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The descedants  of  Pandya dynasty discarded by Thirumala Naicker Diwan of Raja Vijayanagar, who  was  then  ruling  the Pandya Kingdom, comprising of Madurai, Tirunelveli, Ramananthapuram, were living  scattered  in  places  like  Valliyur, Tenkasi, Shengottah Achankovil and Sivagiri. At that time,  Pandiyas  were  ruling  in  many  parts of Travancore and the descendants of Pandiya dynasty belonging  to  Chempazhanattu  Kovil,  living  in  Sivagiri  were  given the right to rule the country of Pandalam,  the  King  of  Travancore  eight  hundres  years  ago. King Rajasekara was the direct descendant of this dynasty.

King  Rajasekara  was  very talented, courageous and just in his deed, People were living happily and  prosperously  in  his regime. However, the king was very unhappy that he had no children and his  subjects  were  also  worried  that  he  had  no heir to inherit his kingdom. At the request of the queen, both of them used to pray to Lord Shiva for blessing them with a child.

Mahishasuran,  Son of  Ramban,  undertook  a severe penance (Dhavam) towards God. Lord Brahma  tried  every tactics to stop his penance, but having failed in his attempts, appeared before the  Asura  and  asked  what  boon  he wanted, from him. Mahishasuran asked Lord Brahma to give  him  a  boon  by  which  nobody  in  the  earth  would  be  able to kill him, and Lord Brahma conferred  the Boon on him. Mahishasuran, armed with his boon, began to commit atrocities and murders on the earth and terrorised people. Fearing his wrath, people ran away to far away places.

The  Devas  seeing  the atrocities committed by Mahishasuran came to the conclusion that only a divine   power   could   kill   him   and   approached   Chandikadevi  pleading  to  put  an  end  to Mahishasura  who was misusing the boon given by Lord Brahma. Chandikadevi set out on her mission and killed Mahishasura in a duel, on earth.

Mahishi daughter of Karamba, brother of Ramban  undertook a severe penance towards god in order  to  take  revenge  on  the  Devas,  who  were  responsible for the death of her brother. Lord Brahma appeared and offered to confer on Mahishi any boon expect that of immortality. Mahishi asked  Lord  Brahma to bless her with a boon by which nobody, except the son created out of the union of Shiv (Hari) and Vishnu (Haran), would be able to kill her. Lord Brahma gave the boon and Mahishi went to Devaloka and started harassing the Devas.

The  Devas  incurred  the wrath of Durvasa Muni, who cursed them to go grey. On the advice of Lord  Mahavishnu that this curse could be removed only by administering Amrutham taken from Palazhi,  the  devas  took  it  from  the  Palazhi,  but  the  Asuras  snatched  it  from  them.  Lord Mahavishnu  in  the  disguise  of  Mohini,  went to the Asuras and got back the Amrutham and restored it to the Devas. Lord Shiva, when went  to  see  Lord Mahavishnu who was in the guise of  a  Mohini  succumbed  to  her  beauty  and  out  of  their  union, was born a child. Lord Shiva adorned the Child's neck with  a golden chain and ordered that the child be entrusted to the care of his childless disciple, king Rajasekara of Pandalam.

One  day  King  Rajasekara  went  for  hunting  in the forest adjoining the banks of River Pampa, along  with  his men. He started hunting courageously in the dense forest which was a sanctuary for many  wild  animals. After  that  hunting  was  over, King Rajasekara advised his men to take rest and sat there entertaining himself with the sight of the natural greenish beauty and the water-falls, of the forest.

At  that  time,  he  hearda child crying from somewhere in the forest. Surprised, he went round and reached  the  banks  of  River  Pampa.  There he saw a beautiful and bright-lit child kicking its legs and  cryingout,  and  was in a dilemma whether to take the child to the Palace or leave it there itself.

While  the  King  was  engrossed  in his thoughts, a Sanyasi appeared before him and told the King that  he  need  not  be  afraid  of  the child and take him to the Palace and that the child belonged to Kshatriya dynasty capable of mitigating all sufferings. The Sanyasi further stated that since the Child had  a  gold  chain  around  his  neck,  his  namebe called "MANIKANDAN" and when the child completed  twelve  years,  the  King  would  know his divine history. After uttering these words, the Sanyasi disappeared.

The  King  of  Pandalam  was  very joyous;  he took the child to his Palace and briefed the Queen about  the  incident.  The King and the Queen, having prayed to Lord Shiva, for a child, were very happy  that  they  had been blessed with a child. The people also felt happy that a heir to inherit the Kingdom  after  the  King, has been found. However, the Diwan of the Kingdom who was thinking that he would be the next crown after Rajasekara was worried.

When the child, named Manikandan, began to grow in the Palace, everything began to prosper in kingdom. He was taught all martial arts and sastras and the Guru was surprised at his brilliance and agility  and  the  extraordinary talents. The Guru came to the conclusion that he was not an ordinary child, but a divine power. After completing his education under the Guru, Manikandan approached the Guru to offer his Guru Dakshina.

When Manikanda went to his Guru for his Ashirwathams, the Guru told him that he already knew that  he  was  a  divine  power  and  he  was  blessed  for having been given an opportunity to have Manikandan  as  a  student. The Guru further told Manikandan that he had one request to make and  that  was  that  his  only  son  who  was  blind  and  dumb  should  be  given vision and speech. Manikandan  called the Guru's son and put his hands on his head and immediately Guru's son had his  vision  and  speech.  Manikandan  told  the  Guru not to reveal this to anyone and went to the Palace.

In the meanwhile, the Queen gave birth to a male child and the child was named Raja Rajan. King Rajasekara,  impressed  with  the  talents of Manikandan, decided to crown him, treating him as his eldest son.  He  ordered  the  Diwan  to  make arrangements for the same. The Diwan hated this and  started  devising  plans  to  prevent  Manikandan  from  being  crowned  to the throne and to annihilate   him.   He   tried  various  methods  including  poisoning of  food,  but  failed  in  all  these. However, Manikandan's body bore an injury due to these and ordinary physicians could not cure it. Lastly, Lord Shiva disguising himself as a physician, treated Manikandan's injury and cured him.

Having failed in all his attempts to kill Manikandan, the Diwan approached the Queen and told her that  she  had  her  own  son,  it  was  not  correct to crown a person who came from the forest. He further  told  the  Queen  since Arthasastra itself has justified any misdeed if it was done to extract a good  thing,  he  would  suggest  that the Queen should pretend as if suffering from severe headache and  he  would  make the physician tell that only a tigress' milk should be brought to cure the Queen and  since  Manikandan  would only go to the forest to bring the milk, he would be in danger from the  wild  animals  and  even  if  Manikandan  returned without bringing the tigress' milk, the King's love  for  him would not be as before. The Queen, became a prey to the Diwan's plot and agreed to do what he told, so that her son could succeed the King to the throne.

The Queen, as told by the Diwan, cried out loudly that she was suffering from severe headache and the  King,  believing  this, called the Diwan to bring in the best physicians to treat her. The Physician, brought  by  the  Diwan  examined  the  Queen  and told the King that the Queen had been suffering from  a  dangerous  disease  and  it  could  be  cured  only  by applying Tigress' milk. The King sent several of  his men to the forest for bringing this milk. The King understood that it was an impossible task  and  wanted  his  dear  Queen  to  be  cured  at  any  cost  and  offered half of his Kingdom to anybody who brought the Milk.

When  the  King  was  thinking about   this,  Manikandan  asked  him  to  let  him  go to the forest promising  to  bring the milk. However, the King told him that he was awaiting to be crowned to the throne  that  he  was  also  not  of  age and hence refused to let him go. Manikandan told the King inspite of  his refusal, he had to go lest he would be cursed for not curing the Queen. Since the King persisted  in  his refusal Manikandan wanted the King to promise to do something he wanted. The King  gave  the  promise  and  asked him what he wanted and immediately Manikandan asked the king  to  permit to go to the Forest. The King felt disappointed that he had been tricked and with no other alternative permitted Manikandan to go to the forest.

King  Rajasekara  made  arrangements to send a group of his loyal men along with Manikandan, which however  was  refused by Manikandan on the ground that the tigress might run away seeing the crowd of soldiers.  King  Rajasekara  sent  alongwith  Manikandan necessary foodstuffs and coconuts  with three-eyes, in remembrance of Lord Shiva. The Panchabuthas, sent by Lord Shiva, accompanied Manikandan to Forest. However, on his way seeing the atrocities of Mahishi in the Devaloka,  he  went  there and  in the battle between them, Mahishi was pushed by Manikandan into the earth, where she fell on the banks of Azhutha River. Manikandan clashed with her there.

At   the   end,   of    the  battle  between  Mahishi  and  Manikandan  at  Azhutha  River  banks, Manikandan   climbed   up her chest and danced violently. The impact of his dance was felt in the Earth and Devloka and the Devas were afraid. Mahishi knowing that the divine power dancing on her  body  was  none  other than the son of Hari and Haran, prostrated before Manikandan and died.  This  dance was witnessed by Lord Shiva and Mahavishnu from a place called Kalakatti (It is  said  that  Leela,  daughter  of  Kavalan,  a  Karamban, with a face of Mahishi and freed herself     from   the   curse   and   obtained  Moksha by the grace of Shri Dharma Sastha, which is   described  in   Sabarimala   Temple  as  Malikapurathu Amma,  by  which  name  she has a temple there)

After   killing  Mahishi,  Manikandan  went  to  the forest for the tigress milk, when Lord Shiva appeared before him and told him that though he had done good for the Devas, still there was one main  task  and that was to give comfort to the King Rajasekara who was very concerned about him  and  also  to  cure  the  Queen's  ailment.  Lord  Shiva further told him that he could go to the Palace  with  the  tigeresses  andLord Indran would help him. As stated by Lord Shiva, all female devas  in  the  disguise of a tigeresses and male Devas, as tigers with Lord Devendran as the tiger on whom Manikandan rode, they started their journey to the Palace.

When   Manikandan,   with   the   tigers  and tigeresses, approached the Palace, the people who ridiculed   him  when  the started his journey to forest whether he wanted a toy tigresses, really got panicky seeing the violent bunch of animals and started running helter shelter.

The  Sanyasi  who  appeared  at  the  forest at the time of King Rajasekara's visit there when he heard a  child's  cries,  again  appeared  at  the  palace  and told King Rajasekara the Identity of Manikandan.  Hearing this, the King stood in great surprise and silence. He stood non-pulsed as he  saw  Manikandan  riding  a  tiger  and  people running away. Seeing the King, Manikandan descended  from the Tiger's back and told him that since the tigresses were there, he could get the Queen  cured  with  their  milk.  King  Rajasekara,  fell  at  his  feet  and asked to forgive him for whatever   happened without his knowledge, and asked him to send back the tigers as the Queens ailment   had   been   cured   themoment Manikandan went to the forest. That day Manikandan reached the age of Twelve.

King   Rajasekara   told   Manikandan   that the Diwan was responsible for all these things and hence   he  should  be punished. However, Manikandan told the king that he need not punish the Diwan  and  all  had happened only through the will of God, and he told further that time had come for him to go to Devaloka since the task for which he created himself in the Earth is completed and asked  the  King  what  boon  he  wanted  from  him  and  he  was ready to give it as he was much pleased  by  his  devotion.  Immediately,  King  Rajasekara  told  him  that they wanted to raise a temple  in  his  memory  and suggest a suitable place for the temple. Manikandan aimed an arrow which fell at a place called Shabari, where in Sri Rama's era a Sanyasini called Shabari observed Dhavam.   Lord   Manikandan   told   the   King   to   build   the  temple in that place and then he disappeared.

At   the   advice   of  Saint Agasthya, King Rajasekara laid the foundation stone for the building Shabarimala   Temple.  Bhagwan Manikandan, had made it clear that he would grace only those  devotees  who offer Dharshan after performing Viradha for fortyone days keeping themselves  isolated from family desires and tastes and leading a life like Brahmacharys, thinking   of   good  things always, and that while coming for his darshan, they shall adorn themselves  with  three-eyed coconut and foodstuff/Aantha Garland in their heads, as the Bhagwan did when he went to the forest to fetch tigress milk, and bathed in River Pampa raising slogans of Saranam and climb the eighteen stairs.

As graced  by  the  Bhagwan King  Rajasekara  completed  building  of  the temple with eighteen stairs to reach  it.  When  the  King  was thinking how to put Dharmasastha's figure in the temple for  darshan to devotees, he recalled the words of the Bhagwan, the River Pampa was a holy river as  River  Ganga,  Sabarimala  was  a  holy  place as Kasi. Dharmasastha sent Parasuraman to Sabarimala   who   carved   the   figure   of    Lord   Ayyappa   and   installed   it   on the day of Makarasankranthi.  Every year lakhs and lakhs of people throng to Sabarimala irrespective of caste  or  creed  and   adorn   themselves   with   garlands  and   irumudis, chants slogans on Lord Ayyappa,   bathe   in   holy   river   Pampa, climb up the eighteen stairs and get the grace of Lord Ayyappa, the Dharmasastha.


The Jewel Casket is carried on head from the ancestral residence of the royal family of Panthalam to the Shrine on the day. A Garuda, the Brahaman kite, follows this ornaments-carrying procession, hovering about in the sky, After these ornaments are worn on the Lord the bird circles the temple in the sky three times and disappears. Excited by this sight the devotees begin to chant "Swamiye Sharanam Ayyappa".   A Star never seen before in the sky appears on the day of Makarajyothi day before the sighting of the Jyoti. A Jyoti is seen for a little time on the hilltop showing the presence of Swamy Ayyappan gracing his devotees.

"SHARANAM VILI" : Sharanam Vili is the chanting of Lord Ayyappa's name by the devotees while climbing the hills of Shabarimala, they also do this when performing the pooja of "Kettunira"
and also at the time of travelling to the Lord's Place (Shabarimala). To learn how to chant this Sharanam Vili Please click on here Sharanam Vili

This Story is Compiled by : Mr. P.D. BHASI
                                          QUILON - 4