Naveen C Trigunayat
After the dissolution there is complete absence of a universe and whatever was there is completely destroyed, nothing remains of it. What remains is a formless illumination, actually, only the brightness caused by the illumination. This is then the illumined God, truth, purity, Godliness, ageless indestructible formlessness (advait) that exists without actual being. It is only a consciousness. Even the word ‘atman’ is also a misnomer. This is then Brahman. And Brahman is GOD. Many people regard this as Shunya (Emptiness) and many others as Divine Brightness. God is the atman and Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh are like rays of this Brightness that are recognizable in our world. God resides in the Bodies as atma much like a lamp that is illuminated itself but brightens all other objects.
In this attempt I can only hope to touch upon some aspects of Paramatma- supreme God. Of the so many forms of Godly presence, I am trying to do my bit in his appearance as Shiva. It is believed that when Ganga was to descend to earth as a Boon to Bhagirath Lord Shiva agreed to break the momentum of the cascading waters by let it hit and flow gently through his massive hair before it came to flow on earth. The title of this work, ‘Shiva Jatain’ is influenced by Ganga flowing out to the jatain with short wisdom stories before reaching so many Bhakta of Shiva and under his patronage, our Spirituality.
In Vedic times some of the Gods were classified as Rudra (the Fierce or Angry Gods). There are a total of 11 Rudras and they are considered as incarnations of Shiva and are named
Shambhu, 2. Pinaki, 3. Girish, 4. Sthanu, 5, Bharg, 6. Sadashiv, 7. Shiva, 8. Har, 9. Sharv, 10. Kapali, and 11. Bhava.
All these Gods were performing deeds that had slightly different purposes but mostly those qualities that are attributed to Shiva. In addition, Shiva also appeared in Human forms in as many incarnations- these are sometimes called as Purush avtar. These are 1. Nadishwar, 2. Grihapati, 3. Durvasa, 4, Pipplad, 5. Yatinath and Hans, 6. Krishndarshan, 7. Avdhooteshwar, 8. Bhikshuwarya, 9. Sureshwar, 10. Kirat, 11. Hanuman.
Apart from these Incarnations we will cover the Jyotirlingas, Twelve in numbers and located all over India as special divine presence of Shiva granted as a wish to deserving Bhaktas.
The reader is welcomed to depose his spiritual feelings in these forms as we describe these as close as possible to scriptural descriptions. Since the incarnations were from Vedic period and because the Jyotirlingas are physically temples on ground even today, most people place the Blessings from the Lingas well above their spiritual gains from visit to sprawling numbers of Shiva Temples.
With this background we now embark on the incarnations and Lingas.
Om Namah Shivay
New Delhi Naveen C Trigunayat
When Shiva had instructed Brahma to create the Worlds, he kept an eye on what was being done by both Brahma and Vishnu. It is said that there were seven attempts by Brahma all on the principle of mental thought. This way the progeny created was just alike Brahma in thought, body and action. Each one of them proceeded to perform tapasya like Brahma himself was inclined to do. They all failed to procreate. After the seventh attempt Rudra became angry and tears fell out of his eyes in rage. He created the Prajapati based on the principle of male and female association and thus they all multiplied.
Shivas Rudra avatars were all as a result of correcting the creation and usually restricted among the other Gods. The following is the story of these incarnations.
THE RUDRA AVTARS
SHAMBHU - First (Pratham) Rudra
I pray to the Supreme God from which, Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh and all other Demi-Gods and Asuras were born. I pray to Lord Shiva the source of all other Gods.
Rudra alone is the creator, administrator and destroyer of all this world. Ishwara, Maheshwar, Shambhu, Shiva and others are all his names. He alone transcends every thing. He creates and then provides for everything to the Unmoving and Moving entities and finally at the time of dissolution, destroys everything into himself. Many Purans describe this process in many ways under different names and times, but, Rudra alone is the cause of all the Brahman.
There is only one Rudra and other Rudras are his images and appearances. After He had ordered Prajapati to create the world, there were seven attempts to create a world that could self-sustain. Each time Prajapati made this world to replicate his own form through Mind-exercise. When nothing worked Rudra was angry, and this dualistic world came up because of His Anger and Tears, based on male-female concept. As per Shiv Puran, there is the description of the creation with Kashyap Muni as the Prajapati with his wife Surabhi. Kashyap through his different wives fathered the suras, asuras, nagas, gandharvas and so on.
Once, while being in the Ananda Vana, Rudra decided to multiply himself and so he rubbed amrit elixir on the tenth part of his left body and produced Vishnu, similarly from his right side was born Brahma. After they were born both these Rudras debated on how they came into existence. Even when they were so discussing they saw a Jyotirlinga ( literally, Member of Light) appeared before them. This was very huge and they both set to find the limits of the Linga, but, after great efforts they were unable to come to a conclusion. In desperation they began to pray to it. Shiva was pleased and appeared before their eyes along with Goddess Uma who was his Shakti (Power). This appearance is called SHAMBHU.
He then ordered Brahma to create the Universe which would be administered by Vishnu and He himself would bring in Dissolution. He admitted Himself to be the Adikaran (Original thought) of the creation and with Brahma and Vishnu having come to existence from his Left and Right body, he assured them that Rudra will be born out of his heart. Saying this Lord Shiva disappeared.
The Worldly Linga of Shambhu is located at Ekamranath and is located near the City of Shivkanchi in South India. It is also known as Kshati-Linga. Water is not applied to this Linga, instead it is polished with Chameli (jasmine) Oil. Every Monday a procession of the Lord is taken out in the city. His consort, Bhagwati Parvati had established this Linga and first prayed to it as Shambhu-Rudra. Well-being and fame for the visitors are the divine blessings of this Linga.
PINAKI- THE SECOND LINGA
I pray to the four Vedas intertwined in the thread of forgiveness coming from the Rudra, from of Bhagwan Pinaki
Brahma told this story to Narad once. “When I and Sri Vishnu prayed to the sound bearing embodiment of Rudra then at first we only heard the sound ‘OM’. Then a mantra borne on ‘OM’ appeared, it was ‘OMTATVAMASI’. Then we saw the all encompassing Gayatri Mantra in its full glory. Following this the ruler of the world -Bhagwan Pinaki appeared. The four Vedas are the word form of this Rudra incarnation. Then with folded hands both me and Vishnu began to pray to Rudra who was soon pleased and recited the four Vedas to us. He revealed many divine secrets, first to Vishnu through his breath and then to me as well. Having received all the knowledge we both began to pray to Rudra again.”
Pleased with our prayers Pinaki said, “I am pleased with both of you for your devotion and I am giving you your hearts content boon. I alone as Brahma, Vishnu and Shiv have assumed forms for Creation, Existence and Dissolution. In effect, I alone am the Brahman, therefore there is no difference in the Trinity of these forms. Any body who differentiates will fall into the trap of bondages. I alone am Truth, Knowledge and Bliss. One should know us as this and meditate on us as one.”
Rudra in His second incarnation came to give the knowledge of the Vedas and other vital essence of divine knowledge to Brahma and Vishnu, then he disappeared again.
The underwater Linga of Pinaki is located in Trichnapalli District of Chennai. Here it is known as Jambukeshwar or Tatva Linga. Water flows from under the Linga and enriches its top. The name derives itself from a nearby ancient Jamun tree.
There is another tale as to how it got its name of Jambukeshwara. At one time a Rishi used to perform tapa here. Shankar, pleased with his austerities gave him his darshan and as a boon to him he entered the underwater Linga as the second Rudra. It is believed that Adi Shankar (8th Century) prayed to this Rudra and got his Vedic Knowledge to reset the inaccuracies that had crept into various scriptures.
Legend also has it that one who prayes to this Rudra becomes free from the fear of death and lives a religious life and ultimately achieves moksha.
GIRISH- THE THIRD RUDRA
May the dweller of Mandap made of gems and jewels at the highest peak of Mount Kailash and soulmate of maa Parvati, Lord Girish always be benevolent towards us.
As per the Shaiv-agam the name of the third Rudra is Girish. It is said he resides on a mountain top of Kailash. He performs all his activities (Leela) on Mount Kailash and so this is his favourite residence. There are two other reasons of his stay here, firstly his boon to Kuber (God of Riches) that he will always be around Kubernagri of Alkapuri and secondly that his soulmate Maa Parvati was to incarnate in a future era.
As per Shiv Puran when Sati (as Parvati) was praying to get Shiva as her husband on Mount Kailash, Shiva himself, too, was performing Tapasya in the Himalayas. All this was a work of providence. Afterall, one who is the giver of all boons was himself engaged in austerities! The great poet Kalidasa feels that Shivas penance was to make the Tapasya of Parvati come true in a worldly way and his own fo the benefit of mankind.
Even then, Parvati had been growing up to her youth like the vexing moon. When her father, Himvan came to know that Rudra, as Girish (Ishwar of Mountains), was also performing tapa. He approached Rudra and submitted that his daughter Sati be permitted to help maintain the place with flowers, fruit and whatever he needed for his penance there. Girish condescended. To Parvati this was a chance to serve her God and she happily engaged in service of Lord Girish. She procured fresh flowers, cleaned and dusted the area made a new Asan (seat) every day that provided comfort for long sitting sessions and stored cold water needed for prayers. She did all this service without any regards for herself and soon Shiva was pleased.
This Linga is located in Arunachal Pradesh as a prehistoric Brilliance image (tejolinga). During Kartik Purnima this place is crowded with followers and is celebrated as Rudra puja.
STHANU- THE FOURTH RUDRA
I pray to the Bhagwan Sthanu who has maa Parvati on his left side and is the cause of pleasure to her and to all the three worlds.
Once a Demon, Tarkasur became very powerful and made the Devas miserable as he could defeat all of them by the power of several boons that he had received. The troubled Devas then went collectively to Brahma for a solution and an end of that Demon. Brahma contemplated and said that he could be killed only by a Son of Shiva, otherwise the demon is quite invincible. He saw with his divine sight that Rudra was performing Tapa in his garb of Sthanu on the Himalayas and that Sati, who had earlier cast herself to death in her father’s Yajna fire, was serving to make his austerities a success in her rebirth as Parvati. Rudra was in deep meditation and was not affected by her presence. He advised the devas to do something to bring Rudra out of his Tapasya.
All the Gods conferred and decided that Rati’s husband Kamadev should make attempts to break Rudra’s Samadhi. Kamadev then attacked Rudra with all his forces, the whole world came under his amorous cast but Rudra remained motionless. Frustrated with his effort, Kamadev aimed his arrow of passion flowers mounted on a bow of sugar-cane at Rudra and succeeded to break the Tapasya. Rudra was greatly angered and his third eye opened and Deathlike fire with leaping flames instantly reduced Kamadev to ashes. All the Devas fell to their knees and began to pray to Rudra to calm his ire. They explained their purpose and Rudra condescended to return life to Kamadev later, when Vishnu would incarnate as Krishna in a different Yug. He married Parvati and later his son Kartikeya killed Tarkasur in an encounter..
In his metaphysical form the Air-Linga is located at Arkot (near Balaji) on the banks of river Swarnmukhi. This is also called Kal-hastishwar Vayulinga. The Shiva form exists as a square, rather than in its usual form. Local folklore has it that Sthanu exists here as a special kind of Air current, hence the adjective Vayu-Linga.
Opposite this Linga is a statue of Kannappa Bhil. This Bhil had served Sthanu and had offered both his eyes to the deity and received the boon that he will remain with his God forever. Another story doing its rounds is that, like in Varanasi, Shiva gives the Taraka mantra to all people who died in the city of Arkot.
BHARG- THE FIFTH RUDRA
May Bharga always stay in our hearts, the one who has the moon as his ornaments, has flowing jatas, three eyes and himself clad in the ashes of crematorium and is the granter of succor from fear of the world.
Bharg form of Rudra is known to repel all kinds of fears. He frees the world of its fears and grants moksha to his believers. Being the knowledge form of Bhagwan Shiva as Bharg grants moksha and helps the departed souls to cross Bhav-sagar.
When the Devas and Asuras churned the oceans in the quest of amrit, then the first fall out was a deadly poison called Kalakoot Maholavan. Its fumes were so overpowering that people in all the three worlds cried out to Shiva. Death loomed large and loud prayers rose in the air from the three worlds. Vishnu had tried but could not overcome the acrid poisonous fumes and approached Shiva along with other Devas and asuras. They prayed, ‘Hey Mahadev! The Kalakoot poison from the ocean is burning all living beings and us in all three worlds. O granter of respite from all fears please relieve us from fear of annihilation.’ Bharg was touched to hear such pitiable call from Devas and asuras and he took the deadly poison on his palm and swallowed it to his throat. The poison was so strong that his throat turned blue and gave Bharg another name as Neelakantha- blue-throat. To quell the effect of this poison he supported the cool moon, which also came from the ocean-churning over his head.
Because of his selfless devotion to his bhakt and concern for well being of everyone Rudra got this name of Bharg in his fifth incarnation.
The sky-linga form of Bharg Rudra is situated on the banks of Kaveri river at Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu. In the main temple there is NO idol, but in an adjacent temple the Rudra dancing form as Chidambareshwar Natraj is established as deity statue. In another nearby temple Vishnu is shown lying on his bed of serpent sheshnag. In the main temple a rare conch (shankh) (dakshinavart) decorated in gold foils is kept. This is considered very rare like gajamukta or Nagamani or Ekmukhi Rudraksh.
In the main temple behind a curtain one can see several gold plated garlands and neck wears, these are believed to be the Akash (sky) Linga. The word Chid in Chidambaram means Knowledge which is limitless, hence a parallel to sky is drawn in the form of Sky-Linga.
SADASHIVA- THE SIXTH RUDRA
May I repose in the one who as Barhma creates these worlds, as Vishnu looks after the well-being of all and then, finally, as Rudra subjects all the creation to dissolution.
Sadashiv is de facto the parm-purush and maheshwar As told in Shiv Puran in this Rudra incarnation Shiva bears the Aakash-ganga over his head and the moon on his forehead. Sada. shiv has five faces, each with three eyes. He has ten arms and wields a Trishul. His camphor-white body is smeared with ashes.
The lore is that Sadashiv thought of designing a statue of himself for his followers. The statue reflected all the qualities-guna (sat-raj and tam) and was to be prayed to by all. Having done this he disappeared and his invisible form was known by the learned as Ishwar. He then produced Shakti from within himself which is called Ambika and she is considered to be mother of tri-devas as well as of this prakrirti or creation. Ambika is also known as Nitya and has eight arms. Its constituents are earth, water, tej (light), air, sky, mind, knowledge and ego. On behalf of Sadashiv it performs the three functions of creation, administration and dissolution.
In this formless incarnation Sadashiv and Shakti as Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra create, sustain and destroy the worlds over and over again.
In metaphysics it is believed the Sun-god is a form of Sadashiv and there is no distinction between the two. The sun is the present and visible form of the invisible Sadashiv. One must believe Sun is Sadashiv and Sadashiv is Sun- there is no difference between them. Scriptures state that in Surya-temple the statue is to be prayed as that of invisible Sadashiv. There are several Sun temples including the ones at Khajuraho and Konark.
SHIVA-THE SEVENTH RUDRA
I pray to Shiva whom gayatri revers and whose abode is the Pranav (onkara). I pray to this God who is the giver truth, existence and bliss-satchitanand.
The seventh incarnation of Rudra is Shiva and the word Shiva means , one whom every one desires. Everyone wants divine bliss, hence the nominal meaning of Shiva is Divine Bliss. Scriptures narrate a story of this incarnation;
Parvati in her adolescence was performing severe tapasya to please Lord Shiva to take her as his bride. Her mother, Maina, saw her becoming leaner and undernourished day by day and said “Uma”, meaning don’t be so severe on yourself. Parvati, then, gave up even sustaining herself on dry leaves and subsisted only on the air. She thus got her name as Aparna.
Overwhelmed, Shiva appeared before her as an old Brahmin and asked her the reason for her tapasya. Uma spoke her mind and the Brahmin said, “Your desire to marry Shiva is not right. You have all the youth and beauty and the naked bodied and ash smeared person bearing a huge tuft of unkempt hair can be no match. No one knows of his family or his father’s name and his cast is unknown universally. He is so poor that he does not have even a stitch of clothing on his body. He is sometimes seen riding an ox and sometimes wrapped in tiger skin. He has no known education and is bereft of all etiquettes. He is a complete loner and may not prefer any company, how will you find any satisfaction in marriage at all?”.
Parvati could bear this no longer and retorted angrily, “Oh! I have now known you have no regards for me, any body who has contrary views of Shiva can never be my well-wisher. You have no knowledge of Shiva and please desist from meaningless talk here. Shiva is one without qualities, i.e. having all the qualities in him, he only has the welfare of the world at heart. How will such a person ever have any cast as all casts in the world come from him. How can he have any age, he is one who has created everything. All knowledge and Vedas come from him and you say he is uneducated? You please go away and leave me alone”.
Having said this Parvati looked back to see if the Brahmin had gone away, but, she was surprised to Shiva in his true form, smiling. He was satisfied to see her absolute faith in him. This is the story of how both got their respective boons.
As the seventh Rudra the moon-form statue is located at Kathiawar in Somnath temple. It is believed that ones wishes are fulfilled .by mere darshan of this Linga. This place draws crowds all through the year.
HARA-THE EIGHTH RUDRA
I pray to the God who wears snakes as decorates on his body and to whom even the Gods pray constantly hoping to see his form. I fully submit myself at the feet of this Rudra again and again.
Hara Rudra is also called Sarpbhushan- snake ornament. It translates to mean that good and bad fortunes are the same and intrinsic to God. The female snake sometimes eats up its own babies as they hatch. Death too has a similar disposition, there is no distinction between own and others, it is same for everyone. The symbol of Death is Snake. Shiva uses this Tamoguna (ignorance or darkness) as a tool for destruction and is the Lord of Death. Rudra as Hara alone can free those who seek his bhakti from sins done by Deeds of the body, Mental thought and those through utterances of speech.
The story of this avtar is;
When Shiva’s son, Kartik (also named Skand) killed Tarkasur in battle of Tripura the Asura’s sons were very demoralized. All three -Tarkaksh, Kamalaksh and Vidyunmali were overcome with grief and entered a cave to pray to Bramha. Pleased, Brahma appeared before them and asked them to take a boon from him. They asked complete townships of Iron, Silver and Gold that were indestructible. Brahma ordered Asura Maya, who was known for his magical powers to build the three townships. Maya Danav then prepared a Golden city and fort for Tarkaksh, a Silver city with jewels, and fort for Kamalaksh and for Vidyunmali he built a City and fort of Iron. He also laid down a stipulation that none except Hara could break through the defenses of these cities only if penetrated all of them with one single arrow
Now with Brahma’s boon and as Shiva bhakta’s they began to torture other Gods and people in their areas. Then, led by Indra, Brahma once again went to Shiva to seek succor. Rudra Hara as Shiva told them that he could not destroy the three brothers as they were his bhaktas, but suggested that if Vishnu could exercise his Maya and somehow lead them away from Shivbhakti, then he could destroy all three of them. Here it is suggested that even though the Trinity of Rudra, Vishnu and Brahma is one, they are prayed to as individuals by people seeking specific boons. The joint presentation of Vishnu and Rudra is called HARi-HARA. This way even though Shiv and Vishnu had different forms for the Asura brothers, yet the two were the same. Vishnu used his Maya to mislead the three brothers and soon they were brainwashed to not accept Shive as the Highest God, thus getting weaned out of Shiva-Bhakti, thus, making it possible for Shiva to kill them.
The Wooden idol of the Eighth Rudra as HARA is in Kathmandu as Pashupatinath. This is also called Yajman Murti and here priests conduct yajnas for other people. This place is thronged by bhaktas from all over the world every year.
SHARVA-THE NINTH RUDRA
May the destroyer of the city of Tripura, the one who leveled the pride and ego of Yamraj, the wielder of sword and one with sharp fangs always be kind and benevolent towards us.
The meaning of Sharva is all encompassing, Paramatma, and the Lord of the three worlds. Sharva also derives this name because he had mounted a war chariot with all Gods (Sarvdeva) to destroy Tripura.
The lore goes as follows;
When all Gods prayed to Har Rudra to destroy the three fort cities of Tarakasur’s sons he asked them to ready a war chariot for him. All the Gods contributed their powers and built a chariot with Sun and Moon as the wheels, the six seasons as its spokes, space became its forefront, Mount Mandrachal became his seat, Shradha became its motion, and the five elements became its strength. The six parts of the Vedas became the ornaments and Sheshnag became the rope. Pushkar and many other religious places became its ensign and the oceans formed its clothes. The four Vedas themselves became the four horses and Brahma became the charioter. Vishnu became the arrow and Agni its tip. All things in this creation formed something or the other of the chariot. All means SARV in Sanskrit and hence the name of Sharva for this Rudra incarnation.
When Maya Asura had designed these three cities of Gold, silver and Iron he had put them at levels one higher than the other and to make them invincible he said that these could be destroyed only when weapon pierced through them all. This was a design condition. Since these three Fort cities also moved in space, it was almost impossible that they were in one line. But now with divine intervention and Powers of Rudra the three of them momentarily came in one line, one above the other. Sharva Fired the arrow at all three of them when his chariot was above them all. The arrow went through all three in one go and the cities and the three sons of Tarakasur were destroyed.
This incarnation of Bhagwan Sharva is also called Pavman (wind) and is located in the skies. There is no Linga on earth.
KAPALI- THE TENTH RUDRA
May the destroyer of Daksh yajna and one with an angry face always provide us with peace and pleasure.
As per Padma Puran the story is;
Once Rudra Kapali went to Brahmas yajna as an uninvited guest wearing a human skull, whence he was stopped at the gates. When the clamour to oust him grew among the Devas, Kapali assumed his super divine form in anger. The Devas fell to his feet and pleaded for askance and offered him the prime yajna seat.
The other story goes that once Brahma, who originally had five heads felt guilty of pride. To wean him out Shiva plucked one of his heads, but the head stuck to the palm and could not be separated. Therefore, Shiva earned the name of Kapali. There is a third story as well.
Once there was a great get together of Rishis at Prayag. Brahma was the presiding deity and Kapali (Shiva incarnate) too was present. When Prajapati Daksha arrived, every one present rose to honour his arrival. Shiva did not rise as he was the son in law of Daksha, this angered the Prajapati and he put a curse on Shiva and walked away. Soon Daksha organized another yajna at Kankhal, near Haridwar with the sole aim to demean Shiva. He invited all the Gods, the rishis and other sadhus and laid out gifts galore for all attendees. This time when Sati came to know of the event she came to the yajna much against the wishes of her husband Shiva. At the yajna she saw that there was no gifts or prasad for Shiva, she got very angry and cursed all present Devas which included Brahma, Vishnu, Indra and many others. Then in great anguish she walked into the havan fire and immolated herself.
Shiva came to know of this and he flared up in great anger. He ordered two of super powers, Veerbhadra and Mahakali to destroy that yajna and teach a lesson to Daksha. The two descended on the yajna and completely destroyed it, all the guests ran away for their lives. Veerbhadra severed the head of Daksha and handed it over to Mahakali who threw it into the fire.
Later when all the Gods pleaded to Shiva he arrived there and set things right and also pardoned Daksha. He even gave his life back by putting the head of a male goat, since the original head had been consumed by fire of his yajna.
The metaphysical form of Kapali exists only as fire and there in no Linga of this name on earth.
BHAV- ELEVENTH RUDRA
I seek shelter at those lotus feet to whom Yogiraj Indra prays endlessly, which are far removed from Duality, are the shelter for the bhaktagan and from where Vedanta found its roots.
The name Bhav also signifies the entire Brahmand, God resides in every particle in this form. This eleventh Rudra incarnation is also believed to be Jagadguru- teacher (Guru) of the world. He alone professed Vedanta and Yogsadhana to the people and cleared the way for spiritual enlightenment. Without his intervention it would have been impossible to understand education, yoga, knowledge, science and devotion.
Rudra as Bhav incarnates in the five kalpas known as Sadyojaat, Vamdev, Tatpurusha, Aghore, and Ishan to spread these divine qualities among Brahma and four other pupils in the form of Adiguru. Bhav takes form in every dwapar yug of each Kalpa as Adiguru and similarly imparts knowledge to the Brahma and four other pupils of that cosmic cycle.
In Shiva kalpa, Bhav appeared in view of the then Brahma. He was jet-black in colour and carried the name Aghore. By his powers he created four other black bodied young boys who looked identical to him. He imparted the secret Aghore vidya to them, this is still practiced by some Sadhus in isolation in India.
Similarly, in the Vishwaroop kalp, he appeared before Brahma and created four pupils from his powers and imparted Yoga vidya to them all. Today Yoga is acknowledged all over the world. Even in future Kalpas, Bhav will incarnate and will impart knowledge and spiritual illumination.
Rudra exists in each particle that makes up this Brahmand as Bhav, hence we all should revere every person, every being, every object and every element that is perceived around us. Any thing that moves or is static has the divine presence of Bhav, else it will not exist.
On earth since Bhav is present in every particle, there is no Linga by this name.
Rudra incarnated in human form eleven times to impart spiritual knowledge. Many Purans and Upanishads have discussed these incarnations and have carried the wisdom of those ancient teachings. These are called his PURUSHAVTARS.
In ancient time a Rishi by the name SHILAD sat in deep tapasya at the behest of his pitras (manes). Rudra was pleased and appeared in his view and offered him a boon. Shilad Muni said, “ O. Lord Shiva, I wish to sire a son exactly like you who will neither age nor die with time”. “Tathastu” said Rudra, “O pious Brahmin, even though I am the father of this Cosmos, I will take birth as your ageless-deathless son and his name will be Nandi”. Saying this, Rudra disappeared.
Later, when Shilad was working in the farms a drop of his perspiration fell into the earth and from that instantly a son was born to him. These were times when progeny was born as mind power. The Son, Nandi was as brilliant as the Sun, had three eyes, supported Jata on his head, carried a trishul in his left hand and had four arms. He bent in reverence to his father and touched his feet. Then the child adopted a normal person’s form like his father. The Muni began to rear the child with great care and carried out all the karmas and rites that were due. He named him Nanadi.
By the age of five Nandi had mastered all Vedas and other scriptures. When Nandi was seven years age Shilad was met by two travelling sages named Mitra and Varuna. These sadhus informed him that his son had just one more year to live. Shilad was shattered, and Nandi gave him heart, He said, “Father, please do not worry, Yama can do me no harm, Shambhu is the death of even mrityu, I will pray to him and win over this forecasted death”. Having said so Nandi proceeded to the forest and began his tapasya to Shambhu in the form of Sadashiva. Shiva appeared along with Uma and asked him to take a boon. Nandi fell at their feet and Shiva said, “Son, I had sent those two Brahmins, you have no fear of Death as you are a complete reflection of me You will soon become my Gananayak- leader of Shivas troops known as Ganas.”
Shiva and Uma vanished before his eyes and he returned to Shilad to give him the news that he will live for ever, just the way he had asked Sadashiv as a boon.
In ancient times there was a town called Narmpaur on the banks of river Narmada. Rishi Vishwanar stayed with his wife Shachushmati and performed great austerities in the name of Pinaki Rudra. They were a happy couple.
One day his wife told him that she nurtured a deep desire in her heart. The Rishi was surprised that he had not known her desire earlier and asked of her, ’What could be your desire that you had keep to yourself for so long. Speak without fear or restraint.’ Shachushmati said, ‘O! Dev! after seeing your devotion to Rudra, I desire that I carry a son as powerful and brilliant as Pinaki in my womb. Please fulfill my desire.’
Vishwanara took his wife’s words as if they had come from Rudra himself. He left for Varanasi and performed deep tapasya for over a year near the famous Linga called Viresh. As the thirteenth month began and he started his days penance, he was surprised to see the form of an eight year old boy in the middle of the Linga. The boy had yellow jata and a smile was playing on his lips, his entire body was smeared with ashes and he was reciting passages from the Shrutis. The Rishi began to recite the eight shlokas that indicate completion of ones desires. Pinaki in his child form said, ‘ I am pleased with your puja and when time comes I will take birth as your son and fulfill your wife’s desire. My name then will be Grihapati. Now you go home’. Vishwanar prostrated before the image of the boy and Pinaki vanished in a moment.
In due course of time Rudra took birth from Shachushmati’s womb and Brahma himself performed all the cast rite and named the child Grihapati. When the boy completed the age of nine years, Narad visited them and received all the facilitations from Vishwanara. But as he departed he told him that he saw danger from Lightening or water for the child at the age of twelve. The boy Grihapati heard this and when Narad was gone told his parents, ‘ You please do not worry, I am a great devotee of Rudra and by his grace no evil can happen. He is the Lord of mrityu and I request that you permit me to go to Kashi and pray to him’. The parents gladly permitted him.
At Kashi Grihapati would fill 108 pitchers of Gangajal and perform abhishek of the Shivlinga reciting the Shiva mantras every day for the next three years till he turned twelve years old. On an auspicious day Indra appeared before him and asked him to seek a boon. Grihapati declined his offer and said that he would seek his boon only from Pinaki Rudra. As Indra went away Shiva took form and said, ‘Rise boy, I am happy with your austerities and I grant you long life. The Linga you have built will be known as Agnishwar and will be popular in Kashi. Now you may return home.
Once Mahasati Ansuya and her husband Rishi Atri did severe penance at Wrikshakool Mountain. Pleased with their effort all three Devas appeared before them and asked them to seek a boon from each one of them. The Rishi couple opted for a son from each of them who had all their qualities. The boon was granted and the couple had three sons. From Brahmas boon Chandrama (moon), from Vishnu came Dutta and from Shiva’s boon Durvasa was born.
Durvasa is well known for his short temper and quick to cast a curse. Once Vishnu’s bhakta Ambrish had invited Durvasa for meals. The timing of the meal was before the auspicious time when he had to conclude a vrata (fasting penance ritual). But Durvasa was inordinately delayed and reached after the moment when the vrata had to be opened. Ambrish consulted his Brahmin’s and opened the vrata by having charnamrit and few tulsi leaves. When at last Durvasa arrived and came to that Ambrish had broken his fast he got furious. He produced a Kritya by his magical powers and asked it to burn Ambrish to ashes. But since Ambrish was a Vishnu bhakta his Sudarshan Chakra appeared and burnt up kritya. Shiva appeared immediately, too, and only then Sudarshan Chakra calmed down.
As per Puranic lore Durvasa had tested Rama and Krishna during their incarnations. At another time he tested Pandava too. Once he arrived at their hut with his troop of disciples and asked to be fed. Since Pandava family had eaten there was no food available. To seek time Yudhishthira asked them to freshen up at the nearby river and return for food for all. Meanwhile, Draupadi prayed to Krishna who immediately made an appearance. After he was told of the event, Krishna asked Draupadi to bring the pot in which she had cooked food. She promptly brought the pot which she had just cleaned and washed. Krishna inspected the inside and found a small leafy remnant sticking to the side. He scraped it and ate it. Since he was the Lord of the world, his satisfaction meant satisfaction of the world. At the site of the river suddenly Durvasa and his disciples felt that their stomachs full and could not eat another morsel. This was Krishna Leela. Durvasa quickly took to heels, never to return.
Even though he was known for his short temper he did much good as a human incarnation of Rudra.
At one time the Asuras had become very powerful under Vritasur. The Asura forces defeated the Devas and put them on the run. Devas went to Brahma for a solution to overcome their misery. Brahma suggested that Vritasur can be killed only by weapons made of Muni Dadhichi’s bones. But Dadhichi was living at that time. Brahma continued, ‘The saint had pleased Shiva during his young days and sought the boon that made his bones super strong. All you Devas approach him for his skeleton and then make a weapon of it. Only then it will be possible to kill Vritasur.
The Devas went to Dadhichi’s ashram under the leadership of Indra and prayed to him to give them his skeleton. The Muni obliged and his soul departed for the heaven. The Devas requested Vishwakarma to construct the deadly weapon who then produced the Vajrastra weapon.
Meanwhile Dadhichi’s wife, Suvarchana returned and saw what had happened in her absence and she flew into rage. She placed a curse on Indra and the other Devas. Then she proceeded to make a pyre to immolate herself with her husband. Suddenly there was an Akashwani from the skies. ‘ Devi you are blessed, do not commit sati as you are pregnant with Dadhichi’s child. Scriptures do not permit Sati of a newly widowed wife is carrying her husbands fetus’.
While still sitting on the pyre, Suvarchana split her womb with her hands and brought out the male child. Immediately the child grew into a man resembling Dadhichi and the atmosphere brightened due to his brilliance as that fetus was the incarnation of Shiva. Suvarchna got an inner feeling that her son was Shiva Himself. She folded her hands in reverence and said, ’Son, you stay here under the Ashwath tree. May mankind benefit from your intelligence and work. Now please allow me to go to my husband’s domain in the skies.’ She lit the pyre and was soon gone to Shivalok with Dadhichi. Brahma and all other Devas descended there and offered their respects to Shiva incarnation and named him Pippalad.
Pippalad’s name figures in many Upanishads as he taught several pupils on religious texts. He analyzed the effect of Shani power and curse of seven years bad times on Humans. He prayed to Shani and got his word that anybody under the age of sixteen years will not come under bad spell.
5. YATINATH and HANS AVTAR
This story goes to ancient times. A Bhil couple stayed in hut on Arbudachal mountain. Both, named Ahuk and Ahuki were deeply religious and greatly revered Shiva. Shiva decided to test them out and assumed the form of sanyasi (Yatinath) and reached their hut. Both Ahuk and Ahuki treated them as Atithi and welcomed them with prayers and food offerings. It was evening and sanyasi Yatinath requested them to let him stay the night in the hut.
The hut was very small and barely accommodated just the two of them. If he stayed out and the guest stayed with the wife it would be sacrilegious and if the wife stayed out then any of the wild animals could kill and eat her up. Ahuki suggested that the husband stay in the hut with the guest and she could wield some weapon and stand guard outside. Ahuk decided to opt for the first recourse and stood guard outside the hut while sanyasi and his wife occupied space inside the hut.
As night grew some wild animals pounced on him and partially ate his body. The Bhil did not cry for help when he was under attack as he did not want disturb his guest in sleep. In the morning Sanyasi Yatinath expressed his grief to Ahuki but she told him, ‘Swami, please do not feel bad, my husband has offered his life in the line of being a good host. He will be blessed by Shiva. Now as you leave, I too will follow my dharma and commit Sati.’
Yatinath set up a pyre for Ahuk and Ahuki. As she was about to light the fire, Shiva appeared. He praised the actions of the Bhil couple and gave them the boon that in future life his incarnation as Hans will reunite them. Ahuk was born as as Virsen, but was better known as Nal, son of the King of Nishadh Kingdom. Ahuki was born as Damyanti, the daughter of Bhimraj, King of Vidharbha . They ruled for several years and then were given place of pride in Shiva lok. Having given his boon, Shiva transformed himself into Shiva-linga. Since the Bhil had stood his ground in the duty of a host, this Linga got the name Achalesh. The story of Nala and Damyanti as afolk lore where a Hans played the vital part of conveying messages between the two.
In the next life Shiva as Hans incarnation performed the wedding rites of Raja Nal and princess Damyanti, and was the carrier of messages between them as the bird hans (swan).
6. KRISHNADARSHAN AVTAR
Nabhag was the youngest son of Manu named as Shradhdev Bhagwan Shiva had personally given him knowledge of the Universe.
While he was getting trained at his gurukul, his brothers usurped and divided their fathers properties, leaving nothing for Nabhag. He came to know of this only when he completed study of the Vedas and returned home. He asked his brothers for his portion but they refused and told him take their father who was still alive. Nabhag narrated this to his father, who said, ‘Son! You are a simpleton and your brothers have told you all this to fool you. Even then, I will tell you a way to earn livelihood.A Brahmin called Angiras is conducting a yajna, but he makes mistake at the closing, hence the ritual is rendered incomplete and has to be repeated. If you go and correct his Veda recitation, the ritual will be complete and all Brahmins attending will go to heaven. While doing so they will give you their portion of offerings which you can keep.’ Nabhag went to the yajna and correctly recited the portion where Angiras was making a mistake. The yajna was successful and all Brahmins gave their portions to him and went to heaven.
As Nabhag was returning back with all the wealth Shiva appeared there as Krishnadarshan and challenged him saying that the yajna portions are his right and no one else can take it. An argument ensued and it was decided that Nabhag asks his father to resolve the issue. The boy Nabhag went to consult his father, leaving the wealth behind with Krishnadarshan.
The father immediately sensed that the boy was being tested and advised him that it was Shiva himself who has challenged him, and he is rightfully yajna proceeds belong to him. Not only this he is the Lord of the whole Brahmand. Nabhag rushed back and fell at the feet of Krishnadarshan and said, ’Maheshwar! You are the creator and I have made a big mistake of not recognizing you. Please pardon my folly. My father’s decision is that all this offerings indeed is yours, so, please take it. Without knowing the truth I have not spoken correctly, please excuse that too.’ God was pleased with Nabhag he gave him eternal knowledge and the offerings as well and disappeared.
7. AVDHOOTESHWAR AVTAR
Once Indra decided to take all Devas along with Brihaspati for Shiva-darshan. Shiva came to know of this and decided to test the Devas out. He met them on the way as an Avdhoot without any clothing. His body was shining with brilliance of flaming Agni.
Indra saw him and asked him with his habitual arrogance, ‘Who are you? Why are you roaming about without clothes? Go and inform Shivaji that I have come with other Gods for his darshan. I am the King of Gods, Indra.’ There was arrogance in every word that Indra had spoken. The Avdhoot said nothing and kept looking Indra in his eye. This incensed Indra and he lifted his Vajra to strike . But suddenly he could not even move the weapon and it fell from his hand, as Shiva froze his motion. Shiva become even more fierce looking than before and a ball of fire arose from his third eye. Brihaspati sensed that Shiva it was in his visible form. He pushed Indra and also flung himself at Shiva’s feet begging profusely for mercy.
Shiva said that even if I pardon Indra I can not take back the fire ball, just as a snake can not reenter his skin once it has been shed. All the Gods began to plead and Indra began to shiver with his guilt. He realised his false ego and began to cry. Shiva told Brihaspati, “ I am happy with you for asking me to spare Indra’s life and from now on your another name will be ‘Jeeva’. On your say so I will deflect this ball of fire else where’. Saying this he grabbed the fire ball and threw it in to the yonder sea.
As the fire-ball fell into the waters it took the form of a Boy who was later known as an asura by the name Sindhuputra Jalandhar. Eventually, Shiva had to kill the demon. Shiva’s biggest gift to Indra was to break his ego and teach him humility.
8. BHIKSHU VARYA AVTAR
Satyarath, King of Vidharbha was a Godfearing person. He ruled over his state judicially and every one there was happy. But, once the neighbourly King of Shalva attacked him. A fierce battle ensued and Satyarath was killed in the battle. The queen came to know of this and she escaped to the forest praying loudly to Shiva. At this time she was pregnant.
She reached a rivulet and gave birth to her child. She laid the child under a tree and proceeded to tidy up at the river. Here, a crocodile killed her and ate her up. The newly born child was rendered orphan. Shiva was touched and he appeared there and began to guard him. Just then a Brahmin woman came that way with her one year old child. She was a widow. She felt piety for the abandoned child and adopted him as her own. Shiva, meanwhile, saw this from a distance and quickly took the form of a mendicant and approached the Lady.
Shiva revealed the story of the boy and said, ‘ This boy is blessed and pious, you can adopt him as your own. He is the son of Shiva bhakta Satyarath who lost his life in a battle with King of Shalva and his mother had gone to fetch water after giving birth to this boy but an alligator ate her up, now this boy is without any support. When this boy grows up he will be a great Shiva bhakt too’. Then Shiva gave her darshan of his divine form and disappeared. The Brahmin woman took both the children home and began to rear them. This boy was named Dharmagupt.
Both boys were tutored by Rishi Shandilya and they learnt Vedas. One day the elder boy went to the river for bath and found a pitcher full of gems and gold. He did not want to share it so he ran away. But the other boy, prince of Vidharba completed his education and matured into a handsome boy. One day a Gandharva girl saw him and lost her heart to him and married the prince. The boy after his marriage became King of her fathers state. He made his mother the Rajmata and looked after her well.
9. SURESHWAR AVTAR
Vyaghrapad was the son of Rishi Upamanyu. He had achieved sainthood in his previous life. Since the Rishi was often engaged in Samadhi the boy stayed with the mother at her brother’s (Mama’s) house. They all lived in abject poverty.
One day the boy asked his mother for milk, but they were too poor to afford milk. The mother made paste of rice and dissolved it in water for him to drink as milk. The boy threw tantrums to get a glass of genuine milk and began to cry. The mother
said, ‘ Son we are poor people and we have no money. We may get milk only if Shiva is pleased. You should ask him for milk’.
The boy took this to heart and proceeded to the jungle. Here he built a small temple with eight bricks and established a Shiva Linga of earth, and began to pray to Shiva and Maa Parvati. He kept on chanting the mantra ‘Om Namah Shivay’. Shiva was pleased and appeared with Parvati Devi and other Gods. Indra asked him to take a boon, but the boy refused and insisted that if Shiva was indeed pleased he may offer the boon. Shiva made himself visible as Sureshwar and began to speak ill of Shiva (himself).
Upmanyu was incensed and lifted a sure-shot weapon to attack, but Nandi held the weapon to frustrate the attack. He then lit fire to self immolate but Shiva extinguished the fire. Shiva was pleased and from his appearance as Sureshwar, transformed to his original God form. Shiva said,’ From today I am your father and Parvati your mother and I grant you undying youth. Henceforth you will have no paucity of milk. He also appointed him as Leader of his Ganas’.
The boy returned home and told the occurrence to his mother. Her son who prayed for just milk had achieved every thing as a Shiva bhakta.
10. KIRAT AVTAR
Once Arjuna went to pray to Shiva at the behest of Indra and Veda Vyas. He prayed for a long time but Shiva did not appear to be pleased, so the all the Devas collectively went to Shiva and requested him to heed to Arjuna’s prayers. But Shiva knew what was the best for all, he directed the Devas to retreat to their respective abodes.
One day an Asura by name of Mook took the form of a wild boar and began to move around Arjuna, who was in deep Tapa. The boar had disturbed him and broke Arjunas concentration. Arjuna stood up and picked up his bow and arrow to bring the errant boar down. Simultaneously, Shiva also appeared in the garb of Kirat armed with bow and arrows. Both shot their arrows at the boar. Shivas arrow hit the boar in the rear and exited from his face and disappeared in the ground, while Arjunas arrow hit the face of the boar and exited the back side and fell there. Both Kirat and Arjuna raced to retrieve the arrow. But, now, there was just one arrow and both claimed it as theirs. There was an argument, but since Arjuna had already picked up the arrow he refused to part with it. Soon a scuffle broke out between Kirat and arjuna over the arrow. In reality Shiva as Kirat wanted to rest out Arjuna if he was ready to receive the Pashupat Astra that he was about to get for future use.
Arjun was surprised that all his arrows aimed at Kirat would turn away from him and break into pieces. In order to please the Shiv Linga he had been praying to for a solution, Arjun aimed a flower arrow at the idol . He was surprised that this flower arrow turned towards Kirat, instead and fell at his feet. Before Arjuna could understand any thing Kirat assumed his divine form and stood smiling. Arjuna too fell at his feet. Shiva gifted him the Pashupat Astra and disappeared. Arjuna later used this weapon in the battle of Kurukshetra.
11. HANUMAN AVTAR
Once Shiva, pleased with Bhasmasura for his tapasya granted him a boon that any one whose head was touched by this demon would be reduced to ashes instantly. .Later, enamoured by Parvati’s beauty the demon wanted to destroy Shiva by cupping his hand over the Godly scalp. At that time Vishnu appeared as Mohini, who tricked Bhasmasura to touch his own head. The demon obliged and turned to ashes instantly.
Shiva himself fell for the beauty and appeal of Mohini and he discharged his vital fluid. The Sapt-rishis collected it on a leaf and established in the womb of Anjani through her ear. Later Shiva was born to Anjani as a Vanar (Monkey-man) and was named Hanuman by Brahma. Shiva ,till date, is most revered in his incarnation as Hanuman.
Hanuman’s antiques started at his birth. Immediately after birth he leapt up to gobble up the Sun that he had mistaken for a juicy fruit. He had to be dropped down from the sky with a hit of Vajra by Indra to protect the cosmos and the Sun. As the child fell on hard rock he hurt his chin and for this reason he got his name- Hanuman. By then all Gods reached the spot and realised that it was Shiva that had incarnated. They all imparted their specific vidya and blessed the Baby Hanuman. In this incarnation he rendered Sugriv fearless by the blessings and friendship of Rama and Lakshmana. He played a great role in Ramayana in searching out the where abouts of Sita, saving the life of Lakshmana by fetching Sanjeevani booti, and shattering the pride and ego of several demons as well as Devas. He is the only incarnation that is called sankat mochan- savior form troubles. The chanting of his name alone grants riches, fame, long life and fulfillment of all desires.
OM NAMAH SHIVAY
The Shiva Lingas established by Devas and humans where Shiva later agreed to be always present are usually called Jyotirlingas. These are twelve in numbers and mostly located in India (Bharat Varsha). Today any person who has visited all the sites is considered as a big bhakta of Shiva and lives a religious life.
The Jyotirlinga is located in the Somnath temple at Kathiawad district of Gujarat. This is also known as Prabhas kshetra
Daksha Prajapati had married 27 of his daughters to Chandrama, but he loved only one of the by the name Rohini. The other girls complained to their father who tried to bring Chandrama around, but he remained unmoved. In anger the Father in law put a curse on Chandrama that he suffer from a debilitating disease and he immediately so affected.
Devastated, Chandrama rushed to Prabhas Kshetra and sat in severe tapasya and chanting Maha Mrityuanjay mantra. In due course of time Shiva was pleased and appeared before him and relieved him of his previous curse. To keep the sanctity of Daksha’s powers he told Chandrama that he will continuously vex and vane but otherwise he will be fit as before.
After finding relief, Chandrama and other Gods prayed to Shiva that he maintain his presence in Prabhas kshetra. Shiva obliged and he is now said to be actively situated in this Linga.
Any one who prays at this Jyotirlinga is shown the way to Shiva Bhakti and Moksha.
2 SHREE MALLIAKARJUNA
This Jyotirlinga is situated at the banks of Krishna river in the mountain region of Shree Shail Parvat in Andhra Pradesh.
Once Ganesh and Kartikeya got into argument as to who should marry first. They went to their parents, Shiva and Parvati to find a resolve. Shiva told them that whoever completes a full round of the world may marry first. Kartikeya took off on his divine vehicle of Mayur, but, Ganesh had the option of a small mouse as his vehicle and with his massive body he was sure to be the loser.
Quick thinking Ganesh leisurely went around Shiva and Parvati and claimed that scripture has it that a Parikrama of mother equaled parikrama of the universe. In any case, Shiva being the creator of the universe had the entire cosmos within himself. Thus, he had satisfied the terms of the competition and declared himself the winner. Kartikeya trudged home after a long wait only to find that Ganesh had won the contest.
In anguish Kartikeya retreated to Kronch Parvat and sat there sulking. Later Mother Parvati too reached there tried to cajole her angry son. Shiva too joined up as Mallikarjuna Jyotirlinga and stayed on with his son Kartikeya.
All sincere and true wishes carried in the heart of worshipers are met within this lifetime and later the way to heaven is opened to them.
3 SHREE MAHAKALESHWAR
This Jyotirlinga is situated near the banks of Kshipra river in the town of Ujjain ( Madhya Pradesh).
Once King Chandrasen of Ujjain was going for oblations to Lord Shiva he was sighted by a young boy by name Shrikar. Quite playfully, the boy picked up a stone and began to pray to it. He got so lost in his prayers that he forgot about his meals or going home. His mother came looking for him and found him absorbed in Chanting Shivas name. She tried to stop him but since he was not paying heed to her, she picked up the stone and threw it away. Srikar began to cry uncontrollably and soon fainted.
Shiva was extremely pleased with the boy’s bhakti and soon as Srikar regained senses he saw a huge glamourous temple in front of him, he began to pray once again. The mother was speechless at her son’s achievement and hugged her son to her chest. King Chandrasen too came to know of the appearance of the temple and rushed there to pray, shortly the whole town gathered around and started chanting Shiva’s name.
The people were suddenly surprised to see Hanuman had also made him self visible in the crowd and he announced, ‘O people of Ujjain, Shiva’s bhakti fructifies with minimum effort as he is easy to please. Happy with this child’s effort he is given such boon to that other Rishis and Munies may achieve after many years of tapasya. The eighth generation of this boy will be born as Nand Gopa and in the dwapar yug Vishnu will take birth as Krishna and rid the world of evil.’ With this Hanuman left without trace.
There is another story as to how the temple got its name of Mahakaal.
There was a Brahmin shiv Bhakta who was known for his bhakti. But, he was always troubled by a demon by name of Dushan. Shiva annihilated him by just his Hunkar (breath). Hence the name Mahakaal.
Any person who visits this place and prays to Shiva in the temple is relieved of the cycle of birth and death. He gets moksha and stays in Shiv-dham.
This Jyotirlinga iis located on the banks of Narmada river on the slopes of Mandhata Mountain range in the present day state of Madhya Pradesh. Quite close to the Onkareshwar Temple there is another important temple on the southern bank of Narmada river by the name Amleshwar. Even though they are two , they together are counted as one and called Onkareshwar Jyotirlinga.
As stated in some Purans once Vindhya Parvat assumed human form and prayed to Shiva for six months. Happy with his effort, Shiva gave him darshan and he asked the boon that Shiva Stay for ever as a Shiva-Linga. By his powers Shiva created a Linga and was about to enter it when a group of Muni’s appeared and they too prayed for a Linga. Shiva made two parts of the Linga and established half the Linga at some distance from the first one. Even today, the Linga at Onkareshwar shows a broken top and is prayed toas khandit (broken) Linga. Since it is the same Linga in both locations, the two together are called Onkareshwar.
By praying to this Linga one achieves all worldly and heavenly happiness.
5. SHREE KEDARNATH
Kedarnath Jyotirlinga is situated in the heights of the Himalayas in the present state of Uttarakhand on the banks of river Mandakini. It is located at height of over 3500 meters above sea level and is the remotest of the Chardham (four abodes) in this area and because of its presence the whole mountain range is rendered holy. The story in the Purans is;
There were two great Shiva bhaktas, Nara and Narayana, they both jointly performed austerities in the Himalayas. They stood on just one foot and thus prayed on for thousands years. They were soon known in all the three worlds as Shiva’s param bhaktas and their Lord came over to express his pleasure and asked them to seek a boon. Both asked in Unison that Shiva stay over for ever at this location so that other bhaktas can also come here to pray and seek his blessings. Shiva obliged by creating a Linga and entered into it.
Because of the Shiva Linga the whole mountain range has become holy and thousands of Bhaktas make this trek and those who get his darshan are blessed with virtues and Moksha.
6. SHREE BHEEMESHWAR
This Jyotirlinga is located near Guwahati, the state Capital of Assam atop the Dakini Hill near Pamohi. There is no temple here and the Linga is in the middle of a hill stream and one can see continuous flow of water around the Linga
As per Shiv Puran, Kumbhakarna, Ravana’s brother was in love with Karkati who was the daughter of a king of Patal Lok. At the peak of the battle with Rama, Ravan came to invite Kumbhkarna and Karkatis’ father to join the fight, but, they both refused till such time he permitted the wedding to take place. Ravan gave in on the advice of Narada. The marriage was solomnised and later Kumbhkaran was killed in the war. Karkati was pregnant and gave birth to a son named Bheemasur. The boy grew up and prayed to Brahma and received a boon that he will not lose a war. This made Bhimasur complacent and he fought with Vishnu. Vishnu let him win as he wanted to maintain sanctity of Brahmas boon. He conquered many kingdoms including that of a King called Kamroopeshwar and put him in a jail with the queen.
The King prayed to Shiva making a small earthen Linga. Bheemasur sent his army to stop the King but Shiva appeared and destroyed the Army and when Bheemasur came there he too was killed. The river is said to have sprung up from the sweat of Shiva and the place of worship was given the name Bheemeshwar. All Gods who had come there to witness prayed to Shiva and requested him to Stay there for ever. Shiva entered the Linga in the middle of the river at their request.
8. SHREE TRIYAMBAKESHWAR
Triyambikeshwar temple is situated in the town of Trimbak in Nasik District of Maharashtra. It is 28 Km. from Nasik and 40Km from Nasik Road railway Station. The ancient genealogy registers of Hindus are kept and maintained here.
The Puranic story has it that at one time Gautama Rishi inadvertently killed a cow and thought that he had earned the sin of cow-slaughter. To get relief he sat in severe tapasya and chanted Shiva mantras. Pleased, when Shiva asked him to seek a boon he asked him for relief from Go-hatya (cow slaughter). Shiva told him that he was conned into believing that he had committed this sin, but actually he is sinless. He also promised to punish those who had connived to make him believe of his sin. Gautam fell at Shivas feet and said, ‘ Please do not punish them as it is only due to them that I have aviled your darshan.’ Other Muni and Rishis also pleaded similarly and they all requested Shiva to stay permanently. Shiva made a Shiv Linga and entered it. Later Gautama did more tapasya and acquired a boon that Godavari river also flow past the Jyotirlinga.
The extraordinary feature of the Linga is that it it has three faces reflecting the Tridev (trinity) of Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra. The Linga is being eroded due to excessive use of water and it is believed to be akin to the eroding nature of human society. The Linga is covered by a crown of gold and silver and studded with gems and diamonds. This crown is believed to be from the times of the Pandavas. The temple is made of all black stone and has magnificent architecture. The darshan of this Linga gives one Moksha and in this life time pleasant life.
9. SHREE VAIDYANATH
Vaidyanath or Baba Baidyanath Jyotirlinga is located in Deogarh in Santhal Parganas of Jharkhand.
In ancient times Ravan made a Shiv-ling and entered into severe austerities to please Shiva. At he peak of his tapasya he began to cut and offer all his heads one by one to Shiva, after he had offered his nine heads, Shiva appeared and stopped him from making further sacrifice. He also restored the other nine heads that had been offered earlier. As a boon, Ravan asked Shiva to permit him to take the Linga to his native Lanka. The boon was granted with a rider that it must be carried all the way, and if it were placed on ground then it would be impossible to lift it up again.
Ravan happily carried the Linga and during the journey felt the urge to relieve himself. Urge was so impelling that he called an Ahir (tribe tending to cows etc.) and asked him to hold the Linga during his absence. As the Ahir was holding the Linga it started to get heavier and heavier and could not be carried any more. In desperation, the Ahir put it down on the ground and waited for Ravan to return. On return Ravan could not pick up the Linga and became aware of the condition imposed by Shiva, so he just prayed one last time and left unhappily to Lanka. He also marked the Linga with his thumb impression.
In the same compound there is a temple of Ma Parvati. The two are strung at the top with cotton threads and it is believed that they visit each other through this medium. It is believed that one who gets darshan of the Linga is blessed with relief for all his sins of this life and he overcomes greed, anger and envy etc. He then submits himself for the uplift and welfare of human race.
10. SHREE NAGESHWAR
Nageshwar Jyotirlinga is located near Dwarka city in Gujarat. But there is controversy about its real location due to its proximity to Darukavana. This name is derived from a forest of Deodar trees, which are commonly related to Shiva’s preferences. But there are no forests in this area now. Some people mistakenly identified it with temple of Jageshwar in Almora District. The controversy was resolved as narrative of Sri Krishna exists that it is in proximity to Somnath and Prabhas kshetra. Also, Deodar trees can not grow in Almora.
Supriya was a God-fearing Vaishya (trader community) and a bhakta of Shiva. He was always engaged in rituals and chanting the Shiva name. An asura by the name Daruk also stayed near by. The asura did not like that Supriya was a Shiva bhakta and always looked to harm him.
Once Supriya along with his people was travelling by boat to sell his wares in another town. Daruk over powered the boat and took all the people in the boat as prisoners. He locked them all in a cave. Here too, Supriya kept his faith in Shiva incessantly and prayed on day and night. Daruk was enraged and ordered his men to slay all the prisoners. Immediately Shiva appeared as a shining Jyotirlinga at a higher level and gave Supriya his Pashupat Astra and asked Supriya to kill all the demons. Shiva continued to dwell in the Linga and Supriya and his men departed from there after paying due obedience.
11. SHREE SETUBANDH RAMESHWARAM
Placed atop the Indian isthmus on Pamaban Island the Jyotirlinga was installed by Vishnu incarnation of Rama. Pamban in Tamil Nadu, is now linked to the main land by a road and railway bridge that itself is a marvel of architecture .
A few things have important significance. Ravan was a Shiv Bhakta but got into war with Vishu incarnation of Rama. Hanuman is an incarnation of Shiva. There were incidences that By oversight Ravan failed to recognise Shiva in his Darbar and so insulted him. The end result was that lanka was reduced to ashes by Hanuman.
Rama had installed the sand Shiva Linga before he undertook to build Setu Bridge across the seas from Rameswaram to Lanka. As mark of respect to Vishnu, Shiva entered the sand Linga and is said to reside there ever since.
Close to this there is another Linga that had been brought there by Hanuman.
Any one who visits this Linga meets with success in all his endeavours.
12 SHREE GHUSHMESHWAR
The Jyotirlinga is situated some 12 miles from Daulatabad near Verul village in Maharashtra.
Puranic lore has it that in Southern India a brahmin by name Sudharma stayed with his wife Sudeha. The couple was God fearing and were generally engaged in all religious activities. But, the couple did not have any children. They offered many prayers and conducted yajna to several deities but to no avail. They then consulted Pandits of Astrology and found that Sudeha would never conceive. This made them very sad. Later Sudeha persisted and asked her husband to marry her younger sister Ghushma.
Ghushma was also a great Shiva bhakt and every day she would go to a nearby pond and make small Shiva Lingas of earth and pray, leter she would cast the Linga into the pond. In due time , she became pregnant and a son was born to her. The baby boy attracted every ones attention and soon Sudeha realised that she held only a secondary role in the house. Ghushma was treated as the Lady of the house and everything was done at her will. This irked Sudeha and one day she killed the boy and disposed his body in the lake.
Not finding the boy everybody was sad but Ghusma continued with her daily activity of making an earthen Linga and praying to it. Later as she cast the Linga to the pond. Suddenly, everyone was delighted to see that the boy was swimming in the waters as if nothing had happened. Ghusma and Sudeha both saw Shiva appear before them and he was angry at Sudeha for her bad deed and was about to chop off her head using the Trishul. Ghushma fell to his feet and pleaded to spare her sisters life. She admitted that it was only because of Sudeha that Shiva had given darshan to her.
Shiva acceded to her request and entered into a Linga to stay there for ever. To honour the pious Ghushma that place is called Ghushmeshwar.
Darshan of this Linga is beneficial to life in this and yonder worlds.
Om Namah Shivay
Hey Rudra I Prostrate before you, please be pleased with me. You graciously support Mother Ganga in your jatas and carry the half-moon on your forehead, and wield the Trishul in your left hand. You are easy to please and you bless your bhaktas with the least amount of prayers and offerings. Please be pleased with me