The Genesis Of Lord Ayyappa


In South India, the term ‘Appa’ signifies ‘father,’ and ‘Ayyan’ conveys a title of reverence. Consequently, the name represents a venerated senior deity in the region. Interestingly, the term ‘Ayyappan’ is notably absent in the South Indian versions of medieval-era Puranas, prompting experts to postulate that Ayyappan might have its origins in a different cultural context. An alternative theory connects the Malayalam word ‘acchan’ and the Tamil word ‘appa,’ both of which mean ‘father,’ to Ayyappan, suggesting ‘Lord-Father’ as a plausible interpretation. This hypothesis finds support in other names for the deity, such as ‘Sastava,’ a term with Vedic connotations. The Puranas also contain references to ‘Dharmasastha’ and ‘Sastha’ as Hindu deities.

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Lord Ayyappa, also known as Ayyannar, bears the appellation ‘Hariharasuta,’ signifying the offspring (‘Suta’) of Hari (Lord Vishnu in his Mohini avatar) and Hara (Lord Shiva). Among his other well-known names is ‘Manikantha,’ which derives from the fact that he was found in the wilderness adorned with a ‘Mani’ (jewel) around his ‘Kantha’ (neck). Additionally, ‘Dharmasastha’ alludes to righteousness, while ‘Sastha’ is a common epithet for a teacher and guide.

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