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A Jyotirlinga or Jyotirling or Jyotirlingam (Sanskrit: ज्योतिर्लिङ्ग) is a devotional object representing the god Shiva. Jyoti means 'radiance' and lingam the 'mark or sign' of Shiva, or a symbol of the pineal gland; Jyotir Lingam thus means the The Radiant sign of The Almighty. There are twelve traditional Jyotirlinga shrines in India.
It is believed that Lord Shiva first manifested himself as a Jyotirlinga on the night of the Aridra Nakshatra, thus the special reverence for the Jyotirlinga. There is nothing to distinguish the appearance, but it is believed that a person can see these lingas as columns of fire piercing through the earth after he reaches a higher level of spiritual attainment.
As per Shiva Mahapurana, once Brahma (the Hindu God of creation) and Vishnu (the Hindu God of Preservation) had an argument in terms of supremacy of creation. To test them, Shiva pierced the three worlds as a huge endless pillar of light, the jyotirlinga. Vishnu and Brahma split their ways to downwards and upwards respectively to find the end of the light in either directions. Brahma lied that he found out the end, while Vishnu conceded his defeat. Shiva appeared as a second pillar of light and cursed Brahma that he would have no place in ceremonies while Vishnu would be worshipped till the end of eternity. The jyotirlinga is the supreme partless reality, out of which Shiva partly appears. The jyothirlinga shrines, thus are places where Shiva appeared as a fiery column of light. Originally there were believed to be 64 jyothirlingas while 12 of them are considered to be very auspicious and holy. Each of the twelve jyothirlinga sites take the name of the presiding deity - each considered different manifestation of Shiva. At all these sites, the primary image is lingam representing the beginningless and endless Stambha pillar, symbolizing the infinite nature of Shiva. The twelve jyothirlinga are Somnath in Gujarat, Mallikarjuna at Srisailam in Andra Pradesh, Mahakaleswar at Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh, Omkareshwar in Madhya Pradesh, Kedarnath in Himalayas, Bhimashankar in Maharashtra, Viswanath at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Triambakeshwar in Maharashtra, Vaidyanath Jyotirlinga at Jharkhand, Aundha Nagnath at Aundha Nagnath in Maharashtra, Rameshwar at Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu and Ghushmeshwar at Shiwar in Sawai Madhopur district Rajasthan.There is also one new Jyotirlinga shrine "Bhubaneswar-Bhubaneswari" temple at Mathurapur, P/O- Balarampur, near Sundarban, 24 Parganas (South), W.B
The following sloka (द्वादश ज्योतिर्लिंग स्तोत्रम् Dvādaśa Jyotirliṅga Stotram) describes the 12 Jyotirlingas:
|सौराष्ट्रे सोमनाथं च श्रीशैले मल्लिकार्जुनम्।||Saurāṣṭre Somanāthaṃ ca Śrīśaile Mallikārjunam||Somanath in Saurashtra and Mallikarjunam in Shri-Shailam;|
|उज्जयिन्यां महाकालमोङ्कारममलेश्वरम्॥||Ujjayinyāṃ Mahākālam Oṅkāram Amaleśvaram||Mahakaal in Ujjain, Omkareshwar in Amleshwar;|
|परल्यां वैद्यनाथं च डाकिन्यां भीमशङ्करम्।||Paralyāṃ Vaidyanāthaṃ ca Ḍākinyāṃ Bhīmaśaṅkaram||Vaidyanath in Paralya and Bhimashankaram in Dakniya;|
|सेतुबन्धे तु रामेशं नागेशं दारुकावने॥||Setubandhe tu Rāmeśaṃ Nāgeśaṃ Dārukāvane||Ramesham (Rameshwaram) in Sethubandh, Nagesham (Nageshwar) in Darauka-Vana;|
|वाराणस्यां तु विश्वेशं त्र्यम्बकं गौतमीतटे।||Vārāṇasyāṃ tu Viśveśaṃ Tryambakaṃ Gautamītaṭe||Vishwa-Isham (Vishvanath) in Vanarasi, Triambakam at bank of the river Gautami;|
|हिमालये तु केदारं घुश्मेशं च शिवालये॥||Himālaye tu Kedāraṃ Ghuśmeśaṃ ca Śivālaye||Kedar (Kedarnath) in Himalayas and Gushmesh (Gushmeshwar) in Shivalaya (Shiwar).|
|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.|
|एतेशां दर्शनादेव पातकं नैव तिष्ठति।||eteśāṃ 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 other Jyotirlingas are mentioned in the Shiva Purana (Śatarudra Saṁhitā, Ch.42/2-4). These shrines are:
|1||Somnath||Gujarat||Prabhas Patan, 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 in Gujarat.|
|2||Mallikārjuna Swāmi||Andhra pradesh||Srisailam||Mallikārjuna, also called Śrīśaila, is located on a mountain on the river Krishna.Śrīśailaṃ, in Kurnool District in Rayalaseema enshrines Mallikarjuna in an ancient temple that is architecturally and sculpturally rich.It is one place where Shakti peetha and Jyotirlingam are together. Adi Shankara composed his Sivananda Lahiri 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 Yantra perched upside down at the ceiling of the Garbhagriha (where the Shiv Lingam sits).It is one place where Shakti peeta and Jyotirlingam are together|
|4||Omkareshwar||Madhya Pradesh||Island in the Narmada River, Omkareshwar||Omkareshwar in Madhya Pradesh on an island in the Narmada River is 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 by foot, and only for six months a year. It is also one of the Padal Petra Stalam of Vada Naadu mentioned in Thevaaram.|
|6||Bhimashankar||Maharashtra||Bhimashankar||Bhimashankar is very much debated. There is a Bhimashankara temple near Pune (pictured) in Maharashtra, which was referred to as Daakini country, but Kashipur in Uttarakhand was also referred to as Daakini country in ancient days and a Bhimashkar Temple known as Shree Moteshwar Mahadev is present there. Another Bhimashankar is in the Sahyadri range of Maharashtra. The Bhimashankar temple near Guwahati, Assam is the jyotirlinga according to Sivapuran.
According to "LINGA PURAN", Bhimasankar temple in Bhimpur near Gunupur of Rayagada district in South Orissa is also believed as Bhimasankar Jyotirlinga, which is situated at the western part of the holy Mahendragiri mountains and at the river bank of Mahendratanaya(which is also believed as the Daakini area by many historian), was excavated in the year 1974, having quadrangular Shakti around the Linga and decorated by a Upavita as per the puran.
|7||Kashi Vishwanath Temple||Uttar Pradesh||Varanasi||Kashi Vishwanath 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 existing place of Hindus, where at least once in life a Hindu is expected to do pilgrimage, 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. 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, which claims to be the oldest living city in the world, with 3500 years of documented history, is also called Kashi and hence the temple is popularly called Kashi Vishwanath Temple.|
|8||Trimbakeshwar Shiva Temple||Maharashtra||Trimbakeshwar, Near Nashik||Trimbakeshwar Temple, near Nasik in Maharashtra, is a Jyotirlinga shrine associated with the origin of the Godavari river.|
|9||Vaidyanath Jyotirlinga||Jharkhand||Deogarh||Vaidyanath Jyotirlinga temple is located in Deogarh District in Santhal Parganas division of the state Jharkhand . In the month of Shravana millions of devotee visit the temple. Bholebaba darshan during Shravan month attracts devotees from across India and overseas.
It is believed that once Ravan worshipped Shiva for years and requested his god ( Shiva) to come to Lanka . Shiva manifested as shivaling and asked Ravan to not to put down anywhere until he takes it to Lanka. Vishnu intercepted Ravana in between and convinced him to keep it for sometime. Since then shiva resides as Vaidyanath in Deogarh.
|10||Nageshvara Jyotirlinga||Uttarakhand||Jageshwar||Nageshvara Jyotirlinga is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines mentioned in the Shiva Purana (Śatarudra Saṁhitā,Ch.42/2-4, referred as "nagesham darukavane"). Nageshvara is believed as the first Jyotirlinga on the earth. There are three major shrines in India which are believed as identical to this Jyotirlinga. Those are the Jageshwar temple near Almora in Uttarakhand state, the Nageshwara temple near Dwaraka in Gujarat state and the Nagnath temple in Aundha in Maharashtra state.|
|11||Rameshwar||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 is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines mentioned in the Shiva Purana (kotirudra sahinta,Ch.32-33 referred as "Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga"). Grishneshwar is believed as the Last or 12th (twelfth) Jyotirlinga on the earth. This pilgrimage site is located at a village called Verul which lies at a distance of 11 km from Daulatabad and 30 km from Aurangabad. It lies at a close proximity to the Ellora caves.|
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jyotirlingas.|
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