The enigma of SriKalahastishwara’s Vayu Linga controlling the fury of the wind is witnessed in the oil lamp which glows steadily in the airless sanctum of the temple
SriKalahasti –Edifice of Faith:
SriKalahasti in Andhra Pradesh State of India, on the banks of Swarnamukhi River is one of the five Pancha Bootha sthalams of Lord Shiva, celebrating him as the embodiment of Vayu (Air). The other four Pancha Bootha sthalams are located in Tamil Nadu state in Tiruvanamalai (fire), Chidambaram (Space), Tiruvanaikaval (Water) and Kanchipuram (Earth).
The etymology of the temple SriKalahasti is derived from three devotees, namely spider called Sri, serpent called Kala and an elephant called Hasti. The legend describes that a spider (Sri) built its web over the Shiva Linga to protect it from the sun and rain. The snake (Kala) placed a gem on the Lingam and performed worship. The elephant (Hasti) would get water with its trunk and bathe the Shiva Linga (perform abhisheka). Each of these devotees worshipped in Treta Yuga, and Lord Shiva pleased with their devotion granted salvation to them. Hence Sri, Kala and Hasti put together becomes the name of this temple Srikalahasti and the deity referred as SriKalahastishwara. The marks that correlate this legend are still visible on the Srikalahastishwara, which is a swayambhu (natural) Shiva Linga. Srikalahastishwara is shaped like an elephant trunk, with tusks on each side and a figure of the spider at the bottom and from above, the Shiva Linga looks like a snake with five hoods.
The Sthalapuranam of SriKalahasti states that when Brahma the creator began to perform penance in the presence of this lingam, Lord Shiva left Kailash and took his abode in this idol. Hence SriKalahasti is also referred as the Dakshin Kailash (Kailash of the South). Lord SriKalahastishwara faces West symbolizing ‘Liberation from Ego’, and Goddess Gnanaprasannamba (the giver of supreme knowledge) symbolises ‘Wealth’. Every devotee who prays to Lord Srikalahastishwara and Goddess Gnanaprasannamba ultimately achieves the real wealth i.e., the freedom limitation conferred by Self Knowledge.
Kannappa Nayanaar, and a hunter by profession who later became one of the sixty three celebrated Tamil Saiva saints was a great devotee of Kalahasteeswaraa. Legend has it that he offered his own eyes to the Srikalahastishwara, and for this reason earned the name Kannappan (his original name being Thinnan), and the distinction of having his statue adorn the sanctum. This temple is also known as the Rahu-Khetu kshetra and the Rahu-Khetu Sarpa dosha nivarana pooja is performed in this temple for devotees who have any of these doshas or other problems like in marriage and family relations.