A Jyotirlinga or Jyotirling or Jyotirlingam, is a devotional object representing the Supreme God Shiva. Jyoti means 'radiance' and lingam the 'Image or Sign' of Shiva; Jyotir Lingam thus means the The Radiant Sign of The Almighty Shiva. There are twelve traditional Jyotirlinga shrines in India, 5 of them in Maharashtra.
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, Supreme God 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 Arunachaleshvara is located). 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. The jyotirlinga is the Supreme Siva, partless reality, out of which Shiva appeared in another Form, Lingodbhava. The jyothirlinga shrines are Temples 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 a 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 Uttrakhand, Bhimashankar at Pune in Maharashtra, Viswanath at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Tryambakeshwar at Nashik in Maharashtra, Vaijyanath Temple in Deoghar District of Jharkhand, Aundha Nagnath at Aundha in Hingoli District in Maharashtra, Rameshwar at Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu and Grushneshwar at Ellora near Aurangabad, in Maharashtra.
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 Omkāram Mamleśhwaram||Mahakaal in Ujjain, Mamleshwar in Omkareshwar;|
|परल्यां वैद्यनाथं च डाकिन्यां भीमशङ्करम्।||Paraly Vaidyanāthaṃ cha Ḍākinyāṃ Bhīmaśhaṅkaram||Vaidyanath in Chitaobhoomi, Jharkhand  or Parali in Maharashtra and Bhimashankaram in Dakinya;|
|सेतुबन्धे तु रामेशं नागेशं दारुकावने॥||Setubandhe tu Rāmeśaṃ Nāgeśhaṃ Dārukāvane||Ramesham (Rameshwaram) in Sethubandh, Nagesham in Daruka-Vana;|
|वाराणस्यां तु विश्वेशं त्र्यम्बकं गौतमीतटे।||Vārāṇasyāṃ tu Viśveśaṃ Tryambakaṃ Gautamītaṭe||Vishwa-Isham (Vishvanath) in Vanarasi, Triambakam at bank of the river Gautami;(Godavari)|
|हिमालये तु केदारं घुश्मेशं च शिवालये॥||Himālaye tu Kedāraṃ Ghuśmeśaṃ ca Śivālaye||Kedar (Kedarnath) in Himalayas and Grushnesh (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 Jyotirlinga's 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 region of Gujarat state in western India.|
|2||Mallikārjuna Swāmi||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 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 Rudra Yantra perched upside down at the ceiling of the Garbhagriha (where the Shiv Lingam sits). It is a place where Shakti peeta and Jyotirlingam are together.|
|4||Omkareshwar||Madhya Pradesh||Omkareshwar||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 Padal Petra Stalam of Vada Naadu mentioned in Thevaaram. Shiva assumed the form of wild boar and dived into the earth at Kedarnath to emerge at Pashupatinath. Pure ghee is applied at Kedarnath lingam as the boar was injured.|
|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 Purana, 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||The 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 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 Shiva Temple||Maharashtra||Trimbakeshwar, near Nashik||The Trimbakeshwar Temple, near Nasik in Maharashtra, is a Jyotirlinga shrine associated with the origin of the Godavari River.|
|9||Nageshvara Jyotirlinga||Ondya||Maharashtra||Nageshvara Jyotirlinga is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines mentioned in the Shiva Purana. Nageshvara is believed to be the first such shrine. Nagnath Jyotirlinga present in Ondya district of Maharashtra is also considered as one of the Jyotirlinga. It was built in 12th century and there is an engraving on the temple which says that it is one of the 12 jyotirlingas.|
|10||Vaidyanath Temple||Jharkhand||Deoghar district||Vaidyanath Jyotirlinga temple, also known as Baba vaidyanath dham and vaidyanath dham is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the most sacred abodes of Shiva. It is located in Deoghar in the Santhal Parganas division of the state of Jharkhand, India. It is a temple complex consisting of the main temple of Baba vaidyanath, where the Jyotirlinga is installed, and 21 other temples.
According to Hindu beliefs, 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||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||Near Ellora, Aurangabad||Grishneshwar is one of the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines mentioned in the Shiva Purana "kotirudra sahinta", referred as 'Ghushmeshwar Jyotirlinga'. Ghushmeshwar is believed as the last or the twelfth Jyotirlinga on earth.|
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a Quadraple Shakti, a rare one.There is a sign of 'Yajna Upabita' (Janev in Hindi) is clearly visible in the Linga.T
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