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Sastha, Ayyanar, and Ayyappan
SASTHA - AYYANAR – AYYAPPAN
The Subject—Matter of "Ayyappa" is classified under the three major heads
SASTHA (As per puranas)
AYYANAR (as per legends) and
AYYAPPAN (as per traditional story based on Historic events)
In various puranas like SKANDAM, LALITHOPAKYANAM, BKAHMANDA PURANAM etc, it is said that Lord Hariharaputhra was born to Shiva and Mohini (Vishnu) after PALAZHI MADHANAM, which dates back to krutha yoga. Why Sastha was born of two positives Shiva & Vishnu? A Demoness MAHISHI was perpetrating attrocities in this world and in the nether worlds. She got a boon from Brahma that slain 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. To fulfill the boon got by Mahishi and to destroy that evil force, Sastha was born of Shiva and Vishnu. Skandam says that Lord Sastha with His two consorts appeared before Indra and lndirani to protect them.
This appeared even before the avatar of Lord Muruga. References of Sastha appear in various Puranas and Upa-Puranas spreading over the other three yugas, including Ramayana and Mahabaratha. As the story goes, Lord Hariharaputhra was wedded to Pushkala Devi first and then won the hands of Poorna subsequently. To comply with the boon of Mahishi, He took the birth of a son for servitude to a human being. He materialised himself the shape of a tiny child called "MANIKANTA" on the banks of Holy River Pambha, brought up by Pandala King, healed the deaf and dumb boy of HIS Guru, gone to the dense forests as per evil designs of His stepmother, slained Demoness Mahishi, brought leopard milk for His step-mother and took to Brahmacharya yoga at Sabari Hills.
The legendary tales on Lord Dharma Sastha of Sabhari Hills are well known, and worldwide that "He was born of Hari and Hara, manifested Himself as Manikanta on the banks of Holy River Pambha. Brought up by king of Pandalam, he brought leopard milk to cure His ailing mother.
On redemption, Mahishi requested the Lord to marry her. Lord replied: "In this Avatar as Manikanta, I’m a Brahmachari. I shall opt to marry you when no kanni Ayyappa (one who is trekking Sabari Hills for the first time`) turns upto the Hills; until such time, you may join me in doing penance near my temple as Maligapurathu Manja Matha.
From the above, we can understand that the Lord is a Brahmachari as well as a wed.
As per traditional songs, and Dhyana slokas, Lord has taken Eight Avatars and Eight Roopas.
Lord Dharma Sastha Himself designed the shrine and the image; selected the spot for the shrine; the image was, installed by Parasurama; Agasthiya Rishi initiated the Poojas there. The Hill was named after the great Tapaswini Sabari of Ramayana fame. The sanctity of the Sabari Hill would be same as Varanasi and the nearby Pampa 'River would equal another Ganges in sanctity. Those who climb the Holy 18 steps with irumudi on their heads are blessed with immortality and raised to the State of Nirvana.
Worshipping Lord Sastha with His consorts has been in vogue in Tamil Nadu and Kerala from time immemorial. ln countryside temples spread over Tamil Nadu, Sastha is being called "AYYANAR" with His two consorts. ln Kerela too, Sastha is worshipped with His consorts for eg. Noorani, Thirunilay, Achankoil etc. ln one of the five Abodes of Sastha, at ARYANKAVU (near Shencottah) Sastha Thirukalyanam is being performed By TRAVANCORE DEVASWOM BOARD. With all religious rites on the night of l0th of Dhanur Masya (prior to Mandalabhishegam day) every year, for ages past.
He has lieutenants like Karuppan, Veeran, Madurai Veeran, Kathavarayan - Bhootha Kanas, based on Shilpa Sastra, and dhyana slokas, the images of Parivara — Devathas are drawn. Some folk stories among many about Ayyanar are visualised. One based on Dhikshitha Vijayam by Appayya Dhikshithar – a Veteran Saivite Exponent, another based on Mahabaratha episode where Arjuna fought with Shiva in disguise of a Kiratha (hunter) before getting pasupathasthra. A role is played by Sastha here.
Ayyappan - a human being like ours, whose living period dates back by 950 years i.e. 1125 to 1150 A.D. in Kerala. However, so many books are written on this story by Srivaraham E. V. Pillai, Ramavaram Sri Murali (famous E Malayalam author) Dr. Sridharan Nair, author Negavalli, Devaswom Board publication, Bhavans Journal Publication on "A Pilgrimage to Sabhari" by Sri K. R.Vaidyanathan etc. No devotee seems to have attached any significance or importance that has to be given to this, to allay so many misgivings on Makara Jyothi, Vavar etc. Successors of Pandalam dynasty, Poonjar palace and some other living generation add credence to this story. Some monuments, historical Places of interest, folk songs in Malayalam put together vouch for this story, which is enumerated in detail in the page mentioned below.
The Life history of Ayyappan is explained pictorially in a separate page. Please click here to navigate