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A Jyotirlinga or Jyotirlingam, is a devotional representation of the Supreme God Shiva. Jyoti means 'radiance' and lingam the 'Image or Sign' of Shiva; Jyotir Lingam thus means the Radiant Sign of The Almighty Shiva. There are twelve traditional Jyotirlinga shrines in India.
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 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 12 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 twelve jyotirlinga are:
- Somnath in Gir Somnath, Gujarat
- Mallikarjuna in Srisailam, Andhra Pradesh
- Mahakaleswar in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh
- Omkareshwar in Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh
- Kedarnath in Rudraprayag, Uttarakhand
- Bhimashankar in Maharashtra
- Vishwanath in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
- Trimbakeshwar in Nashik, Maharashtra
- Baidyanath in Deoghar, Jharkhand
- Nageshwara in Dwarka, Gujarat
- Ramanathaswamy in Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu
- Grishneshwar in Aurangabad, 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 Sri Mallikarjuna in Shri-Shailam(Srishailam);|
|उज्जयिन्यां महाकालमोङ्कारममलेश्वरम्॥||Ujjayinyāṃ Mahākālam Omkāram Mamaleśhwaram||Mahakaal in Ujjain, Mamleshwar in Omkareshwar;|
|परल्यां वैद्यनाथम् च डाकिन्यां भीमशङ्करम्।||Parlyam Vaidyanāthaṃ cha Ḍākinyāṃ Bhīmaśhaṅkaram||Vaidyanath in Parli, 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||Vishwesham (Vishvanath) in Varanasi, Tryambakam 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 Ghrishnesh (Ghrishneshwar) in Shivalaya (Verul).|
|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 other Jyotirlingas' are mentioned in the Shiva Purana (Śatarudra Saṁhitā, Ch.42/2-4). These shrines 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 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 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 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 Doleshwor in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. 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||Gujarat||Near Jamnagar||Nageshvara 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 Temple||Jharkhand||Deoghar||Baidyanath 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 Pargana 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||Ghrishneshwar||Maharashtra||Ellora||Ghrishneshwar Temple, sometimes referred to as the Dhushmeshwar temple, is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines mentioned in the Shiva Purana|
- Venugopalam 2003, pp. 92–95
- Eck 1999, p. 107
- Gwynne 2008, Section on Char Dham
- Lochtefeld 2002, pp. 324-325
- Harding 1998, pp. 158-158
- Vivekananda Vol. 4
- Chakravarti 1994, p. 140
- Deb, Dr PS. "Bhimashankar Dham Pamohi Village Near Parijat Academy Guwahati Assam". ShivShankar.in. ShivShankar.in.
- "Welcome To Bhimsankar Jyotirlinga Temple". bhimsankarjyotirling.org. 2010. Archived from the original on 13 November 2013. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
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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