Thursday, April 14, 2016

Agni Theertham, Rameshwaram, Ramanathapuram

Agni Theertham, Rameshwaram, Ramanathapuram
The eastern sea shore opposite to the Ramanathaswamy temple is named as Agni Theertham. It is believed that , by took bath in this sea will vanish ones sins, and make them pure again, and mixing the ashes of the dead person in this sea (Agni theertham) will brings peace to the soul of the dead . Pilgrims those who are plan for sacred bath in theerthas should first took bath in Agni theertham and followed by that bath in theerthas inside the temple.

This is one of the 64 sacred baths in Rameswaram (Theerthams). Every day thousands of pilgrims took bath in this holy sea. Holistic rituals such as prohithams, yangnya (yaham), tharpanam (ritual for the ancestors who were dead) have been performed in the shores of Agni theertham.

The childless couples performing specific poojas (holy rituals) in the shores of Agni theertham and offer their prayers to the Ramanathaswamy (The main deity of this temple), they believed that by performing these rituals and holy bath in Rameswaram, they will be blessed with child.

Agnitheertham, holding religious significance for Hindus, is situated at a distance of 100 metres from the Ramanathaswamy Temple. This place is located towards the east of the main entrance of the temple and is a suitable place for bathing. The water in Agnitheertham is considered to be sacred and many pilgrims perform pooja at this seashore for honoring their ancestors.

As per legend, it is believed that Agnitheertham is the spot where Lord Rama offered his prayers to Lord Shiva, after killing Ravana. Shiva devotees across the globe take a holy dip in the Agnitheertham for washing away their sins. The visit to the Ramanathaswamy Temple is often preceded by a bath at this spot.

Agni Thirtham is an important holy place in Rameswaram. After Agni deva returned Sita to Lord Ramachandra, he asked Lord Rama for a place where he could get purified because he had taken Sita away. So Lord Ramachandra asked him to take his bath in the ocean and that place came to be known as Agnitirtha. It is said that anyone who bathes in this place will develop the quality of chastity. Agni Thirtham is only 100 meters in front of the magnificent East Gopuram of the Rameswaram Temple.

The Agni theertham is the first water body situated outside the premises of the Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple. The theertham is situated in one corner of the sea, unlike the other Theerthams that are tank-like and located within the temple itself.

Agni theertham seashore, where pilgrims takes bath first and then proceed to temple’s Theerthams (22 wells) and finally doing Dharsan (prayer) after changing wet cloths.

After the war of Lanka was over and Ravana was dead, Lord Ramachandra told Hanuman to go and inform Sita that the war was over and Ravana was dead. Hanuman walked freely through the pathways and came straight to Ashoka vanam where Sita was sitting under a tree and crying. Hanuman gave her the news and for the first time in last 10 months she became very joyful.

She wanted to give many jewels and pearls to Hanuman but she had nothing. So she said, “All I have to give you is my gratitude.” Hanuman replied, “Seeing your joy is the only thing that I want.” After ten months of intense separation from her beloved, she was seeing Rama. She was very elated and she drank the beauty of Sri Rama through her lotus like eyes. Tears of ecstasy filled her eyes and her heart was overflowing with happiness.

Then Lord Rama told Vibishana to go and inform Sita to take her bath, decorate herself nicely and come to see him. Sita was very eager to meet Rama. She decorated herself nicely. They put her in a palanquin and brought her to see Rama. Rama asked Vibishana why is Sita riding on a palanquin, she should walk on foot, and this confused everyone.

So the supreme reservoir of Bhakti, Sita Devi, after ten months of separation is standing before Sri Rama. It is like seeing the sun after long period of darkness. But the Lord’s expressions were very grave. He practically ignored her. She beheld the beautiful face of Lord Rama but He had no emotions on his face, total gravity. She was so confused. Everyone was looking on. They could not believe what he was doing.

Lord Ramachandra then spoke, “For the sake of demigods I have conquered Ravana and as my dharma I have rescued you. I have no attachment for anything but dharma. Now I am going to become the king of Ayodhya and a king must be beyond all suspicion. You have spent 10 months in the house of another man. I cannot accept you back. You could stay wherever you like.” Upon hearing these words Sita fell to the ground crying. Her heart was absolutely shattered. No pain was greater than the pain of being rejected by Rama. She could not even speak. She was crying incessantly. Everyone was crying except Rama. The peak of her joy crashed down into the lowest depth of sorrow and pain. She was devastated.

She looked at Laxmana and said, “If you are not willing to accept me, if you think that I have not been chaste and faithful towards Rama. Then I will give up my life by entering into fire.” She ordered Laxmana to start the fire. Laxmana looked at Rama as if asking, “Why are you doing this?” But Sri Rama simply nodded his head, and that nod meant, “Yes Laxmana, start the fire.”
With trembling hands Laxmana collected the wood and started fire. Sita very gently circumambulated Rama and then she circumambulated fire and spoke, “If even for a moment, my mind is not in faithful and chaste remembrance of Lord Rama, then this fire burns me.” After offering her obeisance to Rama, she entered into fire. The flames were so huge that no one could see anything. Everyone began to cry; even Lord Rama broke down and began to cry. At that point even Lord Rama could not contain his emotions his heart broke and he wept Sita was gone in the fire.
Suddenly Agni Deva, the presiding deity of fire, appeared with Sita in his arms. She was dressed with beautiful clothes, garlanded with a mala of fresh celestial flowers. Agni deva testified, “I have tested her. She has been completely faithful and love is absolutely spotless. There was not a single moment when she was not having the thought of your pure loving devotional service.”
Rama was overjoyed. He smiled tears in his eyes he accepted Sita by his loving embrace. Then Rama explained to her that he never had any doubts upon her chastity and purity. But being the king he had to set a proper example and also he wanted to glorify Sita for her purity and chastity. Whatever sorrow that was there for those 10 months was gone. Demigods began to shower flowers and sang the glories of Sita and Rama.
Sita Devi is the mother of the three worlds and the wife of Lord Ramachandra. Among chaste women, she is supreme, and she is the daughter of King Janaka. When Ravana came to kidnap mother Sita and she saw him, she took shelter of the fire-god, Agni. The fire-god covered the body of mother Sita, and in this way she was protected from the hands of Ravana. Upon hearing from the Kurma Purana how Ravana had kidnapped the false form of mother Sita, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu became very satisfied. The fire-god, Agni, took away the real Sita and brought her to the place of Parvati, goddess Durga. An illusory form of mother Sita was then delivered to Ravana, and in this way Ravana was cheated. After Ravana was killed by Lord Ramachandra, Sitadevi was brought before the fire. When the illusory Sita was brought before the fire by Lord Ramachandra, the fire-god made the illusory form disappear and delivered the real Sita to Lord Ramachandra.
After Agni deva returned Sita to Lord Ramachandra, he asked Lord Rama for a place where he could get purified because he had taken Sita away. So Lord Ramachandra asked him to take his bath in the ocean and that place came to be known as Agnitirtha. It is said that anyone who bathes in this place will develop the quality of chastity. Agni Thirtham is only 100 meters in front of the magnificent East Gopuram of the Rameswaram temple.
Faith & Beliefs
The faith among pilgrims is that child-less couples bathing in this Thirtham and offering prayers to Lord Shiva at the temple would be blessed with children.
All the days in the year are considered as auspicious day for taking a sacred bath in this Theertham. But the Amavasya (No moon day) and Poornima (Full moon day) are considered as most auspicious days.
References in Literature
References to this Tirtha are made in Sethu PuranamSkanda Puranamand Narada Puranam.
The sea shore is situated opposite the Ramanatha swamy temple (due to the buildings and shops evolved around, you can’t able to view the temple clearly from the sea nowadays). And it is located nearer to the parking Area.
Rameswaram bus stand
3 Kms
Parking Area (Government)
100 meters
Ramanathaswamy Temple (East gate)
50 meters
Railway Station
3 Kms
From Bus stand:
By taking Buses 1A, 1B, 2 from Rameswaram Bus stand one can reach Agni theertham (Last stop).
From Railway Station:
Buses are not frequent from railway station, one can take auto rickshaw or horse cart from railway station.  (OR) One can walk upto the place named 6-line (300 meters from railway station) and took Dhanushkodi -Temple bus to reach Agni theertham. (Bus no 3, 7)
From Parking Area:
From Government parking Area, walking straight towards the east direction will leads you to Agni theertham.