Agastheeswarar Temple, Pancheshti – Legends
Once at Kailasam, when Shiva was teaching the Shiva Philosophy with Parvathi sitting next to him, a yatchan called Sukethu questioned him whether it is ok to teach the philosophy while Parvathy is sitting along. Shiva just smiled but Lord Muruga got angry since Parvathy is always part of Shiva himself and so cursed him to become a demon. He then married another demon and gave birth to 3 sons.
The 3 sons, knowing the curse of his father, did a penance towards Goddess Parasakthi and got all the powers. With this they disturbed everyone in the Celestial world and so all the Devas went to Sage Agasthiar to do something. Agasthiar then prayed to Lord Shiva and he appeared as a Rishaba rudar along with Parvathi, Vinayagar, Murugan and Nandhi Devar and gave the necessary powers to Sage Agasthiar.
Meanwhile Sukethu fought with other demons and on becoming tired went and hid himself under the sea. The 3 sons then searched their father in the sea and created a Pralayam there. All the lives of sea were affected and so Agasthiar just drank the whole sea and it became completely dry.
The Devars then requested Agasthiar to bring back the sea and Agasthiar spit a little water at Pancheshti and it became the ‘Agasthya Theertham’ and let the remaining water back to the sea itself. In the process, Sukethu and his sons were caught inside the stomach of Agasthiar and they requested pardon. Agasthiar then made them take a dip at the ‘Agasthya Theertham’ and conduct five yagnas – Deva Yagna, Brahma Yagna, Pithur Yagna, Bootha Yagna and Manuda Yagna. Finally, they got their curse cleared off.
Once King Mithrathuvasan of Kanchipuram was doing regular Pradhosha pooja here. When he was coming for one such pooja, he heard a crying voice for help and when he went he saw a Tiger about to kill a man who was very lean and bony. When the King told the tiger to leave that poor man, the Tiger replied that it is also old and needs food for it and its kids.
The King replied to take him instead of the poor man since he is hale and healthy but requested to wait till he comes back after the Pradhosha pooja. The tiger accepted and relieved the poor man. As promised when the King appeared before the tiger after the pooja with sacred ash full of body, rudraksha chain around his neck and Pradosha prasadam (Vilvam) in his hand, the tiger hesitated. When he compelled the tiger to take him by voluntarily putting his head inside the Tiger’s mouth, it disappeared and Lord Shiva gave Dharshan as Rishabaroodar along with Parvathi Devi.
He realized that it is just the drama of Lord Shiva just to show him and the world the significance and power of Pradhosha pooja. The place where this happened is being called ‘Thiruvilankeswarar’ a few kms from here and a Shiva temple is present there. Since King Mithrathuvasan came forward to sacrifice himself because he did not want even a Tiger at forest to starve, this place is considered an Annadhana Kshetram.
Indhra, Indrani and Viswaroopan’s curse:
Once Indhra wanted to start a Yagna but since Deva Guru Brihaspathi who normally is the Guru of all yagnas in Devaloka (Brihaspathi) was in tapas towards Lord Shiva, Indran conducted the yagna with Viswaroopan’s as Guru. So, Brihaspathi cursed both of them to take human births. They had born as sons of King Mithrathuvasan in the name of Chandhramoulipriyan and Sambupriyan.
In another incident, while Padmini, daughter of Guberan was taking bath, Sage Romar covered with hair all over his body was passing through and Padmini made fun of him and laughed. So, Sage Romar cursed her to take human birth and to be a wife for two persons since she laughed at the Sage twice. Thus, she took birth as the daughter of King Bhavabanu of Virudhachalam in the name of Ambikai. When the King arranged Swayamvaram for his daughter, demon Sambasuran participated with a fake identity and took away Ambikai.
Chandhramouli Priyan and Sambupriyan who also participated in the Swayamvaram then fought with the demon, won him and both married her. Later demon Sambupriyan again took her way one day. Chandhramouli Priyan and Sambupriyan searched for her everywhere and finally came to Kalahasthi and prayed to Lord Shiva. They then heard the holy voice that Agasthiar who was in tapas at southeast of Kalahasthi will help. They then came to Pancheshti and fell at the feet of Agasthiar. He then made them to create an ashram here and do the Pradhosha pooja.
On one Pradhosha when they were returning to the Ashram after the pooja, they heard a crying female voice and they went and saw their wife Ambikai getting ready to be sacrificed to Goddess Kali by a demon called Sakthiubhasakan who brought her here after killing demon Sambasuran. They both then killed the demon and relieved her. Agasthiar then ended the curse of all the three and they all went to their respective worlds.
Once Sages Vasishtar, Gouthama and Kanvar went to Lord Brahma to suggest them a suitable place on earth to do tapas. Brahma then made a wheel out of some Dharbai grass and rolled it over. The place where it stopped is Pancheshti. Sage Agasthiar conducted five yagnas (Pancha means five, Ishti means Yagna) and so the name Pancheshti. Agasthiar was so attached to this place that he didn’t want to return to Kailasam after his work was over. Only Lord Shiva could finally convince him. Since the place is blessed by Agasthiar, there is copious ground water and supplies water to Chennai city whenever there is a scarcity. So, it is called ‘Pancham Theerkum Pancheti’ meaning ‘Starvation solving Pancheshti’.