Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and one of the twelve Jyotirlingams, shrines which are said to be the most sacred abodes of Lord Shiva. It is located in the ancient city of Ujjain in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India. The temple is situated on the side of the Rudra Sagar lake. The presiding deity, Lord Shiva in the lingam form is believed to be Swayambhu, deriving currents of power (Shakti) from within itself as against the other images and lingams that are ritually established and invested with mantra-shakti.
As per the Shiva Purana, Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu once had an argument over who was supreme in the creation. To test them, Shiva pierced the three worlds as an endless pillar of light, the jyotirlinga. Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma decide to travel along the pillar downwards and upwards respectively, to find the end of the light. Brahma lied that he had found 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 jyotirlinga shrines, thus are places where Shiva appeared as a fiery column of light. There are 64 forms of Shiva, not to be confused with Jyotirlingas. Each of the twelve jyotirlinga 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 jyotirlinga are Somnath in Gujarat, Mallikarjuna at Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh, Mahakaleswar at Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh, Omkareshwar in Madhya Pradesh, Kedarnath in Himalayas in Uttrakhand State, Bhimashankar in Maharashtra, Viswanath at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Triambakeshwar in Maharashtra, Vaidyanath at Deogarh in Jharkhand or at Baijnath in Himachal Pradesh, Nageswar at Dwarka in Gujarat, Rameshwar at Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu and Grishneshwar at Aurangabad in Maharashtra.
The idol of Mahakaleshwar is known to be dakshinamurti, which means that it is facing the south. This is a unique feature, upheld by the tantric shivnetra tradition to be found only in Mahakaleshwar among the 12 Jyotirlingas. The idol of Omkareshwar Mahadev is consecrated in the sanctum above the Mahakal shrine. The images of Ganesh, Parvati and Karttikeya are installed in the west, north and east of the sanctum sanctorum. To the south is the image of Nandi, the vehicle of Lord Shiva. The idol of Nagchandreshwar on the third storey is open for darshan only on the day of Nag Panchami. The temple has five levels, one of which is underground. The temple itself is located in a spacious courtyard surrounded by massive walls near a lake. The shikhar or the spire is adorned with sculptural finery. Brass lamps light the way to the underground sanctum. It is believed that prasada (holy offering) offered here to the deity can be re-offered unlike all other shrines.
The presiding deity of time, Shiva, in all his splendor, reigns eternally in the city of Ujjain. The temple of Mahakaleshwar, its shikhar soaring into the sky, an imposing façade against the skyline, evokes primordial awe and reverence with its majesty. The Mahakal dominates the life of the city and its people, even in the midst of the busy routine of modern preoccupations, and provides an unbreakable link with ancient Hindu traditions.
In the precincts of the Mahakaleshwar temple is Shri Swapaneshwar Mahadev temple, where devotees pray to Shiva as Mahakaal, to realize the most important dreams of their lives. Sadashiv Mahadev is so empathetic, benevolent and easy to please that devotees are sure to be granted the boons they wish for with a pure heart in this temple, it is believed. Here Mahadev is Swapaneshwar and Shakti is Swapaneshwari.
The temple is open from 4 am to 11 pm.
The temple is also glorified in 7th century.C.E, Tamil tevaram hymns of tirugnanasambandar, sundarar, tirunavukkarasar, and they refer to the same as tiru oonjai maakalam, oonjai being Tamil name of word ujjain.
The Mahakaleshwar Temple as a Shakti Peeth
Shakti Peethas are shrines that are believed to have enshrined with the presence of Shakti due to the falling of body parts of the corpse of Sati Devi, when Lord Shiva carried it. Each of the 51 Shakti peethas have shrines for Shakti and Kalabhairava. The Upper Lip of Sati Devi is said to have fallen here and the Shakti is called as Mahakali.
References in Hindu scriptures
According to the Puranas, the city of Ujjain was called Avantika and was famous for its beauty and its status as a devotional epicenter. It was also one of the primary cities where students went to study holy scriptures. According to legend, there was a ruler of Ujjain called Chandrasena, who was a pious devotee of Lord Shiva and worshiped him all the time. One day, a farmer's boy named Shrikhar was walking on the grounds of the palace and heard the King chant the Lord's name and rushed to the temple to start praying with him. However, the guards removed him by force and sent him to the outskirts of the city near the river Kshipra. Rivals of Ujjain, primarily King Ripudamana and King Singhaditya of the neighboring kingdoms decided to attack the Kingdom and take over its treasures around this time. Hearing this, Shrikhar started to pray and the news spread to a priest named Vridhi. He was shocked to hear this and upon the urgent pleas of his sons, started to pray to Lord Shiva at the river Kshipra. The Kings chose to attack and were successful; with the help of the powerful demon Dushan, who was blessed by Lord Brahma to be invisible, they plundered the city and attacked all the devotees of Lord Shiva.
Upon hearing the pleas of His helpless devotees, Lord Shiva appeared in his Mahakala form and destroyed the enemies of King Chandrasena. Upon the request of his devotees Shrikhar and Vridhi, Lord Shiva agreed to reside in the city and become the chief deity of the Kingdom and take care of it against its enemies and to protect all His devotees. From that day on, Lord Shiva resided in His light form as Mahakala in a Lingam that was formed on its own from the powers of the Lord and His consort, Parvati. The Lord also blessed his devotees and declared that people who worshipped Him in this form would be free from the fear of death and diseases. Also, they would be granted worldly treasures and be under the protection of the Lord himself.
Bharthari was the elder son of King Gandharva-Sena, and received the kingdom of Ujjain from the celestial god Indra and the King of Dhara.
When Bharthari was king of 'Ujjayani' (modern day Ujjain) in his state there lived a Brahman who after years of austerities was given the fruit of immortality from the celestial tree of Kalpavriksha. The Brahman presented the same to his monarch, Raja Bharthari, who in turn, passed it on to his love, the beautiful, Pinglah Rani or Ananga Sena Raja Bhartrhari's last and youngest wife. The queen, being in love with the Head police officer of the state, Mahipaala, presented the fruit to him, who further passed it on to his beloved, Lakha, one of the maids of honour. Eventually, Lakha being in love with the king presented the fruit back to the king. Having completed the circle, the fruit revealed the downsides of infidelity to the king, he summoned the queen and ordered her beheading, and ate the fruit himself. After that he abdicated the throne, and became a religious mendicant.
He later became a disciple of Pattinatthar (Swetharanyar or Pattinatthu chettiyar is poorvashram name of this saint from Poompuhar, Tamil Nadu) who first indulged in an argument about samsari and sanyasi with king Bhartrhari. Later during the conversation pattinathar said that all women have 'dual mind' and it might be the true case even with Parameswari. King conveyed this news to rani Pingalah and she ordered Pattinathar to get punished and to sit in 'kalu maram' (Tree, whose top portion would be sharpened like a pencil and whole tree is fully coated with oil, a person who is punished to sit in the top will be split into 2 pieces), they tried to kill pattinathar, but kalu maram started burning and nothing happened to Pattinathar, the king came to know this news and went directly to Pattinathar and asked him to get ready to die the next day, but Pattinathar replied, " I'm ready right now, to die". The next day king came with tears in his eyes and released saint from jail because he actually noticed queen pingalah in love with horsemen that night, He threw away his empire, wealth, even full coat dress and dressed in a simple kovanam (loin cloth), the king became a disciple of Pattinatthar and got mukthi (salvation) in Kalahasthi temple.
The present structure was built by the Maratha general Ranoji Scindia in 1736 CE. Further developments and management was done by other members of his dynasty, including Mahadji Scindia (1730–12 February 1794) and Daulat Rao Scindia's wife Baiza Bai. (1827–1863). During the reign of Jayajirao Scindia (until 1886), major programs of the then Gwalior State used to be held at this temple.
Maratha regime was established in Ujjain in the fourth decade of Eighteenth c. The administration of Ujjain was assigned by Peshwa Bajirao-I to his faithful commander Ranoji Shinde, The diwan of Ranoji was Sukhatanakar Ramchandra Baba Shenavi who was very wealthy he decided to invest his wealth for religious purposes. In this connection, he re-built the famous Mahakala temple in Ujjain during the 4th-5th decades of Eighteenth c. AD.
Ancient monuments in Ujjain in return
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