Kashi the most dearest place to Shiva
Once sage Agastya with his wife Lopamudra arrived near Sri Shaila mountain. Pointing his finger towards the mountain, Agastya told his wife--'One, who has a good fortune of seeing the peaks of this mountain, never takes a second birth.'
Lopamudra replied in amazement--' If the sight of this mountain was capable of giving salvation then why do you long for Kashi?'
Sage Agastya then went on to clarify that there were many other holy places capable of giving salvation. Prayaga is one such place. It is capable of bestowing all the four 'Purushartha' to man-Dharma, Artha, Kaama and Moksha. Apart from Prayaga, there are many more holy places like Naimisharanya, Kurukshetra, Gangadwara, Avanti, Ayodhya, Mathura, Dwarka, Badrikashram, Purushottama kshetra which are capable of giving salvation to a man. But none of these places can match Kashi because Kashi is incomparable.
Lord Kartikeya describes the majesty of Kashi
Sage Agastya and his wife Lopamudra circumambulated Sri Shaila Mountain and climbed up Lohita mountain where they found Lord Kartikeya. Both of them eulogized Kartikeya by singing vedic hymns in his praise. Lord Kartikeya was extremely pleased by their devotion and said- O revered sage! You can understand Kashi's importance by the fact that, though I am capable of reaching any place according to my wish but still, here I am doing this austere penance for the attainment of Kashi. I must confess that I have not been successful in my efforts till date. If any body thinks that he can attain to Kashi just by performing austerities than he is totally wrong. Kashi can never be attained to until and unless one has the blessing of Lord Mahadeva. And one who is fortunate enough to have reached Kashi must under no circumstances leave it till he is alive. O Agastya! You are blessed because you had the good fortune of residing at Kashi. Please allow me to touch your body, which has acquired holiness due to its proximity to Kashi.' Having said this, Kartikeya touched different parts of agastya's body as if he were touching the sacred soil of Kashi.
The origin of Kashi
Sage Agastya asked Lord Kartikeya how the sacrosanct place, Kashi came into being. He also asked how Kashi became famous as a place capable of giving salvation to a man.
Lord Kartikeya revealed to Agastya that once Parvati had asked Lord Shiva the same question. Lord Shiva had told her--' At the time of deluge when every thing had submerged in the ocean and darkness prevailed everywhere, only BRAHMA-the embodiment of truth existed at that time and nothing else. BRAHMA, the absolute truth is indescribable and inexpressible. No name can be attributed to HIM. HE is the absolute truth, the ultimate knowledge, the infinite, the omnipresent and the eternal bliss. Though basically formless HE attained a form on account of HIS own wish. That form is none other than me. Later on I created Prakriti from my body. All three of us (Shiva, Parvati and Kashi) manifested simultaneously by the grace of 'Aadi purusha' (The Almighty God).'
Continuing with the tale of Kashi's greatness, Kartikeya told Agastya-' There is no holy place as dear to Lord Shiva as Kashi, which is not abandoned by him as well as his consort-Parvati even at the time of deluge. Lord Shiva named this holy place- Ananda vana, because it gave immense joy to him. Subsequently, Lord Shiva and goddess Jagadamba put a glance on the left portion of their respective bodies as the result of which a divine entity manifested himself who was none other than Lord Vishnu and who was named Purushottama by Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva after blessing Purushottama went away. Later on, Lord Vishnu created a divine reservoir with his sudarshana chakra and filled it up with his sweat. He then engaged himself in an austere penance. Lord Shiva once again appeared along with Parvati and blessed Vishnu by saying-' This holy place will become famously known as Manikarnika because this is the very place where I had once lost my diamond ear-ring.'
Lord Vishnu made a request to Shiva --' May this place fulfill the wishes of those who seek salvation. Since it is blessed with your eternal presence hence its another name would be Kashi.'
Lord Shiva assured Vishnu by saying- ' This sacrosanct place is very dear to me and no event takes place here against my wish. Even if a person living here happens to be a sinner he has nothing to fear because I protect him. One who lives far from Kashi but remembers it with reverence becomes absolved of all his sins.'
There is a magnificent Shiva-linga at Kashi famously known as Kashi Vishwanatha. Here is situated one of the twelve Jyotirlingas. Just as the Sun is visible in the whole world despite its presence at a particular point in the horizon, in the same manner Kashi has its influence throughout the length and breadth of the world.
OM NAMO NARAYANAYA