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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.