Ayyappan, called Dharmasastha and Manikandan, is a Hindu deity popular in Southern India, He is considered to be the epitome of dharma, truth, and righteousness and is often called upon to obliterate evil.
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Ayyappan is referred to as Ayyappa, Sastavu, Hariharasudhan, Manikandan, Shasta or Dharma Shasta and Sabarinath.
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Iconography of Ayyappan depicts him as a handsome celibate deity doing yoga and as an epitome of Dharma, who wears a bell around his neck.
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The alternate proposal is supported by the alternate name for Ayyappan being Sastava, a Vedic term that means "Teacher, Guide, Lord, Ruler".
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Ayyappan'siconography is usually shown with a bow and arrow upraised in his left hand, while in his right he holds either a bow or a sword diagonally across his left thigh.
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Ruth Vanita suggests that Ayyappan probably emerged from the fusion of a Dravidian god of tribal provenance and the Puranic story of Shiva and Mohini's interaction.
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Sometimes the story is slightly different or extended, such as the younger son of the queen is not disabled, Ayyappan does bring tigress milk for the queen riding on a tiger, but after doing so Ayyappan renounces the kingdom, becomes an ascetic yogi and returns to live as a great warrior in the forested mountain.
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In one of the stories, Ayyappan is portrayed as a child of a priest whose father was murdered by the fearsome outlaw Udayanan.
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Ayyappan then makes a daring rescue, attacks and kills evil Udayanan.
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Some of Ayyappan temples are believed to have been established by the Vishnu avatar Parashurama.
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