This is a sincere effort to bring into light various facets of Sāstha, Sāstha worship across the world spread across various timelines. It’s a less known fact to common public that Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala is also one of the facets of Aadhi Sāstha. There are innumerable temples, incarnations for Sāstha other than Sabarimalai. Sāstha is a generic Sanskrit term for a teacher - ‘Sāsthi Ithi Sāstha’. He is the teacher who guides to the path of righteousness. In the Yajur Veda, we could find a text like, “Sāstha adhipathir vo asthu” - Let Sāstha be the ruler (or master), which refers Sāstha as the ruler (or master) of the entire universe. ‘Kalau Sasthru Vinayakau’ - Sāstha & Vinayaka will be prominent gods in Kali Yuga. However, Sāstha worship dates back from Kritha Yuga.
There are innumerous references about Sāstha in various puranas like Kanda Puranam, Siva Puranam, Lalithopakhyanam, Ramayana & Mahabharata etc. If we notice these puranas, they have taken place in various Yugas. For instance, Kanda Puranam, Siva Puranam has taken place in Kritha Yuga; Ramayana has taken place in Tretha Yuga, and Mahabharatha in Dwapara Yuga. Many Sāstha temples have been built in various places of Tamil Nadu, Kerala etc., based on these references.
Athri Maharishi who lived during Ramayana period worshipped Sāstha near Suseendram Ashram. Vazhuvur Mahatmayam explains in its own style on Sāstha Jananam (Source: Kazhanivaasal, Vazhuvur). Age old Sāstha temples like Usuppoor Sāstha, Aanathandavapuram Raaja Sāstha etc between Chidambaram and Seekaazhi explain the references of Sāstha in Various texts. Sāstha worship was spread across the world several thousands of years back. We still find some references like Shasta hills, Shasta Lake, Shasta Park in California. It is believed that Native Americans - Mayans, Red Indians etc worshipped Shasta several thousands of years back.
There is a Sahasranamam for Sāstha - ‘Kusa Dweepathipathi’ which articulate Sāstha as ruler of Africa. In Sanskrit, Kusa Dweepam refers to Africa. Kumari Kandam (Lemuria) – the land which connected south India to Australia, separated Coastal Africa by few kilo meters through sea. After Kumari Kandam sinked under the sea, many rulers from South India ruled northern African regions like Egypt. We could find several names of rulers for around 20 generations like DJED-KARI-ISESI, SHEPSES-KARE, SANKH-KARE, HARIHARAS etc. who had alter name of Sāstha – ‘Kari’. Sāstha was refered as Kari in Tamil Nigandu. We may conclude that Sāstha was a deity worshipped (in a different name) in African regions also.
In 1894, Frederick Spencer Oliver (a researcher) published a book ‘A Dweller on Two Planets’, which claimed that survivors from a sunken continent called Lemuria were living in or on Mount Shasta in northern California. Oliver claimed the Lemurians lived in a complex of tunnels beneath the mountain and occasionally were seen walking the surface dressed in white robes. Also, we could find Athen (at present Italy) rulers with name like Pandion (Tamil equivalent Pandian) who ruled between 1437 and 1397 BC. He had a son ERECHATUS (Tamil equivalent Erichatthan) and his wife PRAXITHER
(Tamil equivalent Pradhakshinai) which makes us feel that Sāstha was worshipped in Athens too. Lord Ayyappa could be seen at Angkor Wat temple, Cambodia. There were many poets of Sangam period who are named "Saathanar" (Seethalai Saathanar, Mosi Saathanar, Okkur Maasathanar etc) - a name given after Lord Sāstha. Sāstha is described in Tamil epics like Silapathikaram, Puranaanooru etc as “Saathanar”. Even today, we could find many places in Tamil Nadu like “Saathanur” which were named after Sāstha. From all these references mentioned above, we may conclude that Sāstha was worshipped across globe several ages back.The famous Sāstha Varavu song, “Yettu avadharangal undu, yettu swaroopangal undu” suggests 8 important incarnations & 8 forms of Sāstha; and ‘Dyana ratnavali’ confirms the same fact.
We wish to brief about the Ashta Sāstha identified by our Guruswamy based on his several years of research. Even though there are more than hundreds of Sāsthas in existence, our Guruswamy has chosen eight Sāstha incarnations for Loka Kshema. He has also made panchaloka vigrahams of these 8 Sāsthas along with Aadhi Boodha Naadha Sāstha, which makes it 9 altogether. Lets dive deep in to the world of Ashta Sāstha