This legend relates to the encounter between Arjuna
the Pandava prince and Shiva, and is an important event in the epic Mahabharata.
Arjuna the valiant Pandava prince,
during the princes' exile in the jungles, went out to the Himalayas to worship Shiva, to
win from him the Paasupataastram, the infallible weapon. His penance bore
fruit, when Shiva, in the guise of a hunter (Kiraata) donning a bow
appeared before him, picked up a quarrel with him over a wild boar, and challenged him to
a combat. This manifestation of Shiva is known as Kiraata Murthy. In the
course of this (mock) fight, the hunter stripped Arjuna of all his weapons (and his ego),
and the brave prince continued to fight with his bare hands. Shiva then revealed his true
self, and blessed him with the Paasupataastram.
Arjuna's encounter with Shiva is celebrated at Tiruvetkalam near Chidambaram
Kiraata Murthy is also revered at Kumbhakonam (Tamilnadu) , where it is believed that an
arrow from Shiva's bow pierced the pot containing the celestial nectar amritam, and
spilled it into the Mahamagam tank.