Monday, October 16, 2017

Kanjanur Sukra Sthalam

The ancient Thirunavukarasar praised Agneeswarar Temple is dedicated to Sukran among the Navagraha Temples

Agneeswarar Gurukal and his forefathers have been performing aradhana for the last 400 years having seen through really tough times in the 20th century

Cauvery flows from North to South at this historic location
Auto driver Murugan has been a resident of Kanjanur, a historical Saivite Temple dedicated to Lord Agneeswarar one that has been praised by Thirunavukarasar, for almost four decades. He charges Rs. 100 for a 5 km drop to Aduthurai and says that such charges are possible only now. He recollects his childhood from the 1980s as being very quiet and completely uneventful at the temple.

There was no proper road to the temple that was surrounded by rough bushes and green fields. There would not be a single devotee after 6pm on any day including the weekend. It would be pitch dark around the temple as there were no street lights in this region. The Kumbabhishekam of the temple took place in 1890, 1964 and 2006, an indication of the troubled times that this temple had gone through over the last 100 years.

In the 1980s, the concept of this temple being a prominent Sukra Sthalam was just not there. In fact he says that none of the other navagraha temples had a devotee following like what we see now.

Back then, people did not visit these temples for liberations from doshams. Those few who visited were traditional devotees who saw this as a Saint Poet praised Agneeswarar temple. Just a couple of kms East is the huge towering temple of Thiru Koteeswarar in Thiru Kodikaval (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2013/11/thiru-kotteeswarar-temple-thiru.html), a Pancha ‘Ka’ Kshetram, that was then in a dilapidated state. It was a huge temple, one of the largest in the region and yet there too the devotees were few and far between.

In those decades, there was no public transport anywhere near these temples.  A bus would ply once a day in each direction, once in the morning and once back in the evening.

The Devotional surge in the late 1990s
And then quite unexpectedly, things changed dramatically in the late 1990s and the first decade of this century. There was a big wave towards liberation from doshams as a sudden belief in astrology saw a huge change in the mind set of the people. This astrological drive saw each of these temples gain in prominence. Focus on parikarams and a resultant positive change has strongly entered the mindset of a devotee. On a typical Friday, the main Sannidhi of Lord Agneeswarar remains largely closed for the devotees' focus is on the Sukran Sannidhi just south of the Agneeswarar Sannidhi.

Many of the devotees even seem to forget that this was a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva for they are lost in thought of getting Sukran, who is the GIVER among the 9 planets, on to their side.

Archanai bags make a huge business on Friday with a full plate selling for Rs. 150 and a mini coconut plus flower going for Rs. 50. The priest at the Sukran Sannidhi held 8 archanai plates in his two hands and found it difficult to manage the crowd that was in thousands.

A devoted Gurukal
Agneeswarar Gurukal has spent all of his four decades at the temple. His is the 8th generation that has been performing Aradhana at the temple. He says that while a typical period of Sukran is 20 years, not all may reap the benefits of this entire period. 
With financial goals of people increasing manifold, devotees have been thronging the temple in an effort to increase the presence of Sukran in their lives.

As Agneeswarar Gurukal, who is extremely well versed in Vedas and Agamas having learnt from the renowned Aruna Jatesa Shivacharya, sits inside his traditional styled home with a Thinnai at the entrance, his small 120 page note is fast filling up on the Friday afternoon. Those with wedding issues, job issues and business growth are reaching out to him seeking his help to perform the parikaram to turn their fortunes around. He issues a small token to them and asks them to come back after 5 archanai weeks.

Agneeswarar Gurukal’s grandfather Aruna Jatesa Shivachariyar had been the asthana archakar at the temple having performed aradhana at the temple for over 8 decades. He was single handedly responsible for this temple gaining the current popularity. He died a decade ago at the age of 98.

A heartening feature at the temple is the presence of a number of young archakas fully committed to take forward the devotional traditions at the temple. Festivals are celebrated right through the year in a grand manner.

Kamsa Puram - Grand 16 day Brahmotsavam
Historically, this place was known as Kamsa Puram after the king who converted this from a wild forest into a beautiful small village housing Lord Agneeswarar after he was liberated from a disease. He also introduced the Brahmotsavam which is now celebrated in a grand way over a 16 day period in Maasi with great involvement from the villagers.

Appar’s Praise of Kanjanur
Saint Poet Thirunavukarasar in the 6th Thirumurai has sung 10 verses in praise of the Lord.  Praising the place as Kanjanur in each of these verses, he says that he was delighted to have had darshan of Karpagam at this place.

A staunch Saivite Devotee finds Lord’s blessings
Born into a Vaishnavite family, Sudarashan turned out to be a sincere devotee of Agneeswarar from a very young age. Turned away by his father for placing the sacred white ash on his forehead, he showcased as to what a true devotee is by surrendering himself to Lord Agneeswarar at Kanjanur. Pleased with his devotion, the Lord anointed Sudarshan as Hara Dutta and initiated him into Vedas and Puranas. In memory of this great devotee, to this day, Hara Dutta is taken out on the street processions along with Lord Agneeswarar.

நாரணனும் நான்முகனும் அறியாதானை
நால் வேதத்துருவானை நம்பி தன்னை

Devas liberated from Sukran's Curse
Having deceptively lost the nectar to the Devas (through Mohini’s presence and play), Sukrachariar, the preceptor of the Asuras cursed the Devas to lose their powers. Vyasa, the son of Parasara Muni who had undertaken penance at Kanjanur, brought them to Sukran to redeem from the curse. As directed by him, they invoked the blessings of the Lord here at Kanjanur and were liberated from the curse on Vaikasi Visakam. Appar refers to this in his verse:

மலையானை மற்றொபாரில்லா தானை
மதிகதிரும்  வானவரும் மாலும் போற்றும்
கலையானை கஞ்சனூர் ஆண்ட கோவைக் 

கற்பகத்தை கண்ணாரக் கண்டுய்ந்தேனே 
Appar also refers to Sukran in his praise.

இமவான்  பேதையோடும்
இனிதிருந்த பெருமானை ஏத்தவார்க்கு

Sundarar in his praise refers to Kanjanur alongside the temples of Nannilam, Kandiyur, Velur and Nellikka.

நாளும் நன்னிலம் தென் பனையூர்வட கஞ்சனூர்
நீள நீள் சடையான நெல்லிக்காவும் நெடுங்களம்
காள கண்டன் உறையும்ங் கடைமுடி கண்டியூர்
வேளூர் நாட்டு வேளூர் விளத்தூர் நாட்டு விளத்தூரே

Vada Cauvery opposite the temple
A special feature of the Agneeswarar temple is that Cauvery flows from North to South. Hence having a bath in ‘Vada Cauvery’ is considered even more sacred. The Raja Gopuram is also facing south towards the Cauvery.

The temple is open between 7 am-12.30 pm and 4 pm-9 pm. Contact Agneeswarar Gurukal @ 97873 29460.

How to reach
Kanjanur is about 5kms from Aduthurai (Kumbakonam- Mayiladuthurai route) a km East of Suryanar Koil. Mini buses ply every 15mts from Aduthurai. There are also buses from Mayiladuthurai (21kms) via Thiru Kodikkaval.

Auto from Aduthurai bus stand/ railway station will cost Rs. 100.

When here also visit Suryanar Koil and Thiru Kotteeswarar temple at Thiru Kodikkaval.

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