Parasurama and Sasthamcotta

After reclaiming the land strip—Kerala-- from the ocean, Parasurama deputed Dharma Sastha and Devi as ‘Reksha Devathas’ for protecting the land. Though the deity of Sasthamcotta is ‘swayambhu’ (Self-manifested or created by its own accord); Sasthamcotta Shri Dharma Sastha is supposed to be a major ‘reksha devatha’ of ‘Parasurama Kshetra’-- the land reclaimed by lord Parasurama.

Shri Rama and Sasthamcotta

It is believed that on their way back to Ayodhya after the victory over Ravana, Shri Rama, his wife Sita, brother Lakshmana and the vaanara army stopped at Sasthamcotta to pay reverence to Sri Dharma Sastha. Shri Rama offered ‘pithru tharpan’ (homage to ancestors) on the banks of Sasthamcotta Lake which made the pitrutharpan at Sasthamcotta a divine veneration to ‘pithru’(ancestors). ‘Neelan’, the chief architect of the vanara army, was appointed by Rama to serve Shri Dharma Sastha at Sasthamcotta. Neelan is believed to be the predecessor of the prevailing monkey clan in this temple. There is also a popular belief among the people that the divine presence of Shri Rama exists in the Sasthamcotta temple.

 Sabarimala Ayyappa and Sasthamcotta

Ayyappan is an avatar or incarnation of Sastha. There are references to Sastha in many of the puranas. The story of Ayyappa is comparatively recent, stretching back to the establishment of the Pandya Raja Vamsa at Pandalam, into which Shri Ayyappa was adopted. Lord Ayyappa was united into the idol of Shri Darma Sastha in the sanctum sanctorum of Sabarimala after completing the mission of the avatar.

Once a prince of Pandalam married a princess from the royal family of Kayamkulam and settled there. The prince, who used to regularly pray at the Sabarimala shrine, found it difficult to continue his routine monthly visits.  This displeased Lord Ayyappa and the signs of the Lord’s displeasure started showing within the royal family. The prince repented for the mistake, set out for Sabarimala and worshiped there for a period of twelve days. The worries about managing the Sabarimala darsan disturbed him all along. On the night of the 12th day of worship, Lord Ayyappa appeared before him in his dream and suggested that he continue to stay at Kayamkulam itself, and instead of visiting Sabarimala, proceed to Sasthamcotta and worship Shri Dharma Sastha where the same divine presence of Sabarimala existed.

The Lord also said that ‘a youngster who comes to the forthcoming festival at Kayamkulam palace will help to locate the place’. As said in the dream, a youngster who participated in the archery competition of the festival shot an arrow. A team, including the Prince and the youngster, started towards the eastern direction in search of the arrow to declare the winner. Finally they reached the bank of a beautiful lake. There was a small island in the lake and the arrow of the youngster was found there. Surprisingly, there was a small platform on which a swayambhu idol was being worshipped by a monkey clan! At that time the young man disappeared. The Kayamkulam king then renovated and built the temple in its present form. (This legend is detailed by Kottarathil Sankunni in his famous book ‘Aitheehyamaala’).

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