Monday, 4 July 2011

Ayyappa Swamy Childhood

Early Childhood

Lord Ayyappan had his human sojourn as the son of the Raja (King) of Pandalam, Kerala. At that time, Raja Rajasekhara ruled the kingdom of Pandalam. During one of his hunting expeditions, the Raja was puzzled to hear the wails of a child on the banks of the River Pampa . He moved in the direction of the voice to find a resplendent infant there. The beautiful baby with radiant face wore a gemstone (precious stone) around his neck, hence the name Manikantan ("Mani", means gemstone and "kantan" means wearer around the neck). Manikantan was born of Hari (Bhagavan Vishnu) and Hara (Lord Shiva), with Hari assuming the form of a female (Mohini). Hence Ayyappan is also named as Hariharasutan (Sutan meaning Son).The king, though pious, charitable, just, and God-fearing, had no children. The king was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva and his queen was devotee of Maha-Vishnu. They had prayed to their respective Ishta-devas for blessings in the form of a child. He accepted the child as God's gracious response to his fervent prayer for an heir to his throne. Manikantan was given proper education and training and he grew into a boy well versed in academic lore and martial arts of the time like Kalaripayattu . The Cheerappanchira kalari at Muhamma, in Alappuzha District was responsible for his training in the martial arts. Meanwhile the Rani (Queen) gave birth to a son, however the king regarded Manikantan as his elder son and decided to crown him as the Yuvaraja (heir).

Since the wicked minister of the Raja was always against Manikantan becoming the Yuvaraja, he along with his sycophants turned the queen against the king's decision. On the coronation day of Manikantan as Yuvaraja, the queen pretended to be suffering from unbearable stomach ache, and said she was unable to get any relief from the treatment of any doctor (Vaidya). Finally a fake practitioner appeared at the instance of the minister, and prescribed "the milk of a tigress" as the cure of the queen's illness. The king appealed to one and all to get the tigeress-milk, but no-one dared. At last, Manikantan volunteered and went to the forest in search of tigress Milk, despite the king's attempt to stop him. The king was deeply frightened that the deemed Yuvaraja may not come back alive.

<span>Great Victory</span>


Manikantan entered the forest to fulfill his divine duty, to rid the world of demoness Mahishi. Manikantan killed her and released a beautiful woman who had been cursed to become Mahishi. The young woman asked Ayyappan for his hand in marriage, but he declined, being a celibate. However he promised that she would be visited by pilgrims and would be housed next to his temple, and if the number of new pilgrims visiting him stopped, then he would marry her. Hence she is now worshiped as Maalikapurathamma. On the death of Mahishi, Indra - the king of the Devas, who was displaced and banished by Mahishi, led several tigers for the disposal of Ayyappan.

Days later Manikantan entered the palace precincts riding a fierce tigress and followed by a pack of her cubs. The schemers were frightened into confessing their plot. They were convinced of Ayyappan's divine origins, and prayed to him to be with them for their own salvation and for the safety of the kingdom. Immediately Manikantan disppeared. The king would not eat anything if Manikantan did not come back. Then Manikantan gave a vision (Darshan) to the king.

Filled with emotions of happiness, grief, fear, wonder and 'Bhakti' (devotion to God) and self-surrender, the king stood praying for the mercy and blessings of Manikantan. He repented he could not fully visualize the truth of the divine powers of the Lord and repeatedly requested Him to forgive him for behaving as If He were his son only. The Lord lovingly embraced the King who prayed to bless him by freeing from ego and the worldly life of birth and rebirth and grant Moksha (salvation). He told the King that he was destined to return to heaven. The king implored Lord Manikantan to allow him to build a temple and dedicate it to him and the Lord assented.

Manikantan then enlightened the King on the path of attainment of Moksha. The Lord shot an arrow that fell at the top of Sabrimala and told the King that he could construct a temple at Sabarimala, north of the holy river Pampa and install His Murthy there. Ayyappan also explained how the Sabarimala pilgrimage shall be undertaken, emphasizing the importance of Penance vratham and what the devotees can attain by His 'darshan'.

But before the departure of the Lord, the King secured a promise from the Lord that on thai Pongal on January 14, every year,(celebrated as "Makara Jyothy" all his personal jewellery (usually kept at the Palace) will be adorned on His Murthy at Sabarimala temple. Hence on the 12th of January every year, the Jewellery will be taken on foot from the Palace by a special emissary of the kingdom, after the puja with all pomp, devotion and reverence. Immediately when the Arati is over, Royal Garuda (Eagle) flies over the Palace, (which is quite automatic). The Royal Garuda flies ahead, and appears guide the pilgrims throughout their journey. Since there was no modern means of communication like Telephone or Mobile , to the hundreds of thousands of Devotees desirous of worshipping Lord Manikantan's Jewels enroute to His Abode, this Garuda was the sole and absolute signal of advance information even to the Temple authorities at Sabarimala to get ready for the adorning of the Jewels. This journey on the 12th and 13th of January finally reaches Sabarimala on January 14th. Immediately after the jewellery is adorned on the Deity, there is an Aarti ( offering by burning Camphor). The miracle is that just after the Arti, without loss a second, the Jyothy appears on the east side of the Temple up above the Hills (details are given hereunder).

But then the Lord further consoled the King saying that the devotees who held him and his descendants in 'Bhakti' shall happen to be devoted to Him as well. Manikantan then blessed the King and all others assembled there, and vanished. The King duly constructed the temple at Sabarimala, dedicated to Lord Ayyappan. The Murthy for installation was prepared by Sri Parasurama, an incarnation of Maha- Vishnu, and was consecrated by himself.

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