Thursday, December 15, 2011

Different Forms of Dharma Sastha

Lord Ayyappa was born in the month of Dhanu on 'Uthram Star' day and it was on a Saturday and so in temples of Dharma Sastha or Ayyappa these days are considered sacred.Visiting Sastha temples on Saturdays is auspicious  and visiting on all 'Uthram Star' day every month is also sacred.Visiting Sabarimala or any other Sastha temples during Mandala Season,On Saturdays,On Uthram Star days, and on Makara Sankrama day
are all graceful..Sabarimala Pilgrimage,Sastha Suktham,Sastha Puspanjali(Performing Pooja with flowers),Neerajanam(An Offering in temple using coconut by lighting wick lamp with gingly oil and sesame seeds),Pampa Snanam(Taking Bath in Holy River Pampa),Mandala
Vrat(Performing Observances during Mandala Season),Neyyabhishekam(Unction  of Idol with the Ghee),Breaking the coconut on stones meant for that purpose etc can be done to get his good graces.Blue 'Sanghu Pushpam' flowers and blue Lotus flowers  are also dear to the Lord.
When we visit a Sastha temple we are getting the blessings of Lord Shiva,Lord Maha Vishnu also.Since he was born to 'Vishnu Maya' we will get the blessings of 'Devi' also.
Lord Sankaracharya  described that there are 'Nineteen Forms' of Lord Dharma Sastha.His idols which are formed naturally and which are made on stones and 'Lohas' (One metal or mixture of several metals like Pancha Loha) are seen.He is worshiped in 'Sivalinga' form and without any form also.His 'Vahana' is horse but Lord Sastha mounted on a horse is not found anywhere but depiction that he is mounted on an Elephant is seen at many places.
The assumption of Sabarimala Dharma Sastha is entirely different from other places.The assumption there  is as incarnation of Lord Dharma Sastha.Sabarimala Ayyappan is wearing a golden crown and sacred Royal clothes,he is showing 'Njana Mudra' by his right hand.Left hand is placed on the left knee,He is wearing a yogapatta(a typical lace) and he is a young sage in deep meditation.That is why young ladies are not allowed to enter that shrine.Every day before closing the sanctum there is a ritual by which sacred ash is applied on the deity,'yoga dandu' is placed in his hand to change him again to a Sage form and in meditation.A chorus will sing the song 'Harivarasanam.....' and the sanctum will be closed.
In other depictions of Lord Sastha he is not having crown.He is not having 'Chinmudra' and yogapatta.Sastha in other assumptions is wearing bow and arrow.Sastha which is the depiction as a family head is shown with his wife
'Prabha' on one side and son 'Sathyakan' on the other side.He is wearing blue silk dhoti.
The Sastha at 'Chamra Vattom' is the protector of  the place 'Thirunavaya;.The idol is believed to be formed naturally. The deity can cause  rain or stop rain is believed.
The Sastha at 'Thiruvullakkavu' temple is considered as Lord of Education.The presence of Goddess Saraswati who is 'Vidya Devata' is here.So 'Navarathri' is important here.He is also considered as married.
The Sastha deities at 'Thakazhy' and 'Achan Kovil' are Physicians.(Vaidya Nadhan forms).The oil at Thakazhy and 'Theertham'(Holy water) of Achan Kovil removes diseases.
A rare depiction of the deity of Sastha is at 'Poonjar' Dharma Sastha temple.Here he is 'Veda Sastha'.In his right hand an  opened Veda Text is shown.
The Sastha at 'Aryankavu' is 'Kalyana Roopan'  which is as a bridegroom.A ritual known as 'Thrikalyanam' is also performed  here.
Sastha at 'Kulathupuzha' is a boy.There the 'meenoottu' is famous by which the fishes in the river near the temple is given food.The fishes are known as 'Thirumakkal'.We will get blessings from Lord by giving food to the 'Thirumakkal'.
The Sastha at 'Cherpulassery' is 'Santhana Moorthy'.By praying to the deity  childless couple will get children  is the belief.The  Lord will bless for getting married also.
Sastha as a family head is the deity at 'Kollangodu' Dharma Sastha temple also.
At 'Ponnani Kavanadu' Ayyappan Kovil 'Ayyappan Vilakku' is very sacred and well celebrated.
At Kollam 'Sasthamkotta' Dharma Sastha temple the Mandala  season is celebrated in a grand manner.
At Pandalam Dharma Sastha Temple there is no shape and form for the deity.Only a 'Sila'(stone) is placed.
Nedumkunnam Dharma Sastha temple,Kooropada Dharma Sastha temple,Vazhoor Vettikattu  Dharma Sastha temple,Mulamkunnathukavu Dharma Sastha temple, Meenthalakkara Dharma Sastha temple,
Pangode Dharma Sastha temple etc are all important and sacred Sastha temples in Kerala.Visiting these temples during Mandala Season  is auspicious.

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