People from all nook and corners of the Universe are thronging over Sabari mala Shrine to have a glimpse of Lord Ayyappa, who is the centrifugal deity; uniting the humanity under one—roof irrespective of caste, creed, language, region or religion.
The glories of Lord Sri Dharma Sastha, born of Lord Maha Vishnu, the protector of the universe and Lord Shiva, the destroyer of all evil forces, are widely spoken with all devotion and piety — not only throughout the length and breadth of this country but also the entire universe in the recent past. Many of you know the legendary tales of Lord Sri Dharma Sastha at Sabari Hills with varied versions, leaving valley of questions, unanswered to the layman.
Despite the swelling number of devotees, some questions on the story of Ayyappa and His worship still haunt the minds of laymen, who could not get a convincing explanation subject to reasoning. Questions range on various aspects.
- How could Lord Sastha, born in Krutha Yuga for Mohini Vishnu and Shiva, be friend Vahvar, said to be of Muslim Religion, which has a specify date of origin in Kali Yuga? While the Lord is worshipped as Brahmachari at Sabari Hills, how can He be addressed as "Poorna Pushkala Kanthanae Saranam Ayyappa” in our Sarana Gosham?
- Why Lord Sastha is born of two positives — Vishnu and Shiva?
- Whether is He married or unmarried and married when, and what is the significance behind this Sastha Thiru Kalyanam?
- Whether Sastha worship is of recent origin or time Immemorial?
- Whether He has a date of Avtar or He is Anadhi?
- How could the collecting versions of legendary tales be correlated or regulated in chronological order?
- What is the significance behind Sabari Pilgrimage which enjoins so much of rigorous austerities — not generally prescribed for pilgrimage to any other temples?
- What do the Sthala Puranas say of various temples having Sastha as the presiding deity?
- Whether one can attain Salvation through worship of the Lord at Sabari Hills and if so, how?
- What is the linking thread between Sastha - Ayyanar and Ayyappan?
The question-bank expands without an end, leaving a wide field for genuine and acceptable exposures from those Gumswamis who preach Sastha worship or who lead devotees to Sabari Hills every year.
The manifestation of the Lord is beyond comprehension and cannot be measured by our scales of wisdom and knowledge.
We know He is beyond time-frame or place-bound. He can do and undo things. He can create a New Moon if he wishes and can change New Moon into a Full Moon. So a research on His origin, period of existence, place of Avtar may be nothing but a futile exercise. Yet, for people coming from the reasoning school of thought, there must be some clarifications given to the best of our knowledge and belief based on expositions of knowledgeable and eminent Gumswamys. It is all the more necessary and important that our idea of God should approximate to the truth. No doubt, it is not possible for us to know him in His entirety. As we progress in our journey towards Godhead, more and more of Him would come to be revealed and realised. A reverent study of the great scriptures would throw sufficient light to our Research and understanding of God and His Sovereignty. This is true whatever may be the basic philosophy and ideas we cherish.
The Research has some relevance to Sastha worship. While there are texts on Ramayana, Mahabharata and various puranas for all Ganeshadhi Hari-Hara devathas, on which we can bank upon for clarification in case of doubts, there is however no such text on Sri Sastha to rely upon and people air out their own imaginations to suit their own
Mano-bhava and at times blink without an answer to the questions of a non-believer. While there are pearls of wisdom and information to a great extent on Sastha spread over in various scriptures, every piece appears to be in disarray and requires to be set in order. No one seems to have bothered to set right things so far. Pranaams to the devout word, with blessings of the Lord Sri Ayyappa, Paramacharyal of Kanchee Kamakoti Peetam and elites of your order, with a view to propagating Sastha worship and throw light on the unanswered questions to arrive at logical conclusions, as a service to the knowledge-quest of devotees.
Life history of Ayyappan - Uncommon Story
Ayyappan - a human being like us, whose living period dates back by 950 years i.e. 1125 to 1150 A.D. in Kerala. Some monuments, historical Places of interest, folk songs in Malayalam put together vouch for this story, which is enumerated in detail in a painting Exhibition conducted by us in the year 1998 - Sastru Sapthaham.
The story of Ayyappan goes thus: Anarchy prevailed in those days in Kerala. People around Pandalam lived in perpetual fear of attack by Udayanan, and his gangsters who committed dacoit and murder. They plundered the Sabari Mala temple, destroyed it and broke the idol of Dharma Sastha into pieces.
They also murdered the priest so that it would not be possible to conduct poojas there.
Jayanthan, son of the priest, distressed by the gruesome murder of his father, decided to take revenge by killing Udayanan and his band, and to rebuild and consecrate Sastha temple at Sabari Hills.
Later, he joined Udayanan camp and became his close and confidential accomplice. Udayanan wanted to marry the Pandalam Princess but in vain. Therefore, Udayanan launched an attack on the kingdom and in the process abducted Princess of Pandalam.
He handed over the Princess to Jayanthan for safe custody. But Jayanthan and the Princess escaped to Ponnanbalamedu
They lived together as husband and wife and begot a child -
AYYAPPAN, as blessed by Sastha. Jayanthan educated and trained Ayyappan in all fields of religion, science and military art.
Ayyappan became extra ordinarily brave and intelligent. At an appropriate time, Ayyappan joined the Pandalam king with a secret message from his father. The king gave Ayyappan full powers to rule the country.
To destroy Udayanan and his gang, Ayyappan prepared an Army and proceeded towards his hideouts around lnjipara, Karimala, Udumpara, etc. On the way, he had faced a trial of strength with VAVAR, a Sea Pirate from Arab, conquered and made him his friend.
Udayanan wanted to marry a girl born to a "Kalari" exponent Cheramoopan. However, the girl was dreaming to marry Ayyappan and refused to oblige Udayanan.
Enraged by this, Udayanan conspired with a group of Chieftains to eliminate Ayyappan. He abducted
Cheramoopan's girl and killed her. Ayyappan, with his army, marched through the forests, annihilated Udayanan's army. Finally, Udayanan was killed at Karimala Kotta and Ayyappan's mission to kill Udayanan, ended successfully.
After this, they proceeded to Sabari Mala Sastha temple, where Ayyappan's father Jayanthan and others were ready to install a fresh idol of Sastha. At the time of Consecration, Ayyappa stood in silence and meditation. Amidst sounds of "Saranam", Ayyappa transformed himself into a stroke of lightning and got absorbed in the idol of Dharma Sastha, which is symbolically now being shown as Makara Jyothi from Ponnambalamedu, where Ayyappa was born. Thus, Ayyappa, the incarnation of Sastha was re-united with the original deity at Sabarimala, leaving a message to the humankind that anyone can merge in the Lord by his service to society.
To mark this event, it is presumed that Makara Jothi is being symbolically shown from Ponnambalamedu, where Swamy Ayyappa was born. Thus, Ayyappan - the divine incarnate in human form - reunited with the original deity, ever-to-be-worshipped by everyone.
Let Swamy Ayyappan bestow His merciful blessings on the Humanity to elevate the universal beings to the sublimity of bliss. As my Gurunathar used to say "even the worst sinner in the earth has the merciful blessings of the Lord, for, the Lord wants to redeem each and every soul". Let us pray for self—realisation, redemption and salvation by Surrending ourselves before His Holy Feet Chanting "Swamiyae Saranam Ayyappa"
Manikandan & Sastha
LORD SRI DHARMA SASTHA is a divine incarnate, born of Lord Shiva and Vishnu, to slain demonees Mahishi. He is said to have His Abode at KANTHA MALA, with His two consorts – POORNA and PUSHKALA. We have been conducting Wedding Ceremony to the Lord, as a form of AYYAPPA worship. It is often questioned by Ayyappa devotees as to how a wedding ceremony can be celebrated to Sabari Malai Ayyappa, who is a Brahmachari. For this, we have to carefully go through the Puranas relating to the Lord.
In various Puranas like SKANDAM, BRAHMANDA PURANAM, LALITHOPAKYANAM etc., it is said that Lord Hariharaputhra was born to Shiva and Mohini (Vishnu) after PALAZHI MADHANAM, which dates back to KRUTHA YUGA. Skandam says that Lord Sastha with His two consorts appeared before Indra and Indrani to protect them. (This happened even before the avatar of Lord Muruga). References of Sastha appear in various Puranas and Upa-Puranas spreading over the other three Yugas also, including Ramayana and Mahabharatha. In Kaliyuga, Sastha descended on the earth as Manikanta. Why?
The Trinity force i.e., Siva-Vishnu and Brahma combined and Dattathreya was born. The three Trinity-consort forces i.e., Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswathi combined and was born a daughter named Leelavathi. Dattathreya and Leelavathi joined in wedlock and they lived happily for a good length of time.
As time went on, Dattathreya yearned to go back and merge in Trinity. Leelavathi would not leg him go. There was an altercation between them, at the end of which Dattathreya cursed Leelavathi to become a Mahishi (She-buffalo). Leelavathi, in turn, cursed Dattathreya to become a Mahisha (He Buffalo). The two curses took effect. The two, Mahishi and Mahisha, were reveling together for sometime. Dattathreya, again yearning for his merge with Divinity, left Mahishi and has a merge. Mahishi started perpetrating atrocities in this world and in the other worlds. She got a boon from Brahma that she should be killed by a child born of two positives, Hari and Hara that too after the child’s undergoing servitude to a human being for a period of 12 years.
As the story goes, Lord Hariharaputhra was wedded to Pushkala Devi first and then won the hands of Poorna subsequently. Father of Pushkala, a Nepalese king, cursed the Lord “even after marrying my good-natured daughter, you conducted yourselves as a human being. I curse you to become a human being in the mundane world.” The Lord replied: “Demoness Mahishi has got a boon that she should be killed by a child born of Hari and Hara, after undergoing servitude to a man for a period of 12 years. I am born of Hari and Hara and was wondering how I could serve a man. Now your curse has come in handy for me. I shall take the birth of a son to you and serve you for 12 years, so as to comply with both your curse and Mahishi’s boon, so that, at the end, I can destroy that evil force.”
In one of his subsequent births, the Nepalese king was born as a Brahmin by name “Vijayan”. He had no issues. He propitiated Lord Sastha, as per the advices and directions of Huntress Sabhari (of Ramayana fame). When the Lord appeared before him, he prayed, “You should be my son”. Lord said: “be it so”. In due course Vijaya was born as king Rajasekara of Pandalam. So, Lord Sastha materialized Himself in the shape of a tiny child called “MANIKANTA” on the banks of Holy River Pamba, brought up by Pandala king and rest of the story, entire world knows.
From the above, we can conclude that only in the Avatar of Manikanta to slain Mahishi. Lord Ayyappa was a Brahmachari. But the origin of Ayyappa, Lord Dharma Sastha dwells at Kantha Mala with His two consorts Poorna and Pushkala, even before His Ayyappa Avatar. We may refer here the avatars of Lord Maha Vishnu – As Parasurama, He was a Brahmachari; as Rama, he was Eka-Patni Vrathan. As Krishna, he did Rasa Leela with Gopikas. Similarly, one of the facets of Sastha took to Brahmacharyam as Ayyappa. A distinct line should be drawn between Sastha and Manikanta.