Taking its course from somewhere in Brahagiri, flowing through layers of rocks embracing the roots and leaves of many trees with medicinal properties, washes away, the sins of men and directs them towards salvation. This is a Punnya or hallowed Theertham or source of water. While you descend the granite steps and walk about a furlong, Paapanaasini can be seen in the midst of the forest. Like the sacred river Ganga and Kashi - presently Benaras - if one takes a dip in river, Ganga of Thirunelli - the Paapanaasini, all sins will receive atonement and if religious rites are performed, the departed souls will gain salvation. THis is whhat the Hindus firmly believed in. The poet says that river Saraswati which flows subterranean glide is along with river Ganga and becomes Paapanaasini.
"Pithyoraathi Nivruti" (to lead the departed souls to heaven) "Paapanaashini dharaya Dakshinadha Sthabasheels". This means that the stone in the lower strata in the Southern quarter, the stone on which the concerned persons perform obsequies for the welfare of the souls of the departed relatives, is the same, which becomes clear. If solemn offerings to the departed souls are made here, it is good of for the welfare and prosperity of the entire family and no other religious rites are further required.
It is in Paapanaashini that the vast and hallowed Pindha Paara exists. The water from Paapanaashini falls on Pindha Paara. Pindham - rice balls are offered to the dead as part of funeral rites, at this rock. There is a famous legend relating to this Pindha Paara. Once, Lord Mahavishnu had an occasion to curse an Asuran - demon by name Paashaanabhedhi. The demon who was certain that he will be killed by Maha Vishnu, made a request, Vishnu honoured his request and converted him into a hallowed stone which stretched from Thirunelli to Gaya. This stone is believed to be the body of the said Asuran as per the legend. The pieces of the stone strewn from Thirunelli to Gaya are believed to be the fragments of the demon's bones. The head is at Gaya and the middle portion of the body is at Godavari and the leg is at Thirunelli.
The seven sacred Theerthas (Holy water places) are - Papanaashini, Panchatheertham, Rinamochini Theertham, Gundhikaa Theertham, Shathavindhu Theertham, Sahasravindha Theertham, Varaaha Theertham join together at Thirunelli, the sacred land. Paapanaashini has got more sanctity than the other six Theerthas. It is believed that many virtuous and pious persons like Jamadagni Maharshi, Parashu Rama, Shree Rama and other legendary figures had come to Paapanaashini and offered religious rites for the welfare of the departed souls of their closely related ones.