Neelimala (32)

29/12/2011 History of Lord Ayyappa

Climbing the mountain Neelimala is the next phase of the pilgrimage. At first the pilgrim climbs the steps to reach the shrine of Sri Ganesha at the foot of the mountain and worships there before climbing up Neelimala. This is the third steep climb of the pilgrimage, when the pilgrim takes to the traditional route. But for those who reach Pampa by vehicles, this is the only climb. (There is another route to be trekked by foot via Vandiperiyar that directly reaches Sabarimala without touching Pampa.) From Pampa, Sabarimala is about 6 kms. away. The pilgrims who are unable to climb , engage Dollies, the special carriers borne by a team of four persons. Near Sri Ganesha temple there is a camp of the king of Pandalam, the descendant of the foster father of Ayyappa, who stays there for a few days during the pilgrimage season. The pilgrims receive sacred ash from the king.

Appaachimedu

On the top of Neelimala there is a spot called Appaachimedu, on both sides of which there are very steep gorges. Appaachimedu is considered to be the seat of evil spirits and the pilgrims propitiate them by throwing offerings of rice-powder balls into the gorges. This is symbolic of the Advaithic vision that there is no phenomenon external to the Ultimate Reality. Both good and bad are conditioned expressions within Reality and the spiritual inquirer is making an effort to transcend both. Sticking to the bad trends, as selfishness, violence, jealousy, etc., makes one degrade or stagnate, while the cultivation of love, compassion, etc., expands, elevates and equips one for a breakthrough to the transcendental reality of Divine Consciousness, which is beyond the conditioned states of good and evil. Propitiating the evil spirits of Appaachimedu and moving away from them towards the Divine Presence is symbolic of a spiritual seeker’s attempt to set aside evil while making a positive effort to embrace Divine Consciousness. Good and evil and such dual opposites are limitations confined to the field of human action and reactions in which the mind involves itself. These conditioned states of the mind have to be transcended to embrace the Freedom of Unconditioned Wholeness within and this has to be achieved through discriminate and intelligent spiritual practice. There is no Satan or fundamental evil. Evil is the psychological tendency created by Avidya, ignorance, that shackles the mind in selfishness and thraldom of pain and suffering. The throwing of the sweet rice balls is a symbol of removing evil in the human mind with the sweetness of life-expanding spiritual wisdom. This act and the onward movement towards the Spiritual Presence reminds one of the need for a constant effort to raise the level of consciousness by eliminating the negative trends and advancing towards Divine Freedom. According to the Vedaanthic view, no one is a perpetual sinner. The Puranas are replete with stories even of the highly demoniac characters who were liberated and raised to Divinity. At the divine touch of Lord Ayyappa, emerges out of the Mahishi a very beautiful Goddess.

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