On Agneeswarar and Haradatta

WhatsApp Image 2020-03-07 at 5.57.36 PMPic:utsavamUrti of Agneeshwarar of Kanjanur. This link mentioned Haradatta who was born as a Srivaishnava undergoing tribaulations to prove his shivabhakti but does not give the details. I have decided to fill in the details.

haradatta was born in a SV family in kanjanUr as sudarshana. As he grew up he showed his love for shiva, shivabhaktas & shivAcAryas.From the age of two, he would run to the nearby shiva temple & receive ash & shout hara hara with the devotees. His father thought that this was just a childish sport & ignored it. He thought it will be fixed after his upanayana. His upanayana was done at 5; his father told him, “From now on, you cannot act as you please. You must not go to shivAlaya. That will be a sin. You must not even see those who wear ash. You must take a bath at their very sight”. As soon as his father left, he wiped off his vaiShNava marks & replaced them with tripundra bhasma and he returned home like that in that very form. His father, vAsudeva was enraged. The other vaiShNavas in the agrahAra cursed him as a disgrace & a ruiner of the shrIvaiShNavas. His father, feeling humiliated, tied him to a pillar & whipped him hard. But after his father got tired & left, he would untie those ropes & run to agnIshvara. His father could bear no more,told him not to enter the house and told his wife not to feed the son. He would ask from outside the house, “mother, I’m hungry, serve me food”. His mother was in a dilemma: “How will I disobey your father, oh dear child? And how will I bear your cry for food? Why don’t you obey your father? You should act as per father’s desire only. I will go to the father & mother of the world for refuge. They will take care of me.”
Then he proceeded to agnIshvara and at there in front of the dakShiNAmUrti there in meditation. Knowing his habit to meditate for long periods, the shivabrAhmaNas left him there & locked up the temple.  He said: “agnIshvara, I have left my parents; you are my father; shakti my mother; Skanda & gaNesha my brothers & the gaNas my friends. This is my family now; accept me as yours oh god! Are you angry that I have done pUjA as  an ignorant child, contrary to vidhi? Even brahmA & viShNu cannot see your feet; who can truly do pUjA to them? Will you not accept me?! Curse me to become a work & get trampled by shivabhaktas; I will accept that fate gladly & reach you. Will you not show mercy to the low ones like me even now?”. Hearing all this, kalpakAmbikA could not bear it any more. She instigated bhagavAn to show mercy to the child, sudarshana, and then the great God smiled. Skanda & gaNesha came there to accept they’re new brother & the gaNas their new comrade. The munis & devas came there to shower flowers with vedaghoSa everywhere. And the parents of the world were there & gave him a divine vision of them. shiva granted him knowledge of all shAstras & made him omniscient. That very night,his father who came there (hearing his overnight stay at the temple) & other vaiShNavas all asked him questions. He was only 5 and answered all of them with shrutipramANas. So the vaiShNavas told him, “sit on a red hot iron bed & preach your shivaparatvam, if you do that, we will accept your doctrine”. He did it. They set up the iron seat at the local temple of varadarAja (as the vaiShNavas would obviously not enter a shiva temple). His father & others fell at his feet & asked him for prAyashcitta for their abuse of shiva & shaivas,and he married a vaidika shivabhakta’s daughter from the vAdhUlagotra & led an exemplary life.

One of his miracles was when a pANDya chieftain sent him an expensive yellow cloth via a brAhmaNa, he was doing a homa & thinking agnIshvara to be the lord of that agni, offered that cloth into the homAgni. The king heard about it & became stunned at the svAmI’s display of his lIlAvaibhavam. In the evening he went to have shrI haradatta’s darshana and asked him if the cloth he sent had safely reached him. “It reached us at an excellent time & has been offered to agnIshvara” replied haradatta. Later when the king went to the temple, that very cloth was on the mUlali~Nga-That cloth which was observed by the brAhmaNa to have been burnt into ashes.

Credit for the narration of this tale goes to @Ghorangirasa.