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A popular god in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, also known as Hariharaputra—‘Son of Harihara (Viṣṇu/Śiva)'—and Śāstā (‘ruler, teacher’). In mythology, he is the son of Śiva and Mohinī, a female form of Viṣṇu. His function is essentially protective, whether at the regional or the village level; in this respect he plays a similar role to that of Aiyaṉār, who is considered by some scholars to be his alternative form in Tamil Nadu, although their iconographies differ. At his principal temple, and increasingly popular pilgrimage site, at Sabarimalai (on a mountain in Kerala), he is worshipped as an unmarried god and ‘lord of celibacy’.

Subjects: Hinduism.

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