Tiger in Indian Mythology

The God Ayyappa, one of the most popular dieties in Kerala represents an ideal who may be approached by all men, whatever there caste or faith, and before whom all find themselves equal, regardless of their background and status. He is the offspring of the brief union between the beautiful enchantress Mohini and the God Shiva. The Godling was then left on the banks of the Pampa river in Kerala, to be found by the childless King of Pandalam. Seeing Ayyappa as the answer to his prayers, the king took the child back to his queen and together they reared him as their son. All went well until the Queen unexpectedly gave birth to a son of her own and became insanely jealous of the young boy her husband had found in the forest and declared his heir. She plotted with Chief Minister of the Kingdom to get rid of Ayyappa, they agreed that the queen would feign a serious illness which could be cured only by drinking Tiger's milk, knowing that Ayyappa would offer to obtain the milk for her and would be killed.

The first part of the plot went smoothly and Ayyappa set forth on his mission. However neither the King nor Queen knew that the reason for Ayyappa's creation was to kill the demon Mahishi and that the time had come for him to perform this task. No sooner has Ayyappa had entered the forest that he met Mahishi and after a great battle killed her.

Meanwhile the King unaware of his Queen's plot waited anxiously for his son's return. When the word came that Ayyappa has been sighted, he rushed to greet him and saw that he was riding on a she-Tiger, accompanied by her cubs and carrying a vessel containing her milk. Instantly recognising the boy's divinity, the King prostrated himself, while the Queen humbled and repentant begged forgiveness. The royal couple implored the god to stay with them, but his mission on earth accomplished, he had to leave- although he promised to protect their kingdom and his devotees.



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