One of the most popular religious destinations in the world is the Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala; it gets far more visitors per year than Tirupati and the Vatican combined! The story of the temple begins with the birth of Dharma Shasta, the son of Shiva who was born during Shiva's encounter with Mohini, as described in this chapter of the Upasamhara Pada of the Brahmanda Purana.

But contrary to popular belief, Ayyappa is not the exactly same as the god Dharma Shasta. Ayyappa refers to prince Manikandan of Pandalam, who was a human incarnation of the god Dharma Shasta. Ayyappa performed many great deeds in his time on Earth, including obtaining tiger's milk and killing the demoness Mahishi, sister of the demon Mahishasura whom Durga killed. In any case, Ayyappa lived relatively recently; In fact a close friend and devotee of his was a Muslim named Vavar.

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My question is, what scriptures mention Ayyappa? Like I said, the Brahmanda Purana describes the birth of Shiva's son Dharma Shasta, but I'm interested in references to prince Manikandan of Pandalam. Now given that his time period was after Muslims had already come to India, he obviously wouldn't be described in Hindu scripture in the past tense. But Hindu scripture often contains prophecies of future incarnations, so are there any scriptures that foretell the birth of an incarnation of Dharma Shasta in the Kali Yuga?

As I discuss in this question, the Sthala Purana or temple scripture of Tirupati gives quotes from various Puranas which describe the story of Venkateshwara, so it's possible that the Sthala Purana of the Sabarimala temple might contain quotes from Puranas prophesying the birth of Ayyappa. Does anyone have a copy of the Sabarimala Sthala Purana, preferably in English?

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    @Surya I think there is a Sthala Purana; there are certainly plenty of search results if you Google Sabarimala Sthala Purana. A lot of websites say that it's called the Bhoothanathopaakhyaanam, although I'm not sure why Ayyappa would be called Bhutanath. But I don't have a copy of this text. Jan 13, 2016 at 17:44
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    Incidentally when you say Ayyappa is fairly recent and all that, why would Mahishi wait patiently for so many chaturyugas for the son of Vishnu and Shiva? Like she is not even famous for doing some minor mischief.
    – Surya
    Jan 13, 2016 at 18:00
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    @KeshavSrinivasan, Sthala purana simply means local history. It need not be a canonized text. At least I haven't heard of such a text from Ayyappa temple priests (yet). Jul 13, 2016 at 4:47
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    @sv., No the visitors to the shrine are exclusively Hindus mainly from the four south Indian states. The respect Hindu ayyappans (one who has taken the vratham and will visit Shabarimala in near future) isn't remotely reciprocated by non-local Muslims. Jul 13, 2016 at 4:50
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    @SureshRamaswamy Sthalana Purana is not a scripture.There is no need to edit the title. It is quite clear that the OP is looking from Puranas or similar granthas and not sthala puranas. Jul 17, 2018 at 4:43

1 Answer 1


Ayyappa's avatar takes place in Treta yuga - before the arrival of Krishna. He was blessed by Shiva to be the Kali-yuga varadhan. What is Kali yuga- it is the presence of Kali. After Kali leaves Nala (in nalacharitam) it is present in the space and the next avatar of Kali was Duryodhana. When Duryodhana;s jeeva leaves his body, Kali is spread in the space and that is Kali yuga. The time d Duryodhana's death marks the start of Kali yuga actually even though texts extend it to the departure of Shri Krishna. IN Kali yuga the effect of Kali is extreme in the manavas- attachment and the 6 wicked things- Kama, kridha, loba, modha, madha, matsarya. That makes the attchments to matter very strong and the evoution towards the nirvikara tattva is very tough and dimnishes. During that Kali yuga, Ayyappa is teh kali yuga varadhan- one who grants boons (shakthi) to his devotees and hence the self disciplining is important and there came the Mandala kaala vratham- wake up in brahma muhurtha and bath and clean UR self, saranam chant (means total surrender tot he lord), bramcharyam, rstriction to saathvik food only, walk on the earth with bare foot (extract the energy from the Prithvi) and so on. It is a very vast topic as we are really seeing the path of bhakthi first to ayyappa and once that reaches its zenith one will automatically realize that the real truth is the param atma and starts the journey - following the instructional messsage of TatvamAsi and culminating in Aham Brahmasmi to Prajnaanam Brahma.

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    Welcome. Which scriptures have this story? Can you add it? Dec 17, 2017 at 14:05
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