According to Shiv Mahapuraan, Brahma (the Hindu God of Creation) and Vishnu (the Hindu God of Salvation) once had a disagreement about which one of them had supremacy. To test them, Shiva pierced the three worlds as an immeasurable pillar of light, the Jyotirlinga. Vishnu and Brahma parted company in order to try to find the extent of each end of the pillar. Brahma, who had set off upward, then lied that he had discovered the end of the pillar, but Vishnu, who had gone in the direction of the base of the pillar, admitted that he had not. Shiva then appeared as a second Jyotirlinga and cursed Brahma, telling him that he would have no place in the ceremonies, though Vishnu would be worshipped until the 'end of eternity'. The jyothirlinga shrines (the Jyotirlinga being the supreme indivisible reality from which Shiva appears) commemorate and consecrate this time when Shiva appeared as a fiery column of light. It was believed that there were originally sixty-four jyothirlingas , twelve of these being considered to be especially auspicious and holy. Each of the twelve jyothirlinga sites takes the name of the presiding deity and each is considered a separate 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 Jharkhand, Nageshvara Jyotirlinga, Rameshwar at Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu and Grishneshwar at Aurangabad in Maharastra.
Stories about the Nageshvara Jyotirlinga
The Shiva Purana says Nageshvara Jyotirlinga is in 'the Darukavana', which is an ancient name of a forest in India. 'Darukavana' finds mention in Indian epics, such as Kamyakavana, Dvaitavana, Dandakavana. There is a narrative in the Shiva Purana about the Nageshvara Jyotirlinga which tells of a demon named Daaruka, who attacked a Shiva devotee named Supriya and imprisoned him along with many others in his city of Darukavana, a city under the sea inhabited by seasnakes and demons. At the urgent exhortations of Supriya, all the prisoners started to chant the holy mantra of Shiva and immediately thereafter the Lord Shiva appeared and the demon was vanquished, later residing there in the form of a Jyotirlinga. And this is how it happened: the demon had a wife, a demoness named Daaruki who worshipped Mata Parvati. As a result of the demoness Daaruki's great penance and devotion, Mata Parvati gave her a great boon: the goddess enabled her to master the forest where she performed her devotions, and the forest she renamed 'Darukavana' in her honour. Wherever Daaruki went the forest would follow her. In order to save the demons of Darukavana from the punishment of the gods, Daaruka summoned up the power she had been given by the goddess Parvati. Devi Parvati had given her power enough to move the forest and so she moved the entire forest into the sea. From here they continued their campaign against the hermits, kidnapping people and keeping them confined in their new lair under the sea, which was how that great Shiva devotee, Supriya, had wound up there.
The arrival of Supriya caused a revolution. He set up a lingam and made all the prisoners recite the mantra Om Namaha Shivay in honour of Shiva while he prayed to the lingam. The demons' response to the chanting was to attempt to kill Supriya, though they were thwarted by Shiva appearing there and handing him a divine weapon that saved his life. Daaruki and the demons were defeated, and the demons that Supriya didn't kill were saved by Parvati. The lingam that Supriya had set up was called Nagesha; it is the tenth lingam. Shiva once again assumed the form of a Jyotirlinga with the name Nageshwar, while the Goddess Parvati was known as Nageshwari. The Lord Shiva announced there and then that he would show the correct path to those who would worship him.
Controversy about the location
At present there is debate on the actual location of the legendary forest of Darukavana, so identifying the Jyotirlinga of Nageswaram remains difficult. Since there are no other important clues in the text as to the location of the Jyotirlinga , 'Darukavana' remains the vital, and only, clue.
Darukavana, the name being derived from 'daruvana' [meaning forest of deodar trees], is widely thought to exist in Almora. Deodar (daru vriksha) is found abundantly only in the western Himalayas, not in peninsular India. There has been much 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।"
Because of this the 'Jageswara' temple in Almora, Uttarkhand is commonly identified as Nageshvara Jyotirlinga.
The written name of Darukavana could be misread as 'Dwarakavana' which would lead us to the Nageswara temple at Dwaraka. In fact there is no forest in this part of Dwaraka that finds mention in any of the Indian epics. In the narratives of Shri Krishna, we find mention of Somanatha and adjoining Prabhasa tirtha, but never is there any mention of Nageswara or Darukavana in Dwaraka or thereabouts.
Darukavana might exist next to the Vindhya Mountains. It is south-southwest of the Vindhyas extending to the sea in the 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 mean that it is located in the south ['yamye'] at the town of 'Sadanga', which was the ancient name of Aundh in Maharashtra, south of the Jageswara shrine in Uttarkhand, and west of Dwaraka Nageshvara.
- 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
- 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
- Gwynne, Paul (2009), World Religions in Practice: A Comparative Introduction, Oxford: Blackwell Publication, ISBN 978-1-4051-6702-4.
- Harding, Elizabeth U. (1998). "God, the Father". Kali: The Black Goddess of Dakshineswar. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 156–157. ISBN 978-81-208-1450-9.
- Lochtefeld, James G. (2002), The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: A-M, Rosen Publishing Group, p. 122, ISBN 0-8239-3179-X
- R., Venugopalam (2003), Meditation: Any Time Any Where (First ed.), Delhi: B. Jain Publishers (P) Ltd., ISBN 81-8056-373-1
- Vivekananda, Swami. "The Paris Congress of the History of Religions". The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda. Vol.4.
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