Shri Attivarad Perumal Swami, Kanchipuram (Tamil Nadu)

The temple is well-known to fulfill prayers of those who perform worship for annihilation of enemy, attaining worldly progress and Final Liberation!

1. Kanchipuram – one of the seven places imparting Final Liberation!

Kanchipuram is known as one of the seven Mokshapuris (Holy places capable of imparting Final Liberation). Kanchipur of Tamil Nadu is known as a city of temples as there are 1008 temples including those of Shivashakti, Shrivishnu and other deities. ‘Shiv-Kanchi’ and ‘Vishnu-Kanchi’ are the two twin Mokshapuris. Shrivishnu temple at ‘Vishnu-Kanchi’ is one of the 108 divine places of Shrivishnu and it is known as ‘Shri Varadraj Perumal Temple’. This temple has a huge importance in Hindu Dharma. An ancient idol of Varadraj Shrivishnu is taken out of the pond after every 40 years, so that devotees can take darshan of it. It is known as ‘Shri Attivaradaraj Swami’s ancient idol’. At other times, the stone idol of Shri Varadaraj Swamy is worshiped in this temple.


2. The ancient idol of Shri Attivaradraj Swami!

The idol of Shri Attivarad Swami is one of the 4 idols made from the wood of Audumber (Fig tree) by Deity Brahma in Satyayug (The first in the cycle of four Eras). The idol is 9 feet tall and is kept in a 12 feet long silver box in a pond named ‘Anant Sarovar’. The idol is taken out ceremoniously after every 40 years and worshipped for 48 days. During the first 30 days of the festival, the idol is kept in a sleeping position, and for the subsequent 18 days, Attivaradraj Swami gives darshan in standing posture. A fair is organised here during this period. It is known as ‘Attivarad Utsav’. Devotees get an opportunity to have darshan during this period. This divine ceremony which occurs after every 40 years can be experienced twice or maximum thrice in a human life. The ceremony was held between 1st July to 18th August in 2019. During this period more than 2 lakh devotees from all over the world visited this place daily to have the darshan of Attivarad Swami. This idol was taken out from the water in 1979, then in 2019. Now, the idol will be taken out in 2059.


3. Shrivishnu appeared to protect the Ashvamedh Yajna initiated by Deity Brahma !

Shri Saraswati Devi once asked Deity Brahma, who is most powerful amongst Shri Saraswati and Shri Lakshmi. Brahmadev gave his opinion in favour of Shri Lakshmi which angered Shri Saraswati and She left the abode. Later when Brahmadev performed Ashwamedh Yajna (Ritual of sacrificial fires), Shri Saraswati Devi took a furious form of river Vegavati for creating obstacles in this Yajna. Then Shrivishnu appeared and stopped Her so that the Yajna could continue uninterrupted. Deity Brahma, then got 4 idols created from the wood of the Fig tree by Vishwakarma. One of these idols is the idol of Shri Attivaradraj Perumal. The idol was consecrated at Kanchi as the main Deity and the area thereby got the name ‘Vishnu Kanchi’. In Sanskrit, ‘Atti’ means Audumber and in Tamil, it is called ‘Athi’. ‘Attivarad idol’ is also famous with the connotation as the ‘king who gave a boon to Brahmadev’. This idol was the main idol of this place and was there till the 16th century and was open for devotees to have darshan.


4. Significance of ‘Shri Attivarad idol’ !

The idol made of wood of Audumbar (fig) when kept in water, attains an unusual shining, halo, and Divine Energy. Therefore, such an idol facilitates annihilation of enemy, attaining worldly progress and Final Liberation. Basically, Audumbar is a very auspicious and sacred tree. It is the favourite abode of Deity Dattatreya. The idol, made by Deity Brahma from such sacred Audumbar tree and consecrated ritualistically; and worshipped by Deity Brahma in Satyayug, by Gajendra in Tretayug, by Bruhaspati in Dwaparyug and by Anantshesh in Kaliyug, of Shri Attivarad Swami is the most sacred. It has great significance. This festival is also known as Brahmotsav.


5. Despite searching the idol that was not found in the 16th century, reappeared in the 17th century!

The sacred idol is kept under the marquee, shown in circle

In the 16th century (in 1669), the idol was hidden by a priest from the Dattatreya sect in the ‘Anant’ pond. Unfortunately, its existence was forgotten. Later the priest died. His descendants tried to search for the idol, but they couldn’t find it. Therefore, the idol made and worshipped by Sage Atri was kept in the temple. It looks identical to the idol made of Audumbar and is kept there even today for devotees to have darshan. Suddenly, in 1709, while the pond was being cleaned, the original idol was found in a silver box which was in the shape of a serpent. Later the idol was worshipped after every 40 years.


6. How is the idol kept back in its original place in the pond after the festival?

The place in ‘Anant Sarovar’ where the silver box with the Shri idol is kept and the idol of Anantshesh near it

After the festival of 48 days, the idol is again placed inside the ‘Anant Sarovar’. The water from the pond is first removed, the whole area is cleaned and thereafter the idol ritualistically placed in the silver box is kept at the place below the marquee in the pond. At midnight on the 48th day, the idol is kept back in the pond. It has been experienced that after keeping the idol, it always rains and the pond gets filled with natural water. Even this year, the idol was kept on 18th August at midnight in the pond and after 12.30 at night, it rained in Chennai for 2 days. Prior to that there were no signs of rain. The local administration also makes alternate arrangements to fill the pond, but it has never been used as every time Deity Varun himself comes to meet Shri Attivaradaraj Swami.


7. Gratitude and prayer!

This is all miraculous. It is only with the grace of Maharshi and Paratpar Guru Dr Athavale, that we are getting an opportunity in this severe Kaliyug to have darshan of such an idol that is being worshipped by Deities since the Satyayug. We pray at the holy feet of Shri Attivaradraj Swami, who enables seekers to attain God realisation, to remove all obstacles in the establishment of Hindu nation as per the resolve of Srimatnarayan-swarup Paratpar Guru Dr Athavale, and bestow His grace on all seekers.

-Mr Vinayak Shanbhag


Why is Shri Attivarad Swami worshipped after 40 years?

Shri Attivarad Swami’s idol in lying position

Idol of Shri Attivaradraj Swami in standing position blessing His devotees

There are different references for the reason the idol of Shri Attivarad Swami was hidden in the pond and why it is worshipped after every 40 years only.

A. Threat to the idol from Islamic invaders

‘At that time, Hindu temples were being attacked by Islamic invaders. In order to protect the idol which was being worshipped since Satyayug by the Deities, from these invaders, the priests of the temple hid the original idol in the pond and installed a similar idol in its place. Later the idol in the lake could not be found even when searched for, but was found after 40 years in the pond itself. Therefore, it is worshiped after every 40 years’, such reference was found at some places.

B. Period for worship given to others by Brahmadev, Gajendra, Brihaspati, and Anant Shesh as directed by Shrivishnu

A mythological story is found in some references related to this place. Worship of Shri Attivarad Swami was performed by Deity Brahma in Satyayug, by Gajendra in Tretayug, by Brihaspati in Dwaparyug, and by Anant Shesh in Kaliyug. In Satyayug, once when Brahmadev was performing the sacrificial fires at Kanchipuram, the flames of the sacred fire touched the wooden idol. Brahmadev asked God for a solution on this and He was advised to keep the idol in the pond in which Anant Shesh resides. Therefore, the idol is kept in that pond till date. When Brahmadev worshipped Shri Attivarad Swami in Satyayug, Shrivishnu said to Him, “O Deity, you have been regularly worshipping me. You may give an opportunity of such worship even to others.”

Then, Brahmadev allowed others to worship this idol, but only for a few moments (a few nanoseconds). When Gajendra in Tretayug and Brihaspati in Dwaparyug used to perform puja of Shri Attivarad Swami, they too allowed other devotees to perform such puja for a few minutes. Similarly, when Anantshesh used to perform puja of the idol, he too allowed others to perform such puja for 48 days once in 40 years. Therefore, the idol of Shri Attivarad Swami is taken out of the pond once in 40 years and worshipped for 48 days. After the festival, the idol is kept in a silver box under a marquee and Anant Shesh himself worships it for the next 40 years. ‘Anant Sarovar’ is the abode of Bhagwan Shesha.

It is mentioned in the Dharmashastras, that the measure of time in higher Lokas (Subtle regions) like that of Satyalok and Tapolok is different as compared to that of other lokas. One moment in Satyalok is equivalent to one year in Bhulok (that is Earth)!

– Mr. Vinayak Shanbhag

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