Papanasanathar Temple, Papanasam – Legends
Lord Shiva appeared Kalyana Kola to Agasthya:
As per Hindu legend, during the divine wedding of Shiva and Parvathi, there was heavy crowd at Kailash. Earth lost its balance. Lord Shiva called Sage Agasthya to go to Pothigai Hills in the South and to balance the Earth level as his single weight was enough for the purpose equaling the weight of the millions of Rishis at Mount Kailash then. Sage Agasthya could not get a vision of the event and was praying to Shiva at this place and pleased by his devotion, Shiva appeared to him and his wife Lopamundra in Kalyana posture. The falls nearby the temple is thus called Agasthiyar Falls.
Sage Romasa sought the advice of his Guru Agasthya to choose places on the banks of Tambiraparani for installing Shivalingas. The teacher told the disciple to throw flowers used for Shiva Puja on the river, and do the installations where the flowers reached the shores. Romasa threw lotus flowers as advised on the river, nine of which reached the bank at various places and Papanasam was the first. Planets are nine; therefore, they were named Nava (nine) Kailash each attributed to one planet. Sun being the first in the planets, Papanasam is attached to Sun known as Surya Kailash.
The lingam, the iconic form of Shiva in the temple is believed to an aspect of Surya, one of the planetary deities. The temple forms a series of Navagraha temples in the banks of Tamirabarani River where each of the nine planetary deities are considered to reside. The temples are classified as Nava Kailasam and the presiding deity of all the nine temples is Kailasanathar. The temple is associated with the planet Surya (Sun) and considered first in the series of the nine temples.
Indra got relieved of Brahmahatti Dosha here:
As per another legend, the king of celestial deities, Indra slayed a demon Dwastha, the son of Sukracharya (the Guru of Asuras) as he was performing a penance to seek superior powers against the Devas. Indra incurred Brahmatti Dosha, a sin attained for slaying. He roamed around a lot of places for doing penance and finally on the advice of Brihaspathi, he landed at Papanasam. Since his sin (Papam locally) was expiated in this place, it came to be known as Papanasam (meaning destroying sins) and the Lord as Papanasanathar.
It is said that three Vedas – Rig, Yajur and Sama – were the Kila trees offering shadow to the Lord and Atharvana Veda was the space. They worshipped the Lord in these forms. Hence, the Lord is named Mukkila Lingam.
Lord Shiva granted darshan to Vyagrapathar & Patanjali:
It is here that Lord Shiva granted darshan to sages Vyagrapathar and Patanjali standing between the horns of Nandhi on a Thaipoosam day. Recalling this event, special pujas are performed to Nandhi each year on this day with sandal paste.
Legend of Namasivaya Kavirayar:
A poet named Namasivaya Kavirayar was living in this town. He was a great devotee of Ulagammai. He used to visit temple every day and sing devotional songs till midnight. One night, he left the temple but continued his songs on his way back to home. The Goddess did not want to miss his songs and hence she followed him. The poet had the habit of chewing pan. While spitting his pan, it fell on the Goddess by mistake. The Goddess did not mind it. She appeared with the spit in the temple. When the priest noticed this the other day, he complained it to the King.
The King wanted to enquire about this incident and punish the culprit. In his dream, the Goddess Ulagammai appeared and narrated the incident. The other day, he tied the arms of Goddess idol with the golden strings and placed a flower on her arm; he invited the poet and asked him to sing devotional songs. As and when he completed singing every song, the string got untied one by one. This incident further proved the greatness of the poet.
As Virata worshiped this deity, he is also named as Vayirasar.