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Nanjundeshwara – Story of Shiva as Nanjundeshwara

Shiva as Nanjundeshwara is worshipped in the famous Srikanteshwara Swamy Temple at Nanjangud in Karnataka. The story of Nanjundeshwara is associated with the Samudra Manthan or the churning of the ocean. Nanjunda means one ‘who has consumed poison.’

Legend has it that Devas and Asuras started the Samudra Manthan or churning of ocean to get Amrit or elixir of life. But the first thing to appear was dark sticky foam. It was the dreaded poison Halahala, which had the power to destroy the universe.

The poison started emitting fumes and soon started to spread in water and air. Lord Shiva soon realized that the poison had the power to destroy the cosmos and immediately gathered the poisonous foam in his hands and drank it to save the world.

Thus Shiva became Nanjunda. He is also known as Visha kanta and Srikanta for having digested the poison. The deity is also known as Srikanteshwara, one cures diseases.

The waters and the soil around the banks of Kapila or Kabini River near the Nanjundeshwara are believed to possess curative properties and thus, Sri Nanjundeshwara is also worshipped as ‘Bhavaroga Vaidya’.