Lord Ayyappa is believed to have been born from the union of Lord Vishnu
in the form of Mohini, and Lord Shiva
. Various legends depict the story of Ayyappa in different ways. The most significant one is that the infant Ayyappa was found by the king of Pandalam
on the banks of the river Pamba
. The King, though pious, charitable, just, and god-fearing had no children. He accepted the child as a gift from god and brought him up as his heir. However, the king did beget a son later on.
The king's minister had a dislike for Ayyappa and so he convinced the innocent queen that adverse consequences would befall her if Ayyappa were to be crowned the future king, and that the kingdom actually belonged to her son. So the queen, deluded by the minister, pretended illness and sent Ayyappa to the forest in search of tiger's milk to cure her disease. They hoped that he would be killed. But Ayyappa did return from the forest with the tiger's milk and a large group of tigers, accompanying him in a very docile manner. From this incident the king and the queen came to realise the divinity of the boy. Later Lord Ayyappa told the king that he could construct a temple at Sabarimala, north of the holy river Pamba, and install his deity there. Ayyappa is also called Sastha and Hariharasuta or Harihara since he is the son of 'Hari'(Vishnu) and 'Hara'(Shiva).