The Annihilation of the Time Factor ( 7 )

16/12/2011 History of Lord Ayyappa

As usual with the Puranic approach, here also scant attention is given to the time factor. As mentioned earlier, the Puranas can be compared to a surrealistic painting which has a subtle message to the human mind rather than conveying any factual information. Also, the Puranas deal with spiritual facts that transcend time and space. By placing the child born to Shiva and Vishnu on the banks of Pampa, to be discovered by the king of Pandalam, the Purana simply annihilates the time span between the unknown mythological past and the 10th century A.D. when the kingdom of Pandalam is supposed to have come into existence! Mythology here gets blended with history.

The child, who was named Ayyappan, grew up in the palace under the affectionate care of king Rajasekhara, who had no son of his own. The boy proved himself to be a genius and mastered the Vedas and the martial sciences quickly. His spiritual power was expressed when he miraculously cured his Guru”s son who was born blind, deaf and dumb. The childless king was happy that he could find a worthy heir to his throne. Then, an unexpected turn occurred. The queen became pregnant and delivered a son.

The prime minister of Pandalam disliked the idea of the king installing Ayyappa as the heir to the kingdom. For, he considered the boy to be an orphan and also a potent threat to his authority. He tried several ways to do away with Ayyappa, but failed. At last he instigated the queen to feign a severe illness and the royal physician to prescribe that the only remedy was a certain medicine to be taken along with the milk of a leopard. The brave youth Ayyappa volunteered to go to the forests to fetch the leopard”s milk. The minister was certain that the helpless boy would never return and would be killed by the beasts.

During this period, Mahishi was living in the forests forgetting everything else, engaging herself in a lustful life along with Sundara Mahisha. Meanwhile, being deceived by Vishnu in the form of Mohini, the Asuras were aghast and depressed. They rushed to Mahishi and implored her for help. They told her how she herself was enticed from the heavens by Sundara Mahisha, who was a creation of the three Divinities for that purpose. Meanwhile, Sundara Mahisha disappeared and rejoined the three Divinities. Realizing her folly, Mahishi became terribly furious and rushed to the heavens with thousands of creatures like herself who emerged from her hair follicles. They devastated the kingdom of Indra.

It was then the boy Ayyappa reached the forests to fetch leopard”s milk for the queen. The Devas came down and took refuge at the feet of Ayyappa, because being the son of Shiva and Vishnu, he alone could destroy the terrible Mahishi. Ayyappa accompanied them to the heavens. He caught hold of Mahishi by her horns, lifted her and hurled her downwards. She fell near the river, Azhutha. Lying there incapacitated, and having had the divine touch of Ayyappa, she immediately recollected her original divine nature and sang in praise of him. As the compassionate glance of Ayyappa fell on her, there emerged out of her bizarre body an extremely beautiful Goddess, now worshipped as Goddess Malikappurath-amma in Sabarimala.

Thereafter, Ayyappa returned to the kingdom of Pandalam, riding a huge leopard and accompanied by a host of ferocious beasts. The people were flabbergasted at this incredible sight. The king, the queen and all others realized the divinity of Ayyappa and all of them prostrated before him. Ayyappa imparted to them spiritual wisdom about the meaning and destiny of human life. The king prayed to the Lord to bless them with his everlasting spiritual presence in a temple to be dedicated to him, for showering his Grace to millions for generations to come. That would be especially necessary in the present Iron Age (Kali Yuga) when people would increasingly tend to be self-centred and materialistic, bringing much disharmony to life. The king implored Ayyappa to bless all by assuming himself the aspect of Kali-yuga-varada, the spiritual power that would protect the people from the evil propensities of the Iron Age and guide them in their striving for spiritual liberation. Thereupon, the Lord suggested a holy spot and advised the king to construct a temple there. The Lord assured him that the temple would ever be vibrant with his Divine Presence and then He disappeared.

Eventually the king constructed a temple in the deep forest of Sabarimala as suggested by the Lord. During the consecration of the idol there was the presence of great sages like Agasthya, Parasurama and others. It was sage Parasurama who installed the idol of Lord Ayyappa seated in the Yogic pose Veeraasanam and showing the mystic sign of Chinmudra by the right hand.

This is the Puranic version. As we have already mentioned, the Puranas were composed by sages to convey deep spiritual messages enveloped in stories. The Bhoothanathopakhyanam must have been composed basing on some of the ancient Puranic themes and connecting them with some historical incidents. This Purana also contains highly potent hymns and Manthra-s that help spiritual intensification.

( To be continued )

Related Articles