4 Mar 2016

The Twelve Jyotirlingams (Part 1 of 3)

India is a land characterised by Her holy pilgrimage sites. It is a place where great saints have lived, where timeless truths have been revealed, and where the Lord has appeared to His devotees. For Lord Shiva, there are twelve primary pilgrimage points. These twelve spots are made auspicious from the presence of a Jyotirlingam, a self-manifested form of Lord Shiva. In this three part series, we will highlight these twelve manifestations to provide a small introduction for both the Jyotirlingams, and Lord Shiva Himself. "Hara Hara Mahadev!"


The Somnath Jyotirlingam is located in Gujarat, India. The story goes that Chandra, the moon-God, had been married to the 27 daughters of Prajapati Daksh, but of all his wives, Chandra only gave his love to Rohini. Because of this, Prajapati Daksh cursed Chandra to lose his beauty and radiance completely. From the advice of Lord Brahma, Chandra underwent severe penance to please Lord Shiva. After a long time, Lord Shiva blessed Chandra that he would regain and lose his radiance in fifteen-day cycles. From this blessing, the Somnath Jyotirlingam was manifested.


The Mahakaleshwar Jyotir Lingam is located in Ujjain, India. It is said that King Chandrasena, who ruled Ujjain, was a great bhakta of Lord Shiva. One day, a small boy named Shrikar, became inspired by seeing the king’s devotion and picked up a stone to worship as a Shiva Lingam. Despite ridicule from his mother and others, Shrikar’s devotion only grew for Lord Shiva. Meanwhile, the city of Ujjain had also become under-attack by both the demon “Dushana” and its neighbouring rivals. King Chandrasena took refuge at the feet of Lord Shiva, and Shiva appeared as the terrifying form of “Mahakala” to destroy the demon and all of the enemies. Due to the devotion of Shrikar, King Chandrasena, and the local priest, Vridhi, Lord Shiva installed Himself in the city as a Jyotirlingam to protect all of His devotees. 


There are a few stories regarding the history of the Omkareshwar Jyotirlingam. One of these stories recollects that the Divine Sage Narada sang the glories of Mount Meru to Mount Vindhya. Upon hearing this, Mount Vindhya became jealous and decided to do penance to Lord Shiva. Mahadev was pleased by his penance and granted him the boon to be bigger than Mount Meru. It is said that the lingam Mount Vindhya worshipped was split into two parts. One part became the Omkareshwar Jyotirlingam, and the other became known as the “Mamaleshwar,” or, “Amareshwar.” 


As narrated in the Shiva Purana, the demon Daruka, and his wife, Daruki, had imprisoned many devotees of Lord Shiva. Due to their pride, they sought out to end all the auspicious ceremonies and rituals. Among the imprisoned devotees was a Shiva bhakta named, "Supriya." By advising all the other prisoners to chant “Om Namah Shivaya”, Supriya had become the personal target of Daruka. Soon, Daruka tried to end the life of Supriya. When Daruka lunged at Supriya to kill him, at that precise moment, Lord Shiva manifested Himself and slayed both Daruka and Daruki. From the request of His devotees, Lord Shiva then installed Himself as the Jyotirlingam we know now as, “Nageshwar.”

“There is nothing which is called yours. Your Atma is who you are. Even this body doesn’t belong to you. It is made up of the five elements and what it will become, it will become the five elements. That’s why Shiva stands for the destruction, showing you that everything that you collect here, everything that you call ‘mine’, at the end is not yours. What is yours is only the pure consciousness, which in life you try the best to attain.” - Sri Swami Vishwananda

The hour of Maha Shivaratri is near! Register today to reserve your spot at Shree Peetha Nilaya: http://www.bhaktimarga.org/events/event/maha-shivaratri