12 Jyotirlinga Story
Jyotirlinga History, 12 Jyotirlinga
The meaning of Jyotirlinga is the radiance of the Linga or Radiance of Shiva. Mahadev or Shiva is of foremost importance in Hinduism. He is the main pillar of the Holy Trinity in Hinduism. The representation in the phallus form is known as linga.
Jyotirlinga is something that every Hindu must have heard of in their childhood. If you are new to religion let us introduce you this concept. There are 12 Jyotirlingas spread all over India.
The question is what is a Jyotirlinga( Phallus symbol) of the Almighty. The Jyotirlingas are said to have manifested on earth on their own when Lord Shiva himself manifested on earth. Thus, giving them the name of ‘Swayamboo’ (self-manifested). Each Jyotirlinga is considered to be a different manifestation of Lord Shiva.
To put an end to this, Lord Shiva used his trident or Trishul to pierce the 3 worlds and appeared an unending pillar of light. (Which is modern day is come be known as the holy mountain of Annamalai.) He urged both of them to find either ends of the light.
On seeing this, Brahma and Vishnu headed in either direction to find the end of the light. Brahma lied and said that he had found the end and Vishnu, honestly said that he could not find the end of it and accepted defeat.
This angered Shiva and he cursed Brahma that, despite being the creator of the universe he would not be worshipped. Which holds true even today.
Jyotirlingas are shrines where Lord Shiva has said to have manifested himself as a fiery column of light. Thus the name Jyotirling.
An ancient testimony to the love and devotion of Lord Shiva by the Hindus. It is Hindu history written through Folklore and tradition.
The 12 Jyotirlingas in India
1. Somnath Jyotirlinga, Gujarat
It is considered to be the 1st of the 12 jyotirlingas, situated in Gujarat near Veraval, in (Prabhas Kshetra) Kathiawad district.
Legend of the temple:
According to Shiv Puran, the moon was married to 27 daughters of Daksha Prajapati, of which Rohini was most favoured. Daksha, cursed the moon, seeing the injustice to his other daughters. So the moon and Rohini together came and worshipped the Sparsa Lingam, to be uplifted from this curse. After the penance, he was blessed by Shiva to regain his lost beauty and shine.
From then on Lord Shiva assumed the name Somchandra and resided there eternally. Eventually, the temple came to be known by the name Somnath. Ever since the Somnath Jyotirlinga has been destroyed and rebuilt many times in history.
The temple, that was destroyed and re-built sixteen times and was known to be one of the richest temples in the history of Hinduism. It is held in reverence throughout India and is rich in legend, tradition, and history.
2. Mallikarjuna Jyotirlinga, Andhra Pradesh
This is one of the greatest Shiva Shrines in India And is also known as ‘Kailash of the South’.This shrine is situated is situated on the Shri Shaila Mountain, on the banks of the Krishna River (Andhra Pradesh).
Of all the Lingas this particular one has Devi Parvati by Lord Shiva’s side and is worshipped here. The presiding deities at this temple are Mallikarjuna (Shiva) and Bhramaramba (Devi). The Jyotirlinga here is also a Shakti Peet.
Legend of the temple:
In the Shiva Purana, there is the reference to a story where Lord Ganesha was married off before Kartikeya which left Kartikeya angered. He went away to the Kraunch Mountain.
All the existing gods tried to pacify him but in vain. Even his parents Shiva-Parvati themselves travelled to the mountain but were turned away by Kartikeya. Deeply disturbed by their son, they assumed the form of a Jyotirling and resided on the mountain thus giving Mallika means Parvati, while Arjuna is another name of Shiva.
Such is the divinity of this Jyotirlinga it is said that that just seeking the shikhara of the mountain one is cleared of all sins and becomes free from the vicious cycle of life and death, and attains Moksha.
3. Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga, Madhya Pradesh
This temple is located in Ujjain, and one of the most popular jyotirlinga of the 12 in central India.
It is located in a dense Mahakal forest in Madhya Pradesh, is on the banks of the Kshipra River.
Legend of the Temple :
The Puranas mention a 5-year-old boy who took to worshipping a stone as Shiva. He did so, as he saw his king, King Chandrasena of Ujjain’s devotion to Lord Shiva. Many people discouraged him but he was not dissuaded and continued to pray with even more fervour.
This pleased Lord Shiva, thus blessing him and assuming the form of a jyotirlinga and resided in the Mahakaal forest for eternity. This temple is also known to be a ‘Mukti-stal’ that is supposed to liberate a human from the cycle of birth and death.
This temple faces the south unlike most Vedic temples, it is a tantric temple. It also has the Rudra yantra, in the Garba griha, which Is fixed upside down. The Shakti Peeta and Jyotirlinga are together.
It is a temple which tantrics and yogis come to for deliverance.
Scriptures have a mention of Maha Shivratri being celebrated with great Pomp even in ancient times.
Sati: the upper lip of Devi Sati is said to be at this Shakti Peeta.
The ashes of the first corpse, of the city of Ujjain, is used to smear the ling before morning prayers.
4. Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga, Madhya Pradesh
This is yet another Jyotirling in Madhya Pradesh. It is located on an island called Shivapuri.
As the name suggests the name ‘Omkareshwar’, suggests, it is the lord of the sound OM!
Legend of the temple ;
Hindu scriptures, speak of a great war between the celestial and the demons (Devas and Danavas) in which the demons(Danavas) won. This made the celestial beings or devas stand defeated and they prayed to Lord Shiva for help. Lord Shiva appeared in the form of Omkareshwar jyotirlinga and defeated the Demons. Thus, making the significance of this temple even more. It stands as a testimonial of Good over evil.
5. Vaidyanath Jyotirlinga, Jharkhand
As the name suggests the Word Vaidyanath is king of healers or doctors. It is located in the Santal Parganas (Jharkhand).
This Ling is a highly revered shrine, it is believed that a person who sincerely worships Shiva here is rid of all miseries. Like most Jyotirlinga, it is said to be a path to Moksha.
Legend of the temple:
The demon King Ravan (ref, Ramayan) was also a great devotee of Shiva, he had sincerely worshipped Lord Shiva and asked him to reside in his kingdom Lanka ( modern day Sri Lanka) to make it indestructible. This was the pride and ego of the king that he tried to take Mount Kailash with him, but Lord Shiva crushed it.
Ravana understood his folly and undertook penance; in turn, Lord Shiva gave him a jyotirlinga, on the condition that he had to carry it to Lanka without placing it on the ground. If he did so the Jyotirling would sit rooted to the ground and would not go further and be in that spot till eternity.
The celestial beings (devas) worried that it would make Ravan very powerful and he would misuse such power.
On the way back to Lanka Ravan carried the Ling himself, Lord Varuna,(lord of water) entered Ravan’s body and he felt a need to relieve himself. At that opportune moment Lord Vishnu disguised as a young boy offered him to hold it for the interim period. Vishnu then placed the Jyotirling and the Ling was rooted to the spot. Ravan on his return was in dismay, realising his arrogance, in penance cut off his 9 heads. Shiva was touched by this act and so he joined back his heads to the body, like a Vaidya. Thus the name derives its name from this act of healing, Vaidyanath. This shrine is also known as Baba Vaidyanath Dham.
6. Bhimashankar Jyotirlinga, Maharashtra
This temple is located close to 2 major cities of Maharashtra, Pune and Mumbai. This temple is on the Banks of river Bhima and legend says that the temple is the source of the river. It is located in a wildlife sanctuary. This temple has a lot of devotees visit during the festival of Mahashivratri.
The legend of the temple :
It is said that Khubhakaran ( Brother of Ravan ref.Ramayan) had a son Bhima. When Bhima learnt that his father was killed in battle by Ram ( Avatar of Vishnu), he vowed to take revenge. He was so determined to destroy Vishnu that he dedicated himself to penance to please Lord Brahma, who in turn granted him strength and power.
Once he attained this power, he became tyrannical and evil in his ways. Defeating a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva and throwing him into the dungeons. Upon seeing this the celestial beings (devas) approached Lord Shiva to bring back peace and end this evil. Shiva then descended on earth and fought the demon and destroyed him that only ashes were left. Thus, triumphing over evil.
The devas rejoiced and then requested Shiva to live there. Shiva then manifested in form of a Jyotirling, which came to be known as Bhimashankar.it is said that when the battle ensued, Shiva’s sweat formed the Bhima river.
7. Rameshwar Jyotirlinga, Tamil Nadu
This temple is the southernmost of all the Jyotirlings, at Rameshwaram. The temple is known for its beauty and is considered as important as the Jyotirling at Benaras.
Apart from being a revered place of worship, it is marvelled for its architecture. It is also very close to Dhanushkodi beach, the place from which Lord Rama build the Rama Sethu ( ref Ramayan) it is said to be one of the most visited Jyotirling.
The legend of the temple :
Lord Rama ( ref Ramayan) , way to defeating Ravan, upon his return was drinking water on the sea Shore when he heard a proclamation from the skies ” You are quenching your thirst without worshipping me?”.
This made Rama make a Ling of the sand and worshipped it and asked for its blessings to defeat Ravan. Lord Shiva blessed him to be victorious. The ling then came to become a jyotirlinga and made it, its abode for an infinite time.
8. Nageshwar Jyotirlinga, Gujarat
This temple is also known as the Nagnath temple, meaning ‘Lord of the Snakes’. It lies on the Saurashtra coast located in modern-day Gujarat. The speciality of this Jyotirling is it provides protection from all types of toxins or poison. Devotees are said to have been rid of poison upon offering prayers at this temple. The Ling is situated in an underground sanctum. The temple also has a 25 m tall installation of a statue of Lord Shiva and a beautiful view of the Arabian sea and a beautiful garden surrounding it.
The Legend of the temple :
Shiv Purana talks of a devotee named Supriya who was captured by Daaruka ( a demon). The Demon had imprisoned Supriya along with several devotees in his capital Daarukavana.
Upon being imprisoned, Supriya urged the other prisoners to chant the name of Lord Shiva. So every prisoner chanted “Om Namah Shivaya’. This angered the demon and he attacked Supriya.
Lord Shiva manifested himself, putting himself between his devotee and the demon and killed the demon Daaruka. Supriya then requested Lord Shiva to stay there and so he manifested into a Jyotirling.
9. Kashi Vishwanath, Varanasi
In Hinduism, the mention of the holy city of Benaras (Varanasi ) is by itself auspicious.
This temple is located in the state of Uttar Pradesh Benaras. Which is popularly known as Kashi. This holy city boasts of several ghats on the banks of the river Ganga, but most of all it is a city of Lord Shiva. It is said that people will only be able to visit here if Lord Shiva wills it.
It is one of the single most important shrines to attain Moksha, and be liberated from the cycle of births and deaths. It is believed that the form of Shiva in Benaras, is of the liberator and thus ultimate happiness.
Fact: It is said that if a person dies in the city of Benaras the person is liberated from the cycle of birth. If that is not possible many a time the next of kin, visit Benaras with the ashes of the loved one to pour the ashes into the river Ganga.
The legend of the temple :
This is supposed to be the 1st Jyotirling that manifested breaking through the earth and flared to the skies, in doing so establishing his supremacy over all other gods. This temple has a Shakti Peeta along with the Jyotirling.
The deity is also known as Vishwanath meaning Ruler of the universe. This city is known to be the oldest living city being almost 3500 years old. (This is only documented history, it may be older but subject to scriptures and evidence). Maharani Ahilyabai Holkar- a Maratha Monarch rebuilt this temple in the 17th century, which is the last known reconstruction.
10. Trimbakeshwar Jyotirlinga, Nasik
Trimbakeshwar temple is yet another Jyotirling located in Maharashtra. The Godavari river flows near this temple and is considered to be one of the most sacred rivers in southern India. The Godavari is also known as Gautami Ganga. This shrine is located, near a mountain Brahmagiri.
The legend of the temple:
It is mentioned in the Shiv Purana, in a time of drought and famine, a rishi named Gautam was given a boon by Lord Varuna, in which he received a pit in which he would have endless grains and food. Rishi Gautam’s ashram remained unaffected by this famine. So people affected by the famine took shelter here, and in turn, Rishi Gautam gained more love and affection of the people. Many other Rishis as well stayed here through this time of famine and hence rishi Gautam gained more Punya.
This enraged, Lord Indra, the king of the devas (celestial beings) and in turn send a cow to enter the granary and created havoc. Gautam Rishi on seeing the cow tried to remove it from the premises and unintentionally killed it. Upon learning it was Devi Parvati’s friend Jaya who had taken the form of a cow, Gautam Rishi realised his folly and asked Lord Shiva to cleanse and restore the sanctity of the place. He requested Lord Shiva to please allow the river Ganga to flow there so that he could bathe in the celestial river and cleanse himself of his sin. He prayed on the mountain of Brahamagiri.
Lord Shiva pleased with his worship, granted his wish. To make the land pure, Lord Shiva, asked Ganga to flow past this region to purify it, but Ganga was not willing to do so, thus lord Shiva danced the tandava, it is then Ganga appeared on Brahamagiri but even so did not let Rishi Gautam bathe in her waters by disappearing and appearing in various places.
Rishi Gautam surrounded the river with enchanted grass and so the flow of water stopped there and absolved his sins by bathing in it. The holy place is now called ‘Kushavarta’. It is from here that a river began to flow. The river was named was then, named the Godavari.
The devas (celestial beings) then urged Lord Shiva to stay here for eternity. Thus, Lord Shiva resided in the form of Trimbakeshwar jyotirlinga.
It is believed that when devotees worship this jyotirlinga it fulfils their desires. This temple has a Vedic gurukul nearby( a place of study of conducting prayers.). Ashtanga yoga ashrams are found around this area.
The Garba Griha, in this temple, does not have a conventional Ling. It has three pillars signifying the holy trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh/Shiva and no ling. The temple was commissioned by Peshwa Nanasaheb, on losing a bet. It is said to have the infamous Nassak diamond on the ling, which was plundered by the British.
11. Kedarnath Jyotirlinga, Uttarakhand
Kedarnath is one of the most famous jyotirlinga, and is one of the 4 dhaams of Hinduism. It is located at 12000 ft above sea level in the Himalayan range. The temple is open only for 6 months in a year due to the harsh weather condition in the winters. It is open only for a few months. Kedarnath means the ‘Lord of the meadows’.
One the way to this Jyotirling is Gangotri ( the beginning of the river Ganga on earth) and Yamunotri (the beginning of the river Yamuna). Most pilgrims visit these places on their journey to Kedarnath, to offer the holy water at the Jyotirling at Kedarnath. It is said that this temple has the power to rid a person of ill luck and misfortunes and brings happiness into their lives.
The legend of the temple :
Nara and Narayana ( incarnations of Lord Vishnu ) had prayed to Lord Shiva and pleased with their devotion, Shiva manifested as a Jyotirling and remained here forever.
It is popularly believed that the Pandavas( ref Mahabharat), requested Lord Shiva to absolve them of their sins of killing their family. Lord Shiva did not agree and he turned into a bull and hid amongst the cattle. But the Pandavas recognised him, Shiva, began to sink into the earth, head –first, the Pandavas grabbed the tail of the bull forcing Shiva to forgive them. Lord Shiva forgave them and so Shiva then resided there for eternity. So the Pandavas build Kedarnath temple. There are also 5 other places which are known as ‘paanch Kedar’ ( five kedar). The head of the bull appeared at Rudranath. The other three temples begins Tungnath, Madhayamaeshwar and Kalpeshwar.
Another explanation is Shiva took the form of a wild boar and dived into the earth and emerged at Pashupatinath. It is said as the boar was injured the ling is smeared with pure ghee for prayers.
In 2013 there was a flash flood, due to which a large number of people lost their lives, mostly pilgrims. Most of the surrounding structures were also damaged, but the temple remained intact. A large boulder washed up close to the back of the temple and the water was diverted from the temple hence saving the temple from the direct onslaught of the water.
The temple still stands and is said to be safe for pilgrims to visit. It is believed by the devotees that this is a modern day miracle.
12. Ghrishneshwar Jyotirling, Aurangabad Maharashtra
This temple is located close to Aurangabad city, also known for another temple of Lord Shiva, Ellora. A queen named Ahilyabai Holkar had rebuilt this temple in the 18th century, she is also well known as she rebuilt the temple the ‘Kashi Vishwanath temple’, in Benaras. The original temple was destroyed by the Mughal sultanate in the 12th century, which was rebuilt by Maoji Bhosale, in the 16th century. ( Shivaji’s grandfather )
This temple is known by various names – Kusumeshwar, Ghushmeswar, Grushmeshwar, Dhushmeshwar and Ghrishneshwar. The meaning of the name being ‘Lord of compassion’.
The legend of the temple:
Shiv Puran mentions the temple of Dhushmeshwar, the residing Jyotirling is renowned to be compassionate and forgive the biggest sins.
It is said that a couple by the name of Sudhram and Sudeha lived in the Devagiri Mountain. They could not conceive a child and were deeply upset. The wife Sudeha, suggested that her husband that he should marry his sister Grushma. When Grushma married Sudhram, she gave birth to a boy, which gave her immense joy and pride, seeing this, her sister Sudeha felt jealous. She threw the boy in the lake. Grushma prayed to Lord Shiva, who was pleased with her devotion that he returned her son and informed her about what her sister had done. Sudhram, upon hearing this asked Lord Shiva to forgive her and absolve her of her sins.
Lord Shiva, was immensely pleased and on Sudharam’s insistence manifested himself in the form of a jyotirlinga and assumed the name Dushmeshwar.
The old temple is painted in pink, with beautiful red rock carving of the Vishnu’s dashavatara ( the 10 reincarnations of Vishnu). It has a five storey Shikhara. Carvings of various gods and goddesses, as well as devas, are seen around the temple, a Massive Nandi bull( mount of Shiva ) stands in the main court.
The Jyotirlingas, are a