Harivarasanam, also known as Hariharasuthāshtakam, is a highly sanskritised Malayalam Hindu devotional song composed in the astakam metre, recited at Sabarimala (the principal Ayyappan pilgrimage site), before closing the temple door every night. Though there have been many versions of this song sung by many renowned vocalists like P. Unni Krishnan, the Sabarimala temple plays the rendition by K. J. Yesudas of a musical version composed by the renowned music director G. Devarajan every evening after the final pooja.
'Harivarasanam' is a Malayalam devotional song written in eight stanzas, called 'Ashtakam'. It was written by Kambakudi Kulathur Srinivasa Iyer, a guruswami, in 1947. Iyer sang this song many times after Athazha Pooja, just before closing the temple doors. But, it became a sleeping song just some years later, with the help of V. Eeswaran Namboothiri, the then head priest (Melsanthi), who sang this song on the re-consecration day in 1951.
Some ascribe the authorship of Harivarasanam to Konnakathu Janaki Amma.
Sabarimala is located in the deep jungle area, and in the past a few pious devotees managed the difficult pilgrimage. The temple opens during the pilgrimage season (November to January) and also on the first day of every Malayalam year.
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 "Harivarasanam"' starting a tradition that remains unbroken till date.
Today, as the final verses are being sung, all the assistant Santhis (priests) leave the Sreekovil one by one. As the song ends, only the Melsanthi is inside. He extinguishes the lamps one at a time and closes the doors for the night.