied entry. When he came back Viswamitra took it as a personal defeat and stopped him halfway through in the sky. He was hanging in the heaven and he was made the constellation Crux or Sothern Cross.

Elijah’s Fire Chariot

Jewish Prophet Elijah

Jewish Prophet Elijah (900 BC) fought against idol (Bal) worship. His story is in the Jewish and Christian Bibles. Nothing much about his origin is known. But he is attributed with several miracles in the Bible:

Elijah was fed by ravens during a big drought.

Elijah went to a widow and made her cup an Akshaya Patra (inexhaustible vessel).

Elijah brought the dead son of the widow alive (It is similar to the stories of Saivite Saints Appar and Sambandhar who brought alive the dead children of a few Devotees/bhaktas)
Elijah had a competition with the worshippers of idol. His bull was burnt completely, but the enemies could not produce fire (It is similar to the clash between the Jains and Saivites during Sambandhar period)
Elijah brought rains like Rishyasrnga Rishi of Valmiki Ramayana


One day God sent a Chariot of Fire with Horses of Fire. Elijah went to the heaven in that chariot by whirlwind (This is similar to several stories in Hindu mythology and the Palai Gauthama in Sangam Tamil literature).

Source for Elijah’s story: Bible ( 1Kings 17-19; 2 Kings 2)
Source for Tamil poet Gauthama : Pathitru Pattu (3rd Ten and Silappadikaram)

But we must remember a big difference between Palai Gauthaman and Elijah, the former was a believer of idol worship and the latter was an opponent of idol worship.

elijah ascent to heaven
Elijah’s ascent to heaven in Jordan.


Pictures are taken from various websites;thanks.

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