The Sharana-Manthra (48)

11/01/2012 History of Lord Ayyappa

Among the various modes of spiritual disciplines included in Ayyappa worship is the Japa of the Sharana-manthra: “Swamiye Sharanam Ayyappa”, which confers immense spiritual power to the worshipper.

The Malayalam month Vrischikam (October-November) dawns with the reverberation of this very potent Sharana-manthra of Lord Ayyappa – “Swamiye sharanam Ayyappa”. The pious and vibrant utterance “Swami sharanam” keeps echoing from the different nooks and corners of South India and other parts of the country and even from abroad till the end of the pilgrimage season. This has assumed the status of a leading torch-bearer slogan of the Sabarimala pilgrims. Throughout the long and arduous trek it is this Manthra which energises the pilgrim and leads him forward. During the period of austerities, the ardent devotee immerses himself in the mental repetition of it even while he is involved in different activities of his daily life.

The literal meaning of the utterance, “Swamiye sharanamayyappa” is, “O Lord Ayyappa, I Take refuge in Thee”. Ultimately it is only in the Supreme Reality that the individual soul can find peace, solace, strength and freedom. Material comforts and luxury can give man only temporary satisfaction and relief. Over indulgence in material and carnal pleasures brings him only misery and pain. Contentment can be gained only through spiritual wellbeing. Once this is achieved man will be equipped to endure the pressures of worldly life and gain a control over them. And it is this spiritual solace and strength that the pilgrim seeks by worshipping Lord Ayyappa.

Spiritual adepts have explained that each sound of the Manthra “Swaami sharanam” is potent with profound spiritual power because it is a combination of some spiritually powerful sound vibrations which are known as the Beeja-manthra-s (seminal or seed sounds). The repetition of the Manthra with devotion helps to awaken the spiritual power which is dormant in the devotee. It is a mystical formula which can bring about all-round spiritual reinforcement ensuring wellbeing and peace. Certain traditional texts on Ayyappa worship expound this idea. The following verses contain the explanation:

Rishiprokthanthu poorvaanaam
Mahaathmaanaam gurormatham
Swami saranamithyevam
Mudraavaakyam prakeerthitham.

The well-known insignia slogan of Ayyappa worship is “Swami sharanam”. This has been recommended by the Rishi-s and Guru-s of yore. Its meaning given by adepts is as follows :

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