National Integration and Sri Ayyappa Worship (72)

12/01/2012 History of Lord Ayyappa

True spirituality is unifying, not divisive. Sri Ayyappa worship unifies religions, regions and nations. In fact, all religions aim at a harmonious life and spiritual evolution. It is the superficial religious notions and the dogmas associated with them that result in religious intolerance.

Ayyappa concept reflects the universality of the elevated spiritual consciousness. It integrates people. Once we were travelling in a remote northern part of Karnataka, a state adjacent to Kerala where the holy shrine of Sabarimala is located. The auto-rickshaw that we engaged was bearing the name “SABARIMALA”. Despite the differences in languages, customs and life-styles, here works subtly the powerful unifying factor of spirituality. India is a large country with many castes, several religions, a number of languages and hundreds of dialects and diverse customs and ways of life. But the strong thread of culture spun by a broad-based, freedom-oriented spiritual vision unifies the whole nation.

A spiritually-based broad vision and discipline related to Ayyappa worship is inspiring thousands with sentiments of harmony and brotherhood and this should be effectively employed to strengthen the bonds of national unity. India’s heritage always cherished unity in diversity. It rejects any enforced uniformity, which is against the laws of Nature and which would ultimately fail.

Expanding the areas of unity between different sections of people, regions and nations, while maintaining the flavour of diversity, is the best and natural means of progress to a greater national and world civilization. Devotees of Lord Ayyappa can play a major role in promoting this higher vision of spirituality. In many areas of individual and national life, fissiparous tendencies are raising their ugly heads either because of the upper hand gained by unimaginative minds lacking farsight, or because of being intentionally promoted by some people for their selfish gains.

Many of our major bus stations reflect the growing trend of narrow regional compartmentalisation which is against the spirit of the broad spiritual vision of India and the concept of the unity of all mankind.

On reaching a bus station in a state, a traveller, if he belongs to a different state of India or from a foreign country, is put into suffocating hardships because every information, such as the place names, sign boards, the destination boards in the buses, etc., are all given in the regional language only, as if that is the only human language. The traveller runs hither and thither to elicit some information from others and often he boards a bus bound for a different destination. This is only one example of the narrow divisive tendencies prevalent in this holy land! In many areas of day to day life, human energy and time are dissipated and wasted by such tendencies, whereas they can be easily avoided by people and local governments by imbibing a broader social vision. Many unnecessary difficulties can thus be avoided. Why not display sign boards in bus stations and in all buses, irrespective of city and moffusil services, in three languages – in the language of the region, in Hindi and in English? Every traveller will feel at home in such a place and be reassured that he is cared for. Otherwise, he will be irked by the feeling that he is an outsider. If narrow sentiments prevail, resentment results. Disaffection negates human life, saps its creative abilities and arrests cultural progress.

As Swami Vivekananda points out, whatever that broadens the human mind, results in the prosperity and wellbeing of people, of a nation, of the whole world. The Bhagavat-Gita reminds us that Nature’s laws of co-operation is the very basis of the expansion of all life.

Lord Ayyappa represents the unifying power of spiritual values and universal brotherhood which can unite, as in a beautiful garland of diverse flowers, all human beings who follow diverse religious systems, reside in different nations and follow diverse ways of life.

A major part of our experiences in the external world are a reflection of our psychological states. Positive steps for refining and reinforcing these states would certainly lead to much improvement in the condition of human life. India’s spiritual vision always aims at this improvement.

Our mass media can be used creatively to bring about positive transformation of the human mind. Again let us revert to the bus stations and buses. The video sets installed there show month after month the same scenes of unaesthetic bodily twisting by women, coupled with nerve-racking noice. The scenes only serve to stagnate the human mind and stifle the instincts of creative imagination and action.

Can’t we make such moments of waiting in the bus stations, memorable events for refreshing and refining the mind with classical music, classical dances and other elevating entertainments? India has innumerable places of scenic charm, holy spots, diverse art forms and astounding traditional sciences. Can’t we use these media in public places to create an awareness of these facts? Such positive presentation would help to bring about psychological refinement and attitudinal changes conducive for personal and social reformation.

Through a period of austerities, which promotes a friendly attitude to all beings, transcending all sectarian concepts, regarding everything as an expression of the Supreme Reality, the Sabarimala pilgrimage gives one a rare opportunity to refine himself and gain a universal vision. The goal of the pilgrimage is the evolution of a superior human being. The devotee of Lord Ayyappa has a special responsibility to help society to gain a broader vision for promoting a sense of brotherhood and solidarity among mankind.

Today Sri Ayyappa worship is spreading all over the world transcending the barriers and boundaries of religions and nations. The worship activates the integrating spiritual power latent in man. While the diversities in human outlook, ways of life and cultural expressions impart flavour and energy to human existence, the activation of the spiritual bonds will help mankind to realise the great vision of a world family, of the sages of yore “Vasudhaiva Kudumbakam” , and enabling the whole world to live as one family.

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  1. I went through this sight on Sabarimala . It is interesting and informative . I have written an Article on Pilgrimage to Sabarimalarunning 35 pages .bringing about the moral/ethical/human values underlined in the concept and practice of Sabarimala PIilgrimage , which very few know about . I analysed all the Indian festivals including Kerala festivals from the above point of view .celebrating Festivals whetherthey are community based orundertaking temple pilgrimages like Sabarimala Pilgrimage have no meaning unless they help to chasten the character of man All my articles can be accessed in different web sites .
    I welcome comments on my article on Pilgrimage to Sabarimala by the persons who maintain this web site. Ikeralite live in Mysore now on visit to Houston , USA