History & Culture

Shrines for Sastha, in eight forms

The modle of the temple complex dedicated to Sri Ayyapan coming up at Veppampattu in Tiruvallur district.  

A temple complex dedicated to Sri Ayyapan is coming up on unusual lines in Veppampattu in Tiruvallur district. The eight forms of the deity will be enshrined in this temple that was visualised by Gurusami Viswanatha Sharma, who was ordained by Paramacharya. He visited almost all the Sastha temples south of India and dedicated himself to the renovation of temples. He was instrumental in the conduct of Sastha Tirukkalyanam and composed Sasthru Ashtapati, Ayyan Tiruvadippa, etc.

Villivakkam Sree Viswanatha Sharma Ashta SasthaTrust has taken up the task of completing the project. Heads of maths and spiritual leaders are providing guidance.

With contributions from devotees and philanthropists construction is being carried out but is making slow progress because of paucity of funds. Two shrines with 18 steps, the priest’s room, kitchen, office room, compound wall and other basic amenities need to be constructed.

The famous Sastha Varavu song, “Ettu Avadharangal Undu, Yettu Swaroopangal Undu” suggests eight important incarnations and eight forms of Sastha ; and ‘Dyana ratnavali’ confirms the same fact.

Ancient deity

Sastha was an ancient deity worshipped thousands of years ago across the globe. There are references to Sastha worship in the submerged Lemuria, Vietnam and Africa. There is a Sastha Hill in California, the U.S.

Guruswamy Viswanatha Sarma, who made an extensive study of the Sastha concept, Ayyanar and Ayyappan chose eight Sastha incarnations for Loka Kshema. He also made panchaloka idols along with Aadhi Boodha Naadha Sastha , which makes it nine altogether.

The Tamil word ‘Aadhi’ means source. ‘Aadhi Boodha Naadhar’ or ‘ Aadhi Maha Sastha ’ is the source of all other Sastha s, including Lord Ayyappan, also called Dharma Sastha of Sabarimala.

Adhi Maha Sastha is worshipped with two consorts – Poorna and Pushkala. He is worshipped in many villages of South, as a protector of their houses and cities. He is also offered prayers to help find missing/lost items. His grace helps us receive rainfall on time, makes our water and land resources fertile and thereby enhancing crop cultivation. It is believed that Karikaala Chozhan, an ardent devotee of this Sastha , won many battles after worshipping Sastha in Kanchi Kamakshi Amman temple.

Dharma Sastha disseminates knowledge and peace. He is said to break the barrier of caste and creed and guides us towards righteousness and salvation. Saturn effect? He is believed to provide solace. Sri Dharma Sastha was a Brahmachari. However, in previous avatars, Sastha dwelt at Kantha Mala with two consorts Poorna and Pushkala. A distinct line therefore should be drawn between Sastha and Manikanta.

Gnana Sastha , as the name implies showers intellect and wisdom. He plays the Manikka Veena and sits under a banyan tree a la Dakshinamoorthi. There are references of this Sastha in “Aakasa Bhairava Kalpam.” Sree Dharma Sastha temple in Thiruvullakavu is considered the Abode of Wisdom. There is an idol of Sri Vidhya Sastha in Veda Nayaga Sastha temple at Vedikarampalayam, Salem.

Kalyana Varadha Sastha is worshipped for the removal of hurdles to marriage. He is worshipped with Poorna and Pushkala. There are references of Kalyana Varadha Sastha in verses such as Guhyia Rathna Chinthamani and Boodha Naadha Charitham.

Mythology has it that Kalyana Varada Sastha resides in Kanthamalai.

Sastha is worshipped as Kalyana murthy in Ganapathy Agraharam,

Tirunellai, a village in Palakkad. Gajaarooda Sastha or Kaala Sastha or Maha Sastha is annihilator of enemies. Since one of his devotees won over Yamadharma Raja - Maha Kaalan, He is called as Kaala Sastha.

Although there is no temple for Kaala Sastha , we can find Sastha sitting on an elephant, one of his Vahana, in Thriyambakapuram.

A great enchanter is Sammohana Sastha , who stands for conjugal bliss and harmony.

He is worshipped with Poorna and Pushkala. His grace is compared with Amudha Surabhi. There are references to Sammohana Sastha in Skanda Puranam.

There is a temple for Sammohana Sastha in Sirkazhi, Kaivilanchery. The deity is called Kaividael Appan.

Santhana Prapthi Sastha represents Planet Venus and is worshipped for progeny. His consort Prabhavati has a Maanikka Veenai and hence he is also called Brahma Sastha . This Sastha is different from other incarnations as he is seen with his child Satyagan.

An interesting piece culled from mythology is that it was Brahma Sastha who offered the Divine Payasam to King Dasaratha when he performed Puthrakameshti Yaaga. There are references of this Sastha in ‘Thantra Samuchayam” and ‘Silparathnam.’

Veda Sastha also goes by the name Simharooda Sastha and is synonymous with the Vedas and the knowledge they represent.

Even now, Ayyanar in Vedikarampalayam, Salem, is worshipped as Veda Nayaga Sastha , surrounded by four Neem trees representing the four Vedas. According to Sthala Purana, this Sastha was born to Siva and Vishnu (Mohini).

Veera Sastha is a great warrior, visualised on a horse with weapons. Also called ‘Aswarooda Sastha ,’ he is considered a son of Lord Siva and is worshipped to destroy evil and to protect humanity.

There are references to this Sastha in ‘Adi Sankara Vicharitham’ which has Adi Sankara worshipping Veera Sastha in a place called Kudhiran.

In order to raise funds for the Ashta Sastha complex, the Trust (No. 29, North Mada Strett, Villivakkam, Chennai 600049) has organised a music-cum-discourse programme by Veeramani Raju at P.T. Thyagaraja Hall, G.N. Chetty Road, T. Nagar, 10 a.m. tomorrow, December 7. For details call

94441 09431 and 99625 62067. Website: >http://ashtasastha.org

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Printable version | Oct 14, 2021 9:18:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/history-and-culture/shrines-for-sastha-in-eight-forms/article5425348.ece

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