Read the very interesting folk tales, legends and mythological stories about Ayyappa, the god residing at Sabarimala—a temple-on-hill in the Kerala State of South-Western India.
Ayyappa, the presiding deity at Sabarimala, is considered Hariharaputra – the son of two male deities, Hari or Vishnu who assumes the form of an enchantress (’Mohini‘), and Hara or Shiva, whose mission was to destroy the evil demoness Mahishi (buffalo-faced demon). But Ayyappa was also the adopted son of the King of Pandalam in the present day Kerala. Thus these legends have history and mythology entwined, making it a kind of folk tale.
The Story of Mahishasura
Mahishasura was a demon (’asura’ means demon) born to demon Rambha and his buffalo-faced wife. Rambha had obtained a boon for a son who would not be killed by gods or demons. Mahishasura also propitiated Brahma and obtained the boon that only a woman could kill him, gloating in his mind such an event was impossible.
Mahishasura meditaing on Brahma
With this boon in tow, Mahishasura became hungry for power and began expanding his kingdom. He chased away the gods from the heaven. The exiled gods appealed to the female Trinity of Saraswathi, Lakshmi and Parvathi. Through their combined power, they created Durga who killed Mahishasura in a fierce battle.
Now, Rambha had a brother called Karamba who had a buffalo-faced (’Mahishi’) daughter called Leela. Infuriated by the death of her cousin Mahisha, Leela Mahishi obtained a boon from Lord Brahma that she could only be killed by the hands of one born of Hari and Hara (Vishnu and Shiva) and who had spent twelve years in the service of a mortal.
Fortressed thus, Leela Mahishi began persecuting the gods and they turn to Siva for a solution. It was clear only an offspring born of the union of Shiva and Vishnu could save them.
To make this possible, Lord Vishnu assumed the alluring form of a damsel called Mohini. There are three occasions when the services of Vishnu as a seductress are required.
Bhasmasura and Mohini
First, the story about Mohini and Bhasmasura, the demon to kill whom Lord Vishnu turns a temptress. I love this tale, as it tells us what happens when immense power comes to people not worthy of it.