Lord Ayyappa is the presiding deity of Sabarimala temple in Kerala, India. Lord Ayyappa (in Malayalam language pronounced as Ayyappan) is worshipped as a child at Kulathupuzha temple in Kerala and in Achan Kovil temple along with his consorts Pushkala and Poorna and in Sabarimala as an ascetic meditating for the well being of all mankind. The Lord is considered to be the reincarnation of Sree Dharma Sastha referred to in the ancient texts of Hinduism. In Lord Ayyappa, we visualize Lord Shiva (The Lord of Destruction) and Lord Vishnu (The Lord of Sustenance) in a unified form. The word Ayyappa is derived from two words Ayya meaning Vishnu and Appa meaning Shiva.
In Hindu religion all great philosophical ideas are presented through mythological stories and in the case of Lord Ayyappa the mythology goes as follows. The asura princess Mahishi was burning up with anger at the dirty trick the Devas had played on her brother the asura king Mahisasura. Blessed with invulnerability to all men, the gods had sent a woman, the goddess Durga, to fight and kill him. Mahishi then performed a fearsome set of austerities, and so surpassed all records in that grim tapasya, that Brahma, The Creator had really no option but to give her a boon to rule the universe and to be invulnerable except to a being that had the combined strength of both Shiva and Vishnu. Since such a person did not exist, she thought she was safe and began the usual asura career of conquest and plunder. The Devas implored Shiva and Vishnu to save them from this catastrophe. When Vishnu had taken on the Kurma Avatar, he also had to manifest himself as Mohini, the enchantress, to save the nectar of immortality from the demons who were not willing to share it with the Devas. If he became Mohini again, then the female Mohini and the male Shiva could have the divine child who would combine their powers and beat Mahishi. And Sree Dharmasastha was born as the son of Mohini and Shiva.
The Devas seeing the atrocities committed by Mahishasuran came to the conclusion that only a divine power could kill him and approached Chandikadevi (Mahishasuramardhini) pleading to put an end to Mahishasura who was misusing the boon given by Lord Brahma. Chandikadevi set out on her mission and killed Mahishasura in a duel, on earth.
The Devas incurred the wrath of Durvasa Muni who cursed them. On the advice of Lord Mahavishnu that this curse could be removed only by administering Amrutham taken from Palazhi, the devas took it from the Palazhi, but the Asuras snatched it from them.Lord Mahavishnu in the disguise of Mohini, went to theAsuras and got back the Amrutham and restored it to the Devas. When Lord Shiva, went to see Lord Mahavishnu who was in the guise of a Mohini succumbed to her beauty and out of their union, was born a child, who was name Dharmasastha. Dharmasastha grew at Kailasham. Lord Shiva, answered Rajasekara's prayer and ordered Dharmasastha to take the avathar of Ayyappan . On the day King Rajasekara went for hunting in the forest, Ayyappan took the form of a baby with a golden chain and bell around his neck and placed himself near the Pamba river.
At that time, he heard a child crying from somewhere in the forest. Surprised, he went round and reached the banks of River Pampa. There he saw a beautiful and divine child (i.e. Ayyappa) kicking its legs and crying out, and was in a dilemma whether to take the child to the Palace or leave it there itself.
The King of Pandalam was very joyous, he took the child to his Palace and briefed the Queen about the incident. The King and the Queen, having prayed to Lord Shiva, for a child, were very happy that they had been blessed with a child. The people also felt happy that a heir to inherit the Kingdom after the King, has been found.
was a divine power and he was blessed for having been given an opportunity to have Manikandan as a student. The Guru further told Manikandan that he had one request to make and that was that his only son who was dumb should be given speech. Manikandan called the Guru's son and put his hands on his head and immediately Guru's son had his speech. Manikandan requested the Guru not to reveal this to anyone and went to the Palace.
In the meanwhile, the Queen gave birth to a male child and the child was named RajaRajan. King Rajasekara, impressed with the talents of Manikandan, decided to crown him, treating him as his eldest son. He ordered the Diwan to make arrangements for the same. The Diwan hated this and started devising plans to prevent Manikandan from being crowned to the throne and to annihilate him. He tried various methods including poisoning of food, but failed in all these. However, Manikandan's body bore an injury due to these and ordinary physicians could not cure it. Lastly, Lord Shiva disguising himself as a physician, treated Manikandan's injury and cured him.
The Queen, as told by the Diwan, cried out loudly that she was suffering from severe headache and stomach pain and the King, believing this, called the Diwan to bring in the best physicians to treat her. The Physician, brought by the Diwan examined the Queen and told the King that the Queen had been suffering from a dangerous disease and it could be cured only by applying Tigress' milk .The King sent several of his men to the forest for bringing this milk. The King understood that it was an impossible task and wanted his dear Queen to be cured at any cost and offered half of his Kingdom to anybody who brought the Milk.
King Rajasekara made arrangements to send a group of his loyal men along with Manikandan, which however was refused by Manikandan on the ground that the tigress might run away seeing the crowd of soldiers. King Rajasekara sent along with Manikandan necessary foodstuffs and coconuts with three-eyes, in remembrance of Lord Shiva. The Panchabuthas, sent by Lord Shiva, accompanied Manikandan to Forest. However, on his way Manikandan, came to know the atrocities of Mahishi in the Devaloka, he went there and fought a battle with Mahishi. During the conflict, Manikandan threw Mahishi down to earth from devaloka and she fell on the banks of Azhutha River. Manikandan clashed with her at Azhutha river again.
At the end, of the battle between Mahishi and Manikandan at Azhutha River banks, Manikandan climbed up on her chest and danced violently. The impact of his dance was felt on the Earth and Devloka and the Devas were afraid.
After killing Mahishi, Manikandan went to the forest for the tigress milk, when Lord Shiva appeared before him and told him that though he had done good for the Devas, still there was one main task and that was to give comfort to the King Rajasekara who was very concerned about him. Lord Shiva further told him that he could go to the Palace with Lord Devendran in the form of a tiger. With Manikandan on the tiger, all female devas in the disguise of a tigress and male Devas, as tigers started their journey to the Palace.
When Manikandan, with the tigers, approached the Palace, the people who ridiculed him when the started his journey to forest whether he wanted a toy tigresses, really got panicky seeing the violent bunch of animals and started running helter skelter.
As per Saint Agasthya's advise, King Rajasekara laid the foundation stone for the building the Sabarimala Shrine. Bhagwan Manikandan, had made it clear that he would grace only those devotees who offer Dharshan after performing Vritha for fortyone days keeping themselves isolated from family desires and tastes and leading a life like Brahmacharya, thinking of good things always, and that while coming for his darshan, they shall carry the holy irumudi on their heads, as the Bhagwan did when he went to the forest to fetch tigress milk, and bathed in River Pampa raising slogans of Saranam and climb the eighteen stairs.