Pancharama kshetras of Andhra - what does the worship imply ? The legend behind it.

In the state of Andhra Pradesh visiting the 5 old  and ancient  temples  dedicated God Shiva on the same day is an important religious undertaking called Pancharama kshetra yatra and it is specifically done in the month of Karthikai (November-December). This age old tradition and belief  has been that   in order to have peace of mind, prosperity and good health  undertaking  a visit to all the five temples  with dedication and trust  will help the devotees a lot. Such a religious undertaking  will add  positivity to their life.  The most important criterion being that devotees must go on such a pilgrimage after a head bath in the morning and wearing clean clothes. As for ladies, they can join the pilgrimage provided they are out of menstrual cycle. 

Pancharama kshetras in Andhra, India.

The significance of visiting  o Pancharama kshetras is they are worshipping 5 parts of a single Shiva linga  that was owned by the Asura  King Tarakasura  and each is  enshrined in a temple at different places.  Completion of all five kshetras  means you have worshipped Shiva as a single entity. 

The five kshetras in Andhra are: 

01. Someswara Temple, Somarama, Bhimavaram. chandra West Godavari.  consort: Rajarajeswari Ammavaru.

02. Sri Kumararama Bhimeswara Swamy Temple, Kumara swamy Kumararamam,  Samalakota. Kumara swamy.  consort: Bala Tripurasundari Ammavaru.

03. Bhimeswara Temple, Draksharama, Ramachandrapuram  surya E. Godavari. consort: Manikyamba Ammavaru.

04. Amareswara Swamy Temple, Amararama, Amaravati. Indira,  E. Godavari.  consort: Bala Chamundika Ammavar.

05. Ksheera Ramalingeswara Swamy Temple, Ksheeraram, Vishnu, Palakollu,  West  Godavari; consort: Parvati Ammavaru.

According to the legend: This Sivalinga was owned by  Demon King Tarakasura  endowed with special power  because of  the Shivalinga worn by him. He, driven by arrogance and ego,  gave all kinds of problems to the saints and sages and pushed them to the fag end of their patience. Upon intense prayer to God Shiva, the lord as Kumara Swamy  declared war on the Asura king and could not win him  after a long battle. Because of the linga worn by him around his neck, each time when the  demon was cut into pieces he would come backalive  after joining the cut  pieces into one body. Being in a dilemma  as to what to do next,  God Vishnu appeared before him and advised God Shiva to use his  special weapon Agniastra  to break the shiva linga worn bythe demon  into 5 pieces.  God Vishnu further told him that  if a temple is built in each place where the five parts of linga  fall, the demon won't come back alive and it will be total annihilation for him.   Kumara Swamy finally used \his Sakthi aayudha to kíll Taraka that broke the linga into 5 pieces and tore him apart. This time the broken body pieces never got united and the ferocious demon was dead.

On  Lord Vishnu's advice the five temples were built over the parts of Shiva linga by different demi gods Surya, Chandra, Indira, and  by Vishnu ,and Kumaraswamy himself. These kshetras later became Pancharama Kshetras and one can  notice  some marks  caused  by Agniastra (fire missile)  on the linga enshrined in each place.  

The religious and philosophical connotation of Pancharama  is all these 5 lingas represent 5  essential natural elements called  Pancha boothas  like water, fire, earth, askash (sky) and air without which life can not be sustained on this earth. Even one is missing, life on earth is impossible. This is the reason why there are 4 Pancha Bootha kshetras in Tamil Nadu and one in Andhra. They are: 

 01. Jamukeswarar temple, Thiruvanaikovil near  Tiruchi, representing water (Appu lingam), 

02. Sri Nataraja temple, Chidambaram, representing sky (Agaya or Akasha, (Agasha Lingam), 

03. Sri Kalahasti temple near Thirupati, Andhra, representing air (Kaatru lingam), 

 04. Arunachaleswarer temple, Thiruvannamalai, representing fire (Agni lingam) and

 05. Sri Ekambareswarer temple, Kanchipuram representing earth (Bhoomi Lingam). 

 The Pancharama kshetras and the Pancha bootha kshetras convey the same message. The god is omnipresent and omnipotent, an embodiment of  the ''formless reality''. He is transcendent beyond any specific  characteristic. He has neither beginning nor end. 

Shiva Lingam

Above image: Shiva Linga:  Yet another implication is Shiva linga symbolizes  five different tasks in this universe: Destruction (samhara or involution), creation (Brahma), evolution (srati), preservation (Vishnu)   and existence (Sthiti). Sri Nataraja'a cosmic dance reveals the same message. The most important being striking a balance between creation on one hand and destruction on the other. His jadamudi (hair) represents part sky and part water (Ganga.) Agini in one hand represents destruction and Udukku (drum) represents the perpetual rhythmic functioning of the universe and the planets. Besides all he is destroyer of evil forces as revealed by putting demon Mukilan under his foot. His abayamudra shows  his compassion for his devotees who who take refuse in him. His other hand mudra poitin  downward implies elimination of ''ego'' and ''I'' that hamper a man's progress in life. .........................