The legend of Vavar

One of the first things that strike you as you start to understand religion, especially in Kerala, and when you start out as a Kanni Ayappan on that glorious trek to Sabarimala (now that is an experience by itself, do the whole thing including the trek from Pampa via Erumayur) is the strange anomaly, you first visit a mosque to seek good wishes from a departed Muslim soul called Vavar. You are told by the senior swami in the troupe (the guy who has planted one or more coconut trees at Sabarimala) that Vavar Swami, a great friend of Ayappan is entombed at that location. Later on as you grow older, you marvel at the occasion where there is no religious enmity and where all religions are allowed to participate in this pilgrimage, and they continue to do so, in the millions every year, men, children and older women alike. The myth like the Cheraman Perumal myth lingers on.

As it is done, you start the Peta Thullal session near the mosque and move on to the other activities…but that is not the topic for today. The question is who is Vavar? A very difficult question to answer, that is if you do not know a bit about the Lord himself in this case, Ayappan, Hariharan or Manikantan. Even if you knew the background, the answer would not be clear. And for that reason it will forever remain a myth or a legend, and as many agree, a well accepted and satisfying legend.

Lord Ayappan in this context has two facets, the historic one related to the Kingdom of Pandalam and the mythical one. In the mythical one, he is born to Shiva and Mohini (Mohini is the form of a seductress assumed by Vishnu) and departs to Earth to destroy the Mahishaura. He is found near the river Pampa by the Pandalam king Rajashekara Pandya with a bell around his neck and hence called Manikantan. The king adopts him.

In the historical sense, the story is simplified - AYYAPPAN know as AYYAN who belonged to the Vellalar Kulam, was the army chief of the Pandalam royal family. He lived with his uncle Perisseri Pillai of Erumeli, Kottayam dist, Kerala. This was about ten generations ago. The Royal family of a Pandya king had migrated from Tamilnadu about 800 years back. The King reconstructed the destroyed Sastha temple at Sabarimala with the help of Ayyan a local lad, Vavar, a Muslim youth from Kanjirappally, Kadutha, a Nair youth from Muzhukeer (Chenganoor, Alapuzha dist). Ayyan was instrumental in the defeat of Udayanan, who attacked Sabarimala and tried to demolish the ancient Sastha temple in the thick forest. During this clash, Ayyappan got killed. His uncle, Perissery Pillai, constructed the ‘Kochampalam’ - an old Sastha temple - at Erumeli, opposite the Vavar Mosque, constructed by Muslims in memory of Vavar. In the age old "Elavarsevampattu" it was clearly mentioned that Ayyan belonged to "Vellalar kulam, Near Erumeli, Kottayam (There still exists a vellala house called Puthenveedu in Erumely). In the same compound there is a 300 year old, thatched, depleted, mud house, the house of Perissery Pillai, Ayyappan's uncle and the Vellal Chieftain of Erumeli.

During his adulthood, Ayyan destroys the asura, and comes across a sea pirate who was creating a lot of trouble in the neighborhood. They have a huge fight and soon realize that both are equally endowed. They stop the fight and become fast friends (some stories say Vavar defeated the Lord) with Vavar thereby assuming an advisory role. In other myths, Vavar came to Ayappa’s rescue during the fight with the demon. The friendship between Ayyappa and Vavar was extremely strong and reminiscent of the relationship between Krishna and Arjuna. At one point in the telling of the legend, Ayyappa tells his father: “Consider Vavar as myself.”

Looking at Vavar there is one thing that is definite, that he was a Muslim. Then there is the fact that there still exists his clan, 15th descendants in line (some of the Vettiplackal Kudumbayogam families living in Alapuzha district claim to be the 14th or 15th line of descendants of Vavarswami), now at Erumeli. They are the ones who do the rites at the mosque and the Vavar temple. This could mean that he was a converted person, or an Arab trader or an Arab Saint who came to spread the teachings of Mohammed. Let us look at some of the oft stated stories

He was a Muslim saint who migrated from Arabia to India to spread Islam, His name is the corruption of the name Hazrath Vawar Baba. Others suggest that he was an Arab warrior who reached the shore of Kerala as a pirate in a ship to loot and plunder. During his encounter with Lord Ayyappan, he was defeated and subdued. Another legend is that Muslim invader Vavar and his army attacked the king of Pandalam, Ayyappan’s foster parent, and Ayappan was sent to defend Pandalam. After a fierce battle, Ayyappan overcame Vavar and later both became great friends. That this tale has connections to trade between Arabia and Malabar is clear from the fact that the offering to Vavar is always Green pepper and rose water. If you recall, the Malabar pepper era existed between historic times and as late as 1800AD. The descendants of Vavar are believed to be Vaidyas practicing the Unani (Greek) system of medicine. They were believed to be Brahmins who had later converted to Islam.

However, there is another interesting story relating to Vavar. According to this reference, Vavar originally belonged to Pandya Desam near Madurai in Tamil Nadu. The myth says that the Vavar family migrated to Travancore during an attack from Thirumalainaicken, a minister of the Pandya kingdom. According to the Pandalam palace website the scattered Pandya royals re-united in the year 1174 AD. Considering that the earthly sojourn of Manikanta was 12 years, Manikanta should have lived with the Pandalam royal family between 1162 and 1174 AD. Did he do all this before the age of 12??

Some say that the name Vavar evolved from the Barami name babar. As you may recall bahrami traders were active in the ocean trade. This name came to be pronounced in the Venad region as Vavar. Yet another claim is that this Vavar is said to have been a Buddhist saint called Dwapara, which became Dawapr – Babar.

Another legend puts it as follows - Vavar was born in Takrittan Tottam, perhaps ancient Syria or Southern Turkey. His father was one Ali Kutty who married Pattumma (Fatima). During Vavar’s childhood, a terrible famine ravaged his country. Paddy crops failed though Millet and wheat were available in abundance. As an intelligent boy, he became an authority in all branches of studies including the art of archery, fencing and even ship-building. He received lessons in black magic too, which helped him very much in his later life which was full of adventures. He was known as Vavar, the lame-footed, as his legs were slightly bent even at the time of his birth. When he grew up he expressed his desire to go abroad a ship which he managed to build himself, and the parents, though reluctant gave him their permission.Vavar's adventurous career commences with his voyage in the Arabian Sea. Gathering a few faithful friends who were equally well versed in the art of fencing and archery, he manned his boat towards the land of pepper and other precious condiments. It is said that he landed first at Kayamkulam, a coastal country in Kerala, then an independent principality ruled by a petty king. Vavar and his men, when they landed at Kayamkulam, were looked upon by the natives as sea pirates, and they got scared. In fact, Vavar's intention was only to make some adventurous expeditions, exploring new countries, exploiting the rich to help the poor and the needy. The king of Kayamkulam sought the help of the King of Pandalam who deputed the prince Manikantan to face the sea pirate. An encounter took place between Vavar and the prince. They fought for three days continuously. None were victorious. Mutually realizing the greatness of each other, the two opponents stopped their fight and were united in a friendly embrace. Thenceforth both Ayyappan and Vavar behaved like brothers. Even today the pilgrims to Sabarimala shrine make their offerings first to Vavar, the Muslim saint and then to Ayyappa.

Even today, a Muslim priest performs the rituals at the shrine dedicated Vavar. There is no distinguishable idol, but just a carved stone slab symbolizing the deity of Vavar. A green silk cloth is hung across walls, and an old sword is kept near the wall, perhaps to symbolize Vavar was a great warrior. The main offering at this shrine is green pepper; a befitting tribute to a heritage of pepper trade. Other offering include rose water, sandalwood paste, coconut and ghee. Pilgrims donate money in the donation box and some of the pilgrims bring goats as sacrifice. This is I understand due to a belief that the pilgrims accompanied by goats could reach the Sannidhanam safely..

Lockwoods trip to Sabarimala

Comments

Nice one. Thanks. I have always wanted to know the right story of Vavar, and now I find there are so many! You have done a lot of research, and now I can take my pick. :)
Thank you very much for bringing out the various Vavar stories beautifully. However, still I am not able to make out for sure, as to who this man was. It seems that we need to have a dig at the archaeological evidences,if any, which are evading us. For that matter even Ayyappan himself is a mystery figure. Please visit my blogs and let me know if I can reproduce your post.
Cris said…
Good Lord how do you find about these things! I liked the last story - the Kayamkulam one the most.
Looks like everyone is doing that - picking their favorite!
Maddy said…
Thanks Raji, PNS and Cris. The right story is difficult to figure out due to lack of any kind of record. I believe that the last one is the most probable.

In this case many millions are happy with maintaining status-quo and leaving Vavar & Ayyan as who they are, in their own minds. Let it be so

PNS - Thank you for your visit and hope to see you around. You are welcome to reproduce the post.
Anonymous said…
Maddy

Really admire the pains you have taken to get all the facts and myths about Vavar and Ayyappan. I knew that Vavar was a Muslim and a good friend of Ayyappan but didnt know the background to it.V interesting!Remember a couple of my cousins going to Sabarimala with their Hindu friends[ after observing the 40 days]years back and telling me all about Vavar.

Alex.

P.S I hope this is not controversial but dont you think that Sabarimala is getting a bit too much commercialised and perhaps losing that spiritual intensity?
Maddy said…
Thanks Alex - this is a commercial age today Alex, everything will somehow take that route, don't you think? Not that I agree, but that is what we see today.

But sometimes I wonder, was undue spirituality expected in the Sabarimala pilgrimage, in the first place? I am not sure of this and I think this is one of the reasons why Sabarimala became so popular with pilgrims of all religions. It was a cathartic experience for many of those who went.
harimohan said…
dear maddy
all of us who visited sabarimala would know vavar and his friendship with ayyapan but your blog revealed so many possibilities and probabilities ,great work ,iam sending the link to many ....
Jennifer said…
Impressive post. I have to re read it again in the next few days and leave more thoughts!!
Jennifer said…
Today I have read again in minute detail.

I appreciate how you have not only bought out the history of Vavar and of stories of Sabarimala, but how you have connected different cultures and historical time frames.

Last year I read a series of books on the Social History of Kerala, and this theme came up again and again- how Kerala's culture is so influenced by foreigners- and the connection is much deeper than in other parts of India. Interestingly, that author also mentioned that the coconut is not native to Kerala but bought to Kerala sometime long back by traders, possibly from Sri Lanka! Today we can not imagine Kerala as a coconut-less land!!!

Thanks for the effort and enthusiasm!!
Maddy
Awesome.Interesting.
Was off the net for more than 2 weeks.So, I may be late here.
If you ever go on an archaeological expedition, count me in.
-Nikhil
Maddy said…
Thanks Jennifer

You raised a very interesting point – about coconuts.

As you may know many thousands of coconuts are gifted to Sabarimala every day in the season & broken there in front of the temple.But talking about the history of coconut farming in Kerala, the confusion arose due to a claim that the Chera king Bhaskara Ravi Verma brought in Izhavas from Ceylon to start the farming. While he may have requested additional labor resources from Ceylon in the form of Ceylonese Izhavas, coconut farming has apparently been around in Kerala since 1650 BC and the coconuts of Kerala have been mentioned in the Ramayana (ref - Religion and Social Conflict in South Asia - By Bardwell L. Smith Pg 26, quoting A Balakrishna Pillai)

You may also want to refer my earlier blogs on Coconuts & Malayalees - http://maddy06.blogspot.com/2008/08/malayalis-best-friend-coconut.html

And if the connection Kerala has with foreigners, interests you check out my history blog.. Historic Alleys

Nikhil – hope you had a good trip down south – welcome back…
drsabu said…
Hi maddy,
I am a Keralite Muslim who regularly follows ur blog.I too had been trying to figure out about the real Vavar.BTW , Vavar was supposedly the disciple of Sheikh Fariduddin entombed in Kanjiramattom.There is a 'Melepalli' dedicated to Vavar here.Another interesting observation --Kanjiramattom kodikuthu and Makara Sankranti at Sabarimala falls on the same day!!
Does this suggest anything?

Dr Sabu
drsabu said…
Hi Maddi please go through

Dominique Sila Khan(2009).Sacred Kerala A spiritual Pilgrimage. New Delhi.:Penguin-pp56-78
-for the relationship b/w Sheikh Fariduddin & Vavar
Yoginder Sikand (2003 ).Sacred Spaces -Exploring Traditions of shared faith in India .New Delhi.:Penguin-pp21-34
-for a description of the authour's Sabarimala yatra
Dr.Sabu
Maddy said…
thanks drsabu..
will check those books out, i have some access to the former, so let me see..
R.Sajan said…
2
Two groups are now fighting in Court to be the Alangad Yogam, which position gives a lot of privileges at Sabarimala. One is at Manjapra, near Angamaly; and the other is at Alangad village itself. Both places were in Alangad kingdom in olden days. Manjapra group says that they are descendents of the Parvathyakar [pravarthyaar] of the Alangad Raja, entrusted with sending the Petta troupe to Sabarimala every year; and this right makes them the genuine Alangad Yogam. The Alangad set asks how people far away from Alangad village itself could be any Alangad Yogam. They say that the story began with Ayyappan’s coming to their Chembora Kalari for training.

I learned of the Kampillil connection from informal talk with both groups; and happened to learn of Kesari’s version only later on. I went to Muppathadom and met the current members of the family. They have an Ayyappa temple which the locals call the ‘original Alangad Yogam’.

The family has no male heir now. The 70 and above year old ladies that I talked to said that they are not interested in any Yogam recognition. One of them said her son had been the last male heir of the family. After the two other groups started fighting each other in Court over the title, one group sent goons after this heir though he was not involved in the title-battle. They attacked the house and terrorised the young man, who was a non-interfering KSEB worker. The trauma made him ill and he died soon after, while still in his thirties. ‘We don’t want any Yogam or its money, Sir; we want to be left alone’ were their words.

I had been to Cheerappan Chira also; and was only happy to hear their story that Ayyappan was their family member, that 3/4th of his divine powers are in their temple and that Sabarimala has only 1/4th. The 3/4th goes to Sabarimala for Makara Vilakku every year. I think that their selling their version stronger would help Arthunkal Palli also. They have recently got an article published in the Mathrubhumi weekly to prove that Ayyappan was Eazhava, and son of one of their ancestors.

At the Arthunkal Palli nearby, I was told that 1. the then priest of the Church [Rev. Fr. Velutha] only recommended and got Ayyappan admitted into Cheerappan Chira Military Academy and 2. Arthunkal Palli was founded by Ayyappan’s first cousin and real son of Pandalam Raja. Sebastian had been the prince’s Christian name on conversion by Zabor Easo at Nilakkal. That is how Arthunkal Palli is ‘St.Sebastian’s Church’.

The Vellalas of Tamilnadu have in their own way, proved that Ayyappan was neither Nayar nor Eazhava; but is ‘Vellaalan Ayyan Ayyappa Swami’.

By the way, did you ever read the 1920s-written Bhoothanaathopakhyaanam?
R.Sajan said…
1
Alangad Yogam is the 'father's yogam'; and Ambalapuzha Yogam is the 'mother's yogam'. What connection does Ayyappan's father have with Alangad, and mother with Ambalapuzha?

Kesari Balakrishna Pillai's 'followers' tell the following story:
In one of his missions, Udayanan first plundered the Avalokiteswara Vihara for the treasures there and then proceeded to the Pandalam palace.

At the Pandalam palace, Kaampillil Panikkar was the Commander of the forces. He was thinking of retirement due to old age, and was training his son at the Palace, to take over.

At the time of Udayanan's attack, the younger Panikkar was away somewhere and the old Commander could not fight off Udayanan.

Udayanan overcame the Pandalam security and took away their Princess, who was the only sister of the King. Their mother had been married in from Ambalapuzha royalty.

After some hours, the younger Kaampillil Panikkar turned up and was grief-stricken to hear about the Princess' abduction. He immediately set off after Udayanan with his available assistants.

They reached Udayanan's camp at nightfall; and consensus was reached to attack at daybreak, for lack of light then.

However, the young Panikkar could not wait, presumed to be due to his emotions for the Princess. And he stole into the Camp alone, and managed to take off with the Princess in the darkness.

On their way back, the Princess who felt that her return would only cause loss of honour to the Royalty, and the consenting Panikkar decided not to return to the Palace, but to go into hiding and be together.

Pandalam was 'padma-dala-puram', with ten 'dalam's or villages; one of which was Ponnambalamedu in the forests. The romantic duo decided to settle at Ponnambalamedu, away from public view.

Eventually, they had a son, who grew up with the animals around, including tigers and leopards.

In one of his hunting expeditions some time later, the Pandalam king happened to pass Ponnambalamedu, and found his lost sister and former Commander-designate. The King requested them to return, and the couple refused. The King then demanded that his nephew, the heir to the throne be given to him. This had to be acceded to, and the King returned after the hunt with a son from the wilderness.

[Another version is that the King, enraged at the Commander-designate after hearing the story from the soldiers who returned to Pandalam, used to raid Ponnambalamedu often and was fought off by the Kampillil Panikkar. In the last expedition, Panikkar could not withstand; and the Royal party killed both parents of Ayyappa and set fire to the village. The King spared the child who was his blood-heir, and took him away with him to the palace.]

Kaampillil is a Nayar family at Muppathadom near Eloor in Ernakulam district. Muppathadom and the surrounding area were parts of the Alangad kingdom.

To get help against Udayanan later on, it was only natural for Ayyappan to go to Alangad and his father’s people. The subsequent story of the defeat of Udayanan in the combined attack by Alangad and Ambalappuzha yogam is known.

Dr.S.K.Nayar mentions Kaampillil Panikkar and Mulleppallil Nayar as being members of Ayyappan’s Alangad battallion. Mulleppalil is reportedly Dr.Nayar’s ancestors as well.
Maddy said…
thanks sajan..
will study & reply
Dear Maddy,

i done a research by my self about this myth man. as per historical evidence and current status, you can found only one martial clan Muslims in south Kerala. They were come from nearby areas of Madurai. Muslims experts in horse war was called as Rawther. these are the common Muslims you can find in erumeli and nearby areas. there is historical evidence about marthanda varma brought rawthers for fighting against Kayamkulam king. and also pandalam royal family is pandyan family and one of there minister was from rawther. my family is also member of thulukka pada brought by Marthanda varma and give as acres of free land for strengthening mannady padanilam. vavar is surely one rawther boy. who ever claiming the decedent of vavar ar the cheaters and they do these thing only for money come without hassles. please trust in facts only. think your self. myths are only myths.
Maddy said…
thanks alavudeen...
that reminded me, i have been trying to get the book written by C Haneefa..Initially I was thinking that Rowthers were the horsemen of Hyder and Tipu, especially the settlers near and around Palghat..Next time i come I have to find the book
drsabu said…
Dear Maddy,
Very little has been written about the history of Rowther/Rawther/Ravuttar/Ravuthar muslims of Kerala. Approximately 1/3 of Keralite Muslim population could be Rowthers and are concentrated in the eastern districts of Kerala. The Rowthers have migrated to Kerala in different waves over a period of around 900 years.
The Hanafi Muslim Rowthers are also known as Tulukkars ,which ascribe to their Turkic identity.(In comparison, the Shafi Muslims of Travancore are known as Methans).Perhaps they are the descendants of the Muslim soldiers who faithfully followed their Pandyan masters to Poonjar(1152 C.E) and Pandalam. Probably they could have been the descendants of the Tamilians who were converted by the Turkish sufi saints like Nathar Vali of Trichy (died 1225 CE). Perhaps some of them could have been descended from the Turkic soldiers and cavalrymen who made Pandya nadu their homeland during the Madurai/Ma'bar Sultanate(1335-1378).
Rowthers use the Turkish word 'Ata/Atha' for father , just like Turks call Mustafa Kemal Pasha 'Ata Turk'.

At the same time they use Tamil Kinship words like Amma, Akka, Annan. They are thus at times referred to as 'Pandis' or 'Annan'.Thus the Muslim Street in Kottarakkara is even now known as Pandi Theruvu in Malayalam. The older generation of Keralaite Rowthers still speak a corrupted form of Tamil at home.

Some Rajputs were granted the title 'Rawat' by the Ranas of Udaipur for showing extra ordinary bravery in battle.Similarly Rawthers were also extremely brave horsemen. Some of them later engaged in the extremely lucrative horse trade and became immensely rich traders.
In 1742, the Travancore forces of Marthanda Varma were able to defeat Kayamkulam army with the help of Rowther cavalrymen brought in from Tirunelveli. When Alappuzha port was founded by Raja Kesavadas in 1762 CE ,he invited the rich Rowther traders to settle down at Alppuzha and Changanacherry. Local legends Some of the oral traditions of the community say that during the later years(circa 1799 to 1805), some Rowthers had to flee the religious persecution in the Polygar country and settle down in the eastern parts of Kerala.
The strong belief that Ayyappa is a Vellalla and the close relationship enjoyed by the Rowthers and Velallas in the eastern districts of Kerala point to the possibility of Vavar being a Turkic Rowther Muslim.

drsabu said…
You may contact Koppara Enterprises 0474-2733139 who are the printers of Chunakkara Haneef's book-Islamum,Rawuththarmarude Paithrukavum,pinntta 900 aandum..
drsabu said…
Maddy,I recently came across a writing about Vavar pattu:
Vavar Pattu-song sung during Ayyappan Vilakku. According to this song- Mahavishnu went to the Tripuras in Muslim attire, learned the fourth Veda(Qur’an) and led them in a fight against Siva. Tripuras destroyed the Sivalinga and blood started flowing, which could only be stopped after the ‘archanas’ of Devas. Mahavishnu in Muslim attire married Kadiyumma (Khadija).They had a girl child Pathu(Fathima).When Pathu became a young woman, Paramaeswaran’s sight fell on her. According to one song, Vavar is the child born out of Parameswaran in Pathu .
When Vavar grew up, he set sail in a ship to engage in trade and reached the mosque at Karuvannur. Thereafter, he started riding a green horse. Once he met Ayyappan, who was riding an elephant,they got engaged in a verbal duel which worsened into a fight. Both of them attacked each other’s animals and cut off their limbs. The dismembered limbs of the animals were rejoined later on. Ayyappan and Vavar became friends and they rode up the hill.
Vishnu Nambuthiri M.V. (ed) 1989. Folklore Nighandu, Trivandrum: State lnstitute of Languages. entry no:4334.
In this song we can see that Muhammad (who married Khadija) is equated to Mahavishnu and Ali (who married Muhammad’s daughter Fathima) has been equated with Siva. Thus we see an attempt to bring the Vaishnavites and Saivites as well as the Sunni and Shia Muslims(followers of ‘Ali) together.
Probably the Muslims in Travancore, at one time did indeed believe that Muhammad was an avatar of Vishnu.
In the country parts we have asked them (the Muslims) who was Muhammad, and why they believed in him, but they could give no answer.........There is a decided tendency to deify Muhammad and even to confound him with the heathen gods and to speak favourably of their power. “Vishnu and Muhammad are the same” said one,” Muhammad is an Avatar of Vishnu.”.........
Samuel Mateer.1883. Native life in Travancore. London: W.H.Allen & Co. p:157.
Are we also seeing an attempt to bring in Buddhism and Jainism into the Ayyappa story? Elephant and horse are sacred animals of these religions.
We again read of two friends riding a horse and an elephant in the Periyapuranam, which states that Sundaramurthi Nayanar on a white elephant and Cheraman Perumal on a horse went to the Kailasa.
drsabu said…
Maddy , I recently read about Vavar pattuVavar Pattu-song sung during Ayyappan Vilakku. According to this song- Mahavishnu went to the Tripuras in Muslim attire, learned the fourth Veda(Qur’an) and led them in a fight against Siva. Tripuras destroyed the Sivalinga and blood started flowing, which could only be stopped after the ‘archanas’ of Devas. Mahavishnu in Muslim attire married Kadiyumma (Khadija).They had a girl child Pathu(Fathima).When Pathu became a young woman, Paramaeswaran’s sight fell on her. According to one song, Vavar is the child born out of Parameswaran in Pathu .
When Vavar grew up, he set sail in a ship to engage in trade and reached the mosque at Karuvannur. Thereafter, he started riding a green horse. Once he met Ayyappan, who was riding an elephant,they got engaged in a verbal duel which worsened into a fight. Both of them attacked each other’s animals and cut off their limbs. The dismembered limbs of the animals were rejoined later on. Ayyappan and Vavar became friends and they rode up the hill.
Vishnu Nambuthiri M.V. (ed) 1989. Folklore Nighandu, Trivandrum: State lnstitute of Languages. entry no:4334.
In this song we can see that Muhammad (who married Khadija) is equated to Mahavishnu and Ali (who married Muhammad’s daughter Fathima) has been equated with Siva. Thus we see an attempt to bring the Vaishnavites and Saivites as well as the Sunni and Shia Muslims(followers of ‘Ali) together.
Probably the Muslims in Travancore, at one time did indeed believe that Muhammad was an avatar of Vishnu.
In the country parts we have asked them (the Muslims) who was Muhammad, and why they believed in him, but they could give no answer.........There is a decided tendency to deify Muhammad and even to confound him with the heathen gods and to speak favourably of their power. “Vishnu and Muhammad are the same” said one,” Muhammad is an Avatar of Vishnu.”.........
Samuel Mateer.1883. Native life in Travancore. London: W.H.Allen & Co. p:157.
Are we also seeing an attempt to bring in Buddhism and Jainism into the Ayyappa story? Elephant and horse are sacred animals of these religions.
We again read of two friends riding a horse and an elephant in the Periyapuranam, which states that Sundaramurthi Nayanar on a white elephant and Cheraman Perumal on a horse went to the Kailasa.
:
Maddy said…
thanks dr sabu..
i will have to spend some time studying this at depth..interesting how all this came about and how it connects up with other religions. have to get to it..
UncleVirus said…
I am a sastham pattu singer. We do sing Vavar Jananam during big programs. I totaly agree with the story in Dr.Sabu's post of Feb 11th.
devi said…
I am currently wearing great lords divine maalai and this is my third time. I was looking to understand lord ayyapas true history as I still have not come across any literature that details this neatley. Theres a general version which is told in most of the sites that details some 5 or 6 main events in lords life. But they all fail to mention about Lord vavar in detail which led to my googling and to this wonderful blog...

I feel like I struck the goldpot as I came across so much details from all of you who must have spent great amount of time in researching and connecting the dots... thanks to all of you...

But at the end of it I am left with more questions than before... im hoping for the moment when my search for lord ayyapas complete story becomes fullfilled...
some of the other sillier questions that I have.. I mean no disrespect or intent to hurt anyones sentiments.... these are just questions out of my ignorance (if you allow me to put it that way)
- Why arent there many movies or plays documented about lord ayyapa as there is for lord Ganesha or lord Muruga.
- Why am I not able to find lord ayyapas shrine in majority of lord shiva or lord vishnus temple... beleive me I have visted my share of temples all over south india....
Nice article. Its quite amazing to know that there are so many facts that many are not aware of. These stories are a perfect example. Hardly many are aware of the fact that Shiva had 3 sons and not just 2, also the 3rd son is the only son of Vishnu. Found about it in this article
http://www.ishtadevata.com/blog/the-third-son-of-god-shiva-ayyapan.html
araya samajam said…
Vavar was a buddhist from pandyadesham. vellalar is a subcaste of Tamil Muthuraja community even today.Lord Ayyappa was referred as vellala kula nandana.
Swami Sharanam!! This is Amazing! I knew about Ayyappan and Vavar but did not know the historic details of Vavar.I am writing about Ayyappan's teachings on my blog and I stopped at Ayyappan and Vavar's tale,wanting to know more.This blog was a great help!! Will have to study more about Ayyappan's historic side.
Maddy said…
thanks
lakshmi, bhrahmamurthy, devi, dr sabu, uncle virus......
pavi said…
last kayamkulam version make little sense, ealier one vavar defeating Ayyappa, does not make sense as, its known fact people from persia and west never spare their enemy after enemy losse the battle. The system of giving equal respect to the one who lose or dead is indian culture.

If vavar being a egoistic person, had not lost the war he would have never surrendered, he lost the war so he surrendered before the lord. Lord who was 11 years made vavar his disciple as lord found him good resource for his army ...

Vavar understood this 11 years kid has some powers and not a normal human being , else a good fighter who created fears across the coast would not have lost war... Story and assumption was good, but make it realistic.
Hi Maddy! I'm a big fan of your work and this one is really nice too.
I have one doubt though. You say that Ayyappan was killed in the battle with Udayanan. Many other accounts say the opposite, that Udayanan was killed by Ayyappan, and that Ayyappan was instrumental in building the Sastha temple.
Also, was Ayyappan a Buddhist? If so, why did he choose war, which the Buddhist philosophy is against? Maybe irrelevant, but just asking :)
Maddy said…
thanks vidyuth
wrote this ages ago, the info came from a sabarmala.org site. i did not concentrate on the ayappa legend, but on the vavar legend at that time. will get back to ayappa story later and will cover the question then.
rgds