Ayyappa is said to be the son of Shiva and Vishnu (Mohini), and raised by a king in Kerala, is this merely a creation of Kerala’s folklore or does he find mention in the Hindu Puranas and other classics ?
Answer by Raakhee V. Menon:
There is a huge confusion regarding the identity of Ayyappa. Many people think that he is a son of Shiva and Vishnu, which is only partially correct.
Lord Vishnu has taken only one female avatar and that is the divinely beautiful Mohini, which incidentally means ‘The Desirable One’.
Lord Vishnu assumed this form to kill Bhasmasur who could be killed only by stealth. He took his Mohini form once again during the churning of the Milk Ocean to obtain the Nectar of Immortality. For the record, it was Lord Shiva and Mohini who had a child named Dharmashasta.
He was born to fulfil the boon that Mahishi had acquired from Lord Brahma that only a son of both Shiva and Vishnu can kill her. His name and the story of His birth is explained in detail in the Bhagavata Purana.
Dharmashasta manifested Himself in various forms – as Aiyyanar, as Ayyappan, and as Himself. Prince Manikantan of Pandalam (Sabarimala Ayyappan) was the specific avatar He took to kill Mahishi.
So while Dharmashasta finds a mention in the Puranas, it is unlikely that Ayyappa would also be mentioned as Ayyappa’s birth happened many years after the Puranas were composed.
|| Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa ||