Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thiru Pugalur Agneeswarar Temple

The Place where Saint Poet Appar attained Mukthi
The Red Brick turned into a Golden Brick on the night when Sundarar lay asleep on the brick saddened by the likelihood of not being able to present Anna Dhanam on Panguni Uthiram day 
Prarthana Sthalam for successful House Construction

Located 25kms from Nagapattinam on the Kumbakonam Highway and 1km North of Thiru Kannapuram Divya Desam (Vishnu temple) is the Agneeswarar Swami temple in Thiru Pugalur, a temple with 5 prakaras and one with inscriptions dating back to the period of Raja Raja I. The temple is steeped with legendary episodes. The temple has been praised by the three Saint Poets Appar, Thiru Gnana Sambanthar and Sundarar. This is the birth place of Muruga Nayanar, one of the 63 Nayanmars.

Blessing Agni with a Structure
Historically, Agni had no bodily structure. Seeking one, he invoked the blessings of Brahmma and Vishnu.  He was directed to perform pooja at a place where Lord Shiva was seen with a Thilakam. Pleased with his sincere prayers, Lord Shiva blessed him with one. At this temple, Agni is seen with two heads, 7 hands, 3 legs, 7 Jwala and with 4 Korai teeth. He also requests that having answered his prayers, the Lord be known with his name. Hence the temple here at Thiru Pugalur is referred to as Agneeswarar temple. Also, the Saayi Rakshai takes place at this temple only after pooja for Agni. It is believed that if one seeks the blessings of Lord Agneeswarar here at this temple, even impossible things are likely to happen.

King is blessed with a child
Another story goes that the King of Saranya Puri Samasthanam was childless. Directed by the Lord of Thiru Pugalur, he performed a Putra Kameshti Yagna and  a child rose from flames of the Homam, whom he named as Sooligai. As the Lord blessed the king of Saranya Puri with a child, he is also referred to as Saranyapureeswarar.

This is believed to be a Sani Kshetram, where the Lord Saneeswarar is seen in a West facing posture. It is said that one has to come here first before making the trip to Thirunallar. King Nala and Saneeswarar are seen in the same sannidhi. After he bathed in the sacred tank here, the kind heard an invisible voice stating that Saneeswara will leave him aT Thirunallar and that his bad days will be behind him.

Dead End- Mukthi Kshetram
The temple is surrounded on all four sides by sacred tanks, quite a unique feature. The temple marks a dead end, signifying the path to Mukthi. There is no path way past the temple. Also there is only one entrance to the temple and one has to enter and exit through the same place unlike other Saivite temples where there two or 4 entrances..

Punnai Tree
It is a temple where Vishnu performed Pooja invoking the blessings of Lord Shiva seeking to be present here as the Sthala Vriksham. Today this day, he is believed to remain here at the Punnai Tree.

Asura’s devotion to his mother
Banasuran’s mother sought to perform pooja with 108 lingams at Kasi. To meet this requirement, the asura plucked lingams from different temples. Having picked up 107, he came here for the 108th. Unable to remove the idol, he tried to dig a pit all around but that only resulted in water oozing out. Frustrated at his inability to fulfil his mother’s promise, he told the Lord that he wanted to end his life. Pleased with his devotion and commitment to his mother’s words, the Lord is said to have turned slightly towards North in a mode of turning towards Kasi and providing darshan to his mother. Hence the Lord is also known as ‘Kona’ Piran.

A unique feature at this temple is that it is surrounded by sacred water on all four sides.

Protecting a Sincere Gurukal
Once when a sincere Gurukal had left the temple, the king of the region made his way into the temple for darshan. To protect the Gurukal from the King’s anger at his absence, the Lord himself is believed to have taken on the role of the Gurukal and performed pooja after which he went back to his original location. Hence the Lord is also referred to as ‘Prathyaksha’ Nathan.

Positive Energy into one’s life
The chakra of one’s life is dependent on the karmas from the previous life, the karmas of the forefathers and the one’s own karma in the current life. To bring about a positive change in one’s life there are idols inside the temple for each of these karmas – Kadantha Kaala Nathar, Nigazh Kaala Nathar and Varung Kaala Nathar. Offering sincere prayers to each of these idols is expected to bring about positive energy in one’s life.

Saving a Pregnant Lady
When floods hit the nearby village of Polagam, a pregnant woman faced a difficult situation of finding a doctor. Answering her sincere prayers, Ambal is believed to have presented before the woman as a doctor and taken care of her. Hence Ambal is referred to here as Karunthar Kuzhali. As a symbolic gesture of having played the role of a nurse, a white saree is presented to Ambal during the night pooja. It is believed that even impossible things will turn around if one presents the white saree to the Ambal and seeks her blessings.

Appar’s Mukthi at Thiru Pugalur
All three Saint Poets have sung praise on the Lord of Thiru Pugalur. This is the only temple where all three saint poets have sung praise of the Lord as ‘Shiva Logam’.

After having first visited here, Appar made his way to Tiruvarur, Rameswaram and Vedaranyam. He later comes back here and explains the meaning of the Thiruvathirai Pathigam here at this place. To test his sincerity, the Lord is said to have put across a number of challenges including presenting beautiful women in front of him. Appar passed each of the tests convincing the Lord that he was interested in nothing else but the blessings of the Lord and wanted to merge with the Lord. He attained Mukthi here on Chitrai-Sathayam after performing Kainkaryam at this temple. In memory of this episode, there is a separate Sannidhi for Appar. 

Liberation from Dhanur Rasi issues
Out of the 12 Rasis, three are related to Agni. This temple relates to the Jwala Agni – Dhanur Rasi. Hence this is believed to be a parikara sthalam for issues relating to Dhanur Rasi

Prarthana Sthalam for House Construction
 After his wedding, Sundarar was keen to present Anna Dhanam on Panguni Uthiram but he was short of funds. He told his wife that he would go to Thiru Pugalur and invoke the blessings of the Lord there. When he reached here, it was already late evening and the temple was closed. Disappointed at this, he picked up a brick and placed his head on the brick and slept thinking of the Lord. In his dreams, the Lord assured him that he would take care of his noble cause. The next morning when he woke up, he was surprised to find the brick having turned to gold.

Delighted at this, Sundarar presented 11 Pathigams in praise of the Lord asking the Lord that since the brick had turned to gold, he should also bless all the devotees who came there with issues relating to house construction and help in the successful completion. Belief is that those who present a few bricks and perform Vaastu pooja here at this temple will be able to buy/build a house within the next one year.
 
Special Features at the temple

Temple is at a dead end – hence a Mukthi Sthalam
All three Saint Poets having praised as ‘Shiva Logam’
Sundarar blessed with a golden brick
A Separate Sannidhi for Agni seen with a Bodily Structure


3 Major Festivals
10 day Appar festival in Chitrai ending on Sathayam
On each of the days, both in the morning and evening, an episode from Appar’s life is enacted showcasing his achievements and contribution to the society. On the 10th day, Homam, Abhishekam takes place. At mid night, he goes out on a procession on the Pushpa Pallakku. The next morning at around 4.30am, after the presentation of ‘Ennugey Ennugey’ Pathigam, Appar merges with the Lord.

10 day Vaikasi Brahmotsavam including the enactment of Lord Chandrasekarar providing darshan to Agni


Thai Poosam Procession
At 4am on Thai Poosam, the Lord makes his way on a 24 km procession to Saranya Puri where theerthavari takes place on the Rishaba Vahana. He makes his way back to the temple at 11pm that night.

Renovation work is expected to start at the temple in 2017.

The temple is open between 6am and 12.30pm and 430pm-930pm. Contact S Saravana Gurukal @ 94442 64982.

The current Gurukal has been there for just the last year and a half. But he explains the significance of each homam and each prarthana/parikam in a simplistic and easily understandable way that gives a lot of confidence to the devotees.

How to reach
Get down at Thiru Pugalur/Thiru Kannapuram Arch on the Nagapattinam Kumbakonam Highway. From Mayiladuthurai and Thiruvarur, get down Sannanallur and board the Kumbakonam-Nagapattinam bus ( 6kms to Thiru Pugalur). Get down at Nannilam railway station and board the Kumbakonam-Nagapattinam bus to get down at Thiru Pugalur.

Auto from Sanna Nallur junction to the temple will cost Rs. 100 (6kms)

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