Difference between Sastha and Ayyappa

Sastha or Shastavu or Shasta is one among the numerous names of Ayyappa worshipped at the famous Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple in Kerala. Some people believe that Sasta and Ayyappa are two different deities. This is because Sastha is mentioned to have two wives. But Ayyappa is a Brahmachari.

When the term Ayyappa is used He is always a Brahmachari. But when the term Sasta is used he can be Brahmachari or Grahasta. This is because Sastha is a very popular village deity in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and parts of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. The particular rural story prevalent in a particular area gives Sasta the status of Brahmachari or Grahasta (married).

The name Sasta is mentioned in the Skanda Purana. Sasta with two wives Purna and Puskala and a son is worshipped mainly as Gram Devata - village deity. Some of these earlier villages have become towns. So today there is a Sastha temple in most towns.

Ashtottara Satakam is the only scripture that mentions that Sasta has two wives. Sastha is also a subsidiary deity in many important Hindu temples in Kerala.

The murti of Ayyappa that is worshipped at Sabarimala is Yoga Murti. This is the most popular form of Ayyappa.

A popular temple dedicated to Sasta is the Achankoil Sasta Temple.