- what is Ayyavazhi religion?
- What are their mainstream beliefs?
- How does this religion differ from mainstream Hinduism?
Ayya in Tamil means father/master. Vazhi means path. So, Ayyavazhi means path of the master. The master mentioned here is Ayya Vaikundar. Ayya Vaikundar had five disciples, who were nothing but five Pandavas of Dwapara Yuga. The mainstream religious scriptures of Ayyavazhi are
- Akilathirattu Ammanai, also known as Akilam (Which is the source of Ayyavazhi beliefs) and
- Arul Nool (which contains prayers, hymns, procedures for worshiping).
One among five disciples, Hari Gopaln wrote the holy book called Akilathirattu Ammanai. Ayyavazhi is an organised Hindu denomination with their own headquarter at Swamithope. There are two types of place of worship in Ayyavazhi;
- Pathi - (literally means the place of the god). There are eight Pathis. Among them five are most sacred.
- Nizhal Thangal - (literally means shadow bearer). It is the secondary place of worship. Thousands of Nizhal Thangals are there.
Beliefs of Ayyavazhi:
There are eight Yugas. The first Yuga is called Neetiya Yuga, in which Kroni was born as a manifestation of evil. He had a very big body. Once when he had a hunger, he drank the entire sea. Then he swallowed entire Kalilasa, the adobe of Shiva, then preceded to eat the entire universe. Mayon (Vishnu), sitting along with Shiva in Kailasa, escaped and had a penance towards Shiva in order to get a boon to destroy Kroni. Shiva granted the boon and made Vishnu aware of the fact that after his destruction, he will be divided into six fragments which will be born in the next succeeding Yugas.
- The first fragment of Kroni reborn as Kundomasali in the second Yuga called Chatura Yuga. He was killed by Vishnu.
- The second fragment reborn as two siblings; Thillai Mallalan and Mallosivahanan in the third Yuga called Netu Yuga. They were also killed by Vishnu.
- In the fourth Yuga called Krita Yuga, the third fragment also reborn as two siblings; Surapadman and Singamuka Suran, who were killed by Murugan upon the request of celestial beings. Then this fragment somehow reborn as Hiranyan, who was killed by Vishnu's incarnation Narashima.
- The fourth fragment born as Ravana in Treta Yuga (5th Yuga), which was killed by Vishnu's incarnation Rama.
- The fifth fragment reborn as Duryodana, who was killed by Vishnu's incarnation Krishna in the Dwapara Yuga (6th Yuga). At the end of Dwapara Yuga, Vishnu with the help of Seven Virgins, had begotten seven sons, known as the Santror to destroy Kaliyan, who will be born in the next Yuga.
- The sixth and last fragment of Kroni (called Kaliyan or Neesan) entered into the world as Maya in the seventh Yuga called Kali Yuga. The entire Kroni is said to be omnipresent during the Kali Yuga, because of which evil exists.
Ayyavazhi Trinity incarnated during this time, they are: Ekam (The soul - similar to Paramatma or Father), The spirit (Karana Sharira of Vishnu, compared to the holy spirit) and The son (Body of Ayya Vaikundar). One of the legends of Ayyavazhi is that the spirit of Vishnu was joined with the soul of Sampooranathevan (a celestial being), which was entered into the body of Ayya Vaikundar.
- After the death of Vaikundar, he attained Vaikundam and he was welcomed by celestial beings and Vishnu. Vishnu crowned Vaikundar to rule the fourteen worlds. Vaikundar wanted to uplift the Santror. Vishnu said that they would be saved from the evil of Kali and Kali Yuga and would achieve bliss and prosperity in the Dharma Yuga i.e., the last Yuga.
This eight Yugas may be compared with the eight Chakras of the human body (Seven primary chakras along with Bindu chakra). The first Chakra is Bindu (Neetiya Yuga), and the last is Sahasrara Chakra (Dharma Yuga) i.e, the state of absolute bliss. However, holy books don't mention anything about Chakras, so comparing like this is not supported by many believers.
How Ayyavazhi differs from mainstream Hinduism:
- Mainstream Hinduism's belief is that scriptures like Vedas, Puranas, Ithihas are canonical. According to Ayyavazhi, these scriptures lost their substance as soon as the Akilam was composed. According to Ayyavazhi beliefs, it was Kaliyan who tampered the original Hindu scriptures.
- Ayyavazhi believes in eight Yugas, which are linear, but Hinduism believes in four Yugas, which are cyclical.
- Tamil language is sacred for Ayyavazhi, in contrast to Hinduism for which Sanskrit is sacred.
- Dead body should be buried in Ayyavazhi, but in Hinduism it should be cremated. According to Ayyavazhi belief, the body of those who are free from rebirth hereafter
They too believe in Karma and reincarnationwill not decay, Vaikundar will blow a counch when Dharma Yuga begins, and as soon as he blows, the soul of these people will rise from the grave to Vaikundam.
- A mirror is placed in the sacred places of Ayyavazhi, in front of which people worship just to denote that god is within oneself. Ayyavazhi also condemns idol worshiping.
- Ayyavazhi rejects all forms of caste discrimination, though it doesn't deny the entire caste system.