Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The story of Ayyappan - Arya Kerala Varman

Ive made a detailed research, spent many hours and labour and written this article... And the materials are copyright protected ! Please share only after Written permission.

The story of Ayyappan - Arya Kerala Varman

At Pandalam Palace
One of the most conveniently forgotten fact about Sabarimala -  is about Ayyappan !!! Yes !!! Not the Ayyappan you are thinking about, but a wonderful historic legend to be known by everydevotee who goes to Sabarimala.

Ayyappan ? Understand he is not the well known Manikantan. He was a forgotten hero (until very recently) in the annals of the Temple History. He is the actual reason for us to get back our Sastha Temple at Sabarimala. We did not know much about him. In this article, I would like to present the story of Aryan Kerala Varman that I collected from some sources.

Bhaktaparipala Paada Renu
V.Aravind Subramanyam

Sabarimala Sastha

Worshipping Lord Sastha with His consorts has been in vogue in Tamil Nadu and Kerala from time immemorial. In various puranas it is said that Lord Hariharaputhra was born to Shiva and Mohini (Vishnu). He materialised himself the shape of a tiny child called "MANIKANTA" on the banks of Holy River Pambha, brought up by Pandiya King, healed the deaf and dumb boy of HIS Guru, gone to the dense forests as per evil designs of His stepmother, slained Demoness Mahishi, brought leopard milk for His step-mother and took to yoga at Sabari Hills.

From that day the temple of Sabarimala Dharma Sastha was worshipped by everyone with great devotion and reverence... 

Pandalam Dynasty

The Pandalam kingdom had its beginning around 904 AD when a scion of the declining Paandya kingdom of Madurai in Tamil Nadu took refuge in Kerala when attacked by the Cholas, and established the Kingdom of Pandalam. The Sasta shrine at Sabarimala had been there from time immemorial as the guardian deity of the people and rulers in and around forest area. When Pandalam dynasty was established the then king accepted the Sasta at Sabarimala as his family deity and ruled the newly formed principality as a devotee of Sasta

This story thereafter, is really interesting and to some extent mysterious too.

Destruction of Sabarimala Temple and the Settling of scores

Around tenth century - anarchy prevailed in those days in Kerala. People around Pandalam lived in perpetual fear of attack by Udayanan, and his gangsters who committed dacoit and murder. Udayanan, had come with his hordes from Tamil regions beyond the borders and dominated the regions of Kerala. Udayanan built up many fortresses on the mountain of Talappara, Inchippara and Karimala in the forests of Pandalam. The temple of Sabarimala where Dharma Sastha was worshipped from the very ancient past was on the route - a highway between Tamilnadu and Kerala, along which the merchants have traveled. Udayanan used to plunder wealth from the travelers and the villages nearby. This amount of success made Uadayanan so brutal, that he attacked the Dharmasasta Temple at Sabarimala. Udayanan and his hordes plundered this temple, destroyed it and broke the idol of Dharma Sastha into pieces. They also murdered the priest so that it would not be possible to conduct poojas there. The son of the priest escaped. He wandered amidst the mountain ranges awaiting an opportunity to wreak the vengeance up on Udayanan. Jayanthan, son of the priest, distressed by the gruesome murder of his father,decided to take revenge by killing Udayanan and his band, and to rebuild and consecrate Sastha temple at Sabari Hills.

He continued his education with vengeance and became a Master of all forms of warfare, he then went to the Kings of various states and asked for help in defeating Udayan. The Kings were very impressed by his valour but nobody was ready to help him and bear the brunt of Udayan. This attitude of the kings disappointed Jayanathan and he went to Ponnambalammedu and started performing penance to please Lord Sasta.

Abduction of the Princess

Udayanan in one of his marauding expeditions reached up to the Kingdom of Pandalam. He saw the princess of Pandalam and wished to make her his consort, he sent the marriage proposal to the King, which was respectfully refused by the King. Enraged by the King’s denial he attacked the palace, plundered it and abducted a princess. Uadayanan dumped her into a dark prison and gave her one month to make up her mind or face demise. That night Lord Sastha appeared in her dream and informed that she will be soon rescued and Lord himself will take birth as her son. Concurrently Lord also appeared in the dream of Jayanathan who was at Ponambalammedu and instructed him to rescue the Princess and marry her so that he could take birth as their Son. While the burglars with their booty were traveling through the mountain routes, the son of the priest made a lightning attack on them and set the princess free. Since she was missing for more than 21 days from the palace, the royal family considered her to be dead and performed all her last rites. So Jayanthan eventually married the princess and they settled in an inaccessible forest region (near the present Ponnambalamedu), engaging in intense austerities and meditation. They earnestly prayed to Lord Dharma Saastha for a son who would be able to fight Udayanan, destroy him and liberate Sabarimala Temple.

Birth of Aryan

Soon the couple begot a child. The child was born on 14-01-1095 AD -they named the Child as -Aryan as blessed by Sastha. Aryan was Lord Sastha’s one of the prominent names. Jayanthan educated and trained Aryan in all fields of religion, science and military art. Aryan was given adequate training both in scriptures and warfare by his able father. It was the intention of the father to bring him up in perfect military discipline with sufficient background in spiritual matters. Aryan became extra ordinarily brave and intelligent.
When his father thought that it was the ripe time for him to be sent to his own palace. All details about his birth and bringing up were written in a letter addressed to the king of Pandalam. He sent the child to his uncle's palace. Of course the king felt over joyous when he came to know about his sister, believed to be lost for ever. When Aryan reached Pandalam everybody was delighted by his godly appearance. He defeated the best warriors in Kings Army, which made a great impact on the King; 

Aryan Kerala Varman

Aryan grew up in the palace. Even in youth several extraordinary faculties became manifested in him. He was a dear to one and all. Arya was adorned the position of chief of the King’s Army and the king gave him the full powers to rule the state. He was given the title "Aryan Kerala Varman" - who was addressed as "Ayyan" "Ayyappan" - a name of reverence by the local people (also a local name of Lord Dharma Sastha at Sabarimala)

Inspite of taking care of the governance of the state, Ayyappan often went to the sabarimala forest in solitude in order to meditate and contemplate on his mission.

Ayyappa to the rescue

Once, the King of erstwhile Punjar state Manavikraman, was on a journey and was surrounded by dacoits in the jungles of Vandiperiyar(Today's Pulmedu). King Manavikraman fought to his extent but was over powered by the dacoits. He started praying to Goddess Meenakshi of Madurai and his prayers were answered when a young boy  riding on an elephant came to rescue of the King. It was Ayyappa who was wandering in the jungle, who had tamed a wild elephant and riding on its back. Ayyappa saved the King Manavikraman of from the Dacoits of Udayanan’s Group. He gave a “Perambu” - cane as his representative and asked to King to proceed to his Palace without any fear.

Though only of Fourteen years of age, he proved his mettle both as an accomplished warrior and a born Yogi. So Ayyappan decided to proceed with the mission of his life - To destroy Udayanan and his gang and rebuild the Sastha temple. So Ayyappan decided to build a powerful army. He instructed to the citizens, to donate one child from each family for the sake of the Kingdom.


Ayyappa's aim was to seek military assistance
-to put an end to Udayana's attacks;
-to restore peace and happiness to the people;
-to renovate Sabarimala temple which was burned to ashes in Udayana's attacks .

For achieving these goals , he intented to travel from Kayamkulam to Ambalappuzha , Cherthala , Alangad and finally to the Pandya Kingdom .

When he went to Kayamkulam - the Raja was thrilled seeing Sree Ayyappa in person , about whom he was hearing day-by-day as a super human teen as well as a sentinal to his citizen .The Raja promised all the help and allowed Ayyappa to collect soldiers from the Kalaries in the Western regions of his Kingdom .

Building the Army

Just before Ayyappa's departure from Kayankulam, a messanger came to announce the attack of Vavar the pirate, in the coastal areas. Ayyappa was excited and joyful to start attck as early as anything , as Vavar himself arrived to gather his fortune! The Karanavar ( head ) of Mullasseril family , who was the minister as well as the bravest soldier of Kayamkulam Raja, was to assist Ayyappa in the attempt. Conquering both body and mind of Vavar and converting him as a disciple , Ayyappa , with the consent of the Raja , gathered the nearby Kalari leaders and soldiers in the vast, beautiful ground at Pullukulangara .

Then he visited Ambalappuzha and Cherthala and conducted similar meetings. Kadutha, who was a great warrior and an expert in mountain-warfare, was a dependant of Pandala Raja. He played an indispensable role in defeating the armies of Udayanan and rescuing several Pandya Kings. Therefore Ayyappan called Kadhutha to assist in the mission.

Ayyappa’s Army included warriors like Kochu Kadutha the master of Sword fighting, Talapara Villan  and Talapara Mallan the perfect Archers and Vavar the warrior.

The preparation

While his stay at Cherthala , Ayyappa was in the Kalari of Cheeram Chira Mooppan. Mooppan' s daughter fell in love with Ayyappa. When this girl proposed her love, Ayyappa gave her advise and thus she could change her mind to a spiritual level. Meanwhile, the army was getting ready; 

With Erumeli as a center point, Ayyapa nurtured a powerful army which could fight Udayanan’s army in a very short time with the help of Vavar, Kadutha, Villan and Mallan. Ayyappan, with his army, marched through the forests, but the first attack was not that successful. Enraged by this, Udayanan conspired with a group of Chieftains abducted Cheramoopan's girl and killed Moopan's daughter. So Ayyappan asked all the members to observe strict Vrutham  before entering Sastha’s Poonakavanam. After the Vrutham for 56 days, they worshipped Kiratha Sastha at Erumeli for the victory in the war. All the army battalions started assembling at erumeli and in order to avoid suspicion, he ordered the troop to dress as tribal people.(present day Pettai thullal) 

Before the final attack on Udayan, Ayyappa distributed the Army into three groups :
1) Alankat Yogam under the leadership of Vavar
2) Amalpuzha Yogam under the leadership of Kadutha
3) Pandalam Yogam under the leadership of Villan and Mallan

Ayyappa kept the central command of the three groups with himself and started the pursuit of Udayanan from three sides North, South and East. Due Ayyappa’s Strategy to the attack from three sides Udayanan was caught in a mouse trap there

Ayyappa – mission accomplished

As soon as the army entered the poonkavanam – Ayyappan was totally a different person; beholding the winsome lustre of His face , he was serene and totally blissful. He never touched even a weapon; instead he was just leading and the army followed him.

The army proceeded towards the hideouts around lnjipara, Karimala, Udumpara, etc.  The Army released the Eastern ghats from the iron fists of Udayanan.

Very soon Ayyappan’s army, marched through the forests and annihilated Udayanan's army. Udayanan’s Army was no match for the Formidable Army of Lord Ayyappa and after a fierceful fight between the two Armies, Uadayanan was slayed by the hands of Kochu Kadutha at Karimala Kotta. Ayyappan's mission ended successfully.

When the royal entourage, proceeded near Sabarimala temple , Ayyappa instructed everyone to leave all the weaponry beneath a big banyan tree there, as carrying of weapons to a temple premises was a sacrilege. Accordingly, the sword, spears, clubs etc. were left at the foot of the banyan tree – today’s Saramkutti.

Ending the Play

Aravind Subramanyam,Author
at Pandalam Palace
After this, they proceeded to Sabarimala Sastha temple, where Ayyappan's father Jayanthan and others were ready to install a fresh idol of Sastha. Right from the moment he stepped into the holy mountain, Ayyappa was in silence and meditation. Until the completion of the Srikovil and installation of the idol, Ayyappan sat on meditation at the place where today’s Manimantapam stands. On the first day of the month of Makaram when the sun moved from the zodiac of Dhanus to that of Makaram, the re-installation of the idol was ceremoniously conducted. Ayyappa did the reconsecration in Sabarimala temple. Soon after the ceremony was over, a holy flame was seen at Ponnambalamedu and no one saw the Prince Arya Kerala Varman - Ayyappan thereafter. It was only thus everyone realized the amazing truth that their lovable , gentle , ameable , merciful young prince was the incarnation ( avatar ) of Sri Dharma Sastha !
Successors of Pandalam dynasty, Poonjar palace and some other living generation add credence to this story. Some monuments, historical Places of interest, folk songs are still available with us which put together vouch for this story.

Swamiye Sharanam Ayyappa !!!
Swamiye Sharanam Ayyappa !!!
Swamiye Sharanam Ayyappa !!!

Sword Used by Ayyappan
Puthen Veedu Erumeli
Puja Moorthis Which
Ayyappan Worshipped
at Pandalam Palace
Chirappan Chira -
Place where Ayyappan
learnt Kalari, Cherthala


  1. No other words to describe this guruji!!
    Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa

    Another Bhaktaparipala Pada Renu

  2. Good research....lot of information... Congrats....and best wishes for your further research....
    Ramani Aghoram

  3. I really liked the flow of this article and the details given. Although it has lots of details, it doesn't bore the reader, and infact is very interesting.

    I'm sharin this in my FB..

    Why don't you start writing in tamil? if this is in tamil, it would have reached a lot many ppl ...

  4. Swamy Saranam!!!

    It is really good article. If it was written in Tamil, it could have reached many people.

    Please translate this in Tamil and publish it

  5. very interesting and hitherto unknown facts have been brought to light by you . I am a trilingual blogger in Tamil,English and Malayalam . I have made a mention about your posts in my Malayalam blog and have given links to your blog post in Tamil and English, in my Malayalam blog .Well done.

  6. Awesome! I'm left speechless.. Great work! Appreciate you initiative to educate us so much unkwon facts..

    Swami Sharanam!

  7. swamiye saranam ayyappa!!
    swamy its really a grt time in my life to read such an epic which is must known by every swami who climbs pathnettampadi...
    swamy saranam
    swami saranam
    swamy saranam