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.
As per Shiv Mahapuran, once Brahma (the Hindu God of creation) and Vishnu (the Hindu God of saving) 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 Andhra Pradesh, Mahakaleswar at Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh, Omkareshwar in Madhya Pradesh, Kedarnath in Himalayas, Bhimashankar in Maharastra, Viswanath at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Triambakeshwar in Maharastra, Vaidyanath at Deogarh in Jharkand, Nageshvara Jyotirlinga, Rameshwar at Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu and Grishneshwar at Aurangabad in Maharastra.
The narratives on Nageshvara Jyotirlinga
The Shiva Purana says Nageshvara is in the Darukavana, which is an ancient epic name of a forest in India. Darukavana finds mention in Indian epics like Kamyakavana, Dvaitavana, Dandakavana,etc. There is a narrative in the Shiva Purana on the Nageshvara Jyotirlinga. It says, a demon named Daaruka attacked a Shiva devotee by name Supriya and imprisoned her along with several others in his city of Darukavana. This place was a city of snakes and Daaruka was the king of the snakes. On the insistence of Supriya, all the prisoners started to chant the holy mantra of Shiva and instantly Lord Shiva appeared and vanquished the demon and later started to reside here in the form of a Jyotirlinga.
It is also said that a demoness 'Daaruka' and worshiped Mata Parvati. Pleased with the great penance and devotion of Daruka, Mata Parvati gave her a boon that she would be the queen of the forest(where she meditated) and the forest would be called 'DARUKAVANA'. Devi Parvati gave her the power to shift the forest. To save demons, Daruka used her special powers she had got from goddess Parvati. She shifted the entire forest into the sea. From here they continued their operation against hermits. They used to kidnap sages and kept them in their new place. Once they captured a great Shiva devotee, Supriya.
Arrival of Supriya changed the situation. He made all captives recite powerful Om Namaha Shivay mantra of Lord Shiva. Taking this as a rebellion, demons decided to kill Supriya, but they failed as Lord Shiva appeared there and saved him. Daruka realized her mistake. Then Shiva and Parvati stayed there. Lord Shiva once again assumed the form of Jyotirlinga with the name Nageshwar and Goddess Parvati was known as Nageshwari. Lord Shiva said that he will show the correct path to one's who will worship him.
Controversy about the location
At present, there is a debate on location of epic forest Darukavana so as to identify the jyotirlinga of Nageswaram. Since no other important clues are left in the text which help in locating the place, 'Darukavana' remains as the vital clue.
Darukavana, the name being derived from 'daruvana' [meaning forest of deodar trees], is taken by many to exist in Almora. Deodar (daru vriksha) is found only in western Himalayas in abundance and is not found in peninsular India. There has been a continuous association of deodar trees with Lord Shiva in ancient Hindu texts. Hindu sages used to reside and perform meditation in deodar forests to please Lord Shiva. Also, according to the ancient treatise Prasadmandanam,
"हिमाद्रेरूत्तरे पार्श्वे देवदारूवनं परम् पावनं शंकरस्थानं तत्र् सर्वे शिवार्चिताः।"
Thus most identify the 'Jageswara' temple in Almora, Uttarkhand as Nageshvara Jyotirlinga.
The very name of Darukavana in text could be misread as 'Dwarakavana' to locate Jyotirlinga at Nageswara temple at Dwaraka. In fact there is no legendary forest at this part of dwaraka that finds mention in any of the India epics. In the narratives of Shri Krishna, we find mention of Somanatha and adjoining Prabhasa tirtha, but never there is any mention of 'Nageswara or Darukavana' in Dwaraka and outskirts.
'Darukavana' can also be taken to exist adjacent to Vindhya Mountains. It is south-southwest of the Vindhyas extending to sea in west. In the Dvadasha Jyotirlinga Stotra (6), Shankaracharya praised this Jyotirlinga as Naganath:
"Yamye sadange nagaretiramye vibhushitangam vividhaishcha bhogai Sadbhaktimuktipradamishamekam shrinaganatham sharanam prapadye"
This could be taken to provide evidence that it is located in the south ['yamye'] at the town of Sadanga, the ancient name of Aundh in Maharashtra located 'south' compared to Jageswara shrine in Uttarkhand and Dwaraka Nageshvara at West end.
- R. 2003, pp. 92-95
- Eck 1999, p. 107
- See: Gwynne 2008, Section on Char Dham
- Lochtefeld 2002, pp. 324-325
- Harding 1998, pp. 158-158
- Vivekananda Vol. 4
- Chaturvedi 2006, pp. 58-72
- Dvadasha Jyotirlinga Stotra
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Nageshvara Jyotirlinga.|
- Chaturvedi, B. K. (2006), Shiv Purana (First ed.), New Delhi: Diamond Pocket Books (P) Ltd, ISBN 81-7182-721-7
- Eck, Diana L. (1999), Banaras, city of light (First ed.), New York: Columbia University Press, ISBN 0-231-11447-8
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- Lochtefeld, James G. (2002), The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: A-M, Rosen Publishing Group, p. 122, ISBN 0-8239-3179-X
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