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A Jyotirlinga or Jyotirlingam, is a devotional representation of the Hindu god Shiva. The word is a Sanskrit compound of jyotis 'radiance' and linga. Śiva Mahāpurāṇa (also Shiva Purana) mentions 64 original Jyotirlinga shrines in India , 12 of which are most sacred and they are called the Maha Jyotirlingam (The Great Jyotirlingas).
According to Śiva Mahāpurāṇa, once Brahma (the god of creation) and Vishnu (the form of God during preservation) had an argument over supremacy of creation. To settle the debate, Shiva pierced the three worlds appearing as a huge infinite pillar of light, the Jyotirlinga which later cooled into the holy mountain Annamalai (on which the Temple of Arunachaleshwara is located).. There is one more jyotirlinga in Maharashtra located in Audhanagnath.
Vishnu and Brahma split their ways to downwards and upwards respectively to find the end of the light in either direction. Brahma lied that he found out the end, while Vishnu conceded his defeat. This lie of Brahma angered Shiva making him curse Brahma that even though he is the creator of the universe he would not be worshipped. The jyotirlinga is the Supreme Shiva, partless reality, out of which Shiva appeared in another form, Lingodbhava. The jyotirlinga shrines are temples where Shiva appeared as a fiery column of light.
Originally there were believed to be 64 jyotirlingas while twelve of them are considered to be very auspicious and holy. Each of the twelve jyotirlinga sites take the name of the presiding deity, each considered a different manifestation of Shiva. At all these sites, the primary image is lingam representing the beginningless and endless Stambha pillar, symbolising the infinite nature of Shiva.
The following shloka (द्वादश ज्योतिर्लिंग स्तोत्रम् Dvādaśa Jyotirliṅga Stotram) describes the 12 Jyotirlingas:
|सौराष्ट्रे सोमनाथं च श्रीशैले मल्लिकार्जुनम्।||Saurāṣṭre Somanāthaṃ ca Śrīśaile Mallikārjunam||Somnath in Saurashtra and Sri Mallikarjuna in Srisailam;|
|उज्जयिन्यां महाकालमोङ्कारममलेश्वरम्॥||Ujjayinyāṃ Mahākālam Omkāram Mamaleśwaram||Mahakala (Mahakaleshwara) in Ujjain, Omkareshwara in (Khandwa);|
|वैद्यनाथम् चिताभूमो च डाकिन्यां भीमशङ्करम्।||Vaidyanāthaṃ chitha bhumo cha Ḍākinyāṃ Bhīmaśaṅkaram||Baidyanath in Deoghar and Bhimashankara in Dakinya;|
|सेतुबन्धे तु रामेशं नागेशं दारुकावने॥||Setubandhe tu Rāmeśaṃ Nāgeśaṃ Dārukāvane||Ramesham (Rameshwara) in Sethubandh, (Nagesham) Nageshwara in Daruka-Vana;|
|वाराणस्यां तु विश्वेशं त्र्यम्बकं गौतमीतटे।||Vārāṇasyāṃ tu Viśveśaṃ Tryambakaṃ Gautamītaṭe||Vishwesham (Vishweshwara) in Varanasi, Tryambakam (Trayambakeshwara) at bank of the river Gautami (Godavari);|
|हिमालये तु केदारं घुश्मेशं च शिवालये॥||Himālaye tu Kedāraṃ Ghuśmeśaṃ ca Śivālaye||Kedar (Kedarnath) in the Himalayas and Ghushmesh (Ghushmeshwar) in Shivad (Aurangabad, Maharashtra).|
|एतानि ज्योतिर्लिङ्गानि सायं प्रातः पठेन्नरः।||etāni jyotirliṅgāni sāyaṃ prātaḥ paṭhennaraḥ||One who recites these Jyotirlingas every evening and morning|
|सप्तजन्मकृतं पापं स्मरणेन विनश्यति॥||saptajanmakṛtaṃ pāpaṃ smaraṇena vinaśyati||is relieved of all sins committed in past seven lives.|
|एतेषां दर्शनादेव पातकं नैव तिष्ठति।||eteṣāṃ darśanādeva pātakaṃ naiva tiṣṭhati||One who visits these, gets all his wishes fulfilled|
|कर्मक्षयो भवेत्तस्य यस्य तुष्टो महेश्वराः॥:||karmakṣayo bhavettasya yasya tuṣṭo maheśvarāḥ||and one's karma gets eliminated as Maheshwara gets satisfied to the worship.|
The names and the locations of 12 Jyotirlingas' are mentioned in the Shiva Purana (Śatarudra Saṁhitā, Ch.42/2-4). The detailed stories are given in Kotirudra Saṁhitā, chapters 14 to 33. These temples are:
|1||Somnath||Gujarat||Veraval, Saurashtra||Somnath is traditionally considered the first pilgrimage site: the Dwadash Jyotirlinga pilgrimage begins with the Somnath Temple. The temple, that was destroyed and re-built sixteen times, is held in reverence throughout India and is rich in legend, tradition, and history. It is located at Prabhas Patan (Somnath - Veraval) in Saurashtra region of Gujarat state in western India.|
|2||Mallikārjuna||Andhra Pradesh||Srisailam||Mallikārjuna, also called Śrīśaila, is located on a mountain in Kurnool District in Rayalaseema. It enshrines Mallikarjuna in an ancient temple that is architecturally and sculpturally rich. It is a place where Shakti Peetha and Jyotirlingam are together. Adi Shankara composed his Shivananda Lahari here..|
|3||Mahakaleshwar||Madhya Pradesh||Ujjain||Mahakal, Ujjain (or Avanti) in Madhya Pradesh is home to the Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga temple. The Lingam at Mahakal is believed to be Swayambhu, the only one of the 12 Jyotirlingams to be so. It is also the only one facing south and also the temple to have a Shree Rudra Yantra perched upside down at the ceiling of the Garbhagriha (where the Shiv Lingam sits). It is a place where Shakti Peetha and Jyotirlingam are together.|
|4||Omkareshwar||Madhya Pradesh||Khandwa||Omkareshwar is in Madhya Pradesh on an island in the Narmada River and home to a Jyotirlinga shrine and the Mamaleshwar temple.|
|5||Kedarnath||Uttarakhand||Kedarnath||Kedarnath in Uttarakhand is revered as the northernmost and the closest Jyotirlinga to Lord Shiva's eternal abode of Mount Kailash. Kedarnath forms a part of the smaller Char Dham pilgrimage circuit of Hinduism. Kedarnath, nestled in the snow-clad Himalayas, is an ancient shrine, rich in legend and tradition. It is accessible only for six months a year. It is also one of the Paadal Petra Sthalam of Vada Naadu mentioned in Thevaaram. Shiva assumed the form of wild boar and dived into the earth at Kedarnath to emerge at Doleshwor in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. Pure ghee is applied at Kedarnath lingam as the boar was injured.|
|6||Bhimashankar||Maharashtra||Khed taluka, Pune||Khed taluka is also referred to as the Daakini country, hence this temple is also called Daakini temple,|
|7||Vishwanath||Uttar Pradesh||Varanasi||The Kashi Vishwanath (Vishweshwar) Temple in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh is home to the Vishwanath Jyotirlinga shrine, which is perhaps the most sacred of Hindu shrines. It is also one of the Padal petra stalam of Vada Naadu mentioned in Thevaaram. The temple is situated in Varanasi, the holiest city for Hindus, where a Hindu is expected to make a pilgrimage at least once in his life, and if possible, also pour the remains of cremated ancestors on the River Ganges. The temple stands on the western bank of the holy river Ganges, and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas. In fact, it is a place where Shakti peeta and Jyotirlingam are together. It is the holiest of all Shiva temples. The main deity is known by the name Vishwanath or Vishweshwara meaning Ruler of the universe. The temple town, is considered the oldest living city in the world, with 3500 years of documented history, is also called Kashi.|
|8||Trimbakeshwar||Maharashtra||Trimbak, near Nashik||The Trimbakeshwar Temple, near Nashik in Maharashtra, is a Jyotirlinga shrine associated with the origin of the Godavari River.|
|9||Nageshwar||Gujarat||Near Dwarka||Nageshwar Jyotirlinga is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines mentioned in the Shiva Purana and the Dvādaśa Jyotirliṅga Stotram, says one of the jyotirlinga namely Nagesh is situated in Daruka-Vana and most probably the present day Dwarka region. Other claims to the Nagesh Jyotirlinga status come from - Aundha Naganath (Hingoli District of Maharashtra) and Jageshwar (Almora District of Uttarakhand)|
|10||Baidyanath||Jharkhand||Deoghar||Vaidyanatha Jyotirlinga temple, also known as Baba Baidyanath dham and Baidyanath dham is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the most sacred abodes of Shiva. It is located in Deoghar in the Jharkhand state of India. It is a temple complex consisting of the main temple of Baba Baidyanath, where the Jyotirlinga is installed, and 21 other temples.
According to Hindu scriptures, the demon king Ravana worshipped Shiva at the current site of the temple to get the boons that he later used to wreak havoc in the world. Ravana offered his ten heads one after another to Shiva as a sacrifice. Pleased with this, Shiva descended to cure Ravana who was injured. As he acted as a doctor, he is referred to as Vaidhya ("doctor"). From this aspect of Shiva, the temple derives its name.
|11||Rameshwaram||Tamil Nadu||Rameswaram||Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu is home to the vast Ramalingeswarar Jyotirlinga temple and is revered as the southernmost of the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines of India. It enshrines the Rameśvara ("Lord of Rama") pillar. It is also one of the Padal petra stalam of Pandya Naadu mentioned in Thevaaram.|
|12||Grishneshwar||Maharashtra||Aurangabad||Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga Temple, referred to as the Grishneshwar temple in Shiva Purana, is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines mentioned in the Shiva Purana. According to Shiv Puran, Grishneshwar is one of the Shiva Jyotirlinga which is situated Ellora, less than a kilometer from Ellora Caves in Maharashtra.|
Shri Vaijnath Temple (श्री वैजनाथ मंदिर ) is an ancient Shiva temple located at Parli Vaijnath in Beed district of Maharashtra state in India. The temple is claimed to be one of the jyotirlings but there has not been any notable evidence supporting the claim. It is built out of stone on a small hill and is surrounded by a wall that protects it from all sides. In addition to the a place of pilgrimage for Shiva devotees, it is also a meeting point for Harihara, which is a fused sattvika characterisation of Vishnu (Hari) and Shiva (Hara). Lord Krishna's festivals too are celebrated along with Lord Shankara's festivals, with great festivity. Festivals of both Krishna and Shiva are celebrated here, as per the Indian Lunar Calendar.