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Sri Agnishwarar Temple, Kanjanoor

Sri Agnishwarar Temple, Kanjanoor

The Agnishwarar Temple is one of the sacred abodes of Paramasiva, a “Shiva stalam” temple in the village of Kanjanoor (also called Tirukanjanoor), 18 Kms north-east of Kumbakonam in the Tiruvidaimarudur Taluk of Thanjavur District, Tamilnadu, India. It is one of the temples under the hereditary trustees of Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham.

The glory of this temple, much like all other Shiva stalams, is unspeakable, commanding highest reverence. The temple is witness to many rare incidents of divine play by Paramasiva, and harbours the constant presence of Paramasiva’s surrendered devotees. All these make the “Agnishwarar” temple a sacred rare energy field, a must visit space for all.

As Lord Brahma, the God of Creation prostrated and prayed at this temple, getting his prayers fulfilled, it is called “Kanjanoor”, meaning Brahman.

Lord Shukra Bhagwan at Agnishwarar Temple of Madurai Aadheenam

Lord Shukra Bhagwan Sanctum (Garbha Mandir)

Kanjanoor is considered to be 36th in the series of the “Thevara Sthalams” (“Thevara sthalam” or “Paadal Petra Sthalam” refers to a group of 275 temples that are revered in the verses of the Saiva Nayanars (enlightened poet Saints and devotees of Paramasiva) in the 6th-9th century CE and are amongst the greatest Shiva temples in India). It is also one of the nine Navagraha stalas i.e. temples having the main deity as one of the 9 planets (Navagraha refers to the 9 planets). It is located in the Thanjavur area in the Kaveri Delta region in South India. It is dedicated to planet Venus, called Sukra. 

The Temple

The presiding deity is Sukra (Venus). However, unlike other Navagraha temples, the main deity, “Agnishwarar” which is Lord Sukra (Venus), is depicted in the form of a Shiva linga – Paramasiva Himself! referred to as “Agnishwarar” Paramasiva. In concordance with the Saivite belief that Paramasiva is all-pervading, Sukra is believed to be located within the stomach of the deity of Paramasiva.

His consort here is Devi Karpagambal who is seated in her own separate sanctum. Her deity is charged with such radiant beauty that only can be experienced by having her direct vision (darshan).

Said to be 1400 years old this grand temple was built by the Medieval Chola kings and renovated by the kings of the Vijayanagar empire. Located in a beautiful, serene hamlet embraced with ample beauty of mother nature and vast green fields, the temple stands as a lifeline for the village and surrounding places.

Devi Karpagamba, Epitome of All Beauty and Devotion

The temple has a 5-tier Rajagopuram (main gateway tower) surrounded by two prakarams (closed precincts of a temple). The temple is revered by the verses of Appar, one of 4 most prominent of the 63 Nayanmars (Tamil Saiva devotional Saints and devotees of Paramasiva) and hence is referred to as “Paadal Petra Sthalam”.

Historical happenings related to this temple

The story of Lord Sukra

Paramasiva taught the Sanjeevani mantra (sacred utterance) to Lord Sukra. The mantra had the power to revive life. Using this, Lord Sukra revived the life of an asura (demon) in the war between the devas (Divine beings) and the asuras (demons). Paramasiva, angered by this act swallowed Sukra. Sukra meditated from within his stomach and was released from within when Devi requested Paramasiva to do so. Therefore here, Sukra is worshiped as Paramasiva in the form of Shivalinga (Dome shaped form) inside whose stomach he is contained.

Lord Brahma’s Divine Vision and Lord Agni’s worship of Paramasiva

Lord Brahma (the God of Creation, one of the Holy Trinity of Vedic Gods namely Paramasiva, Brahma and Vishnu) is said to have been blessed with a divine vision of Devi Parvati’s sacred marriage with Lord Paramasiva here. Also, Agni (the God of fire) is said to have worshiped Paramasiva here, hence the coined name “Agnishwarar”.

This shrine is also referred to as “Palaasavanam”, “Brahmapur” and “Agnisthalam”. There are also shrines to Maanakkanjaarar Nayanmar and Kalikkaamar here. Images of Agnishwarar and Karpagambal that are originally installed here, are also seen in the famous Varadarajar Temple at Kanjanoor.

Sri Agnishwarar, Presiding Deity being worshiped by HDH and the 292nd Pontiff of Shyamala Peetha Sarvajna                                                                        

Haradatta Sivacharyar

Several historical events in the life of Haradatta Sivacharyar relate to this shrine. Haradatta Sivacharyar of Vaishnava origins (worshiper of Lord Vishnu) – originally known as Sudarshanar was born here and went through intense penance (tapas) to prove his unalloyed devotion for Paramasiva to his fellow Vaishnavites (followers of Lord Vishnu). Proving the power of his devotion, Haradatta seated himself on an iron stool in the middle of fire to prove Paramasiva as the Ultimate Almighty in this place. There is a separate sanctum dedicated to him in this temple and the Shivalinga (Shiva’s column) which he worshiped.  This sacred space radiates the intense energy of a surrendered devotee of Shiva, and bestows upon us the ultimate blessing of “feeling connection” with Paramasiva.

A Wall Relief of “Dakshinamurti Scene Upadesha (spiritual initiation through teaching) to Haridattar”

It is said that Haradatta Sivacharyar composed many authoritative Saiva Siddhanta (doctrine of Paramasiva) works in Sanskrit here and established “Shivaparatva” (Inner space of Paramasiva) here. And so, he has been befittingly praised with the name “Aradattar Periya Mahan” (in Tamil, meaning Haradatta the great Seer). The temple walls carry this history through the beautifully-hued images vividly showing the happenings of all the events.

This temple is beautifully etched with images that describe the stories relating to Haradatta Sivacharyar, inscriptions from the Chola and Vijayanagar periods, and stone images of Natarajar and Sivakami.

Paramasiva blessed Parasara Muni here

Another historical incident making this “Shiva stalam” so rare and unearthly is one where Paramasiva himself blessed Parasara Muni, a great sage who is the author of Vishnu Purana (The life story of Lord Vishnu), with a vision of His Cosmic Dance – “Mukti Tandavam (dance of liberation)” here. Parasara Muni is also the father of Sri La Sri Veda Vyasa, who wrote the great Indian epic “Mahabharata” and the life story of Krishna “Srimad Bhagavatam”.

Unique stone images of Nataraja

Stone images of Natarajar (dancing Lord Shiva) and Sivakami are seen in this temple in the Nataraja Sabha (Sabha – hall) referred to as the “Mukti Mandapam” (Hall that liberates). The Shiva Tandavam (Cosmic Dance of Paramasiva) here is referred to as “Mukti Tandavam”.

The sacred 5-leaf Bilva

Wall Sculpture saying “Sri Haridattar Saiva Sthabanam” meaning “Haridatta establishing Shaiva”

One of the noticeable marvels of the temple is that the Vilva leaf (Bilva Leaf) seen here is 5 leafs in number, which is unique, normal count being 3.

Temple Festivals

A festival to honor Haradatta Sivacharyar is celebrated in the Tamil month of Thai (Jan -Feb) every year. Besides, Mahasivaratri, Aadi Pooram, Navaratri, and Arudra Darisanam are also celebrated with much importance.

Devotional hymns dedicated to this temple

Tiru Navakkarasar (the name literally means “King of Divine Speech”) also called Appar, a chief Poet Saint of the 63 Saints called Nayanmars, sang hymns on Paramasiva here in this temple, on his way to Tirukkodikka from Edirkolpaadi.

Arunagirinathar, the famous poet Saint, who sung Tirupugazh on Lord Muruga, the beloved son of Paramasiva and Devi has also composed a song in the temple. The temple is adorned with such eye-locking wall murals art that depict incidents from the life of Lord Muruga along with Paramasiva and other divine energies.

 

Richly hued wall mural displaying Lord Murugan

Temple Facts

Enchanting mural of Paramasiva with Lord Muruga playing on His lap. 

Location: Kanjanoor near Kumbakonam 

Lord Shiva worshiped as : Agnishwarar

Divine Mother worshiped – Karpagambal, Divine Consort of Agnishwarar Shiva

Vriksham (sacred tree) – Purasamaram

Teertham (sacred water body) – Agni Teertham (From the Kaveri river)

Pathikam (10 glorifying verses) by – Appar (Saint)

Temple Timings

Temple is open for divine darshan from 6.00 am to 12.00 pm and 4.00 pm to 9.00 pm

How to reach Agnishwarar Temple, Kanjanoor

Nearest airport: Tiruchirapalli (Also called Trichy), 121 Kms away

Nearest railway station: Kumbakonam, 17 Kms away

Nearest Bus station: Direct bus available from Kumbakonam to the temple

The Kanjanoor temple is near Tiruvavaduthurai and is located about 20 km from Mayiladuthurai. It is 5 Kms away from the Durga temple in Kadiraimagalam temple and 3 Kms away from the Sooryanar temple.