Legends of Lord Ayyappa by Ravi Shankar - HTML preview
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The Legend of Swami Ayyappa
Ravi Shankar Gujjarappa BGCopyright indiatales 2006-07
(a project of Rukmini Hariharan Foundation) G5B, Block A, Himagiri Enclave, Kaggadasapura Bangalore-560093 India
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or transmitted without the prior permission of the publishers.First Edition 2006 Price: Rs. 100/To the memory of
Sri VR Harihara Iyermy grandfather and rolemodel
Our story happened hundreds of years ago in Pandalam – a big and prosperous kingdom in the southern tip of India. The people of Pandalam were honest and hard working. And their king, Rajasekara, was a good ruler and a powerful warrior. There was peace and happiness everywhere. Everything looked almost perfect.
But there was one thing that was worrying the king and his queen. It was the worry that they had no children. The pious king was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva was the destroyer of evil and a patron god to the kingdom. Every day, he and his queen would pray at the big temple of Shiva near the palace.“Hear our prayers, Oh Merciful One!” they prayed, “Grant us an heir to rule Pandalam.”
Lord Shiva was pleased with their devotion. The king’s prayers would be answered soon. After all, this was all part of a divine plan. Meanwhile, not far away, in the forests around Pandalam, a fierce she-demon was praying to Lord Brahma. Her name was Mahishi. She wanted to wreck vengeance on the Devas – the divine angels of heavens, for plotting to kill her brother. Brahma is the creator of the Universe and could never deny a prayer. Mahishi knew this and wanted to get a boon from Brahma that would make her invincible. After long penances, Lord Brahma appeared before Mahishi and granted her the boon that she prayed for – that no one except a child born out of the union of a man and man could kill her!
Armed with the boon, Mahishi entered heaven and drove away the Devas. Not even the powerful chief of Devas, Indra, could defeat Mahishi. The terrified Devas decided to seek the help of Lord Vishnu. After all, Vishnu was the protector of the Universe.Led by Indra, they ran to Vaikuntum, the abode of Lord Vishnu.
“Save us from Mahishi,” they pleaded.
A smile appeared on the Lord’s face.
Vishnu assured them that the
day would soon come when
the evil one would meet her
end at the hands of the child
(Vishnu and Shiva).
Years passed. Back on earth, king Rajasekara was riding to the palace after a long day of hunting. The deep silence of the forests was broken by the cry of a newborn. Surprised, he set off in the direction from where the cry came from and found an abandoned baby boy! The baby was radiant in the evening sun and had a shining golden bell tied around its neck. The baby was none other than the child of Lord Shiva and Mohini, the female form of Lord Vishnu.
A holy sage appeared before the king, “This baby is a gift from the gods. The little one will bring you and your kingdom great glory. Bring him up as your own son,” he said and disappeared.
The king was overjoyed and returned to the kingdom with the child. Rajasekara decided to call the child, Mani-kantan (the one with a bell around his neck). When Rajasekara brought the baby home and told his queen about his adventure, the queen could not believe her luck.
Soon the news spread and there was celebration everywhere. But there was one person who was not happy at this new turn of events. It was the king’s prime minister. He was dreaming of ascending the throne after Rajasekara and the arrival of the new heir upset all his dreams. Pandalam’s new prince grew into a handsome young boy. He mastered the wisdom of the holy books and became a skillful archer. His teachers realised that Manikantan was no ordinary student. People spoke about the boy’s bravery and kindness. The king was proud, and the queen loved him as if he were her own. But things were to change soon.
After a few years, the queen gave birth to a son. The king was delighted. Manikantan now had a baby brother. One day, Rajasekara called the nobles of his land.“The time has come for me to declare my successor. Manikantan, my first son will be your next king,” he announced.
Veryone approved of the choice and knew that Manikantan would make a good king. Well, almost everyone. The prime minister who was among the audience was very, very unhappy. He had to think of some way to get rid of Manikantan now.
By now, the queen had started loving her own son more than Manikantan and secretly wished that the kingdom would one day belong to the son born to her than her adopted one. The minister who saw this opportunity suggested a cunning plan that would help the queen to rid of Manikantan forever!
As per the plan, the queen pretended that she had a terrible stomachache. Physicians all over the kingdom tried and failed to cure her. The king became very worried. When nothing worked, the minister brought a ‘doctor’ from a faraway land.
The man, who examined the queen, suggested the strangest of cures. “Only the milk of a wild tigress can cure her,” declared the doctor. Everyone was shocked. Well, almost everyone. The minister knew very well that no one except Manikantan would dare to go on such a dangerous mission to save his mother.
Sure enough, Manikantan took his bow and arrow and set out to the deepest parts of the jungles around Pandalam. The king prayed to the gods to protect his beloved son. Meanwhile, the queen and the minister rejoiced at the
As Manikantan entered the jungles, a loud scream startled him. A giant she-demon appeared from among the eerie darkness. It was none other than Mahishi, who had made the jungle her home.
She charged at the little intruder. The earth shook and thunders shattered the skies. Manikantan was not going to be stopped by anything. He got his bow in position and aimed his powerful arrows at her. The Devas, who heard the commotion appeared in the skies to watch the battle they had been waiting for all these years.
Manikantan fought fearlessly and brought Mahishi to the ground. Mahishi realised that she was no match for Manikantan’s divine strength. She surrendered and her soul left her body. A big cheer arose all over the sky. Lord Shiva appeared before Manikantan and told him about his true identity.
Manikantan had accomplished the true mission of his earthly life. Indra, and the Devas, descended from the heavens. The chief of the Devas took the form of a
tigress, while the Devas
became wild tigers.
to the city.
News spread about the prince appearing at the city gates, riding on a wild tigress. People came out and watched in awe as their prince strode towards the palace followed by wild tigers. They realised that their prince was a form of the Lord Himself.
The king, who became aware of the minister’s plot, ran to Manikantan and asked for forgiveness for his minister. Manikantan forgave the minister and told the king about his adventure in the jungles. He requested the king to build a temple for him at a spot that he would choose.
He then took his bow and shot an arrow that pierced the air and flew towards the hills on the outskirts of the kingdom. The arrow found its mark on a spot, deep in the hills of Sabari near the banks of river Pamba.
On the king’s orders, a beautiful temple was erected at the spot.
People started worshipping Manikantan and soon he came to be called Lord Ayyappa – the brave general of Pandalam. To this day, people from far and wide come to the temple after a strict penance of 41 days to seek Manikantan’s blessings. The idol of Manikantan sitting cross-legged on a lotus platform is unique and is believed to be a gift from Lord Vishnu to the king. Manikantan’s devotees trace his trail through the thick forests to reach the Sabari Hills.
They carefully carry two packs on their heads – one with the things they need for their long trek through the jungles and another with the offerings for the Lord.In the holy month of Makaram (January), a powerful light appears in a distant peak of Sabari hills called the Jyothi. Devotees
believe that the gods and the king come down on that day for a special prayer to the prince of Pandalam.About the Author
Ravi Shankar has been writing stories and poems for children for more than 10 years now and has adapted stories from the rich collection
of India’s fables and legends that he grew up hearing from his grandparents. He has worked on the print and interactive mediums and rewritten Indian stories for young audiences.About the Illustrator
B.G. Gujjarappa, popularly known as Gujjar, has been working with different media firms for over 30 years now and is currently running his own studio in Bangalore. His style have evolved over the years from his experiments with lines and colors. He has won many national and international awards and has illustrated over a 1000 books for children.
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