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Traditions say that Lord
Mahavishnu disguised himself as
Mohini (Mohini is one of the 25
avatars of Vishnu found in the
Hindu Puranas in which Lord
Vishnu takes the form of a
beautiful woman) for getting the
nectar from the Asuras who
took it from Devas. Lord Shiva
went to see Lord Mahavishnu,
who was in Mohini’s disguise, and
surrendered to her beauty. Thus
Sree Dharma Sastha
(Dharmasastha) was born out of
their union and he grew at
Kailasam (Mount Kailash)
According to legends, the
offspring of Pandya dynasty
belonging to Chempazhanattu
Kovil were given the right to rule
the country of Pandalam, about
eight hundreds years ago. The
direct successor of this dynasty
was King Rajasekara who was
very courageous. Though the
people were living prosperously
during his rule, the king was very
unhappy that he had no children
to inherit his kingdom. The king
and his queen prayed Lord Shiva
for a child.
The prayers of the king were
answered by Lord Shiva who
asked Dharmasastha to take the
incarnation of Ayyappa (also
spelled Iyyappa). When 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. The king who came
for hunting happened to see the
child. He was advised by a
Sanyasi (saint) to take the child
to his palace. The Sanyasi said
that the child belonged to
Kshatriya dynasty and he named
the child Manikandan. The Sanyasi
also added that when the child
completes twelve years, the King
would know his divine history and
after stating these, the Sanyasi
disappeared. Everyone in the
kingdom was very happy except
the Diwan of the Kingdom who
was thinking that he would be
the next crown after
After some days, the queen
gave birth to a male child who
was named Rajarajan. The king
planned to crown Manikandan as
he was the elder son and
ordered Diwan to make
arrangements for it. But Diwan
hated this and he took various
attempts to destroy him.
However, he failed in all his
attempts to kill Manikandan.
Finally, he approached the queen
and told her that as the queen
had her own son, it was not
virtuous to crown other person.
He asked the queen to pretend
as if she is suffering from
severe headache and stomach
pain. The Diwan also added that
he would make the physician tell
that only tigress milk should be
brought to cure the Queen. They
planned that Manikandan would
go to the forest to bring the milk
and he would be in danger by the
wild animals.
The queen started to act
according to Diwan’s plan, as if
she was suffering from severe
headache and stomach pain. The
physician brought by the Diwan
stated that it could be cured
only by applying the tigress’ milk.
Manikandan approached the king
and requested him to let him go
to the forest to bring the milk.
The king was not interested to
send Manikandan to the forest,
but he realized that he had been
trapped with no other choice,
and allowed him to the forest.
Manikandan, on his way to the
forest, came to know the violent
behavior of Mahishi (a female
demon) in the Devaloka. He went
there, fought a battle with
Mahishi and Manikandan threw
Mahishi down to earth from
Devaloka. She fell on the banks of
Azhutha River where Manikandan
fought with her again.
At the end of the battle,
Manikandan ascended on the
chest of Mahishi and danced
violently, the impact of which
was felt on the earth and
Devaloka. Mahishi realized that
the divine power was none other
than the son of Hari and Haran,
and died. And hence Lord
Ayyappa was also called Mahishi
Mardhanan (one who killed
demoness Mahishi)
Manikandan then proceeded to
the forest to get tigress milk.
Lord Shiva appeared before him
and said that he helped the
Devas by killing Mahishi and there
was another important work to
be completed. It was to cheer up
King Rajasekara who was very
concerned about him. Lord Shiva
asked him to go the palace with
Devendran in the form of a tiger.
Manikandan mounted on the
tiger and all female devas in the
disguise of tigress and male
Devas as tigers, started to the
At that moment, the same saint
who appeared earlier arrived
again at the palace and explained
the uniqueness of Manikandan to
the king. Manikandan returned
from the forest and told the
king that he could get the queen
cured with tigress milk. King
Rajasekara fell at his feet and
requested to forgive him for
whatever happened without his
Manikandan told the king it was
the time for him to return to
Devaloka as the task for which
he took the incarnation was
completed. As Lord Ayyappan
was very much pleased by the
devotion of the king, he asked
what boon the king wanted from
the Lord. The king at once replied
that he would like to raise a
temple in his memory. He asked
a suitable place for the temple.
Manikandan threw an arrow
which fell at a place called Sabari,
where a Sanyasini (a female
saint) called Sabari undertook
penance during the period of
Lord Rama. The idol of Lord
Ayyappa was carved by Lord
Parasurama who was sent by
the Lord himself. It was installed
on the day of Makarasankranthi,
the day on which the Makara
Jyothi emerges.
Lord Ayyappan stated that he
would bless his devotees who
perform Vratha for 41 days,
keeping themselves away from
family desires and
sophistications and leading a life
like Brahmacharya,


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