Spiritual Tourism 23 - Heavens on Earth
The Sabari Mala Lord Ayyappa Temple
This is the fifth largest pilgrim center in the world, with an estimated visits by 70 million pilgrims per year.
This Temple is on a high level, about 3000 feet high above mean sea level. It is situated on a hilltop, This Temple is open to all, irrespective of caste, creed or religion.
East to the sanctum sanctorum is a temple dedicated to a Muslim fakir, Vavar and so Sabari Mala becomes a worldwide center for religious harmony.
This temple is open to all during
Mandala Kaalam, that is during the Vrischika Punya Masa, when Sun enters sidereal Scorpio
Makara Vilakku, when Sun enters Sidereal Capricorn
and Vishu, when Sun enters sidereal Aries.
Pilgrims observe 41 day fasting, abstaining from sex and alcohol to clean their minds, before embarking on a trip to Sabari Mala.
The Symbolism behind 18 Steps and Tat Tvam Asi
Tat Tvam Asi means That Art Thou. The 18 steps leading to the sanctum sanctorum represent 18 principles.
Prakriti - Nature
Mahat - Cosmic Intelligence
Ahamkara - Ego
The Five Elements - Earth, Water, Fire, Ether and Air
The five organs of perception, Jnanendriyas - Ear, Skin, Eyes, Tongue and Nose.
The five organs of action, Karmendriyas - Pada ( feet ), Hasta ( hands ), Vag Indriya ( Sense of Speech), Paya ( Anus ) and Upastha ( Genitalia ).
After climbing the 18 steps, the devotee is told that That Thou Art, That which you seek is YOU only !
There are actually 24 principles and Purusha is the Twenty Fifth !
Added to the 18 principles are
The Five Subtle Essences of the Five Elements, Shabda ( Sound ), Sparsa ( Touch ), Rasa ( Taste ) , Gandha ( Smell ) , Roopam ( Vision )
Purusha - the 25th Principle.
Prakriti Mahat Ahamkara
Api Hridapi Dasakshee Purusha Pancha Vimsa
One of the greatest scenes
in Eternal Mythology. Lord Vishnu assumes the form of a tantalising temptress,
Mohini, to seduce Lord Shiva and give birth to the Avatar of the Kali Yuga, Lord
Ayyappa ! Great dance by Lakshmi.
I am that Beauty
Which cometh from the Churning
Of the mighty ocean, Palazhi !
I am that Art divine
Which wears feet bells,
Made of pure gold !
Palazhi kadanjeduthorazhakanu Njan
Kalil Kanchana chilambaniyum Kalayanu Njan !
Me the Fourteen Universes revere
Me, the Colorful is admired even by Seers !
Come to me, O Great One
I will smear Thy Body with sandalwood !
Pathinalu lokangalku priya Mohini
Kandu munimaru mayangunna vara varnini