We all are aware of the 12 shrines or the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva.These are the places where Lord Shiva resides in some form or the other protecting and blessing his devotees. Originally it was believed that there are 64 Jyotirligas but there are only 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva which are considered to be the purest/ perfect manifestations of Lord Shiva. This will be a series of 13 articles, first one being the introduction and the rest 12 about the story of each jyotirlinga.
The word Jyotirlinga is made up of two words “Jyoti” and “Linga”. ‘Jyoti’ means Light and ‘Linga’ means the representation of Shiva. Here I want to clear a point that the word Lingam has nothing to do with the union of phallus (male sex organ) and the yoni (the female sex organ), it is simply the form/symbol in which Lord Shiva is worshipped. To make things more clear here is the story which will tell you why Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of Lingam.
When Lord Brahma emerged from the Lotus, which emerged from the belly button of Lord Vishnu, he started the process of creation. He began with the creation of the sun, the planets, stars and created everything that we see in today’s world. One day, Lord Shiva decided to see the creation done by Brahma. But when he saw the world, he was aghast to see the misery, unhappiness, frustration, sadness and what not. He became so sad that he began to cry. His tears fell on the earth and from them emerged the Rudraksh beads. As his anger grew whilst watching the world which was inflicted with pain, agony,disease etc, he took his fierce from, the Bhairav. He went to Brahma Lok and confronted Brahma. But Brahma was so proud of himself that he was in no mood to listen to Lord Shiva. Seeing Brahma ignoring his words made Lord Bhairav more infuriated. Therefore in order to break Brahma’s ego, Lord Bhairav with his huge sword like nails snatched the fifth head of Brahma. Brahma cried in pain and cursed Shiva that he will never be worshipped in his human form but in the form of a Lingam.
The skull bowl sometimes seen in the hands of Lord Shiva is actually the skull of Lord Brahma's fifth head.Since Lord Shiva and goddess Adi Parashakti, also known as Adishakti are the supreme representation of the union of the Purusha and the Prakriti(the Ardhanareshwar form of Lord shiva) it has been wrongly interpreted to represent the union of the sex organs of the male and the female.
Jyotirlinga is the devotional representation of shiva, the supreme God. The Jyotirlinga is believed to contain the soul of Lord Shiva himself.There is a shloka which recites the names of all the 12 jyotirlingas. It is known as the Dwadash Jyotirlinga Strotam.( द्वादश ज्योतिर्लिंग स्तोत्रम्). It describes the 12 Jyotirlingas as follows:
सौराष्ट्रे सोमनाथं च श्रीशैले मल्लिकार्जुनम्।
परल्यां वैद्यनाथं च डाकिन्यां भीमशङ्करम्।
सेतुबन्धे तु रामेशं नागेशं दारुकावने॥
वाराणस्यां तु विश्वेशं त्र्यम्बकं गौतमीतटे।
हिमालये तु केदारं घुश्मेशं च शिवालये॥
एतानि ज्योतिर्लिङ्गानि सायं प्रातः पठेन्नरः।
सप्तजन्मकृतं पापं स्मरणेन विनश्यति॥
एतेशां दर्शनादेव पातकं नैव तिष्ठति।
कर्मक्षयो भवेत्तस्य यस्य तुष्टो महेश्वराः॥:
द्वादश ज्योतिर्लिंग स्तोत्रम्
English Translation(Literal) of the Strotam:
Somanath in Saurashtra and Mallikarjunam in Shri-Shailam. (सौराष्ट्रे सोमनाथं च श्रीशैले मल्लिकार्जुनम्).
Mahakaal in Ujjain and Amleshwar in Omkareshwar. (उज्जयिन्यां महाकालमोङ्कारममलेश्वरम्).
Vaidyanath in Paralya and Bhimashankaram in Dakniya. (परल्यां वैद्यनाथं च डाकिन्यां भीमशङ्करम्).
Rameshem (Rameshwaram) in Sethubandh andNageshem (Nageshwar) in Darauka-Vana. (सेतुबन्धे तु रामेशं नागेशं दारुकावने).
Vishwa-Isham (Vishvanath) in Vanarasi and Triambakam at bank of Gautami River. (वाराणस्यां तु विश्वेशं त्र्यम्बकं गौतमीतटे)).
Kedar (Kedarnath) in Himalayas and Gushmesh (Gushmeshwar) in Shivalaya (Shiwar). (। हिमालये तु केदारं घुश्मेशं च शिवालये).
One who recites these Jyotirlingas every evening and morning. (एतानि ज्योतिर्लिङ्गानि सायं प्रातः पठेन्नरः।).
He is relieved of all sins committed in past seven lives.(सप्तजन्मकृतं पापं स्मरणेन विनश्यति)
One who visits these, gets all his wishes fulfilled (एतेशां दर्शनादेव पातकं नैव तिष्ठति)
and one’s karma gets eliminated as Maheshwara gets satisfied to the worship:(कर्मक्षयो भवेत्तस्य यस्य तुष्टो महेश्वराः)
The list of the 12 Jyotirlingas are as follows:
1. Somnath Jyotirlinga, Gujarat.
2. Mallikarjuna Jyotirlinga, Andhra Pradesh.
3. Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga, Madhya Pradesh.
4. Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga, Madhya Pradesh.
5. Vaidyanath Jyotirlinga, Jharkhand.
6. Bhimashankar Jyotirlinga, Maharashtra.
7. Rameshwar Jyotirlinga, Tamil Nadu.
8. Nageshwar Jyotirlinga, Gujarat.
9. Kashi Vishwanath, Varanasi.
10. Trimbakeshwar Jyotirlinga, Nasik.
11. Kedarnath Jyotirlinga, Uttarakhand.
12. Ghrishneshwar Jyotirlinga, Aurangabad.
THE LINKS TO MY OTHER ARTICLES ARE AS FOLLOWS:
Life Lessons to Learn from Lord Shiva:
Art of Living and Significance of Lord Shiva's Attire:
Most Powerful Weapons of Lord Shiva (Part 1):
Most Powerful Weapons of Lord Shiva (Part 2):
Most Powerful Weapons of Lord Shiva (Part 3):
Book Review of Raavan:Enamy of Aryavarta(Book 3 of Ramchandra Series):
Book Review of Sita: Warrior of Mithila(Book 2 of Ramchandra Series):
Book Review of Ram: Scion of Ikshvaku(Book 1 of Ramchandra Series):