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Ayyappa is the Hindu
Hindu
god of growth, particularly popular in Kerala.[1][2][3] He is a synthetic deity, the son of Shiva
Shiva
and Mohini – the female avatar of Vishnu.[3][4] Ayyappan
Ayyappan
is also referred to as Ayyappa, Sastavu, Hariharaputra, Manikanta, Shasta or Dharma Shasta.[2][3] The iconography of Ayyappan
Ayyappan
depicts him as a handsome celibate god doing yoga and as an epitome of Dharma, who wears a bell around his neck. In the Hindu
Hindu
pantheon, his legends are relatively recent but diverse. For some, he is also an incarnation of the Buddha.[4] He is honored by some Muslims in Kerala, with legends wherein Ayyappan defeats and gains worship of the Muslim brigand Vavar.[4][2][5] In the Hindu
Hindu
tradition popular in the Western Ghats of India, he was born with the powers of Shiva
Shiva
and Vishnu
Vishnu
to confront and defeat the shape shifting evil Buffalo demoness Mahishasuri. He was raised by a childless royal couple, and grows up as a warrior yogi champion of ethical and dharmic living.[6][7][2] In the South Indian version, Ayyappan
Ayyappan
images show him as riding a tiger, but in some places such as Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
he is shown as riding a white elephant.[8][9] Ayyappan
Ayyappan
popularity has grown in many parts of India, and the most prominent Ayyappan
Ayyappan
shrine is at Sabarimala, nestled in the hills of Pathanamthitta
Pathanamthitta
of Kerala. The shrine receives millions of pilgrims every year in late December and early January, many of whom prepare for weeks before and then climb the hill barefoot,[4] making it one of the largest active pilgrimage sites in the world.[10][11] The pilgrimage attracts a wide range of devotees, from diverse social or economic backgrounds, except women in their fertile age given Ayyappan is believed to be the celibate deity.[2] Some Ayyappan
Ayyappan
temples show him with women in grihastha (married, householder) life. Ayyappan
Ayyappan
may share a historical relationship with the Tamil deity Aiyanar.[2] The most significant festival linked to him is the Makaravilakku (Makara Sankranti), observed around the winter solstice.[3][12]

Contents

1 Names and iconography 2 Life and legends

2.1 Core story 2.2 Medieval interpretations

3 Temples

3.1 Sabarimala

4 Other religions 5 TV and movie shows 6 See also 7 References

7.1 Bilbliography

8 External links

Names and iconography[edit]

Ayyappan
Ayyappan
at Mridanga Saileswari Temple, Muzhakkunnu, Kannur.

The name Ayyappan
Ayyappan
(sometimes spelled as Ayyappa or Aiyappan) may be related to the similar sounding ancient term Arya. The Sanskrit term Arya (Pali: Ariya) is found in ancient texts of Hinduism
Hinduism
and Buddhism, where it means the "spiritually noble, extraordinary, precious ones".[13] However, the word Ayyappan
Ayyappan
is not found in South Indian versions of the medieval era Puranas, leading scholars to the hypothesis that Ayyappan
Ayyappan
may have roots elsewhere. The alternate theory links it to the Malayali word acchan and Tamil word appa which means "father", with Ayyappan
Ayyappan
connoting "Lord-father".[14][15] The alternate proposal is supported by the alternate name for Ayyappan being Sastava (Sasta, Sashta, Sastra), a Vedic term that also means "Teacher, Guide, Lord, Ruler".[15] The words Sastha and Dharmasastha in the sense of a Hindu
Hindu
god are found in the Puranas.[16] Ayyappan
Ayyappan
is also known as Hariharaputra[17] – meaning the "son of Harihara" or a fusion deity of Hari and Hara, the names given to Vishnu
Vishnu
and Shiva
Shiva
respectively.[18] He is also called Manikanta from Mani, Sanskrit for precious stone,[19] and kanta, Sanskrit for neck. In some regions, Ayyappa and Ayyanar are considered to be the same deity given their similar origin. Others consider him as different because their worship methods are not the same.[16] Ayyappan
Ayyappan
is a warrior deity. He is revered for his ascetic devotion to Dharma
Dharma
– the ethical and right way of living, to deploy his military genius and daring yogic war abilities to destroy those who are powerful but unethical, abusive and arbitrary.[20] His iconography is usually shown with a bow and arrow upraised in his left hand, while in his right he holds either a bow or a sword diagonally across his left thigh.[21] Other depictions of Ayyappan, particularly paintings, generally show him in a yogic posture wearing a bell around his neck[2] and sometimes shown riding a tiger.[22] Life and legends[edit] The life legends and mythology of Ayyappa varies across region like other Hindu
Hindu
gods and goddesses, reflecting a tradition that evolved and enriched over time, sometimes in conflicting ways.[23][24] For example, the Sribhutanatha Purana text presents Ayyappan
Ayyappan
as an incarnation of the brahmanical deity Hariharaputra, the son of Shiva and Mohini. This interaction between Shiva
Shiva
and Mohini
Mohini
is mentioned in the Bhagavata Purana, but Ayyappan
Ayyappan
is not mentioned.[25] In the oral tradition as represented by Malayalam folk songs, Ayyappa is presented as a warrior hero of Pandala kingdom. According to Eliza Kent, the legends in the Ayyappa tradition seem to be "artificially mixed and assembled into a kind of collage".[24] Ruth Vanita suggests that Ayyappan
Ayyappan
probably emerged from the fusion of a Dravidian god of tribal proverance and the Puranic story of Shiva
Shiva
and Mohini's sexual interaction.[26] Core story[edit] There once was a kingdom of Pantalam where Ayyappan
Ayyappan
originated.[27] The royal family was childless. One day the king of Pantalam found a baby boy in a forest.[2][3][4] The king carried the baby to an ascetic in the forest to inquire about the boy.[27] The ascetic advised the king to take the baby home, raise him like his own son, and that in 12 years he would discover who the baby was.[27] The royal family did so, naming the baby Manikantha.[27]

Ayyappan, also called Hariharaputra, is believed to be born from the union of Shiva
Shiva
and Mohini.[28]

At age 12, the king wanted to formally coronate Manikantha as the heir prince (yuvraja). However, the queen under the influence of an evil minister objected. The minister had advised the queen that only her younger biological child should be the next king. The younger child was disabled and lacked the ability to perform the duties of the king, something that the scheming evil minister thought would make him the de facto ruler.[27] The minister persuaded the queen to feign an illness, ask for "tiger's milk" to cure her illness and demand that Manikantha be sent to get the milk from the forest. Manikantha volunteers, goes into the forest and returns riding a tigress.[27] The king, realising Manikantha's special ability recognizes the adopted son to be a divine being, resolves to make a shrine for him. For location, Manikantha shoots an arrow that lands thirty kilometers away. The young boy then transforms into Ayyappan. The place where arrow landed is now an Ayyappa shrine, a site of a major pilgrimage that is particularly popular for visits on Makara Sankranti
Makara Sankranti
(about January 14).[29] The above core story is shared wherever Ayyappan
Ayyappan
is revered in India.[30] Sometimes the story is slightly different or extended, such as the younger son of the queen is not disabled, Ayyappan
Ayyappan
does bring tigress milk for the queen riding on a tiger, but after doing so Ayyappan
Ayyappan
renounces the kingdom, becomes an ascetic yogi and returns to live as a great warrior in the forested mountain.[31] Medieval interpretations[edit] In the medieval age, the stories of Ayyappan
Ayyappan
expanded. One story has roots between the 1st and 3rd century CE, where Ayyappan
Ayyappan
evolves to be a deity who also protects traders and merchants from enemies such as robbers and plundering outlaws.[32] Ayyappa came to be portrayed as a military genius. His temple and tradition inspired Hindu
Hindu
yogi mercenaries who protected the trade routes in South India from criminals and looters, restoring Dharmic trading practices.[32] In one of the stories, Ayyappan
Ayyappan
is portrayed as a child of a priest whose father was murdered by the fearsome outlaw Udayanan. The outlaw also kidnaps a princess. Ayyappan
Ayyappan
then makes a daring rescue, attacks and kills evil Udayanan.[32] In another version of this story, the rulers of Pantalam themselves sent Ayyappan
Ayyappan
as a mercenary to the Pantya rulers to whom the ruler of Pantalam was related. In another late medieval era variation of the story, Ayyappan
Ayyappan
forms an alliance with the Muslim warrior Vavar against Udayanan, the basis for some devotees worshiping both in a mosque and then in the Hindu
Hindu
temple before starting a pilgrimage to Ayyappan
Ayyappan
shrine.[32]

Ayyappan
Ayyappan
( Dharma
Dharma
Sastha) temple in Vadakkekkara, Changanassery.

According to Paul Younger, supplementary legends appeared by the late medieval times that linked other Hindu
Hindu
deities and mythologies to Ayyappan
Ayyappan
heritage.[32] One such story links Ayyappan
Ayyappan
to the buffalo-demon Mahishasura and buffalo-demoness Mahishasuri. The divine beings Datta and Lila came to earth as humans. Datta wanted to return to the divine realm, but Lila enjoyed her life on earth and Datta's company. She wanted to stay on earth.[33] Datta became angry and cursed her to become a Mahishi, or water buffalo demoness. Lila in turn cursed him to become a Mahisha, or water buffalo demon. They plundered earth with their evil acts. The water buffalo demon Mahishasura was killed by goddess Durga, while the water demoness Mahishasuri was killed by Ayyapan, ending the terror of evil and liberating divine Lila who was previously cursed.[34] These legends, states Younger, syncretically link and combine various Hindu traditions around Shiva
Shiva
(Shaivism), Vishnu
Vishnu
(Vaishnavism) and Devi (Shaktism).[34] Temples[edit]

Sri Ayyappa Swamy Temple at Koduru, Krishna
Krishna
District, Andhra Pradesh. The entrance shows Ayyappan
Ayyappan
riding a tiger.

There are many temples in Kerala
Kerala
whose presiding deity is Ayyappan, the most famous among them being the Sabarimala
Sabarimala
temple. The temple attracts millions of visitors every year during mandala season from mid November to mid January. Other important temples are Kulathupuzha Sastha Temple, Aryankavu Sastha Temple, Achankovil Sree Dharmasastha Temple, Erumely Sree Dharmasastha Temple
Erumely Sree Dharmasastha Temple
and Ponnambalamedu
Ponnambalamedu
Temple. Ayyappan
Ayyappan
temples typically show him as a celibate yogi. A few important temples such as the one at Achankovil Sree Dharmasastha Temple near Travancore, however, depict him as a married man with two wives Poorna and Pushkala, as well as a son Satyaka.[35][36] This unusual temple is believed to have been established by Parashurama.[37] Sabarimala[edit]

Ayyappan
Ayyappan
pilgrims walking barefoot to the Sabarimala
Sabarimala
shrine.

Ayyappan
Ayyappan
has roots in Kerala, but his influence and popularity has grown among the Hindus in many states in India such as Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Of his many temples, the most significant is at Sabarimala
Sabarimala
(also spelled Sabarimalai), set in the forests of the Quilon district Western Ghats on the banks of river Pambar, southeast of Kottayam. It is a major pilgrimage, attracting millions of Hindus every year, particularly of Malayali, Tamil and Telugu heritage.[38][39][40]

A crowd in front of the Ayyappan
Ayyappan
temple, Sabarimala

Many begin preparations months in advance by leading a simple life, doing yoga, abstaining from sex, eating a vegetarian diet or partially fasting, wearing black or blue or sadhu-style dress for forty one days, then trekking as a group to the shrine. The group does not recognize any form of social or economic discrimination such as caste, and all devotees form a fraternity welcoming each other as equals.[38][41][40] The pilgrims call each other by the same name during the trek: swami.[40][42] After their long walk covering about 18 miles, they bathe in the Pamba river, then they climb 18 steps at the Sabarimala
Sabarimala
shrine, each representing a dharmic value (ethics, or interiorized gods). The shrine priests and devotees bring flowers from all over the Western Ghats and scatter them near the shrine, all the while chanting shlokas.[38][39][43] To keep the human traffic organized, Ayyappan
Ayyappan
devotees reserve and are assigned a pilgrimage day from one of the 51 days of pilgrimage, and each day sees over 100,000 walking pilgrims. Girls and older women are welcome and join the journey with men, but women in their fertile years do not out of the belief that Ayyappan
Ayyappan
is a celibate warrior-yogi deity.[38][2][39] The devotees wear simple dress on the day of the pilgrimage up the hills and through the forest, many go barefoot, carry irumudi (a walking stick for regional Hindu
Hindu
yogis with two compartment little bag sometimes carried on head), wear Tulasi leaves and Rudraksha
Rudraksha
beads around their neck (symbolism for Vishnu
Vishnu
and Shiva) while fellow Hindus gather along the trek path, cheering and helping them complete their journey.[38][39] For the Ayyappan pilgrims, states E. Valentine Daniel, the pilgrimage is a part of their spiritual journey.[42] Other religions[edit]

Vavar's mosque on the way to Sabarimala.

In Buddhism, Ayyappan
Ayyappan
is considered to be an incarnation of the Buddha.[4] Scholars link Buddhist influence in the ritual that Ayyappan
Ayyappan
was called as Dharmashasta or just Shasta meaning "Teacher", as Buddha
Buddha
was, and the chanting of "Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa" in the Ayyapan tradition is like the "Buddham Saranam Gachami" chant of the Buddhists.[44] He is also revered by Muslims in Kerala[4] due to his friendship with Vavar,[45] who is identified as a Muslim brigand in local versions of the Ayyappan
Ayyappan
myth.[46] In this mythology, Ayyappan
Ayyappan
confronts the plunder-driven pirate robber Vavar in the jungle on his way to collect tigress milk. They fight. Ayyappan
Ayyappan
defeats Vavar, and Vavar changes his way, becomes Ayyappan's trusted lieutenant helping fight other pirates and robbers.[47] In another version, Vavar is stated to be a Muslim saint from Arabia, who works with Ayyappan.[47] A mosque dedicated to Ayyappan's lieutenant Vavar swami stands next to Kadutha swami shrine at the foot of the pilgrimage path, both as a form of guardian deities. Some pilgrims offer a prayer to both, before beginning their Sabarimala
Sabarimala
forest and mountain pilgrimage hike.[47] According to Kent, the mosque does not contain mortal remains of Vavar swami though the mosque near Sabarimala
Sabarimala
includes a grave, and no one can date Vavar nor provide when and where he lived, so he may be a myth. The Vavar legend and palli shrines may reflect the Hindu approach to accepting and co-opting legendary figures or saints of other religions within its fold.[48] TV and movie shows[edit]

Ayyappan
Ayyappan
is typically a celibate god. In some locations he is same as Aiyyanar shown above with wives Poorna and Pushkala.

The deity Ayyappan
Ayyappan
has appeared in several regional TV and movies as a character, such as the following :

Films

Swami Ayyappan (2012 film) in multiple languages.[49][50] Swami Ayyappan (1975 film)
Swami Ayyappan (1975 film)
, Malayalam - Tamil bilingual film

Television serials

Swami Ayyappan (TV series) , Malayalam TV serial Swami Ayyappan
Ayyappan
Saranam , Malayalam TV serial Sabarimala
Sabarimala
Shree Dharmashasta , Malayalam TV serial Ayyapanum Vaavarum , Malayalam TV serial Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa , Malayalam TV serial

See also[edit]

Achankovil Alappancode Aranmula kottaram
Aranmula kottaram
(Aranmula palace) Gurunathanmukadi Harivarasanam Maalikapurathamma Makara Jyothi Pallikal kavu Sabarimala Tazhamon Madom Temples of Kerala

References[edit]

^ Chandra, Suresh (1998). Encyclopaedia of Hindu
Hindu
Gods and Goddesses. Sarup and Sons. p. 28. ISBN 8176250392.  ^ a b c d e f g h i " Ayyappan
Ayyappan
- Hindu
Hindu
deity". Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2014.  ^ a b c d e Denise Cush; Catherine A. Robinson; Michael York (2008). Encyclopedia of Hinduism. Routledge. p. 78. ISBN 978-0-7007-1267-0.  ^ a b c d e f g Constance Jones and Ryan James (2014), Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Infobase Publishing, ISBN 978-0-8160-5458-9, page 58 ^ " Hindu
Hindu
pilgrims pray at a mosque in Kerala
Kerala
- Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis". 12 January 2010.  ^ Jeffery D. Long (2011). Historical Dictionary of Hinduism. Scarecrow Press. p. 78. ISBN 978-0-8108-7960-7.  ^ Younger 2002, pp. 17-21. ^ MN Srinivas (2002). Collected Essays. Oxford University Press. pp. 352–352. ISBN 978-0-19-565174-4.  ^ D. P. Dubey (1995). Pilgrimage Studies: Sacred Places, Sacred Traditions. SPS. pp. 136–137. ISBN 978-81-900520-1-6.  ^ Younger 2002, pp. 22-24. ^ Press Trust of India (June 23, 2011). "Safety Manual for Sabarimala prepared". The New Indian Express. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 13 July 2011.  ^ Roshen Dalal (2010). Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide. Penguin Books. pp. 238, 350. ISBN 978-0-14-341421-6.  ^ Paul Williams; Anthony Tribe; Alexander Wynne (2012). Buddhist Thought: A Complete Introduction to the Indian Tradition. Routledge. p. 62. ISBN 978-1-136-52088-4. ; Contemporary scholar Peter Harvey translates the term "arya satya" (see Four Noble Truths) as "True Realities for the Spiritually Ennobled" (Peter Harvey (2013), An Introduction to Buddhism, Cambridge University Press, page 52) ^ Mikhail Sergeevich Andronov (1996). A Grammar of the Malayalam Language in Historical Treatment. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. p. 49. ISBN 978-3-447-03811-9.  ^ a b Johannes Bronkhorst; Madhav Deshpande (1999). Aryan and non-Aryan in South Asia: evidence, interpretation, and ideology; proceedings of the International Seminar on Aryan and Non-Aryan in South Asia. Harvard University, Dept. of Sanskrit and Indian Studies. pp. 177–178. ISBN 978-1-888789-04-1.  ^ a b Roshen Dalal (2010). The Religions of India: A Concise Guide to Nine Major Faiths. Penguin Books. p. 43. ISBN 978-0-14-341517-6.  ^ Kumar, cited ref by author is (Sekar 2009, 479-84) ^ Younger, p.22 ^ "maNi". Sanskrit Dictionary for Spoken Sanskrit. spokensanskrit.org. Retrieved 27 August 2017.  ^ Younger 2002, pp. 21-25. ^ Williams, Joanna Gottfried (1981). Kalādarśana: American Studies in the Art of India. p. 72.  ^ "The mount of Swami Ayyappan
Ayyappan
is tiger". media4news.com.  ^ Younger 2002, pp. 18-25. ^ a b Eliza Kent (2013). Lines in Water: Religious Boundaries in South Asia. Syracuse University Press. pp. 80–83. ISBN 978-0-8156-5225-0.  ^ Goudriaan, Teun (1978). "The Māyā of the Gods: Mohini". Māyā divine and human. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. pp. 42–43. ISBN 978-81-208-2389-1.  ^ Ruth Vanita; Saleem Kidwai (2000). Same-Sex Love in India: Readings in Indian Literature. Springer Publishing. p. 94. ISBN 1137054808.  ^ a b c d e f Younger 2002, p. 18. ^ Eliza Kent (2013). Lines in Water: Religious Boundaries in South Asia. Syracuse University Press. pp. 79–80. ISBN 978-0-8156-5225-0.  ^ Younger 2002, pp. 18-19. ^ Younger 2002, pp. 18-22. ^ Devdutt Pattanaik (2014). Pashu: Animal Tales from Hindu
Hindu
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Bilbliography[edit]

Younger, Paul (2002), Playing Host to Deity: Festival Religion in the South Indian Tradition, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0195140443  Kumar, P. Pratap (2014). Contemporary Hinduism. Routledge. ISBN 1317546350. 

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