Symbolism of the Puranic Story – ( 8 )

17/12/2011 History of Lord Ayyappa

Before we examine the historical points of view, separating them from mythology, let us have a brief look into the message of the above-mentioned Puranic story.

Datta and Leela have a divine origin. Yet, having been born in a conditioned human state they are forgetful of their divinity and immerse themselves too much in the evanescent worldly pleasures and fail to contemplate on the glory of their higher potential and make no effort to realize them. Although at a stage Datta gets satiated with the mundane life, and wants to inquire about the real nature of himself, Leela pulls him back. This causes a downfall to both of them. In such a state of degradation, a man can be compared to a wild buffalo, which is a dull-witted and impulsive animal, but very powerful and capable of causing considerable destruction. The dullness suppresses man”s goodness and higher values, makes him self-centred and oppressive. Yet, the divine potencies within patiently await an occasion to express themselves and liberate man from the thraldom of his senses.

The story of the churning of the Ocean of Milk is a symbolic representation of the inner conflict between man”s positive and negative aspects. When he makes a conscious effort to know the nature of this conflict, he will be able to participate both these trends to churn his own mind for an evolutionary breakthrough to higher levels of consciousness. This is the symbolism of the Devas and Asuras participating in the churning of the Ocean of Milk to get Amritha. Amritha is knowledge of the Self which is eternal, and the realization of that knowledge makes one immortal. But, if he is not vigilant, the negative aspects would become dominant and the wisdom would be suppressed by them. Then he would miss to get Amritha, as signified by the Asuras taking it away.

In such a situation one must incessantly keep a prayerful mood to imbibe the Divine Consciousness, as symbolised by the helpless Devas praying to Lord Vishnu. And when the constant reflection on the divinity within ripens, like a magical touch of an enchantress, represented by the incident of Lord Vishnu assuming the beautiful form of Mohini, the divine power would become dominant and stupefy the negative powers and render them helpless. Man is then elevated to Divine Consciousness, which is eternally youthful.

In the Bhoothanathopakhyanam Mahishi is represented as the very leader of the demoniac Asuras, the divisive negative tendencies of the human mind. She has obtained a boon from Lord Brahma that only a son born from the union of Shiva and Vishnu would be able to kill her. Eventually, Dharma Sasthawas born. This birth of Dharma Sasthaout of the union of Siva and Vishnu is symbolic of the emergence of the Advaithic awareness in man by the realization that Vishnu, Siva, all other Gods and whatever that exists are essentially one and the same Reality, Brahman. This is the awareness that can destroy the demoniac and divisive dullness – Mahishi – that overwhelms the celestial realms within man. Dharma Sastharepresents this supreme blissful awareness and therefore He is also known as the “Thaaraka Brahman” – the Liberating Awareness of the Self. Such awareness brings the ultimate destruction of ignorance, and the conditioned human consciousness embraces its transcendental and unlimited oneness represented by Dharma Shaastha, the Thaaraka Brahman.

The legend tells us that by the divine touch of Ayyappa, there emerges from the body of Mahishi, a beautiful Goddess. This symbolises the fact that everything fundamentally is divine and it is the distortion of the mind that causes evil and pain. Evil can be transcended by reinforcing the inner goodness and constant reflection on one”s Divine Reality. When one thus gets refined through constant struggle, trial and error, fall and elevation, divine intervention inevitably takes place at some stage, bringing about total transformation and spiritual liberation.

( To be continued )

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