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.
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 as mentioned below.
Life history of Ayyappan - Uncommon Story
Ayyappan - a human being like ours, 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.
Pandalam King & Secret behind his Birth
Agasthiya narrated that in his previous birth, the King was a brahmin by name Vijayan Namboodhiri. He had no child. The Brahmin went into the forest to get advice from sages living there for begetting a child; and he was directed to approach Tapaswini and Huntress Sabari of Ramayana fame. Sabari, who was waiting for Lord Sastha for her redemption, helped the Brahmin, pointing out a water falls nearby where the Abhishega water on Lord Sastha was coming down from Kantha Mala to the earth and advised him to have a dip in that water which would absolve him of all his sins and bless him with a child. She gave him a pot to collect the water for taking bath. Advised by Sabari, the Brahmin tried to collect the water in the pot, but by the force of water-falls, the pot fell down with its upper half breaking open, caving a pond in the earth. The Brahmin, without loss of time, dipped into the pond and took his bath. When he came out, he was bestowed with the dharshan of Lord Sastha, as a small child. The Lord blessed the Brahmin that he would beget a child in his next birth as King of Pandalam and He, the Lord Himself, would become his child. To fulfil that boon, Sastha became the foster-son of Pandala King, Agasthiya said. On hearing this prelude, the King rejoiced and enjoyed a state of bliss.
The King was in tears of ecstacy on seeing his foster-son as the Lord in His cosmic form. Yet, he could not help hiding his doubts on two points. With shy and hesitation, the King reverentially sought clarifications from the Lord on the following two aspects.
Narrating the entire episode, Sastha informed the King of Pandalam that he was none other than the King of Nepal and father of Pushkala and that the Lord sewed him for twelve years. The mental agony sustained by King Palingna, was compensated by the Lord by relieving the mental agony of King of Pandalam over his wife’s ill health. The message we have to take in this context is that we should not displease anyone knowingly or unknowingly and if someone is displeased by our act, we should try in all possible ways to heal the wounds, as every creature in the planet is merely an emanation from the one and only source of all life and the one and only cause of the universe. For a layman's mind, it may seem as a gross injustice committed by the Lord on Pushkala and her father. But it is not so. The ways of the Lord are, as already told, inscrutable. The significance of Poorna-Pushkala wedding to Sastha is beyond one's perception and is rich in values and standards. It cannot be taken on par with the mean action of a common man driven by lust & passion. What transpired was only a drama. The Lord wanted a character to go to the earth to accept His servitude, and hence this drama of marriage, curse and all that. In essence, the Lord wanted to fulfil the other condition of boon obtained by Mahishi to slain her after serving a mortal by the Lord. Nothing more need be read in this context.
Smilingly Sastha accepted the curse as a boon and told the King: "As per my purpose of birth, I can annihilate demoness Mahishi only alter my being a servitor to a mortal for twelve years as a bachelor. Your curse has come as boon for me. Let you be born as King of Pandalam when I will take the human form as your child and serve you to heal your wounds".
The King of Pandalam was rendered in a state of emotional outbursts of joy and cried for mercy in accepting the Lord's servitude for 12 years. Blessed by the Lord, the King came down to the earth and also to his senses.
History Behind Mahishi Samharam
The prowess of an offspring born out of the amalgamation of the two forces of strength and sagacity depicted by Shiva and Vishnu can better be imagined. But how such an amalgamation is possible and what was the necessity for such an incarnation? The ways of God are inexplicable. When we go through the Hindu Puranas rather deeply, we can find that the Almighty has appeared on earth not only in his 'ten' avatars but also in other forms, sometimes combining together the powers of Lord Shiva and Vishnu. The typical example of such a fusion of the powers was the incarnation of Sri Dharma Sastha. Let us now see the reason and significance behind this incarnation. Once, when the Trinity took up the human form as a child to Athiri Mahishi and Anusuya couple, named Datta, the consorts of Trinity also took human form and were born as the daughter of Maharishi Galava, came to be known as Leelavathi. She was married to Datta. After enjoying mundane pleasure for a while forgetting the purpose of their birth in the world, Dattacame to remember the object of their birth and wanted to withdraw from domestic life and go for ascetic life in the forest.
As my Gurunathar used to say passion - thy name is woman’, Dragged under the influence of maya and mundane pleasures, Leela did not like him to leave her and wanted to continue his conjugal life for some more time. Determined to move for Vanaprastha, Datta cursed Leela to be born as Mahishi (she-buffalo), as she blocked his way with her relationship as his Mahishi (wife). In turn, Leela also cursed Datta that he would be born as a Mahisha (he-buffalo) and become her consort, when she would be born as Mahishi. Leela took the birth of a Mahishi in the family of Asuras, as sister of Mahishasura, who was killed by Goddess Chandika parameswari, To avenge his death, Mahishi propitiated Lord Brahma and obtained the boon that she would rule over Devaloka and her end would not come except at the hands of one born of Hari and Hara and who had spent l2 years of servitude to a mortal. Armed with the boon and the supernatural conditions for her death, which is otherwise impossible in the normal course, she conquered the throne of Devaloka. The defeated Devendra followed by Devas went to Trimurthis praying for succour. The Trinity joined and one out of them Sundara Mahisha was formed in the shape of a buffalo. As ordained by Maha Vishnu, Sundara Mahisha went to Devaloka and Mahishi, who became enamoured about him, followed him down to the nether world = Padhala – leaving Devaloka. We have to take a message from this episode. These Trinity-consorts are worshipped over nine nights during Navarathri festival; yet when their combination as Leelavati was overpowered by lust and passion, the worshipable form gets denigraded to the status of being called a buffalo and gets lost in Padhala-loka, a place for the devils. Though the absence of Mahishi provided temporary solace to Devendra and Devas, a permanent solution could be possible only with the birth of a child to Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva, as per the boon granted to Mahishi who alone could put an end to her. Owing to the great oppression practiced by
Mahishi, not only on this earth but on the whole Universe, the Gods felt compelled to seek help of the Almighty and the Almighty Sastha came down in human form to put an end to the misery of the Universe. Only explicitly towards this objective alone, Lord Shiva and Vishnu communed and begot a child Hariharaputhra and it is an irredeemable sin to think of ulterior motives behind this episode, to the denigration of Gods. Lord Shiva is one who conquered Kama Deva, and who tried to draw His attention towards Dhakshayani, for the welfare of the mankind. His conquest over lust is so great that Lord Shiva burnt Cupid to flames. So, it is impossible even to imagine that Lord Shiva was lured by the damsel Mohini.
Besides, He also knew fully well that Mohini was none other than Lord Vishnu. By logic, Vishnu is considered to be one of the four Shakthi aspects of Shiva and this prompted Shiva to commune with Lord Vishnu. To fall in line with the nature of law for begetting a child, one must be a Pumsha and the other must be Prakrithi. This was scrupulously followed by Lord Vishnu taking the form of Mohini. What had happened was only an enactment of the Trimurthis, who are vested with Trikalajnanas. The message from this incarnation is very lucid. For the Lord, nothing is impossibe under the Sun. The purpose of an incarnation is for destruction of evil forces and protection of good souls and to provide ultimate redemption to even those who sinned but repented at last, taking refuge in Him. So many instances could be narrated from the Puranas. One striking example is of- Narasimha Avatar, which surpasses all imaginations and perceptions. To annihilate Hiranyakasipu, who obtained a boon with many subjective clauses and impossible conditions for being killed, the Lord conformed Himself to all the conditions and specifications stipulated by the demon and appeared before him in Nara-Hari roopa (Man-lion form) and killed him. This act has served not only the purpose of annihilation of evil forces, but also provided ample credence for the immense faith child Prahlada had in the Lord's omnipresence.
After destroying the evil-force Hiranyakasipu, the Lord, at the request of the tiny child Prahlada, redeemed his entire ancestry including the sinned one. What could not be achieved by might, was accomplished by simple devotion. This is so in the case of Mahishi as well. In order to avoid death, she put forth impossible conditions against the
nature of law. But the Lord circumvented all her conditions and begot a child only to put an end to her. The birth of a child to Lord Vishnu and Shiva was made feasible as a consequence of Lord Shiva's desire to see Lord Vishnu as Mohini, which form Lord Vishnu had taken at the time of churning of the milky- ocean.
The Lord Sastha was not brought into this world like any other being, viz., born out of wedlock. That the Lord is born to Lord Shiva who was captivated by the brilliance and
beauty of Lord Vishnu as Mohini is only a story told for the common man who has not developed his learning beyond understanding the superficial aspects of life. But he has full faith in the Holy scripts and words of holy men and so he never questions the authenticity of this statement. But only the so-called rationalists who believe that they are the only knowledgeable, stake their claims to unknown fields. They are ‘not elevated to the extent of understanding the philosophy that Lord Sastha is an incarnation, caused by projection of Divine Will. Knowledge, renunciation and compassion are qualities personified as Lord Shiva. Charm, mercy and protection of the weak from the wicked are the traits attributed to Lord Vishnu. The tejas emanated from the unification of the serene jnana of Lord Shiva and merciful charm of Kripalu Vishnu, when comprehended by human eyes, appeared in the form of an incarnation called Sastha. The incarnation of Sastha also confirms the doctrine of Hari - Hara Abedham. That is, there is no difference or superiority/inferiority clash between Lord Shiva and Vishnu and both are two aspects of the one Supreme. Saivism and Vaishnavism are combined in Sastha worship. Ayyappa devotees carry coconut filled with cow's ghee to Sabari Hills under the belief that the ghee-filled coconut symbolizes Hariharaputhra, Coconut with three eyes denotes Lord Shiva. Sri Mahalakshmi resides on the hind portion of the cow. So, ghee, the quintessence of cow's milk is thus Vishnu's aspect. When the ghee is poured into the coconut, there is an amalgamation of Lord Shiva and Vishnu, thereby representing the incarnation of Sastha.
The Paramathma, Tharaka Brahmam — is known by different names in this incarnation. AYYAPPAN, AYYANAR, MANIKANTAN, BHOOTHANATHAR, PARAYA GOPTHRU, ARYA DHATHA are some of the names. People call him ’Arya - Appa', ARYA meaning 'father' to be revered and 'appa' is an affectionate form of addressing a child. 'Ayyappa' is only a colloquial form of Arya Appa. Ayyanar also means the same. The Lord is to be worshipped with reverence and affection. When Sastha came to the world from Kailash at Shiva's bidding, He was found on the banks of River Pambha with a bell tied round His neck. So, He was called 'Manikanta' during his human term of twelve years. Because He is always surrounded in attendance by Bhoothakanas, He is called BHOOTHA NATHA. Besides, He is the Lord for Pancha Bhoothas also. His name as per His Moola Manthra is 'Paraya Gopthru'. The Lord taught mankind that the only Dharma to be adhered to is to seek refuge in Him. So, He is called DHARMA SASTHA. Coming back to the story aspect, Lord Sastha grew under the guidance of Lord Shiva at Kailash. He got wedded to Poorna and Pushkala, which will be explained in detail at the concluding session, and has His Abode at Kantha Mala, ruling all over the worlds.In course of time, Lord Shiva advised Sastha to go to the world and fulfil the other condition of Mahishi, to be a servitor of a mortal for twelve years, only after which Mahishi could be killed. Accordingly, Sastha assumed the form of a small child, came down to the earth and was found on the banks of River Pambha in the wild forest, by the King of Pandalam, where he had gone for hunting. The King had no children till then. The halo of light around the child attracted him and the child was taken to the palace, named Manikanta and reared up as a Prince. With the merciful blessings of Santhana-dhayaka Sastha, the queen gave birth to a child. This attribute to Sastha may be termed as superstitious to the modern men. But they cannot deny the fact that even now, in this millenium, those who are craving for a child, after a lapse of long years of matrimony, by worshipping and making offerings to Sabari Hills Sastha, begot a child of their choice; The two were brought up as equals, although the Lord was the apple of the eyes of everybody in the palace.
I enjoined in the customs of olden days, Manikanta and his younger brother were sent to Gurukulam for pursuing studies on all spheres which included Vedas, Archery, fighting and art of war. Manikanta excelled all others in every aspect. When the curriculum (gurukula vasam)l came to an end and the boys had to depart for their homes, Manikanta politely asked his Gurunatha how much Guru Dhakshina he had to pay. (Fees to be rendered to Guru on completion of the course). Guruji, being aware of the divine incamation of Manikanta, refused to accept anything and was overwhelmed that he was termed as 'Gurunatha' to the Tharaka Brahmam. However, the Guruji's wife pleaded with Manikanta to eradicate the handicap suffered by her son who was a dumb, blind and suffered impaired hearing. The Lord, with all mercy, touched the boy with His Magnatic divine hands, moving His hands over the boy from head to foot. Sanctified by the divine touch of the Lord, there was a divine spell on the boy, he opened his eyes, as if waking up from slumber, turned to his mother, prostrated before her crying 'Oh Mother'. All the physical disabilities vanished at one stroke at Manikanta's holy hands. Gurunatha, seeing this miracle, went out in a state of ecstacy, forgot himself, forgot for a moment that it was the Lord Tharaka Brahmam standing before him in the form of a small child, emotionaly blessed the Lord: "Let you be ruling over all the fourteen worlds, seated on golden throne studded with stones adorning yourself with all valuable garments and ornaments, forever" Manikanta obediently assumed the blessings of His Gurunatha as an instruction to him, and requested Guruji not to reveal His identity till his mission in this world was fulfilled. Then He returned to the palace. Such episodes may be termed as fiction by the modern world. But, it is no gain-saying that many devotees get cured of their uncurable ailments, and physical disabilities, by the healing medicinal effect of His ghee -prasad, through its application and comsumption, even today.
Everyone in the Kingdom experienced a state of bliss in the company of Manikanta, except one, that is the Dewan of Pandalam Palace. From day one of Manikanta's entry into the palace, the Dewan had a deep dislike for him, but for whom the Dewan would have had the opportunity of ruling the land. The Dewan tried several times with several plans to get rid of Manikanta but failed miserably. As time passed, when the King decided to crown Manikanta as his heir-apparent, the evil minded Dewan became jealous and poisoned the mind of the queen, typical to the role of Manthara’ in Ramayana poisoning the mind of Kaikeyi. In connivance with the queen, the Dewan hatched a plot to extinguish Manikanta. According to this plot, the queen should pretend to suffer from acute headache, the court physician would prescribe tigress' milk as the only remedy, which Manikanta would volunteer to bring and thus he could be killed by the wild animals in the forest, with the result the queen's son could ascend the empire. The plot worked on ‘dotted lines. When the King was in a fix and caught between love for his wife and profound affection towards Manikanta, the Lord consoled the King and undertook the expedition single-handed. The King gave the child an Irumudi, the first half containing three-eyed coconut representing their family deity Shiva, to protect the child from wild animals and ensure a safe trek, and in the rear half put some savouries and food-stuff for the child's consumption enroute. It is on this analogy, we are also carrying Irumudi on our heads to Sabari Hills in an identical fashion. The Lord leff the palace, on obeisance to the words of his father, as Rama did in Ramayana. The Lord is another manifestation of Rama indeed; One evening, enroute, all the eatables having been exhausted, the Lord, felt hungry and stood before a small hut, to get some food. The inmates, an old couple from the Karanthaiyarpalayam dynasty (in Kallidaikurichi), received the Lord with all love and affection, kept him on their laps, and gave a handful of milkfood. That small off`ering made a mighty magic: Just as Lord Krishna who was satisfied with the offering of a particle-remain of a green-leaf stuff by Dhrowpathy; again satisfied at a handful of puffed rice from the hands of Kuchela, and as Rama who was satisfied with the fruits fondly offered by huntress Sabari, as Lord Shiva satisfied with the offerings made by Kannappa Nayanar, so did Manikanta - satisfied with the offering made by the old couple, appeared before them giving His Viswaroopa Dharshan. He further off`ered them His holy stick and flag (Kambu and Kodi in Tamil which spelt together comes Kambangudi colloquially), and blessed their dynasty with a special place and status in His Kingdom. irrespective of the quality or quantity, whatever is offered heartily to the Lord with piety and devotion is considered the best offering to the Lord.
This is the greatness of Annadhanam, which is considered as the most befitting offering to the Lord. In Ayyappa worship, Annadhanam is of great significance. That is why, it is being arranged individually, at home, or collectively after mass prayer, and all along the route to Sabari Hills. The greatness of Annadhanam needs no special emphasis and can never be under-estimated. In this Kali Yuga, all the living beings are attached to food (Anna - Kosamaya Prana) and hence participation in Annadhanam, by one and all to the best of their mite, voluntarily by way of rice, dhall, provisions and donations, will lead
everyone to the Lord’s Kingdom, there is no doubt about it. The descendents of Kambangudi dynasty are a living legend even now, who bear ample testimony for the greatness of Annadhanam.
After blessing the old couple, Manikanta went into the thick forest. By this time, Sundara Mahisha left Mahishi, andshe returned back to Devaloka, creating troubles to Devendra and Devas. Weak people who see this terrible woman merely will die. Her oppression became so intolerable that Devas and Rishis descended to the earth and waited on Lord Manikanta in the forest with a prayer to fulfil the object of his mission. They took Him to Kanthamala and performed Abhishega Aradhana and profitiated Him with hymns and prayers. Overwhelmed with their prayers, Lord Sastha, the divine incarnate, entered the Devaloka on an auspicious Full Moon day with the shining 'Uthiram' star on the ascendency, during the month of Panguni (Meenam) Vasantha Ruthu, to slain demoness Mahishi. The day on which the Lord entered Devaloka for destruction of evil is considered as the Birth Day of Birthless and Deathless Sastha, the Supreme Master of the Universe. Enraged by the attrocities perpetrated by Mahishi on Sages and Devas, against all norms of Dharma, the Lord felt that the yagnas and dharma should not be marred by the scruple. He caught the demoness Mahishi by her horns and threw her down to the earth. She assumed protean forms and showered stones on the god-child. She could not be seen and she did great mischief by her power of assuming various forms from shedding of her Blood drops and also of remaining concealed from view, She retaliated the attack but was easily overcome by the Lord's extraordinary prowess. Then she realised that the victor standing on her body was none other than Hariharaputhra, at whose hands she was destined to attain salvation. The Lord danced on her body and Mahishi died. Lord Shiva and Parvathi came on their riding bull and tethered it to a tree, and witnessed Mahishi Mardhanam, the destruction of evil, this place is now called Kalai Ketti. Sabari Mala pilgrims who have haunts of evil spirits, offer coconut and camphor at Kalai Ketti for their relief.
When the evil spirits in her disappeared, Mahishi was transformed into a beautiful damsel, Leelavathy, who craved pardon for all her past misdeeds and took refuge in Him.
Dazzled by the bright youth, she also pleaded with him to marry her. Manikanta could not accede to her request, firstly because he was engaged on an errand to save the life of his step-mother, the queen of Pandalam, and secondly he was destined to be an astute bachelor in the Avatar of Manikanta. When she persisted, Manikanta told her that He would marry her only when no Kanni Ayyappan (devotee on maiden venture to Sabari Hills) visited Sabari Hills. Such is the faith the Lord has not only in His vow to continue as a Brahmachari, but more so that His Devotees will not let Him down in His determination. However, He promised that she would be worshipped by His Devotees with equal fervour, as Manjambika, even though not as His consort on a palace, on the left side to his Shrine.
The mortal remains of Mahishi started growing out of bounds, and the Lord placed some pebble-stones to inter and arrest the mortal. Even now, novice (Kanni) pilgrims are asked to deposit there, the pebbles picked up by them from -the · Azhudha river bed, enroute to Sabari Hills. Thus came the end of Mahishi, the evil force. Despite her sins, she attained salvation. As my Gurunathar used to put it, 'even the worst sinner in the earth has got the merciful blessings of the Lord, because the Lord wants to redeem each and every soul'. Not only this, Mahishi had the rarest privilege of the lotus feet of the Lord dancing on her body - the touch by the very feet of the Lord will absolve one of all sins. And, she deserves unconditional and absolute pardon not only from the Lord, but the entire devout world, but for whose boon, such incarnation would not have taken place for the emancipation of the entire mankind..
Analogy behind Sastha Kalyanam
Sastha Thiru Kalyanam is a demonstration of the Jeevan merging with the Lord. All noble, scriptures and the glories of- the Lord always become complete with auspicious occasions like Thiru Kalyanam, Pattabhishegam etc. This is based on the analogy of Radha Kalyanam. Elite scholars used to say that there no character like Radha. Radha is nothing but the ’Maya' of Lord Krishna, It will come out when it likes in the feminine form of 'Radha’ and when Krishna wants, it will get back to Him. Similarly, we are also two particles of that Tharaka Brahmam. We have come into this mundane world to enjoy or suffer the fruits of previous births and Karmas. Atleast now, we have to free ourselves from all illusions and take steps to this mission is achieved by undertaking Sabarimala pilgrimage and also through such Nama Sankeerthanas, by scrupulously adhering to
There may be some pertinent questions to be asked. When Jeevan is transformed as a 'Nayaki', how is it that the Lord is adorned with two Shakthis via Poorna and Pushkala?
The answer is very simple. The two Devis represent two margas to reach Him. Poorna represents Bhakthi Marga and Pushkala Ghana Marga just as Valli representing Bhakthi and Devasena the Gnana. Both roads lead to the same point and there need be no supremacy for one over the other. The names Poorna' and Pushkala appear in Lalitha
Sahasranamam. Poorna means 'Poornam’ that is all pervading. Pushkala means complacency and all happiness on attainment of wants. If we worship Sastha with Poorna and Pushkala, we will be bestowed with His omnipresence and longevity of life, with complacency. In Yoga marga, in everyone's body, there are three chords in the backbone system, called Ida, Pingala and Sushumna. Ida and Pingala represent Pooma and Pushkala and in Sushumna the Lord dwells. All these three chords meet at the eyebrow centre in our forehead at Agna Chakra. Sabarimala represents Agna Chakra where the Universal Master accepts us and directs us towards the Supreme lights that is Makara Jyothi.
The Lord is Sivam (iatam) that is motionless. If it has to function, it should be endowed with Shakthi, the Mother God. Only then, the Lord adorned with His Shakthi could function and grant boons to His devotees. Sri Dharma Sastha at Sabari Hills is Nirguna Brahma and exists in undisturbed deep meditation. For getting boons for fulfilling our mundane wants. He has to be worshipped as 'Saguna Brahma` with qualities.
As Sagune Brahma, He is adorned with His Shakthi. Lord Hariharaputhra, the very implication of the name expresses that he is born of two positives Shiva and Vishnu. Hence, if the Lord has to function, He must be adorned with the Sakthi aspects of
Shiva and Vishnu and accordingly Durga take the form of Pushkala and Lakshmi transforms herself as Pooma. With the communion of the two Shakthis, the aspects of Vishnu and Shiva undertake the protection of good and destruction of evils, the duties enjoined on them. All the story aspects of Sastha Thiru Kalyanam to Poorna and Pushkala have been explained in earlier sessions. This occasion is meant exclusively to redeem ourselves from our past sins and become immortal, enjoying the eternal Sachitanandha by our good deeds. Let Lord Hariharaputhra, the Varada - the Universal Master - protects us all with His merciful Blessings and destroy evil forces, which go against Dharma. Let us all follow the principle of Saranagathi - absolute surrender, total surrender, unconditional surrender by taking refuge in heart.
Sastha Thiru Kalyanam is a demonstration of the Jeevan merging with the Lord. All noble, scriptures and the glories of- the Lord always become complete with auspicious occasions like Thiru Kalyanam, Pattabhishegam etc. This is based on the analogy of Radha Kalyanam. Elite scholars used to say that there no character like Radha. Radha is nothing but the ’Maya' of Lord Krishna, It will come out when it likes in the feminine form of 'Radha’ and when Krishna wants, it will get back to Him. Similarly, we are also two particles of that Tharaka Brahmam. We have come into this mundane world to enjoy or suffer the fruits of previous births and Karmas. Atleast now, we have to free ourselves from all illusions and take steps to this mission is achieved by undertaking Sabarimala pilgrimage and also through such Nama Sankeerthanas, by scrupulously adhering to Bhagavatha Dharma.
There may be some pertinent questions to be asked. When Jeevan is transformed as a 'Nayaki', how is it that the Lord is adorned with two Shakthis via Poorna and Pushkala?
The answer is very simple. The two Devis represent two margas to reach Him. Poorna represents Bhakthi Marga and Pushkala Ghana Marga just as Valli representing Bhakthi and Devasena the Gnana. Both roads lead to the same point and there need be no supremacy for one over the other. The names Poorna' and Pushkala appear in Lalitha Sahasranamam. Poorna means 'Poornam’ that is all pervading. Pushkala means complacency and all happiness on attainment of wants. If we worship Sastha with Poorna and Pushkala, we will be bestowed with His omnipresence and longevity of life, with complacency. In Yoga marga, in everyone's body, there are three chords in the backbone system, called Ida, Pingala and Sushumna. Ida and Pingala represent Pooma and Pushkala and in Sushumna the Lord dwells. All these three chords meet at the eyebrow centre in our forehead at Agna Chakra. Sabarimala represents Agna Chakra where the Universal Master accepts us and directs us towards the Supreme lights that is Makara Jyothi.
The Lord is Sivam (iatam) that is motionless. If it has to function, it should be endowed with Shakthi, the Mother God. Only then, the Lord adorned with His Shakthi could function and grant boons to His devotees. Sri Dharma Sastha at Sabari Hills is Nirguna Brahma and exists in undisturbed deep meditation. For getting boons for fulfilling our mundane wants, he has to be worshipped as 'Saguna Brahma` with qualities. As Sagune Brahma, He is adorned with His Shakthi. Lord Hariharaputhra, the very implication of the name expresses that he is born of two positives Shiva and Vishnu. Hence, if the Lord has to function, He must be adorned with the Sakthi aspects of Shiva and Vishnu and accordingly Durga take the form of Pushkala and Lakshmi transforms herself as Pooma. With the communion of the two Shakthis, the aspects of Vishnu and Shiva undertake the protection of good and destruction of evils, the duties enjoined on them. Let Lord Hariharaputhra, the Varada - the Universal Master - protects us all with His merciful Blessings and destroy evil forces, which go against Dharma. Let us all follow the principle of Saranagathi - absolute surrender, total surrender, unconditional surrender by taking refuge in heart.
BRAHMAM - Tharaka Brahmam - A Jyothi. It is Anadhi - It has no beginning, nor end. It is not created. It creates the Universe. It exists right from day one of MahaPralaya. It is Maha Pralaya Sakshi. It is formless- colourless - odourless - tasteless - like water. One can't feel it, but realise it. One can't reach it, but merge in it. It is Tharaka Brahmam - Dharma Sastha. Not to be seen - but to be realised, He took a form for the sake of mankind - to be seen and enjoyed by humanity - as Sastha.
Sastha is Anadhi. He is not born. He creates. He is the creator of the Universe. Hence He is called Brahma Sastha. He protects the Universe - 14 Lokas. Hence He is Vaishnava Sastha or Vishnu Maya. He destroys evil forces like Dhaksha, Mahishi etc. and thus called Rudhra Sastha. He transforms into Tri-murtis as Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, as above. He again merges two of the positives into Harihara Putra. By unifying Tri-murtis again, He becomes Gnana Sastha.
It is His leela to bifurcate, triplicate and multiplicate Himself into so many Athmans and forms and to merge them all again into one Supreme. That one Supreme formless is Sabari Mala Sri Dharma Sastha. The Dharma He addresses to mankind is aranagathi, i.e., to take refiige in Him.
Lord Krishna in Bhagavath Geetha asserts:
Sarva Dharman Parithygya
Mamekam Saranam Waja
Aham Thvas Sawa Papebhyoh
Mokshayishyami Ma Suche
This assertion and assurance came from Lord Krishna in Dhvapara Yuga. It is implemented in practice by Lord Dharma Sastha at Sabari Hills in Kali Yuga.
All of us surrender before Him - absolutely - unconditionally - totally, chanting "Swamiyae Saranam Ayyappa" and take refuge in Him. He gives us salvation. By performing Ajyabhishegam, ghee symbolically representing Jeevathma, when it is poured on Him, we merge in Him - the Paramathma. We do not reach Him to make a comeback. We merge in Him as Jyothi Swaroopa, on Makara Vishu day.
Thus, Sabari Yatra is not a picnic. It is not even a Pilgrimage. It is something more than that. It is Sabari merge. Merge of the Jeevathma in the Paramathma. It is the external expression of the internal process. In internal process, yogis raise their kundalini Shakthi from Mooladhara to Aagna Chakra (at Bru-Madhya) gets salvation from Bru-madhya peetavasi (Sastha) and see the light at Sahasrara - the Makara Jothi. That jyothi is Brahmam - Tharaka Brahmam -Sri Dharma Sastha.
That leads the universe. That leads the Humanity. Let's take refuge in Him and pray "LEAD KINDLY LIGHT'.