|Mutampakkal Kochoonju Upadesi|
Edayaranmula. near Aranmula ,Kerala
|Resting place||Edayaranmula St. Thomas Mar Thoma church.|
|Known for||Christian poet , composer|
|Parents||Itty and Mariamma|
Sadhu Kochoonju Upadesi was a famous Malayali Christian preacher, poet and composer. Kochoonju was a very distinctive person in appearance. He always wore a white shirt and white dothi. He was 175 cm tall and had very thin and frail body. His eyes appeared to be meditative and his forehead was frowned as though in deep eternal thought. He always carried an umbrella and his favourite Bible where ever he went. His saintly life, self control, self denial, and commitment for social service made him a unique person. He liked to spend time alone in meditation. Much of his time he spent in reading.
During his life time he was known as Kochoonju which was a contraction of the two Malayalam words Kochu and Kunju. Malayalam equivalent of a preacher is upadesi. During his missionary work in Tamil Nadu, India, they called him Sadhu meaning, holy man. Thus he came to be known as Sadhu Kochoonju upadesi.
Birth and family life
Edayaranmula is a small village near Aranmula in Pathanamthitta District, Kerala. It was here he was born on November 29, 1883. His father was Moothampackal Itty and his mother was Mariamma of Perengattu Padickal. His pet name was Kochoonju and his real name was M.I Varghese (Muthampackal Itty Varghese). He was a member of a large family of six sisters. He had a brother, who died at the age of two.
As Sadhu Kochu Kunchju Upadeshi lived at a time when child marriage was an accepted custom, Kochu Kunchju was married at 12 years of age. His wife's name was Eleyama. She provided the support that Kochu Kunchju needed. He made ends meet by working as a farmer and selling the products of the field.
His mother died in 1898. That was a terrible blow to his father who was already sick. After three years of his wife's death Etti died in 1903.
Education and early life.
He joined a nearby Mar Thoma Lower Primary school school. In 1895 when he was only 12, he married Aleyamma, Vattapara, Kurianoor who was from a nearby village. For this his classmates ridiculed him and so he left that school and joined an English medium school. While he was there one of the teachers punished him for no reason and so Kochoonju wrote a poem ridiculing him. That was his first attempt in writing poems. He was an intelligent student and was top in the class. When he was 14 years of age he stopped his formal education to help his father in farming.
His mother died in 1898 when he was 15. That was a terrible blow to his father who was already sick. His father died in 1903 when he was 20, leaving a small piece of land and some loan. Income from the agriculture was not at all sufficient for their living. So he had a hard life and was forced to do many small jobs to make both ends meet. He did textile business, and for some time he taught in a school. His wife’s parents were very helpful. Finally he settled as a farmer.
Beginning of the ministry
Sadhu Kochu Kunchju Upadesi was saved at the tender age of 11. He decided to commit himself to the ministry at the age of 17. In the beginning he went to spread the gospel at night time after farming. When the Brethren movement gained momentum in Kerala, Sadhu Kochoonju Upadesi decided not to join that church even though his friend and classmate K V Simon (who was also a paternal cousin of his wife's father.), (later Mahakavi, a poet laureate) joined it. He said that even though he agreed with their doctrine, he felt that his mission was to stay with the church he was and to preach the gospel. The source of his power was prayer. He used to spend hours in prayer.
Organizations and Institutions.
From the very beginning he organized Sunday school, prayer Group etc in his village. His parish priest Rev K.V.Jacob and his classmate Mr. K. V. Simon were his strong supporters. Together they formed Edayarmula Christian Fellowship (ECF), Youth league, Christian care units, old persons home, etc.
At Kalayapuram near Kottarakara he started a convention where people wearing white dress, walking all the way from their homes. gathered to hear his messages.
Sadhu Kochoonju Upadesi was the source of many missionary movements in Kerala. He travelled all over Kerala, South India and Sri Lanka to preach the Gospel. He had a habit of trusting in God for all of his needs. He spend hours in prayer as he sought guidance from God. His major method of spreading the gospel was by speaking in large gatherings. He did about 30 years of intensive gospel work. This is an indication of his commitment. He not only spoke of spiritual things, but also talked about social issues.
He had a very hectic schedule some days. He spoke in gatherings from Thursday to Sunday. The rest of the days he dedicated to reading books and prayer.
The speeches of Sadhu Kochoonju Upadesi was enjoyed by the old and young alike. He used stories, examples, experiences and humor liberally to add colour to his speeches. So the ministry of Sadhu Kochoonju Upadesi had great results in Kerala and South India. The results were that many were saved in his meetings. It is not unusual to see drunkards coming to his meetings and going back as a new men. Most of the conversions were genuine and those who came to Christ shared their faith with their friends and family. Thus the ministry of Kochoonju was a great success. It brought revival to many parts of South India. It also opened the doors to many future Christian missions.
Lifestyle and principles
Sadhu Kochoonju Upadesi modified his lifestyle to live according to what he believed in. So he set a standard or set of rules for himself, which he strived to achieve. 
- He decided to cut all his contact with women and decided that he would have no more children as he believed that his current children were enough.
- Spent much of his time to reading to increase his knowledge about God and The word of God along with other things.
- Controlled his eating habits. He had very little food everyday and also fasted regularly. This caused many ailments in the later part of his life.
- Materialistic things where minimized and only essential things were kept.
- He considered Gospel work as his duty and for which he was not willing to take any remuneration or salary
- Decided not to use any decorations. So he only wore white dress which he considered decent.
- He thought that enjoyment was forbidden and shied away from all forms of enjoyment.
- Was very humble and desired no respect.
- Never thought of himself as above the others.
Kochoonju Upadesi was the General Secretary of the Mar Thoma Voluntary Evangelists’ Association from 1924 to 1945. He was also the Manager of the Edayaranmula English Middle school for some time.
Parama Christanithwm, Paramanentha Kristya Jeevitham. (Joyful Christian life), etc are some of his many books published.
But the most appreciated work was his many Christian devotional songs that are enjoyed by Christians of Kerala even today. His songs written in Malayalam, brought hope and happiness to many lives. He wrote a book named Aasawaasa Geethangal (songs of consolations) in which 210 of his songs were included.
Some of them are :
- Dukhaththinte paana paathrram karththavente kayyil thannaal....
(His second son Samuelkutty died in 1851 at the age of nine. It was a big loss in his life which inspired him to write this immortal hymn).
- Krushinmel krushinmel kaanhunnath- aaritha! ....
- Ente sampaththennu cholluvann-verreyillonnum ....
- Ente Daivam swargga simhassanam thannil ....
- Ponneshu thampuraan nalloru rakshakan ....
- Aaru sahaayikkum? Lokam thunhakkyumo? ....
- Aashwaasame enikkerre thingeedunnu ....
- Baalar- aakunna njaangalhe yeshu thampuraan ....
- Cherneedume vegam njaanum aa koottaththil ....
His continuous travels and restless gospel work made him sick many times. But in 1945 November he became very sick. He died at 8.45 am on Friday November 30, 1945 and was buried in the Lakha St. Thomas Mar Thoma Church Cemetery on the next day. The funeral service itself was a great honour for him. Two Bishops, more than 100 priests and more than 40,000 people participated in the funeral service.
- George, Dr.K.M. (1995). Sadhu Kochoonju, Christhava Sahitya Samithy, Tiruvalla.
- Mathew Daniel, Rev.Dr. (1988). Sadhu Sadhu Kochoonju Upadesi). .
- Mathew P.V. (1995). Keralathile Nazranee Kristanikal (Nazrani Christians of Kerala) Vol. III.
- Mathew, N.M. (2008) Malanakara Marthoma Sabha Charitram. (History of the Malankara Mar Thoma church.) Volume III.
- Mar Thoma Evangelistic Association (1964). Suvisesha Senanykal. (Biography of Missionaries)