Sri Naganathaswamy Temple (Rahu Stalam), Tirunageswaram - Legends
Serpents worshipping Naganathar:
Many serpents, including Adisesha, Takshaka and Karkotaka, worshipped Shiva at this place, leading to the name "Tirunageswaram". As per Hindu legend, the king of snakes, Adisesha did penance at this place, called Shenbaranyam Kshetram On account of the presence of large number of Shenbaga trees. Shiva was pleased by the penance and appeared to him. Since Shiva gave a boon to the king of Serpents, he is called Naganathar.
Goddess Girigujambal worshipping Shiva:
A Goddess Girigujambal is believed to be worshipping Shiva here with goddesses Lakshmi, Saraswathi, Ganesha, Muruga, and Shasta. Maha Bhairava is still believed to be guarding and assisting the divine mother during her prayers. The Goddess is said to be Swayambu as she is present in the form of Meru. Hence, no Abhishekam (ablution) is performed for the image.
Indra relief from Sage Curse:
As per a Hindu legend, Indra was cursed by sage Gautama as he misbehaved with the latter's wife Agalya. To obtain deliverance from the sage's curse, it is said that Indra worshipped Giri-Gujambigai with a scented material termed Punugu for 45 days.
Places where Amirtham fell:
The name "Kumbakonam", roughly translated in English as the "Jug's Corner", is believed to be an allusion to the mythical pot (kumbha) of the Hindu god Brahma that contained the seed of all living beings on earth. The kumbha is believed to have been displaced by a pralaya (dissolution of the universe) and ultimately came to rest at the spot where the town of Kumbakonam now stands. The drops of nectar are believed to have fallen onto five shrines around Kumbakonam, namely Mahalingeswarar temple at Tiruvidaimarudur, Tirudharasuram, Naganathar Temple at Tirunageswaram, Tiruvoragam and Tirupadalvanam.
Ragu Bhagavan relief from Sage Sushila Curse:
Once, Saint Sushila cursed Sri Ragu Bhagavan – Sun’s Ascend Node, one of the nine orbiting planets. To absolve his curse, Ragu worshipped Lord Siva in Kumbakonam Keelkottam in the first quarter of the night – First Jamam and Senbakaranyam in the Second quarter, and Thirupamburam in the Third quarter, and Nagaikaronam in the Fourth quarter and at last at Usha time came to this holy Senbaka forest and prayed to him to absolve his curse.
So, we can see Sri Ragu Bhagavan with his two consorts in his marriage posture in the Southwest corner of this temple. Because of the serpent deity Ragu’s worship, the Lord here also been called Naganathar, and this village Tirunageswaram.
As Rahu, the serpent deity is enshrined here with his two consorts in the Southwest corner of this temple. Praying to Rahu at this sthala helps rids a person from these factors and also saves the person from all poisonous life forms.
Churning of Milk Ocean:
The Devas and asuras churned the Paarkadal to obtain amirtham that would free them from death, keeping them alive for ever. When the amirtham emerged, Lord Vishnu in the guise of Mohini was distributing the amirtham only to the Devas. He was worried that the evil deeds of the asuras will increase multifold if they consumed amirtham. Realizing this, one of the asuras with the help of the Asura guru Shukracharya, took the form of a deva and consumed the nectar. Suryan and Chandran who noticed this, complained to Lord Narayana.
In anger, Lord Narayana hit the Asura on the head with the spoon in his hand. The head was cut off and fell on the ground. Because the Asura had consumed amirtham, his head and body continued to live. The body of a snake got attached to the head to become Rahu Bhagavan. Rahu prayed to Lord Vishnu (Narayana) and got the position of a Sayagraham. Rahu takes his revenge on Suryan and Chandran, whenever he gets a chance by devouring them. This is commonly called as eclipse.
Sages & Mythological Kings worshipping Shiva:
Legend has it that the mythological serpents Aadi Seshan, Dakshan and Kaarkotakan worshipped Shiva here. Legend also has it that Nala worshipped Shiva here & Gowthama muni, Parasarar and Bhagiratha are also associated with legends related to this temple. The king of the nagas, Rahu prayed to Lord Siva and hence this place got the name Thirunageshwaram. Here Rahu Bhagavan has manifested with both his consorts. Sri Naganathaswamy Temple is one where Lord Shiva was worshipped by Rahu and got relieved of a curse.