Holy Pilgrimage – Temples in Tamilnadu State
Agniswarar Temple, Kanjanur, Tamilnadu
The Agniswarar Temple is a Hindu temple in the village of Kanjanur, 18 kilometres north-east of Kumbakonam. The presiding deity is Sukra (Venus). However, the main idol in the temple is that of "Agniswarar" or Shiva. In concordance with the Saivite belief that Shiva is all-pervading, Sukra is believed to be located within the stomach of the idol of Shiva.
The TempleThe temple was built by the Medieval Cholas and renovated by the kings of the Vijayanagar Empire. The temple has a 5-tier rajagopuram surrounded by two prakarams(closed precincts of a temple). The temple is revered by the verses of Appar and hence referred as Padal petra stalam.
LegendLegend is that Siva blessed Parasara muni(sage) here with cosmic dance.
NavagrahaKanjanur is one of the nine Navagraha sthalas located in the Cauvery Delta region dedicated to planet Venus, called Sukra. Unlike other Navagraha temples, the main deity, Agniswarar in the form of lingam depicts Lord Sukra.
ShukraShukra (शुक्र, சுக்ரன், IAST Śukra), the Sanskrit for "clear, pure" or "brightness, clearness", is the name of the son of Bhrigu, and preceptor of the Daityas, and the guru of the Asuras, identified with the planet Venus, one of the Navagrahas (with honorific, शुक्राचार्य Shukracharya). He presides over Shukravar (Devanagari: शुक्रवार) or Friday.
He is of white complexion, middle-aged and of agreeable countenance. He is described variously as mounted on a camel, horse or crocodile. He holds a stick, beads and a lotus and sometimes a bow and arrow.
Ushanas is the name of a Vedic rishi with the patronymic Kāvya (descendant of Kavi, AVŚ 4.29.6), who was later identified as Ushanas Shukra.
NameShukra is etymologically identical with Shukla "white". As a noun, it is also the name of a Marutvat, of a son of Vasishtha, of the third Manu, of one of the saptarshi under Manu Bhautya, of a son of Bhava, of a son of Havirdhana.
Ushanas is also the name of the author of a Dharmashastra.
Guru ShukracharyaHe was a Bhargava rishi of the Atharvan branch and a descendant of sage Kavi. The Devi-Bhagavata Purana refers to his mother as Kavyamata. The feminic natured Shukra is a Brahminical planet. He was born on Friday in the year Parthiva on Sraavana Suddha Ashtami when Svati Nakshatra is on the ascent. Hence, Friday is known as Shukravaar in Indian languages like Sanskrit, Telugu, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Oriya, Bengali, Assamese, and Kannada. He went on to study the Vedas under the rishi Angirasa but he was disturbed by Angirasa's favouritism for his son Brihaspati. He then went to study under rishi Gautama. He later performed penance to Lord Shiva and obtained the Sanjivani mantra (a formula that revived the dead). He married Priyavrata's daughter Urjaswathi and they had four sons — Chanda, Amarka, Tvastr, Dharaatra and a daughter from his marriage to Indra's daughter Jayanti by the name Devayani.
During this period Brihaspati became the Guru (Preceptor) of the Devas. Due to the hatred Sukracarya bore towards Vishnu for what he perceived as the murder of his mother as she had given shelter to some asura whom Vishnu was hunting, Shukracharya decided to become the Guru of Asuras. He helped them achieve victory over the Devas and used his knowledge to revive the dead and wounded among them.
In one story, Lord Vishnu is born as the Brahmin dwarf-sage Vamana. Vamana comes to take the three worlds as alms from the asura king Bali. Lord Vishnu wanted to deceive the king Bali who was the grandson of the great king Prahlada, in order to help the Devas. The sage Shukracharya identifies him immediately and warns the King. The King is however a man of his word and offers the gift to Vamana. Shukracharya, annoyed with the pride of the king, shrinks himself with his powers and sits in the spout of the Kamandalu, from which water has to be poured to seal the promise to the deity in disguise. Lord Vishnu, in disguise of the dwarf, understands immediately, and picks a straw from the ground and directs it up the spout, poking out the left eye of Shukracharaya. Since this day on, the guru of the asuras has been known to be half blind.
Devayani was the daughter of Shukracharya, who was rejected by the son of Brihaspati, Kacha. She later marries the legendary Somavanshi king Yayati.
In the time of the Mahabharata, Shukracharya is mentioned as one of the mentors of Bhishma, having taught him political science in his youth.
People governed by the Venus portray contradictory behavioral patterns on gross and subtle levels. For example, on external plane they may reveal artistic and poetic personality traits, but deep down they may be calculative and business like people. Sometimes people with Venusian qualities may appear pleasure seeking, romantic, demanding and greedy, but on subtle level they may be all accepting and spiritual people. Venus creates the veils of illusion and baffling layers of contradiction.
Strong Houses: 2, 3, 7, 12
Weak Houses: 6, 8
Medium House: 1, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11
Shukra and its significanceVenus is an indicator of spouse, love, marriage, comfort, luxury, beauty, prosperity, happiness, all conveyances, art, dance music, acting, passion and sex. Shukra blesses the people with power to control their sense organs (Indriyas) and enables to obtain name and fame. Afflictions to Venus can cause eye diseases, venereal complaints, indigestion, pimples, impotency, loss of appetite and rashes on the skin.
In Vedic astrology, there is a dasha or planetary period known as Shukra Dasha which remains active in a person's horoscope for 20 years, this is the longest dasha among all planets. This dasha is believed to give more wealth, fortune and luxury to a person's life if they have Shukra positioned well in their horoscope. In addition Shukra is an important benefic planet in the horoscope. Shukra is associated with a month in the Hindu calendar called JyeshTha ( May–June, personified as the guardian of Kubera's treasure).
Shukra also has the following associations. His color is white, metal is silver and gemstone is diamond. His direction is south-east, season is spring and element is water.
Above the moon by a distance of 200,000 yojanas are some stars, and above these stars is Śukra-graha (Venus), whose influence is always auspicious for the inhabitants of the entire universe. Some 1,600,000 miles above group of stars is the planet Venus, which moves at almost exactly the same pace as the sun according to swift, slow and moderate movements. Sometimes Venus moves behind the sun, sometimes in front of the sun and sometimes along with it. Venus nullifies the influence of planets that are obstacles to rainfall. Consequently its presence causes rainfall, and it is therefore considered very favorable for all living beings within this universe. This has been accepted by learned scholars. On the upper chin of the śiśumāra is Agasti; on its lower chin, Yamarāja; on its mouth, Mars; on its genitals, Saturn; on the back of its neck, Jupiter; on its chest, the sun; and within the core of its heart, Nārāyaṇa. Within its mind is the moon; on its navel, Venus; and on its breasts, the Aśvinī-kumāras. Within its life air, which is known as prāṇāpāna, is Mercury, on its neck is Rāhu, all over its body are comets, and in its pores are the numerous stars.
Transport and utility services to Kumbakonam
Apatsahayesvarar Temple, Alangudi, Tamilnadu
Apatsahayesvarar Temple, Alangudi or Guru Sthalam or Tiru Irum Poolai is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva located in the village of Alangudi in the Valangaiman taluk ] of Tiruvarur district, Tamil Nadu, India. It is one of the Navagraha(nine planets) temples situated in the Cauvery delta. It is one of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams, where Campantar, one of the four most revered Nayanars (Saivite Saints) have sung the glories of this temple.
The TempleThe temple has a 5-tier rajagopuram surrounded by two prakarams(closed precincts of a temple).
LegendLegend is that Siva consumed deadly poison, giving rise to the name Alangudi and deity being termed Apatsahayesvarar, indicating saviour during hard times.
NavagrahaThe temple is one of the nine Navagraha sthalas(Temples of Nine planets) located in the Cauvery Delta region dedicated to planet Jupiter, called Dakshinamoorthy, the Guru.
Dakshinamurthy or Jnana Dakshinamurti , Telugu: దక్షిణామూర్తి, Sanskrit: दक्षिणामूर्ति ((Dakṣiṇāmūrti)) is an aspect of Shiva as a guru (teacher) of all types of knowledge and bestower of jnana. This aspect of Shiva is his personification as the supreme or the ultimate awareness, understanding and knowledge. This form represents Shiva in his aspect as a teacher of yoga, music, and wisdom, and giving exposition on the shastras. He is worshipped as the god of wisdom, complete and rewarding meditation. This form of Shiva is popular in the Southern states of India especially Tamil Nadu.
MeaningDakshinamurti literally means 'one who is facing south (dakṣiṇa)' in Sanskrit. South is the direction of Death, hence change. In every Siva temple the stone image of Dakshinamurthy is installed, facing south, on the southern circumambulatory path around the sanctum sanctorum. Perhaps, of all Hindu Gods, he is the only one sitting facing south. The great seer Ramana Maharshi, has said in letter 89: one meaning of Dakshina is efficient; another meaning is ‘in the heart on the right side of the body’; Amurthy ’means Formlessness' . "Dakshinamurthy Stotra" in Sanskrit, means the "Shapelessness situated on the right side".
DepictionThis iconographic form for depicting Shiva in Indian art is mostly south Indian in character.
In his aspect as Jnana Dakshinamurti, Shiva is generally shown with four arms. He is depicted seated under a banyan tree, facing the south. Shiva is seated upon a deer-throne and surrounded by sages who are receiving his instruction. He is shown as seated with his right foot on mythical apasmara (a demon which, according to Hindu mythology, is the personification of ignorance) and his left foot lies folded on his lap. Sometimes even the wild animals, are depicted to surround Shiva. In his upper arms, he holds a snake or rosary or both in one hand and a flame in the other; while in his lower right hand is shown in vyakhyanamudra, his lower left hand holds a bundle of kusha grass or the scriptures. The index finger of His right hand is bent and touching the tip of his thumb. The other three fingers are stretched apart. This symbolic hand gesture or Mudra is the Gnana Mudra (or Jnana Mudra or Jana Mudra), a symbol of knowledge and wisdom. Sometimes, this hand is in the Abhaya Mudra, a posture of assurance and blessing. In Melakadambur the Dakshinamurthy looks seated on a bull under a banyan tree,a hole in this statue's ear that extends to the next ear was an wonderful sculpturing.
Dakshinamurthy is portrayed as being in the yogic state of abstract meditation - and as a powerful form brimming with ever flowing bliss and supreme joy. Variations of this iconic representation include Veenadhara Dakshinamurthy (holding a Veena), Rishabharooda Dakshinamurthy (mounted on a Rishabha - the bull) etc. Maharshi Kardamshankara Jnanadeva, a mystic seer says that Dakshinamurthy means the abstract or hidden power of the absolute which expressed in all enlightened masters.
Impact on Indian LifeThe fifth day of the week, Thursday is associated with the planet Jupiter and is referred to as Guru (Guruvar or Guruvaaram). Thursdays are considered auspicious to start any educational endeavours. It is on Thursdays that special worship services are offered to Dakshinamurthy in many Saivite temples. Some temple traditions hold full moon nights, particularly the night of the Guru Purnima as the appropriate time for worship services to Dakshinamurthy.
TemplesEven though the idol of Dakshinamurthy is installed in every Shiva temple, there are only a few temples where Dakshinamurthy is the chief deity.
- Only one of the twelve Jyotirlingas is Dakshinmurthy, the Mahakaleshwar in Ujjain. Being the only Dakshinmurthy Jyotirlinga, It holds special importance for Shaivites as a site of learning.
- Ettumanoor Mahadevar Temple in Kerala, where the deity enshrined in the form of a Shivalingam is considered as Dakshinamurthy
- Alangudi , Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu
- In the Sivanandeswarar temple in Thirupanthurai, Tanjore, Tamil Nadu, He is depicted in the Ardhanari form.
- In Thirupulivanam, we can find Dakshinamurthy in the form of Ardhanariswara. This temple is on the Uthiramerur-Kanchipuram road, 5 km from Uthiramerur, near Chennai.
- In March 2007, a big temple of Lord Dakshinamurty (the first in Maharashtra) was created in the Shrutisagar Ashram, about 30 km from Pune
- Pragya Dakshinamoorthy at Chibavananda Ashram in Theni, western Tamil Nadu
- Dakshinamurthy at Sukapuram, Edapal Taluk in Malappuram District , Kerala
- In Suchindram Thanumalaya temple (5km from Nagercoil, Kanyakumari Dist.), contrary to tradition, Dakshinamurthy is worshipped instead of Ganesh/Vinayaka. Ganesha statue comes last in the worship line.
- In Thiruvotriyur,Chennai a dedicated temple to Dhakshinamoorthy exists. Its unique as the Lord faces North and is aptly called VadaGurusthalam (the guru's place of north).
- Dakshinamurthy Ashtakam by Adi Shankara charya is a laudatory hymn for this form of Siva.
Kailasanthar Temple,Thingalur, Tamilnadu
The Kailasanathar Temple is a Hindu temple in the village of Thingalur, 18 kilometres from Kumbakonam. The presiding deity is Soma(moon). However, the main idol in the temple is that of "Kailasanathar" or Shiva.
DescriptionThe temple has a 5-tier rajagopuram surrounded by two prakaram(closed precincts of a temple). The place is revered by the verses of Appar, but since there is no mention about the deity, it is not classified as Padal petra stalam.
LegendLegend has it that there lived a merchant Appoodi Adikal, a nayanar in the village of Thingalur who was a devotee of lord Shiva. Appoodi Adikal held Appar in high regards and wanted to host him. The day arrived, but his son got killed by a venomous snake bite while the saint was being hosted. Appar, moved by Appoodi Adikal's devotion is said to have miraculously restored the lad to life.
NavagrahaKailasanthar Swamy temple is one of the nine Navagraha sthalas located in the Cauvery Delta region dedicated to planet Moon, called Thingal in Tamil language. There is a separate shrine for Lord Moon.
In Hinduism, Chandra (Sanskrit चन्द्र lit. "shining") is a lunar deity and a Graha. Chandra is also identified with the Vedic Lunar deity Soma (lit. "juice"). The Soma name refers particularly to the juice of sap in the plants and thus makes the Moon the lord of plants and vegetation.
Chandra is described as young, beautiful, fair; two-armed and having in his hands a club and a lotus. He rides his chariot across the sky every night, pulled by ten white horses or an antelope. He is connected with dew, and as such, is one of the gods of fertility. He is also called Rajanipati (lord of the night) and Kshuparaka (one who illuminates the night), Indu (lit. the bright drop). As Soma, he presides over Somvar or Monday.
Chandra is the father of Budha, (planet Mercury) the mother being Tara. He is married to 27 Nakshatras (constellations), who are known to be daughters of Daksha.
In AstrologyIn Vedic astrology Chandra represents brain and mind, emotions, sensitivity, softness, imagination, queen and mother. Chandra rules over the sign Karka (Cancer), while he is exalted in Vrishabha (Taurus) and in his fall in Vrishchika (Scorpio). The waxing moon is considered to be benefic, and the waning moon is considered to be malefic. The bright moon is considered a benefic of the highest order, while the dark moon is considered a malefic. Chandra is lord of three nakshatras or lunar mansions: Rohini, Hasta and Shravana. Chandra has the following associations: the color white, the metal silver and the gemstones pearl and moonstone. His element is water, direction is north-west and season is winter. The food grain associated with him (one of Nava Dhanyas) is rice.
According to Hindu mythology Chandra has not been very fortunate in life. Chandra was born in the Ocean of Milk (the gods were churning it for millennia in order to create immortal life), and nearly blinded the gods with his bright, glowing body (hence the name that means "illustrious"). The gods unanimously decided to give Chandra the status of a planet and sent him into the cosmos.
Chandra is known for having a series of disastrous love affairs. His first lover, Tara, was the wife of Brihaspati, the planet Jupiter. From their union, Tara became pregnant gives birth to Budha (a.k.a. the planet Mercury, not to be confused with the other Buddha). Because of how he was conceived, Budha hated his father and as Chandra also knew that Budha is his illegitimate son, he began to hate his son, and their rivalry continues to this day. For the sin of abducting another god's consort, Brahma banished Chandra to the outer atmosphere. This story illustrates allegorically the prohibition of intoxicants for Brahmins. After that, Chandra, set out to marry the twenty-seven daughters of Daksha. Daksha allowed this on the condition that the moon not favor any daughter over the others. Chandra failed to do this, and Daksha placed a curse on him that took away his luster, which accounts for the moon's waxing and waning.
Well placed and benefic Moon in the nativity bestows clarity of mind, lucidity and dexterity. People with strong and auspicious Moon are frank and friendly. They mingle with the elite class and powerful people. They have control over the senses and base desires. However, afflicted Moon in a birth chart can make a person prone to immoral desires and scandalous affairs. People with a benefic Moon in their birth charts visit the places of pilgrimage and carry out virtuous deeds. Even though the Moon bestows the qualities of unfathomable imagination and fascinating faculties, it is never Mercurial in nature. People with strong Moon are not of wavering mind. They are happy and joyous people. They are poised and transparent in worldly dealings.
Dark spot on the moonOne popular story to account for the dark spot on the moon is that Ganesha, once filled with food, fell from his mouse and broke his stomach. Chandra laughed at this, at which Ganesha injured him by breaking off and throwing one of his tusks; and cursed him so that it would be forbidden to behold Chandra on Ganesh Chaturthi.
Other usesChandra is also the word in Sanskrit, Hindi and other Indian languages for moon. It is the middle name of the Hindu god Rama. Chandra Shekara literally refers to the 'Person who wears the moon' which links to Lord Shiva in Hindu Mythology. It is directed as both evil and good, as it could mean 'Queen of the Moon' or 'Demon of the moon'. It is also a common Indian name, both male and female and exists as a name in many South East Asian languages that originate from Sanskrit.
The god, the drink and the plant probably referred to the same entity, or at least the differentiation was ambiguous. In this aspect, Soma is similar to the Greek ambrosia (cognate to amrita); it is what the gods drink, and what made them deities. Soma is still coined as name for an entheogenic brew (avestic: Haoma) still in ceremonial use.
Indu, one of the other names for Chandra, is also the name of the first chakra (group) of Melakarta ragas in Carnatic music. The names of chakras are based on the numbers associated with each name. In this case, there is one moon and hence the first chakra is Indu.
In India Chandra is a common surname for example 'Anurag Chandra ' and ' Ashima Chandra' . But in America the name has been used as a girl's name. It appeared on the popularity charts in the 1950s, peaking in the 1970s, before disappearing in the 1990s. The name has several variations including Chandrah, Chaundra, etc.
There is another story about moon (Chandra), when Indra was trying to rape Ahilya wife of rishi Gautama, moon (Chandra) was in form of cock & was waiting for rishi Gautama to give signal to Indra for the same. When Gautama came & saw all the mischievous act of Indra & Chandra, he gave curs to Indra for impotency & hit chandra (In form of cock) with his wet cloth (Dhoti). Those marks are shown as dark spot on moon as a result of curs of rishi Gautama.
Chandra Vansh of KshatriyasMany Kshatriya clans in India associate them with Chandra and call it Chandra Vansh. This Chandra Vansh (lineage) has nothing to do with this deity or celestial Moon. The story as given in puranas says, Lord Brahma had manasaputra (sons born out of mind or adopted son) Kashyap, he had son Atri and Atri (Rishi) had a son, Soma. The lunar lineage begins from this son of Rishi Atri. It should be noted that Somvansh has nothing to do with the celestial Moon.
In popular cultureChandra (and the gem supposedly on the forehead of a statue of his at Somanath) plays an important role in one of the first novel-length mystery stories in English, The Moonstone. Chandra has also been noted as one of the gems of king Janak in hindu mythology.
Om Tat Sat
(My humble salutations to the great devotees , wikisources and Pilgrimage tourist guide for the collection )