Sri Agnishwarar Temple, Kanjanoor

The Agnishwarar Temple is one of the sacred abodes of Paramasiva, a “Shivastalam” temple in the village of Kanjanoor, 18 kms north-east of Kumbakonam in the Thiruvidaimarudur Taluk of Thanjavur Dt, Tamilnadu, South India. It is one of the temples under the hereditary trustee of Madurai Adheenam.

The glory of this temple, much like all other Shivathalams, is unspeakable, commanding highest reverence. The temple is witness to many rare incidents of the divine plays (called leelas) of Paramasiva, with the constant presence of Shiva’s surrendered devotees. All these make the Agnishwarar temple a sacred rare energy field, a must visit space for all.

Since Lord Brahma, the Lord of Creation prostrated and prayed at this temple, fulfilling his prayers, it is called “Kanjanoor”, meaning Brahman.

Kanjanoor is considered to be 36th in the series of the “Thevara Sthalams” (shrines that received the hymns of glory by the Nayanmars). It is also one of the nine Navagraha sthalas i.e. temples linked to the 9 planets  in the Thanjavur area located in the Kaveri Delta region. It is dedicated to planet Venus, called Sukra. However, the main deity in the temple is that of “Agnishwarar” Lord Shiva. In concordance with the Saivite belief that Shiva is all-pervading, Sukra or Venus is believed to be located within the stomach of the deity of Shiva.

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

Said to be 1400 years old, this grand temple was built by the Medieval Cholas 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 enlightenment ecosystem for the villagers and people of the 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 Legacies

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

This shrine is also referred to as “Palaasavanam”, “Brahmapur” and “Agnisthalam”. There are also shrines to Maanakkanjaarar Nayanmar and Kalikkaamar (patron Saint devotees of Paramasiva called Nayanmars) here. Deities of Agnishwarar and Karpagambal are also seen in the Varadarajar Temple at Kanjanoor.

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

A Wall Relief depicting the scene of Lord Dakshinamurti teaching Haridatta
A wall sculpture saying “Sri Haridattar Saiva Sthabanam” meaning Haridatta establishing of Shaiva here.

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

Images that describe the stories relating to Haradatta Sivacharyar, inscriptions from the Chola and Vijayanagar kings’ periods, and stone images of Natarajar (dancing form of Paramasiva) and Sivakami are etched wonderfully in this temple. The Stone images of Natarajar and Sivakami are in the Nataraja Sabha referred to as the “Mukti Mandapam”. 

Another historical incident making this “Shivasthalam” so rare and unearthly is that Paramasiva Himself blessed Paraasara Muni, a great enlightened Sage who is the author of Vishnu Purana, with a vision of His Cosmic Dance – called as Mukti Tandavam (dance of liberation) in this temple. Paraasara Muni is also father of Srila Sri Veda Vyasa, who ascribed the great Indian epic Mahabharata and Srimad Bhagavatam.

Enchanting mural of Lord Shiva with His beloved son Muruga playing on His lap

Temple Facts

Location: Kanjanoor near Kumbhakonam (Chola-North of Kaveri)

Lord Shiva worshiped as : Agnishwarar (Paramasiva) 

Ambal (Devi) – Devi Karpagambal, the consort of Agnishwarar 

Sthala Vriksham (sacred tree) – Purasamaram (seen in picture)

Teertham (sacred water body) – Agni Teertham, Kaveri

Pathikam (10 glorifying verses) – sung by Appar

Interesting Marvels of the Agnishwarar temple in Kanjanoor

One of the noticeable marvels of this temple is that the the bilva leaf seen here is a 5-leaf cluster, which is unique; normally it being a 3-leaf cluster. The temple is adorned with eye-locking wall murals art that show Lord Muruga’s life incidents along with Paramasiva’s and other divine energies.

Temple Festivals

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

Read More