Jyotirlingas – Legends and Significance of the 12 Sacred Abodes of Lord Shiva

Jyotirlingas – Legends and Significance of the 12 Sacred Abodes of Lord Shiva

The Jyotirlingas are sacred representations of Lord Shiva, each manifesting his divine and infinite light (Jyoti). There are 12 prominent Jyotirlingas in India, each with its own unique legend and significance.

Here is a detailed account of the story behind the establishment of Jyotirlingas:

1. Somnath Jyotirlnga (Gujarat):

The legend of Somnath dates back to ancient times. It is believed that the Moon God, Chandra, was cursed by his father-in-law Daksha to wane. Seeking liberation from the curse, Chandra worshipped Lord Shiva and established the Somnath Jyotirlinga at Prabhasa. Lord Shiva was pleased with his devotion and restored Chandra’s brightness.


2. Mallikarjuna Jyotirlinga (Andhra Pradesh):

According to the legend, a princess named Chandravati was a devoted follower of Lord Shiva. She married a prince named Mallika. After some time, Mallika died, and Chandravati undertook severe penance. Pleased with her devotion, Lord Shiva manifested himself as Mallikarjuna, and a temple was built in his honor.


3. Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga (Madhya Pradesh):

A demon named Dushana terrorized the city of Ujjain. The residents prayed to Lord Shiva for protection. Lord Shiva manifested as Mahakaleshwar and defeated the demon. The Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga is said to have emerged at the same spot where the demon was defeated.

Jyotirlingas - Legends and Significance of the 12 Sacred Abodes of Lord Shiva

4. Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga (Madhya Pradesh):

The story goes that once upon a time, Narada (the divine sage) boasted to Vindhya (a mountain) about his devotion to Lord Shiva. Vindhya, seeking to emulate Narada’s devotion, started intense penance. Lord Shiva was pleased and manifested as Omkareshwar. Narada then told Vindhya that his devotion was genuine, and the mountain should always remain humble.

5. Kedarnath Jyotirlinga (Uttarakhand):

As mentioned earlier, Kedarnath is associated with the Pandavas from the Mahabharata. After the Kurukshetra War, the Pandavas sought forgiveness from Lord Shiva for their sins. Lord Shiva, evading them, transformed into a bull and hid underground. The Pandavas found his hump at Kedarnath, leading to the establishment of the Jyotirlinga.

6. Bhimashankar Jyotirlinga (Maharashtra):

The demon Tripurasura worshipped Lord Shiva and obtained immense power. He misused his power, causing chaos. Lord Shiva, in the form of Bhimashankar, defeated Tripurasura, bringing peace to the world.

7. Kashi Vishwanath Jyotirlinga (Uttar Pradesh):

Kashi Vishwanath is believed to be the holiest spot in the universe according to Hindu mythology. The story of its Jyotirlinga is associated with the legend of Lord Shiva himself residing in Kashi (modern-day Varanasi) eternally, making it a highly revered site.

8. Trimbak Jyotirlinka (Maharashtra):

Once, Sage Gautam’s son, Gritsamada, had no children, and he prayed to Lord Shiva for a child. Lord Shiva granted him a boon, saying he could either have a righteous son with a short life or a long-lived son with unrighteousness. Gritsamada chose the former and had a son named Tryambak. The Trimbak Jyotirlinga is associated with this story.

9. Vaidyanath Jyotirlinga (Jharkhand):

King Ravana, a great devotee of Lord Shiva, meditated and prayed to him, requesting a Jyotirlinga. Lord Shiva agreed and handed Ravana the Jyotirlinga but on the condition that Ravana shouldn’t place it on the ground before reaching Lanka. Vishnu, seeing the potential misuse, devised a plan. Ravana was tricked, and the Jyotirlinga remained in Vaidyanath (Deoghar, Jharkhand).

10. Nageshwar Jyotirlinga (Gujarat):

During a great deluge, a devotee named Supriya was attacked by a demon named Daaruka. Supriya prayed to Lord Shiva, who appeared as Nageshwar Jyotirlinga and defeated the demon, saving Supriya and other devotees.

11. Rameshwar Jyotirlinga (Tamil Nadu):

To absolve the sin of Brahmahatya (killing a Brahmin), Rama, the seventh avatar of Vishnu, prayed to Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva, pleased with Rama’s devotion, manifested as Rameshwar and absolved Rama’s sin.

12. Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga (Maharashtra):

A devout woman named Kusuma worshipped Lord Shiva fervently. Her husband, a wealthy merchant, married another woman named Chitralekha due to her barrenness. Kusuma’s devotion led to Lord Shiva restoring her fertility. Later, when Chitralekha mocked Kusuma’s piety, Lord Shiva manifested as Grishneshwar and vindicated Kusuma’s devotion.

These legends illustrate the diverse and fascinating stories behind each of the twelve Jyotirlingas, symbolizing the different forms of Lord Shiva and his divine presence across India. Each Jyotirlinga is revered and worshipped with immense devotion by millions of devotees, making these sites significant pilgrimage destinations in Hinduism.

Lord Shiva Upasana – Journey into Divine Devotion

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