Swetharanyeswarar Temple, Thiruvenkadu – Legends
Agora Murthi, an Incarnation of Lord Shiva:
It is said that Agora Murthi was one of the furious incarnation of Lord Shiva. There was an Evil named "Maruthuvasuran" in Tiruvengadu. He had a deep meditation on Lord Bhrama for power. Being satisfied with his meditation, Lord Bhrama offered him many powers. But he used those powers in a wrong ways. He started to torture the saints and innocent people. Having nothing to do, all the saints and people requested Lord Shiva to put an end to this evil. As they asked, Lord Shiva took his incarnation 'Agora murthi' and killed the 'Maruthuvasuran under a tree (which is now in Tiruvengadu temple, back to the entrance of Agora murthi). All the people thanked Lord Shiva for saving them.
People worshipped Shiva here:
Indiran, Airavatam, Budhan, Sun God Sooriyan and Moon God Chandhiran are said to have worshipped God Shiva here.
Tiruvengadu Swetharanyeswarar Temple is considered to be the Adi Chidambaram (First Chidambaram) because Lord Shiva was said to have danced first at this temple before dancing at Chidambaram. Lord Shiva performs seven forms of Tandavas called Ananda Tandavam, Sandhya Tandavam, Samhara Tandavam, Tripuranta Tandavam, Urdhva Tandavam, Bhujanga Tandavam and Lalita Tandavam here.
Nandi with scars on his body:
Marutwasura, an Asura, was troubling the Rishis and the people of Thiruvenkadu. The people prayed to Lord Shiva then Lord Shiva sent Nandi to fight the demon. Marutwasura was defeated by Nandi and thrown into the sea. Marutwasura through his penance obtained Soola from Lord Shiva. Again the demon returned with greater intensity to attack the innocent people the process was repeated again, to fulfill the request Lord Shiva sent Nandi again but Nandi could not fight the demon as the demon had the Soola of Shiva. The demon caused wounds on Nandi’s back with the Soola which can be seen on the shrine. The idol of Nandi which bears scars on its body is seen here.
There is also another story of Swetakethu associated with Thiruvenkadu. Swetaketu’s story is similar to that of Markendaiyan. Swetakethu was destined to die at the end of his eight year but the Lord prevented Yama from taking his devotee’s life.
Creation of the Theerthams:
The three holy tanks here, known as Agni Theertham, Surya Theertham and Chandra Theertham are believed to have been created out of the three drops which fell from Lord Shiva’s eyes when he was dancing.
The name Tiruvengadu (Thiruvenkadu) means ‘sacred white forest’ in Tamil (Ven: white; Kadu: forest). Once upon a time this place was surrounded by thick forests on all sides and when seen from a distance it used to look white and hence the name Thiruvenkadu. In Sanskrit it is known as Swetharanyam (Swetam: white; Aranyam: forest). The place also bears other names like Jnana-Aaranya, (forest of wisdom), Patala (underground) Kailas and Aadi Chidambaram.
Indra dug a pond here to get relief from curse:
Legend says that a tank in the Swetharanyeswarar Temple at Thiruvenkadu was dug by Lord Indra, King of the Gods, to escape from a curse that he incurred from Sage Durvasa who was known for his short temper. Indra gave a special garland that he received from Sage Durvasa to Airavatham, his white elephant. The animal trampled it and thus incurred Durvasa’s wrath. So Indra prayed to Lord Shiva to relieve him from the curse and dug a pond in this temple.
Soma & Surya Theertham:
The Soma Theertham and The Surya Theertham created by the Sun and the Moon are of great significance here. It is believed that the Soma Kundam and Surya Kundam referred to in Silappathikaram refer to these tanks.
Meikkandaar, the author of Sivagnanabotham is said to have been born by the grace of Swetharanyeswarar and there is a shrine to him on the banks of the Agni Theertham.
Vedarasi absolved of his Brahmahatthi Dhosham here:
Vedarasi, a Brahmin had placed his bundle of food in the hollow of a tree. A snake residing in the hollow spewed poison on the food. Unaware of this, Vedarasi gave this food to a Vedic priest, who died of the poison. This Brahmin was absolved of his Brahmahatthi Dhosham by worshipping Lord Siva of Tiruvengadu.
Goddess Periyanayaki appeared for Tirugnanasambandar:
When Tirugnanasambandar reached the borders of Tiruvengadu, the whole place looked like Sivaloka and the sands Shivalingas. He hesitated to place his legs on this holy land and cried Oh! Mother. On hearing his voice, Goddess Periyanayaki appeared there and took the child on her hips. The idol of Periyanayaki with Tirugnanasambandar is majestically installed in the temple.