Muktheeswarar Temple, Sethalapathy – Legends
Rama performed Tharpanam to King Dasaratha here:
Lord Rama performed Last Rites (called as Tharpan/Tharpanam) for King Dasaratha at various places by placing 4 rice balls (called as Pindam). However, to his dismay the pindams turned into worms each time when he performed the ritual. A worried Rama prayed to Lord Shiva, who advised Rama to go to mantharavanam (earlier name of this place) and offer his prayers there. He was also instructed to take bath in the Arasalaru River near there, before performing the Pitru Tharpanam (Last rites to Ancestors).
Rama did as instructed. The four pindams to his amazement became four Lingams. Dasaratha Maharaja thus attained mukthi (salvation) and hence the name of the deity here is Muktheeswarar. Since then, the locals believe that that performing the Pitru Tharpanam here absolves you of all your Pitru Sabams (ancestral curse) and Pitru Doshams (ancestral sins). It is said to be equivalent to that of Kasi and Rameshwaram.
Rama & Lakshmana performed last rites to Jatayu:
As per the Temple history, Lord Rama along with his brother Lakshmana performed Last Rites to the Bird King Jatayu.
The name Thilatharpanpuri came from Thil – Gingelly and Tharpanam means performing Pitru poojas/karmas for the ancestors (a Hindu ritual). The name came from coining these two words. The local story claims that performing the Pitru Tharpanam here absolves you of all your Pitru Sabams (ancestral sins) and Doshams. There are 7 Sthalams for performing these rituals viz. Kasi, Rameswaram, Srivanchiyam, Thiruvengadu, Gaya, Thiriveni Sangamam and Thilatharpanpuri. Performing Tharpanam here on Amavasya day is considered special. This is a Mukthi Kshetram.
Once upon a time Mother Parvati wished to take a bath in Harisolmahanathi. She created a boy from Manjal (Turmeric) powder and after giving life to this boy asked him to stand guard outside while she took bath. Meanwhile, Lord Shiva returned home. When he tried to enter the house, the boy prevented him from doing so. In anger, Shiva beheaded the boy. When Parvati saw this, she burst into tears as the boy was made of her own thing and he is like her son. In order to console her, Shiva sent out his troops (gana) to fetch the head of anyone found sleeping with his head pointing to the north. (That is one of the reason there is a belief that you should not sleep keeping your head pointing to North – even today).
They found an elephant sleeping thus and brought back its head. Shiva then attached the elephant’s head to the body of the boy and gave him new life. He named the boy Ganapathi, which means commander of his troops. He also granted him a boon that everyone would worship him (Ganesha) before beginning any work. This is the only type of Vinayagar where He has a human face. This is supposed to be the First Vinayagar that Goddess Parvathi created.
Brahmma got relieved of Lord Shiva curse here:
The legend has that Lord Shiva performed cosmic dance in the presence of all deities, Sages and celestial dancers & Singers at Mount Kailash. The entire cosmos was immersed at the captivating exquisiteness of Lord’s dance forms and the divine couple provided blessings to those who were assembled. In the meantime, Lord Vayu was completely wrapped up with the situation, in a state of bliss activated a noticeable airstream that caused to misplace the attire of Urvasi (celestial dancer), Lord Brahma who was standing next to Urvasi was absorbed at the beauty of her.
Lord Shiva was furious at the unruliness of Lord Brahma and cursed him to take birth on Earth. Lord Brahma realized his foolishness, earnestly prayed to Lord Shiva. The compassionate Lord Shiva advised Lord Brahma to worship him at Thiruthilathaipathi, which would free him from the curse. Lord Brahma sincerely followed the instructions of Lord Shiva, arrived on this sacred land and created a pond Brahma Theertham, underwent severe austerities and performed sacred bath to Lord Shiva.
Eventually, Lord Brahma was relieved from the curse. Meanwhile, Goddess Dakshayani was undergoing severe penance for several years on this sacred place to get released from the sin committed due to the disrespectful act to Lord Shiva and the humiliating experiences at the Daksha Yaga. Lord Brahma noticed that Goddess Dakshayani was enclosed by huge mound of ants were ultimately cleared by him. Soon, Goddess Sri Parvati appeared before Lord Brahma and blessed him. Further, Lord Brahma worshipped Lord Shiva with his consort Goddess Sri Parvati and got relieved from the sins.
People worshipped Lord Shiva here:
Lord Brahma, Lord Rama & Lakshman, Lord Surya, Lord Chandra, Airavatam were said to have worshipped Shiva at this Kshetram.
Pithrus appeared before King Narchodhi here:
King Narchodhi underwent severe austerities and performed strict homage to his father in many sacred places. Finally, he arrived on Thilathaipathi and carried out Thilatharpanam and final rites to his father, while performing the rituals Pithrus appeared before him and received the offerings.