Sabarimala Ayyappa Swamy

Sabarimala Ayyappa Swamy, also known as Dharmasastha and Manikandan, is a revered Hindu figure symbolizing truth and righteousness, especially in South India. Depicted with a bow and arrow, riding a tiger, he attracts millions of pilgrims annually to his sacred abode in Sabarimala. A warrior deity, Ayyappan upholds Dharma through military and yogic combat skills, embodying ethical victory.

Ayyappan, known as Dharmasastha and Manikandan, is a revered figure in Hinduism symbolizing truth and righteousness, especially in South India. His worship dates back to ancient times but gained more prominence in the latter part of the 20th century. According to Hindu beliefs, he is the offspring of Vishnu in the form of Mohini and Shiva, uniting Shaivism and Vaishnavism.

Usually depicted as youthful, Ayyappan is shown riding a Bengal tiger, armed with a bow and arrow, often in a seated yogapattasana pose. His sacred abode in Sabarimala, amidst the Western Ghats, attracts millions of pilgrims annually to this revered site on the banks of the Pamba River.

Ayyappan originates from “Ayyan” and “Appan,” meaning “father,” possibly representing Mohini and Shiva. It can also be linked to “acchan” in Malayalam and “appa” in Tamil for “father,” making Ayyappan “Lord-father.” The name Sasta for Ayyappan refers to a teacher or guide. While absent in medieval Puranas, Sastha and Dharmasastha as a Hindu deity are mentioned. Ayyappan is Hariharasudhan, the “son of Harihara,” a fusion of Vishnu and Shiva. He is also Manikanda, with “Mani” for bell and “Kanda” for neck, symbolizing wearing a bell.

Ayyappan is a warrior deity known for upholding Dharma through military and yogic combat skills. Depicted as a celibate man with a bow and arrow, riding a tiger, he symbolizes ethical victory.

The legend of Ayyappa varies across regions. In one version, he is the son of Shiva and Mohini, while in Malayalam folk songs, he is a warrior prince raised by the king of Pandalam Rajashekara Pandian. Ayyappa, originally named Manikantha, displayed extraordinary abilities by defeating a demoness and was later honored with a shrine. Variations exist where he becomes a hermit yogi or is raised by a different royal couple.

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