Description of Dvadasa (Twelve) Jyotirlingas
Kedaro Himavatprushthe Daakinyaam Bhimasankarah
Nandiswara described the Most Celebrated Twelve Jyotirlingas of Maha Deva as follows:
Triambaka on the banks of River Gautami
Rameswara at Setu Bandhana, and
[ Kedarnath in Uttaranchal, Bhima Shankar near Pune in Maharashtra, Visveswara in Varanasi, Somnath in Gujarat, Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh, Maha Kala in Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh, Omkara also in Madhya Pradesh, Vaidhyanath at Deogarh (Bihar), Nagesha near Dwaraka in Gujarat, Rameswara in Tamilnadu, and Ghrishneswar near Ellora Caves in Aurangabad in Maharashtra]
Prajapati Daksha married away twenty seven of his daughters to Chandra Deva (Moon) but Chandra had great infatuation for Rohini to the neglect of other wives. Daksha warned Chandra about this but to avail. Finally Daksha cursed Chandra who appealed to Lord Brahma, and in turn asked to perform Tapasya to Bhagavan Siva. Chandra observed penance at Prabhasa on the banks of River Sarasvati. On His appearance Lord Siva sorted out the problem with a compromise that the first bright fortnight of a month (Sukla Paksha) Moon would wax and the ‘Krishna Paksha’Moon would wane. He also blessed Moon to be near Him and Parvati always. Being a ‘Sparsha’(Touch) Jyotirlinga-Somachandra- stated to be the first in the series, it would remove away all physical ailments particularly tuberculosis and leprosy and bathing in the Water body ‘Chandra kund’ washes off all the sins committed by human beings. Known as Prabhat Kshetra [near Veraval in Kathiawad District of Saurashtra in Gujarat], Lord Krishna is believed to have performed his Leelas (Miracle Acts). [An ever burning light in a cave of the Temple is witnessed till date].
Stated to be the Second in the Series of Jyotirlingas on the Sri Parvat ( in Andhra Pradesh, some 230 Km. from Hyderabad) on the banks of River Krishna, Lord Siva’s manifestation as Mallikarjuna along His Spouse Devi Bhramaramba is famed mythologically as the place of penance when Kartikeya was unhappy and felt cheated as Ganesha was wedded earlier despite the Agreement that whoever arrived first after full ‘Bhu Pradakshina’ (circumambulation of the World) would win, but Ganesha took advantage of a Provision of the Scriptures and performed a ‘Pradakshina’ of his parents and attained the advantage of the Pradakshina. Siva and Parvati visited the Krouncha Mountain to pacify Kartikeya but to no avail and thus moved over to the Mountain from Kailasa.As Vrishabha Deva –Siva Parvati’s Carrier-did Tapasya to the Maha Devas, they appeared as Mallikarjuna and Bhramaramba at this Holy Spot. Lord Rama is said to have installed a Sahasralinga and Pandavas set up Pancha Pandava Lingas in the Temple surroundings. In a tiny hole inside the temple of Devi Bhramaramba, one could still hear the buzz of bees as the Devi assumed the form of bees all over Her Body and killed Mahishasura. Adi Shankara is reputed to have scripted his well known Work named ‘Sivananda Lahari’ at this Temple.
The only ‘Svayambhu’ (Self-born) Jyothirlinga of Lord Siva in the form of Mahakal originating ‘Mantra Shakti’ (Power of Mantras) from within is indeed a unique specimen among all the Jyotir- Lingas on the banks of River Kshipra. This is the only Temple of various Jyotirlingas maintained on Tantrik Principles. While Mahakaleswar faces south as a Dakshina murthi, the Idols of Ganesh, Parvati, Kartikeya and Nandi are installed on West, North, East and South respectively. Shree Yantra is perched upside down at the Ceiling of Garbha Griha where the Main Linga is situated. The Temple has five levels including an underground and on the third level is installed the idol of Nagchandreswar open for public view only on Nag Panchami days. Experience at the time of very early morning ‘Bhasmabhishekhas’or the spread of ash along with the loud chanting of Mantras of the Deity and with the thrilling and reverberating sounds of various percussion and bronze gong instruments takes one to devotional ecstasy. [It is stated that the Bhasmabhishekas are performed by using the ashes of the first dead bodies of the previous day, sanctified by Mantras from the holy waters of River Kshipra. Ladies are not allowed to enter the Sanctum at the time of the Bhasmabhishekas although they could witness the proceedings on Close Circuit TVs.]The mythological background of the Temple was that there was a pious Brahmana well versed in Vedas and Scriptures had four learned sons named Devapriya, Priyamedha, Survita and Suvrata. A demon named Dushana lived nearby on a hill Ratnamala who could not tolerate the very concept of Vedas and its applications and particularly hated the Brahmana brothers. One day the Demon decided to destroy the brothers who were unfazed and continued their worship of Maha Siva. As the Demon and his cruel followers were about kill the brothers there was such a ‘Hunkar’or roaring sound of Mahakal which itself took away the breath of the entire band of Danavas headed by Dushan instantly. The Brahmana brothers prayed to the Lord who appeared on the spot and implored His manifestation of ‘Mahakala’ to stay put for the greatest benefit of posterity and conducted daily worship from generation to generation.[ Ujjain, the erstwhile Capital of Avanti, had considerable importance of India’s ancient history ruled in the past by Mauryas and Guptas. Memories of King Vikramaditya still linger in the City till date.His Nine Gems of Poets especially Kalidasa who scripted famed Works like Megha Sandesam, Abhijnana Shakuntalam and so on, the other Gems being Dhanvantari, Kshapanaka, Amarasimha, Sankhu, Vetala Bhatta, Ghatakopara, Varahamihira and Vara Ruchi. Bhartruhari the step brother of King Vikramaditya became an ascetic and the Caves of Bhartruhari are on the tourist map of the City as many believe that a person entering the maze of the Caves seldom returns! Kalbharava Temple too is an interesing feature; as much of liquor poured as Naivedya (offerings) in the Deity’s throat (in the form of a Dog), half of it is returned as ‘Prasad’! Ujjain is one of the Seven ‘Mukti Sthalas’ (Salvation Places) of India, besides Ayodhya, Mathura, Haridwar, Benares, Kanchipuram and Dwaraka.]
Situated in the banks of River Narmada on the Mandhata (Shivapuri) Island formed in the shape of OM in Sanskrit, Omkareswar is one of the Jyotirlingas besides another Amareswar Linga. The Legend was that Sage Narada visited Vindhya Raja and the latter bragged that Vindya was the highest and most powerful Mountain in the entire World. Narada replied that perhaps Meru was the greatest in terms of height and might. Vindhya Raja felt jealous and executed severe ‘Tapasya’ and pleased Maha Siva and requested that He should always be present in the Vindhyas and establish a Linga of Bhagavan on the banks of Narmada near to Vindhya. Hence the Omkara Jyotirlinga there. Puffed by Siva’s presence there, Vindhya Raja grew taller and taller to compete with Sumeru. This obstructed Sun God’s routine circumambulation of the Universe and He had to return half way turning half of the Universe dark. Bhagavati asked Sage Agastya from Kasi to visit Vindhya Raja who out of veneration bent down to touch the feet of Agastya who asked Vindhya to be in that position till he returned and he never came again from the South!
Flanked by breath taking views of snow-clad peaks of Himalayas at a height of 3585 m from Sea level on the banks of River Mandakini, Kedareswar is the highest point where Maha Deva’s presence is indeed felt in the manifestation of a famed Kedareswara Jyotir Linga as spread out as a fairly large expanse of black stone with an inclined elevation in the middle portion. Being inaccessible excepting by a difficult 14km trek by foot, or horse back or ‘dolis’( palanquins) carried by two or four humans from Gaurikund, the Temple is open only during end April through November since residents, let alone pilgrims, have little access to the Mountain Top Temple during heavy snowfall in the intervening period. [A helicopter service is available now from Agastya Muni to Phata to reach Kedarnath]. The incarnations of Lord Vishnu in the form of two Sages Nara and Narayana meditated to Bhagavan Siva for several years and as the latter appeared and said that the incarnations of Vishnu Himself executed the penance without any basic reason excepting the welfare of humanity and thus agreed to manifest Himself as a Jyotir Linga at that hallowed place. Nara and Narayana are believed to have assumed their forms as hallowed mountains nearby. According to Puranas, Pandavas performed penance at the Temple and even in the opening Hall of the Temple at the entrance of the Sanctum, there are idols of Pandavas, Lord Krishna, Nandi and Veerabhadra. The belief is that Pandavas were chasing a Bull- Lord Siva Himself- and Bhima continued the chase to subdue the animal by holdindg its tail and the Pandavas attained Salvation finally from the Temple surroundings. A distinct feature at the entrance gate of the Temple is the head of a man carved in a triagular stone as facia and a similar triangular facia is displayed in another Temple where Siva-Parvati wedding was fabled to have taken place. ‘Udakmand’ is mentioned in Siva Purana as a union of Seven Seas and its water is everfresh. In fact the Homa Kund of the Wedding is also visioned alive. On way to Kedar a number of Pigrimage Centers dot the route including Agastyamuni, Ukhimath, Phali-Pasalat Devi, Kalimath, and Triguni Narayan not far from Sonprayag.
Located some 110 km from Pune in Maharashtra State in the Ghat region of Sahyadri Hills near the head of Bhima River which merges with Krishna River too, the fifth Jyotirlinga Bhima Shankar is the appearance Maha Siva who exterminated Demon Bhima, son of Kumbhakarna (Ravan’s brother). Demon Bhima on knowing from his mother Kartaki wanted to avenge the death of his father by Lord Rama, who was Maha Vishnu’s incarnation and performed penance to Lord Brahma to receive boons to conquer even mighty opponents. He defeated Indra and Devas and what provoked Lord Siva most was the tormenting of a great Siva Bhakta King Kamarupeshwara insisting that the latter should pray to himself rather than Siva Linga. As the Demon was about to destroy the Sivalinga by his sword, Lord Siva appeared and destroyed the Demon and His mighty anger caused sweat which flowed as River Bhima. The Jyotirlinga thus manifested is a powerful representation of ‘Ardhanariswara’ in the Temple provides proof of instant fulfillment of all desires thus attracting thousands of devotees, especially on all Mondays and definitely on Sivaratri festivals. As in certain other cases like at Ujjain, the Swayambhu Jyotirlinga is set at a level lower than the normal Ground; also there is a speciality here that there is a constant flow of water from the Linga! The Bhima Shankar Temple is also associated with the killing of Demon brothers Tripurasuras along with Devi Parvati in Her manifestation as Kamalaja whose temple is also nearby the main Temple. Devi Kamalaja was worshipped by Brahma and hence She was called so. Sakini and Dakini were among those whose contribution was significant in the battle against Tripurasuras and their worship too is performed at the Temple. ‘Mokshakund Tirtha’, the Holy Waterbody adjacent the Bhimashankar Temple is associated with Sage Kausika. [Maratha Rulers especially Nana Phadnavis who built the Temple ‘Sikhara’ and Sivaji who made donations to its maintenance were intensely associated with the progress of this illustrious Temple].
While the above version of the location of Bhimashankar is convincing, Siva Purana which is relevant in the context of the current source states in Rudra Samhita: ‘Dakininam Bhimashankara’ while outlining the broad references of the Dwadasa Jyotirlingas; more clearly the Koti Rudra Samhita states: Bhimashankara sanjnaastu Shashtha Shambho Maha Prabho/ Avataro Maha leeloBhimasuravinashanah/ Sudakshinabhida Bhaktam Kamarupeshwaram vrisham / yoraraakshasadbhutam hatvasaram tha bhakta duhkhadam/Bhimashankara naamaa sa daakinyam samsthitaha swayam/ Jyotirlinga Siva rupena prarthesena Sankarah/ The sixth incarnation of Shambu and His ‘Leela’( miracle) was the killing of Bhimasura and saving of King Sudakshina of Kamarup whose grateful prayers resulted in the manifestation of Siva at Dakini. The belief is the Bhimashankar Temple at Bhimapur Hill near Guwahati in Assam is the one where the King Sudakshina was saved and the Jyotirlinga was consecrated. Sivaratris are celebrated with pomp and Show in this Temple.
Famed as the Place of Devas that was founded by Bhagavan Siva Himself, some five thousand years ago, Kasi has a hoary legend with age-old reputation worldwide. Varun and Ganga and also Ganga and Assi, flowing in different directions, confluence in ‘Varana-Assi’ or Varanasi. Euologised in several Scriptures like Rig Veda, Puranas and Epics, Varanasi was the Capital of Kasi King three thousand years ago and was reputed even by then as the capital of Religion, Education and Arts. The City covers some five kilometers of the Holy and Everflowing Ganges on its banks attracting lakhs of Pilgrims every year as the Ultimate Destination of Salvation for Hindus of all faiths and several other religions especially Buddhists and Jains. This is the Sacred Spot that Bhagavan Visveswara manifested as Avimukta Jyotir Linga in the renowned Golden Visveswara Temple. It is stated that Lord Brahma executed such severe Tapasya ( meditation) here so much that Maha Vishnu moved His head across fast in disbelief and the latter’s ear ring fell at a place on the bank of the River and was since then named ‘Manikarnika’. When Brahma was once chanting Vedas in praise of Siva in the form of the Jyoti Linga with the former’s ‘Panchamukhas’ or Five Heads, some pronounciation slips rolled by and becoming furious of the chanting mistakes which changed the sense of the words, Lord Siva opened the third eye and burnt one of Brahma’s heads which fell and found a permanent place in the Temple. Viswanath Temple is also considered as a ‘Shakti Peetha’ and it is believed that Devi Sati’s ear-rings fell at the spot where Devi Visalakshi’s shrine stands. Durga Temple, nick-named as Monkey Temple owing to large presence of monkeys, is considred as a shrine built originally by Durga Herself and during ‘Navarathras’ of Dussera festival comes fully alive and heavily crowded by devotees. Sankata Vimochana Hanuman Temple is frequently visited, especially on Tuesdays and Saturdays. The Shrine of Annapoorni is stated as the place where Devi Annapurna Herself distributed ‘Anna’ (Rice and so on) to devotees when there was a famine and Lord Siva Himself asked for ‘Anna’ in the disguise of a Beggar! There is a Neelakantha Temple with Deities of Vishnu, Avikuntha Vinayaka, Virupakshi Gauri, Saniswara and clusters of Five-some Lingas. A separate shrine dedicated to Kala Bhairava is present too in the courtyard. On the five km long banks of Ganga are situated hundreds of ‘Ghats’ or areas specified for many purposes like Sacrifices or Yagnas and Homams, some for bathing, or some even owned privately. For eg. ‘Dasasvamedha’ Ghat where Brahma performed Yagnas and even now Brahmanas perform Agni Sthomas, Homas to please Devas and so on; ‘Manikarnika Ghat’ where Brahama executing penance and Vishnu’s earrings were lost at the disbelief of the former’s strengh to do it so seriously and shook His earrings fast and lost these while Devi Parvati pretended that Her earrings were lost so that Siva would stay back to search the lost earrings forever and thus tie Him up to Kasi and such other beliefs. Besides the Manikarnika Ghat, where dead bodies are brought for the favour of cremation to attain mukti (salvation), there is the Harischandra Ghat where the Illustrious King Harischandra was posted as a slave and cremated dead bodies with the same belief of attaining salvation. It is common knowledge that the King stood for truthfulness and endured the most severe tests of life of selling off his family and Son, became a life-long slave and finally attained Salvation.There are many other Ghats like ‘Man Mandir Ghat’ near Someswara Linga Temple, Lalitha Ghat nearby Pasupatinath Temple, Tulasi Ghat where Tulsidas scripted Ramayana and so on. Ranging from Kings and Queens, Foreign Plunderers, Great Saints , modern Educationists, Artistes, Disbelievers, Non Hindu Followers, and even modern Pandas-anybody be named and be found- are all attracted to this Memorable City for their reasons of Salvation, Religion, wordly fulfilments, mischief or mere curiosity: but Maha Deva Blesses them all whatever may be the motive!
Located thirty kilometers away frim Nasik in Maharashtra, the renowned Jyotirlinga of Lord Siva’s materialization called Tryambakeswar attracts thousands of Pilgrims round the year providing boons of material and spiritual nature.The ‘Punyakshetra’ or the Hallowed Land is the source point of the Holy River Godavari basically owing to the Bhagiradh-like efforts of Sage Gautama and his highly pious wife Ahalya. By virtue of the Sage’s penance and prayers, Lord Varuna was pleased to supply water and food grains in abundance but this boon turned out as a basis of jealousy of co-Sages and their spouses who created a cow to plunder the grains. Sage Gautama destroyed the cow, but as a result of a sin in killing the cow, the Sage-couple was banished to a hermitage on the mountain of Brahmagiri. Gautama Muni made relentless ‘Tapasya’ to Bhagavan Siva who endowed Gautama with the double desires of bringing River Ganga near his hermitage and also stay on its banks along with Bhagavati in the form of a Jyotirlinga.
Lord Siva granted both the wishes that Ganga was brought near Gautama’s hermitage as River Godavari and His manifestation as Tryambakeswara Jyotirlinga in the vicinity of the River Godavari / Gautami. In parallel to this, another legend related to the formation of a Jyotirlinga at Brahmagiri was the interface of Lords Brahma and Vishnu vis-à-vis an appearance of a Fire Column whose height and depth could not be ascertained by both of them; Brahma’s cover-up story was that he found out the height of the Column and cited a Ketaki flower as a witness. Bhagavan Siva gave a curse to Brahma that there would not be worship of the former and Brahma gave a return curse that Lord Siva would be pushed underground. Hence the manifesation of Tryambakeswara under the Brahmagiri. The Jyotirlinga is of a small size in a depression on the floor with water oozing out constantly from the top. The force of waves of the River appears to be as per the intensity of the prayers of Sage Gautama according to the conviction of devotees in the Temple! Major Tirthas (Tanks) in the Temple are named Gangadwara representing the source of Ganga (Godavari), Varaha Tirtha where Lord Vishnu had a bath in the River in Varaha Rupa
The legendary background of Vaidyanath Jyotirlinga is related to Ravanasura the Epic Villain of Ramayana. The King of Lanka carried out a relentless meditation to Bhagavan Siva at Kailash Mountain for mighty supremacy and indomitability in the Three Worlds. But as Siva was still not responsive, he moved out from Kailasa to Vrikshakandhaka towards south of Kailasa. He dug up a pit and worshipped a Sivalinga even by sacrificing his ten heads, one by one and at the end Lord Siva became visible and gave away boons of supremacy as also to let a Sivalinga to carry to his Kingdom on the condition that he should reach Lanka directly without even a single halt, lest the Linga if kept down would never be pulled out! Devas became afraid that once Ravana turned unquestionable, there would be chaos in the Three Lokas and Dharma would be wiped out. Thus Devas prayed to Devi Parvati and Ganesha to somehow avert the risk of the Sivalinga to reach Lanka. Parvati appeared on way to Ravana in disguise and in collaboration with Varuna, tempted pure waters of major holy Rivers to quench Ravana’s thirst. The King’s stomach got bloated and he wished to stop over urgently for a relief and luckily for him, there was a lad whose assistance was sought to hold the Linga for a few moments without placing it on the Ground. By the time Ravana returned, the lad- Lord Ganesha-disappeared and the Linga was stuck to the Ground and no force applied by Ravana was a match to Bhagavan’s decision. That was the Jyotirlinga of Vaidyanath who was a ‘Vaidya’ (Physician) and he helped to piece together the slashed heads of Ravana at the time of his sacrificing them one by one.
‘Baidyanathdham’ (Baba dham) at Deogarh (Jharkhand) is some seven km from the Jasidhi Junction on Howrah-Delhi main line. It is 220 km away from Patna. The Baidyanath Shrine attracts lakhs of pigrims from all over a year normally, but they were in millions during the entire ‘Shravan’ month (July-August). Several of them carry Ganges water from Sultanganj to Deogarh- a distance of about hundred km-to perform ‘Abhishekams’ to the Jyotirlinga, and many saffron clad Sadhus carry the Ganges water by walk barefooted covering this distance! Pilgrimage to ‘Babadham’ is considered incomplete without visiting Basukinath Siva Temple some distance away. A well maintained Nandi Temple edging the Nandan Pahad (hill) faces a beautiful lake on one side and the Siva Temple on the other. Sivaganga is a pond very near the Main Temple, where Ravana desired to wash but since there was no water nearby, he used his fist and hit the Earth and a pond appeared. Other places of interest at Deogarh include Naulakha Mandir, Satsang Ashram of Radha Swami, Tapovan with many caves where Valmiki is said to have stayed for penance, Rikhia Ashram of Yoga, Hamira Jori where Ravana handed over the Holy Linga to Ganesh before his ablutions and Trikut Parvat with a Maha Deva Temple. Inside the huge complex of Babadham itself are situated some 22 Temples viz. Neelkantha and Parvati before Babadham and on either side a cluster of Shrines devoted to Sri Ram, Ananda Bhairavi, Ganga, Gauri Shankar, Tara, Maha Kali, Annapurna, Lakshmi Narayana, Surya Narayan, Bhavani, Sandhya, and so on.
There is a controversy about the location of Vaidyanatha Jyotirlinga at Parli in Maharashtra called Kantipur (Madhyarekha Vijayanti or Vijayanti), which is some 26 km from Ambejoga in the Beed District. One legend of this Temple often heard in the vicinity was that Amba Yogeshwari of Ambejoga wedded Maha Deva Vaidyanadha and the marriage party arrived late after the ‘Muhurtha’ (the precise time) for the wedding and Devi was waiting for long; She cursed the members of the Party to turn into stone statues. Another Story was that after the churning of Ocean for Amrit ( nectar), fourteen gems emerged among which were Dhanvantari and Amrit which were hidden inside the Shivalinga, but as Demons tried to take them forcibly, huge flames came out and they had to retreat. Till date, devotees have strong faith that Amrit and Dhanvantari or disease killing medicinal flows emerge from the Abhisheka waters.Thus Lord Lingamurthi is called as Amritamurthi and Dhanvantari. In fact, all the devotees-irrespective of caste or creed-are allowed touching the Linga and performing Abhishekas by themselves. Daily Rudra Parayana Mantras are reverbrated in the entire Complex. This Sacred Temple is also believed to be the Place where Lord Vishnu as Mohini distributed Amrit to Devas, and hence is called Vijayanti. The other legend associated with the Temple is that of Ravana’s carrying the Linga as described above.Incidentally, the surrounding mountains, forests and rivers are stated to abound medicinal sources. Over the last hundred years or so, considerable construction was made around the Swayambhu Linga by way of strong walls, Enclosures, ‘Mahadwara’ (the Main Gate) and several other Gates, a number of windows (one of which allows morning Sunrays inside one Enclosure by means of which Sun God is worshipped), minarets, lighting and various facilities to lakhs of Visitors. This Temple is a hallowed place particularly to Vira Shaiva Lingayats and devotees of Lord Harihara.There is a Harihara Teertha in the vicinity. Many festivals connected with Siva, Krishna and Bhagavati are celebrated with fervour; Mondays, Fridays, Ekadasis, Chaitra Padava, Dussehras, Tripura Pournami, the entire Kartika month, Sivaratris, Sravana month and so on are observed with reverence. A Pond in the Area is associated with Markandeya’s extraordinary devotion to embrace the Linga firmly defying Yamaraja’s order of death and Bhagavan’s subsequent appearance giving His blessing of immortality to the devotee. A Vateswara Temple reminds the devotees of a ‘Vata’ or Banyan Tree around which was the Story of Satyavan and Savitri over Yama’s sanction of long- life
Situated at Aundha in Prabhasa Kshetra [Prabhasa Railway Station on Manmadi-Nanded Line] Naganath Jyotirlinga was referred to as follows by Adi Shankaracharya:
Jagdeswar (Almora): Till date, devotees pray to Bhagavan Siva as Bal Jagdeswar as connected to a legend of the Area. In Daruka Vana, there were ‘Balakhilyas’ a group of Sages of dwarf size performing severe penance for years. Bhagavan Siva sought to test the depth of the Dwarf Sages and appeared as a tall, hefty and handsome personality, a ‘Digambara’ or completely naked, covering His body with snakes. The house wives of the Area were so attracted to the Stranger that they were not only inquisitive but got hypnotised neglecting their house chores. The Sages got frustrated and approached Devas to save the confusion. When Devas meditated Lord Siva in desperation, He manifested as a Bal Jagdeswar, who has no Physique, Gunas (Characretistics), Tatvas, Sex, Age, Time, Distance, yet, He has all of these too! Thus materialized as a ‘Swayambhu’ (Self-born) Linga eversince! The Main Temple in the Complex is dedicated to Tarun Jagdeswar and the Dwarpalakas are Nandi and Skandi. The Sanctum is of two parts, the larger area being of Jagdeswara Jyotirlinga and the smaller area being of Devi Parvati. There is an ‘Akhanda Jyoti’ or Everlasting Lamp.The biggest Shrine in the Main Temple is dedicated to Mritunjaya or the Saviour of Death.The distinction of this Linga is that it has an opening of an Eye. Recitation of Mrutunjaya Mantra would yield immediate reliefs of troubles, health problems, mental disturbance and Spiritual solace. The Mantra is from Sukla Yajur Veda:Aum Trayambakam Yajamahe / Sugandhim Pushti Vardhanam / Urvarukamiva Bandhanaan /Mrityor Mokshiye Maamritaat -We pray to Lord Siva whose eyes are the Sun, Moon and Fire. May He protect us from disease, poverty, and fear and bless us with prosperity, longevity and good health. Another important Shrine in the Complex is of Pushti Bhagavati. Outside the Complex are Vinayak Kshetra, Jhanker Saim Mahadev (who was meditatated and instructed His Ganas to destroy the Demons who were disturbing His Tapasya), and Briddha Jagadeswar (in the Form of Old Jagadeswar).
The Temple town of Bhagavan Siva’s emergence of the penutimate Jyotirlinga of Ramalingesa happens to be celebration point of Lord Rama’s glorious victory over Ravana paying Rama’s dutiful homage to Bhagavan. Having crossed ‘Setu Bandhan’ across the Sea on the triumphant return journey from Lanka en route Ayodhya, Lord Rama despatched Hanuman to visit Varanasi to pray Viswesvara and bring a replica of the Linga from Kasi for consecrating it on the Sea coast but since Hanuman could not return by the appointed auspicious time, Sita Devi improvised a Sand Linga and installed it formally amid Vedic Mantras. Hanuman was upset and wished that the Linga blessed at Kasi Viswanadha be substituted instead and tried hard to pull it out but the so called temporary Sand Linga was ever lasting, blessing millions of devotees eversince. The Kasilinga or Hanumanlinga too was installed nearby which too is worshipped by devotees. It would be appropriate therefore that worship to Rameswara or Rathnaswami be performed after the homage to the Kasilinga or Hanumanlinga. Spread over some 15 acres of land, the Temple could boast of rich architectural heritage of high Raja- Gopurams on the East (126 feet high) and the West side, massive walls, a huge Nandi (18 feet tall and 22 feet long) and a 4000 feet long Corridor with 4000 carved granite pillars on raised platforms on either side- perhaps the longest in the World.
There are some thiry six Teerthas ( Water Springs) with considerable medicinal amd mineral properties - twenty of them being in the Temple Complex itself- most of the devotees bathing bucketfulls in all the twenty two Wells dotted all over the surroundings and walking along into the Sanctum drenched and then only perform the worship to the Jyotirlinga in queues! Festivals at the Rameswara Temple are celebrated in ‘Ani’ Masa (June 15- July 15) signifying Lord Rama’s victory worship to Bhagavan Siva and two ‘Brahmotsavas’ or Annual Principal Celebrations are observed in ‘Adi’ and ‘Masi’ months as per local customs. Six worships commence from 5 am each day and Special worships are on Fridays.
[Among the experiences include a memorable journey approaching or leaving Rameswaram across the Ocean preferably by train or by a road journey over a high bridge and a commanding view of Area atop the Gandhamadan Hill where a Shrine and Rama’s revered foot- prints are witnessed as also a Place in the vicinity of the Temple a heavy mineral-laden stone floating on water, apparently due to its high phosphatic content; the stone was a sample with which Setu bridge was constructed by Vanara Sena or Monkey Brigade! ]
Other Places of interest include Dhanushkoti partly submerged into Sea owing to recent cyclonic devastation and partlly ascribed to have been destroyed by Rama (the ‘Rama- Setu’) by His arrows; Tiruppulani where Rama inclined as a ‘Darbhasayi’ (lying on a Darbha mat) soliciting Varuna Deva to facilitate smooth cross-over of the Sea to reach Lanka; Shrines of ‘Nava Grahas’ whom Rama prayed to remove obsctacles during the ensuing Rama-Ravana battle; Devipatnam where barren women are blessed with progeny and Jagannadha Shrine where Ravana’s brother-a pious person-called Vibhishana surrendered to Rama and was made the King of Lanka later on.
On a mountain called Devagiri, there were a pious Brahmana named Sudharma and his wife Sudeha but she was barren and had no child. Sudeha proposed that her younger sister, Ghushma or Kusuma who was a staunch devotee of Parameswara be wedded to Sudharma. Sudharma agreed and in course of time, they had a male child due to Lord Siva’s blessings. Ghushma was in the habit of daily worship by creating Sivalingas of clay and immerse them after Puja and Abhisheka in a pond nearby. Sudeha got jealous of her younger sister as she was blessed with a son. One night Sudeha killed the child out of jeaulosy and threw away the child in the same pond where the Sivalingas were immersed by her. The latter no doubt wept over the tragedy but continued her daily worship of Siva none-the-less. The dead body of the child floated in the pond where Ghushma used to immerse the lingas and there was commotion in the family and indeed in the village. Ghushma still continued her prayers to Lord Shankara who finally stood before her and desired to kill Sudhrama, but she requested not to do so out of her extreme kindness. Lord Siva brought back the child from death and also asked Ghushma for any boon and she requested Him to stay in pond and the Lord agreed to do so and hence the formation of Ghrishneswara as a Jyotirlinga. Alternative names of the Place are Ghushmeswar or Kusumeswar. This Temple is situated in the Village of Verul or Yelur where River Yala flows and is some 30 km from Aurangabad. [From Aurangabad, Ellora is 30 km, Ajanta is 106 km and Shirdi is 130 km.] The Temple Complex is quite spacious (240 X 185 feet) enclosed by strong outer walls and the Garbha griha (Sanctum) admeasuring 17 feet X 17 feet are the Jyotirlinga of Lord Ghrishnaswara and Idol of Goddess Ghrishneswari; a Nandikeswara is facing the Deities in the Court Hall of the Sanctum. It is believed that long ago, the Patel of the Village discovered a treasure in a snake pit and the amount was spent on the basic construction of the original Temple and the Holkar Royal family renovated with Dasavataras and various other carvings in red stone were addded besides a lake named Sikharashingarapur. [Ellora and Ajanta caves which are World Heritage Sites are firmed up on the Tourist map of India].
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