Harivarasanam or Hariharasuthahtakam is a very devotional hymn in praise of Swamy Ayyappan’s in a highly sanskritized Malayalam. It is sung at night at Ayyappa shrines including at Sabarimala during the final concluding Pooja of the night called athaaza puja inside the sreekovil or main shrine. It is sung in a low tenor as a soft lullaby to Swamy Ayyappan gently rocking Ayyappan to rest and night nap as the lamps are switched off one by one in sync with each stanza to the hymn in the shrine till only one lamp remains and the main Tantri steps out closing the shrine door.
The tenor of the hymn is such that it snags all the heart strings reducing some of us to emotional uncontrollable tears..The hymn was immortalized in the popular version sung with such heartfelt tenor by PadmaVibushan Shri. Yesudas in raga Madhayamavathi music composed by renowned music director G. Devarajan ..and this is one hymn along with our national anthem which never fails to bring a flood of tears in my own eyes ..silly me emotional me..
I have often wondered at my tears every year at the concluding ceremony of our local Aayappa celebrations as the lamps are extinguished trying to hide them from fellow devotees, a bit shy a, bit ashamed at the show of my weakness, trying to steel myself and failing every time..they tell me how deep my roots are, my connection to land of Parashurama and Swamy Ayyappa is but always berated myself for what I called over emotionalism..
That is till I saw this clip and live relay of JanamTV tonight at the concluding ceremony of Tula Maasa pooja and as the devotional hymn was sung by scores of devotees letting out their suspended breath.. caught in most poignant emotionalism.. some openly breaking down, some prostrating with relief, an ocean of mixed tears of relief, happiness, sadness.. The stress expressing itself in unabashed tears ..stress of past five days and sleepless nights, the demand of keeping vigil night and day to guard the sanctity of the shrine and millennia old anushtanas..to ring the explosive situation artificially created and stoked at Sabarimala in Ayyappan’s poomkavanam by adharmics of Kaliyuga.. all letting out a collective sigh of relief and flood of tears as the storm temporarily staved for now..
This divine hymn is said to have been composed by Guruswami Shri. Kambakudi Kulathur Srinivas Iyer in ashtakam in 1947 in eight stanza or ashtakam meter. It is also contended that this was originally written by Konnakathu Janaki amma. It was given the prestigious concluding song stature by Melashanti or Main priest V. Eesawaran Namboothiri during the re-consecration ceremony in 1951. The composition has 352 letters,108 words in 32 lines (8 stanzas).
I came across this beautiful, emotional story on Wikipedia about the early associations of this hymn with Swamy Ayyappan “VR Gopala Menon, from Alapuzha used to accompany Thirumeni Eashwaran Namboothiri, the Melshanthi (head priest), to Sannidhanam every time, and would stay there by himself even when the temple was closed, remaining undisturbed by the wild animals. Gopala Menon used to recite “Harivarasanam” with devotion during his time at Sannidhanam. When the Devaswom Board was formed, he was asked to move out. He eventually died at a tea estate at Vandiperiyar. When Thirumeni Eashwaran Namboothiri heard about Menon’s passing, he was deeply saddened. At the end of the day’s rituals, the Namboothiri was about to close the doors of the Sannidhanam when he remembered the dedication and sacrifice of Gopala Menon and began to recite this “Harivarasanam”‘ starting a tradition that remains unbroken till date.”
A million thanks to JanamTV for broadcasting an honest and sincere report as it unfolded without obfuscations and artificially or communally inciting comments..