Our great country has no dearth of temples of great power and renown. One among many such temples is The Srikanteshwara temple of Nanjangud, located in the Mysore district of Karnataka.
Dedicated to the Supreme Lord Shiva, this temple is also known as Nanjundeshwara, which in the local language of Kannada, translates to: ‘The Lord who drank poison’ and it is from here that the name of the temple town of Nanjangud is also derived.
Located in the heart of the temple town, on the right bank of the river Kapila, a tributary of the Cauvery river, the beauty of the temple is unparalleled. With devotees thronging in thousands every year, the temple town of Nanjangud is aptly titled ‘Dakshina Kashi’ or the Kashi of the South.
As detailed in the Sthala Purana, Rishi Parashurama who had incurred the sin of matricide at the command of his father, set out to perform penance. He came upon the banks of the Kapila river and becoming enamored by the beautiful scenery, decided to stay there and perform penance for a few days. Since the place was overgrown by creepers and bushes, he set about cutting them down with his axe. Suddenly a stream of blood spurted out from the place and covered his axe as well as himself. As he became agitated and reflected on what it may be, suddenly the Lord Shiva manifested Himself in his Linga form. Rishi Parashurama was overwhelmed with remorse that he, who had set out to expiate his sin against matricide has further committed a heinous act against the Supreme Lord Himself. Full of remorse, Rishi Parashurama intended to cut off his own head with his axe but Lord Shiva, full of divine mercy, manifested in front of him, stopped him and promised him His full protection. The Lord went on to say that He would always wear the mark caused upon His head by the blow of the axe, in the form of a crescent moon. The Supreme Lord Shiva further conferred that the clay soil of the locality around the Kapila river would have the power to heal all wounds no matter how severe and even have the power to stop the flow of blood. He further declared that if a temple was built there and devotees worshipped the Lord with faith and devotion, then all sins no matter how severe would be forgiven and the Lord’s grace will be secured.
It is at this hallowed ground that the great Nanjundeshwara temple was built and is thronged by devotees, most especially those who wish to propitiate the Lord and gain His blessings in order to cure themselves of any ailments that they may be facing.
Yet another incident that further reinforces the healing properties of this sacred and divine place is one that took place many years back during the time of a Mohammedan ruler.
This Mohammedan ruler wanted to test the power of Lord Nanjundeshwara, and so he sent an elephant which was blind in both eyes in order to see if it could be cured. He vowed that if the elephant was cured of its blindness in both eyes within a stipulated time, that he would firmly believe in the power of the deity but if it did not, then he would demolish the temple!
The elephant was made to bathe in the Kapila river every day and taken twelve times around the temple in circumambulation (Pradakshina).Further, its eyes were smeared with a paste of the clay soil around the temple and some sacred water (Tirtha) from the temple. At the end of the stipulated time, the covering of paste was removed and lo and behold, the elephant was cured of blindness and regained complete vision in both eyes!
The ruler’s doubts vanished completely and he was so convinced of the power of the temple and of the deity within that he gave it the title of ‘Hakim Nanjunda’ (Doctor Nanjunda).
The great Adi Shankaracharya so beautifully describes about the Lord in the Vaidyanathashtakam:-
वाक् श्रोत्र नेत्राङ्घ्रि विहीनजन्तोः वाक्श्रोत्रनेत्रांघ्रिसुखप्रदाय ।
कुष्ठादिसर्वोन्नतरोगहन्त्रे श्रीवैद्यनाथाय नमः शिवाय ॥
My salutations to the Supreme Lord Shiva, Who is the greatest among physicians, who blesses those beings who have lost their speech, hearing, sight and ability to walk, and who provides cures for devastating diseases like leprosy.
As these incidents go to prove, it is evident that anyone who visits the Nanjundeshwara temple and worships the Lord with faith and devotion, will be cured of any ailment, malady and afflictions that may be affecting them and be blessed with the ever benign grace of the Supreme Lord Shiva.
Location: Nanjangud, Karnataka, India