Sabrimala temple has mostly been known for the controversy created around the temple in the recent years. People across most part of Bharat barely known about the origin of the temple and the presiding deity of the temple, Swamy Ayyappa. He is one of the most worshipped and loved deities of Kerala-the land of Gods. Uniqueness of Lord Ayyappa derives from his origin, which resides both in Maheshwara (Shiva) and Maha Vishnu.
Origin Through a Divine Union
The most interesting and magnificent part of Lord Ayyappa’s manifestation is him being a result of the union of Shiva and Shri Vishnu. This is quite perplexing to many, that how it could be possible. But a very interesting story goes behind the birth of Swamy Ayyappa.
The trail of events begin from Bhasmasura, an ardent devotee of Mahadev who earned a boon by doing a long ‘tapasya’. However, he had performed this hard tapas (penance) to get a boon which was horrifying and merely served the purpose to avenge all those who had insulted Bhasmasur in the past. But, in lieu of his devotion, the asked boon could not be denied, even by Mahadev.
But, an asura would remain one, always, and cannot perform against his basic nature, that is, vileness. And out of habit, Bhasmasur thought of burning Mahadev into ashes so that he could be the most- powerful of all. While the great Lord Shiva himself was running away from an asura, because the boon given by him would always bear fruit, no matter who the target is.
To ensure that Bhasmasur meets his fate, of not only disrespecting Bhagwan Shiva but also of harassing people of different lokas and killing them; Shri Vishnu appears in his most beautiful and world-stagnating divya-roop of ‘Mohini’. Alluring the demon, Mohini asked Bhasmasur to dance in tandem with her, if he really wanted to get the love of this magical woman. Bhasmasur bound by this hypnotic form of Lord Vishnu, started dancing, copying the moves of Mohini. Eventually, Mohini puts one of her hands over her head. To resemble the same posture, charmed Bhasmasur did the same. And yes, he met with his fate.
But the events took an interesting turn here, as Mahadev looked at the exquisite and divine Mohini, he got filled with passion. This energy of passion emanating from both of them, created a great form into ‘Harihara’. The essence of Hari and Har (Shiva). This divine event of birth of Swamy Ayyappa was to perform a divine cause.
Up Bringing by the King
The baby was placed near the River Pampa, where the king of Pandalam, Rajashekhara found the baby. The king Rajashekhara was childless and to him, this baby came as a grace of Bhagwan. And as he adopted Lord Ayyappa as his son, naming him Manikant; the king got the news of his wife being pregnant. Now the king had his own biological son, Raja Rajan.
As the years passed and both the sons got their education, the King wanted to coronate Manikant, as he was the eldest son. But ministers did not want this to happen. So a plan was hatched to kill the boy. The queen pretended to be ill and Manikant was asked to get the milk of a tigress to cure her illness. Such an arduous task was given to him because nobody including the king and general could do that. However, Swamy Ayyappa adorned by panch-mahabhutas and the blessings of all devas proceeded. While on the way he saw Mahishi, mother of Mahisasura, who was atrociously harassing devatas and common people. Manikant could not bear this injustice before his eyes and he mounted on her chest and commenced a violent dance.
This dance was the dance of death. Mahishi understood the purpose of this divine figure before her.
She laid prostrate before Ayyappa Swamy asking for forgiveness and eventually she died. The divine birth of Swamy Ayyappa was to crush Mahishi, who after the death of her son, wanted to take revenge on the devatas.
The Divine Sabrimala
Maha Vishnu and Mahadeva were witnessing this divine dance from a place called Kalakatti.
While, Manikant getting the tigress’s milk, entered the city guarded by many devas and devis in the guise of tigers and tigresses. On the day he returned to palace, Manikant had turned 12 years old. All the people hailed the great and divine child.
Upon knowing all these plots and schemes created by his ministers and queen, king punished all of them. However, Manikant asked the king to keep calm as all these events had unfolded as per the divine order. Since all the divine tasks of Swamy Ayyappa had been accomplished he told the king that it is time for him (Swamy Ayyappa) to return back to devaloka.
Feeling blessed by the divine’s involvement in his life, the king asked Swamy Ayyappa, that where his temple could be built so that every man could get his blessings. Lord shot an arrow in the direction of a place called ‘shabar’. He told the king to build the temple at that particular location. This was the place where Shri Ram met his ardent devotee, Mata Shabri. The temple is located in the present day Pathanamthitta district, over a hilltop.
Also known as another name, Sastha, there are 108 temples across Kerela dedicated to Swamy Ayyappa, which are known as Sastha teerthas. Millions of devotees come to these temples during the mandala kaalam. This is the time of first day of Vrishchik (scorpion) month of Malayalam year till the 11th day of Dhanu (Sagittarius) month. Swamy Ayyappa’s pilgrimage demands for a samkalp of brahmacharya of highest order. His devotees must practice utmost restraint and tapas.
This is the unity of consciousness and the continuity of Adhyatmik Shakti (spiritual power) that binds Bharat into one. It is important that we know about the different aspects of spiritual power of our country and gain strength out of it.