This is a small temple town about an hour’s drive from Tirupati the famous pilgrim town of Andhra Pradesh, India.
Kalahasti is a temple where the deity is Shiva. It is said that a spider, snake and elephant were absolved off their sins due to their ardent devotion and service to Shiva.
According to legend Vishwakarma the divine sculptor had a son named Oornanabha. Like his father, he too excelled in sculpture and boasted time and again about his extraordinary talents in sculpting and said that he could compete with the omnipotent Brahma.
Angered, Brahma curses Oornanabha to turn into a spider and sends him to the forests, saying that he would be absolved from sins if he prayed to the Shiva linga in the forest. The spider lived in the tree below which the linga was situated and dutifully spins a web over it to prevent bird droppings and dried leaves from falling on it.
One day the glow from the lamp which was lit to propitiate the linga rose and threatened to burn the web which the spider had spun. In order to save its web from being destroyed, the spider fell on the flame. It was duly caught by Lord Shiva himself who then absolved the spider of its sins and sent him back to where he had come from.
At one time Shiva was looking for his snake which he wore around his neck. But the snake had gone to look for his mate. Angered by this Shiva cursed the snake and sent it to the earth for penance to regain his place on his lord’s neck.
Meanwhile, when Shiva was alone with his consort Parvati, his minion entered the lord’s domain without permission. Angered by this Parvati turns him into an elephant and sends him to the same forest, the snake and the spider were sent earlier to do penance.
The snake would spread all the items needed to propitiate Shiva in a disorganized way. The elephant which would arrive there a little later would clean the place and pour water over the Shiva linga. This went on for quite sometime and both the snake and the elephant without seeing each other nursed a hate for the other. One day, the snake hid in the bushes and waited to find out who was competing with his devotion to the lord. Without knowing his fate, the elephant began cleaning the mess near the Shiva linga, when he was attacked by the snake. The snake entered the trunk of the elephant and poked into his head. Unable to bear the discomfort, the elephant banged his head on a nearby rock. As the elephant banged his head several times, the snake also met its fate
and died. Pleased with their devotion to him Shiva appears and absolves them of their sins.
Since the three attained the lord’s feet at the same place, the temple came to be known as Seekalahasti, ‘see’ means spider, ‘kala’ means snake and ‘hasti’ means elephant. However, most people refer to the temple as Sri Kalahasti.
Another interesting tidbit about this temple is that this beautiful temple in Andhra Pradesh is so popular with people who have problems in their astrological charts. They visit the temple in the belief that pujas for rahu and ketu in their charts could change their lives.
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