Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Agneeswarar||Ambal / Thayar:||Karpagambigai|
|Vriksham:||Purasu||Teertham:||Agni Theertham, Kaveri, Manikarnika Theertham, Chandra Theertham|
|Timing:||7 to 12.30 & 4 to 9||Parikaram:|
|Temple group:||Paadal Petra Sthalam (Kaveri Vada Karai)||–|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Kanjanoor||District:||Thanjavur|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Kumbakonam (19 km)||Mayiladuthurai (20 km)|
|Thiruvarur (41 km)||Ariyalur (58 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
After the churning of the ocean, the Devas, aided by some trickery from Vishnu as Mohini, managed to keep all of the amritam for themselves. The furious asuras complained to their preceptor, Sukracharya, who cursed the now-immortal Devas that they would all be born on Bhulokam. Worried, the Devas approached sage Vyasa for advice. The sage recommended that they worship Siva at Kanjanoor, where the Kaveri river flows north and is therefore considered auspicious. The Devas did as recommended, and Siva blessed them here. Later, in another fight between the Devas and asuras, Sukracharya deployed the Mridu Sanjivini mantram to keep asuras alive. Worried that they would be overrun, the Devas approached Siva, who swallowed Sukracharya and kept him in His stomach, in a state of Yoga Nishtha. Since Siva Himself directly overcame Sukracharya, this place is considered a parihara sthalam for Sukra dosham.
After pralayam, Brahma started a great yagam in Devalokam, in order to commence the re-population of Bhulokam. The sacrificial fire was fed with ghee made from Kamadhenu’s milk, and Agni was tasked with distributing the ahuti (offering) to all Devas. But Agni, for various reasons, did not do so, but kept all of the offering to himself. For this offence, Agni was cursed with leprosy, and lost his right to be part of sacrifices (where Agni is critical). Even the Ashwini twins, who are said to be proficient in medicine, could not cure a repentant Agni, who eventually went to Brahma for advice. Brahma advised him to go to Palasavanam (this place) and worship Siva. Agni did so, and also created a Teertham here into which he invoked waters from the Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati rivers, and was cured of his disease.
Because Brahma’s yagam was affected by Agni’s misdeeds, he could not succeed in repopulating Bhulokam. Worried about this, Brahma also came to this place and worshipped Siva, who appeared to Brahma in his kalyana kolam, along with Parvati, and blessed Brahma to enable recreation of the world.
A very learned sage named Mandavya was performing penance and worship to Siva regularly here, ably supported by his wife Hemavati. Over time, they had six sons. After the sage passed away, the sons, listening to the ill-advice of their respective wives, treated their mother badly. As a result, once Hemavati passed away, the sons were afflicted with a sin considered equivalent to matricide, for not having taken care of their mother. The curse for this was that their own children died soon after birth. Unable to bear the agony, they approached Sage Gautama, who realised their plight and asked them to worship Siva at Kanjanoor where the Kaveri river flows northwards, and also at nearby temples including Tirukodikkaa, Tiruvalangadu, Tiruvavaduthurai, Aduthurai, Tirumangalakudi, and Tirumandurai. The sons of Mandavya did so and were finally cured of their curse.
The place has had many names in the past, including Brahmapuri, Agnipuram, Parasarapuram, Palasavanam, Mukti Kshetram and, interestingly, Kamsapuram. While these names mainly pertain to the various sthala puranam mentioned above, the last is because it is believed that Kamsa (son of Ugrasena, from the Mahabharatam) worshipped here. Kamsan-oor, over time, corrupted into Kanjanoor. There is also an interpretation / view that one of Sukran’s names is Kanjan, giving rise to the name Kanjanoor.
A devout farmer would offer vegetables from his crop first to Siva and then feed His devotees, before using them for his own purpose. One day, all he was able to harvest was a suraikkai (bottle gourd), and so he hesitated to offer it to the Lord, choosing to use the seeds for replanting instead. Siva Himself came to the farmer’s house in the guise of a devotee, and asked for food. When the farmer was unsure of what to do, the devotee suggested that the farmer keep “oru paadhi vidhaikku, oru paadhi karikku” (one half for seeds, the other half for food). The farmer immediately accepted this suggestion and provided food to the devotee, who showed His true form and blessed the farmer – who from that day onwards, came to be called Suraikkai Bhaktar.
The structural temple here is from the medieval Chola period, with subsequent renovations by the Vijayanagara Dynasty. Inscriptions in the temple refer to the Chola kings Vikrama Chola and Kulothunga Chola I, among others.
The Lingam here is said to absorb all of the oil poured on it during abhishekam. While the temple is itself east-facing, the main entrance is from the south. The temple has an imposing 5-tier raja gopuram, but due to the roofed area that has been constructed to facilitate the throngs of devotees who worship here, it is no longer visible clearly from the road. Because Siva Himself represents Sukran here, and blesses devotees with wealth and prosperity, the temple originally did not have a separate Navagraham shrine (the one in the temple is a much more recent addition. Amman’s shrine is to the right of the moolavar shrine, indicating that this place represents Siva and Parvati’s kalyana kolam (and hence connected with Brahma’s vision of their wedding, here).
Kanjanoor (and some of the nearby villages) are replete with stories of Hara Datta, a devout Saivite from a Vaishnavite family, who was born in Kanjanoor. Amongst the stories of Hara Datta and this temple, are his feeding grass to the stone Nandi in the temple, and being imparted the Siva jnanam directly by Dakshinamurti. This is depicted in the Dakshinamurti shrine, where instead of having a foot on Muyalagan, Dakshinamurti is shown teaching Hara Datta. The temple also features several carvings from the life of Hara Datta. The nearby Varadaraja Perumal temple also features murtis of Agneeswarar and Karpagambal, due to the connection with Hara Datta Sivacharyar.
Other information for your visit
As a Sukra sthalam, this is a prarthana sthalam for Sukra Dosham. The temple is located mid-way between Mayiladuthurai and Kumbakonam, and is surrounded by various temples of note – particularly Paadal Petra Sthalams and Divya Desam temples.
Thyagaraja Sivacharyar: 98432 85689
Phone: 0435 2470155