Of the twelve JyotirLingas of Lord Shankara, the tenth one is known as Tryambakeshwara. This great JyotirLingas on the banks of Gautami has a unique form. The Lord in this Temple’s Garbhagriha is not worshipped with Abhisheka with water (Jalahari) unlike others. There is just a bottom part of the pounding stone (Ukhali), instead, like a hole.
In that hole there are three Lingas shaped like the Thumbs. There are supposed to represent Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesha and hence Tryambakeshwara. Of these three Lingas, the Linga of Mahesha has a constant shower of water from an orifice above. It is a natural source of water coming down as Abhisheka for the Lord.
From this JyotirLingas sometimes, the roar of a lion can be heard. Sometimes flames can be seen emanating from it. At such times, in order to keep safe from Shankara’s anger, milk mixed with Bhang (opium) is put in a pitcher and the pitcher is hung upside down so that it trickles down on to the Linga. Rudrabhisheka mantras are chanted at that time. All that liquid just disappears into the hole. When the milk stops flowing, then the Lord is supposed to have cooled down and is peaceful.
About these unique incidents that occur here, they have an unique story attached to each one.
Ahalya’s husband, Gautama was doing Tapas or penance on the Dakshina Mountain. It did not rain there for a hundred years and the land was drying up and life forms disappearing. Seeing these conditions of drought, the residents, the saints, and all the birds and animals fled from there. Saint Gautama did a great Mangalik Tapas through Pranayama for six long months.Vareena, the God rain was pleased and appeared before Gautama, who in turn asked for water. At the behest of God Varuna, Gautama dug a hole on his hand. With the help of Varuna’s miraculous power, it filled with water. Varuna said “Due to the power of your penance, this hole would be an unending source of water “Akshya”. It will become famous by your name. It will augment all holy retuals like Yagna, Dana, Tapa, Homa Shraadha, and worship of Gods.” After this water was thus acquired, the saints started making preparations for the Yagna and the production of “Breehika:’
Once when the disciples of Gautama went to fetch some water, from that waterhole. Just then some of the saints’ wives were also there for the same purpose. They insisted on taking water first. The disciples of Gautama called Gautama’s wife. She intervened and allowed her husband’s disciples to fetch water. The wives of the Rishis felt insulted at this Incident and complained to their husbands and while doing so added a few lies here and there. The great saints at once started the worship of Ganesha as an initial Puja in there scheme of vendetta. When Ganesha appeared before them and granted some boons, they asked for the power of being able to insult and chase away Gautama, as an indesirable person from there. Ganesha understood that Gautama was very helpful by nature, tried to persuade the saints from getting their way. He knew that, but for Ganesha’s efforts, the saints would be craving for even a drop of water. But the saints woi ild have none of it. Reluctantly, Ganesha had to accode to the request of the adamant Rushis, but warned them to be ready to face the consequences of angering a great saint like Gautama.
One day, when Gautama went to get some “Breehi”, he saw a thin, starving cow there. Just when he lifted a little twinge to show away the cow, the cow fell dead. The Rishi caught the opportunity and accused Gautama of slaying a cow “Gohatya”. They insulted him and said that he must leave that place immediately in order to save it from the aftermath of Gohaty. Gautama became very sad and left feeling greatly depressed.
Gautama wanted to absolve himself of the sim of Gohatya “Cow Slaughter’. He thus resorted to the method of Tapas recommended by great saints. He began the difficult task of bringing Ganga water with the power of his Tapas, take bath with that water and chant Shiva mantras crore times and worship the Parthiva Linga. Shiva was pleased and told him that he is indeed a pure soul and a great Mahatma A great injustice was done to him, Shiva told him that the could ask for some boons. Gautama asked for Ganga, which would be of great help to the humanity. Shiva gave Ganga to Gautama, in the form of Talwarupa Avishishta Jai. After taking the water, Gautama requested Shiva to absolve him of the sin of cow slaughter. Shiva purified
Gautama and wanted to go back to the heavens after that. But he told him to remain on the earth till the end of Kaliyuga. Ganga prayed to him and requested him to stay on the earth, along with his consort Parvati. For the welfare of the world, Shiva granted Ganga her wish.
Ganga wanted to know from Shiva, how people will know about her greatness. The Rishis that until Brihaspati Brihaspati (Thursdays) stays on the Simha Rishi (Leo), we will stay here on your banks and will take a holy dip in your waters thrice a day before taking the Darshan of Shiva. Only by doing so, would we be able to wash our sins. On hearing this Shiva and Ganga stayed there. Ganga has also come to be known as Gautami and the Linga came to be known as Tryambakam.
The river which gave away cows as Go-Daan became Godavari.Ganga who came on the request of Gautama became Gautama Ganga.That was the auspicious time of Brahmagiri, the time in between, when the kurmavatara was over and before the assumption of Varahavatar, the Sanghiparva.The planet Guru (Jupiter) was in the Sing of Simha (Leo), Magha Shuddha Dashami, Thursday after noon, when Gautami Ganga was born,
Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswari, together assume the incarnation of Tryambakeshwar and stayed there for their devotees.The area of Brahmagiri too looks like the Lingamurthy. From the tip, the water of Gautami Ganga flows.
The spring at Brahmagiri from where Godavari comes out, is known as Gangadwar. The Ganga water flows from a rock shaped like a cov’face, constantly. The temple of Godavari mata is located here. The idol looks happy and peaceful. The VarahaTeertha is close by.
After emanating from Gangadhar, the river Godavari thins down and almost disappears, only to appear again at Tahalhati. In order to prevent it from disappearing, Gautam Rishi threw Darbhas on all four sides. Because of this, Godavari flows in Kushavarti. The Kashavarti MahaTeerth is a circle of 27 meires. It is built very strong. There are steps on all four sides to facilitate going down to the waters.
At the time of Simhasta (in Leo), every 12 years, a Kumbhmela is held here. Lakhs of people take a holy dip in Kushavarta. On all the four sides of Kushavartha corridors are built. Beautiful statues are also carved here in the Brahmagiri Talhati, near Kushavarti, there is a big lake called Ganga Sagar. Near it are the Samadhi of Nivruttinath and the caves of Gorakshaguja. After going into Samadhi at Alandi, Gnaneshwar died before his elder brother. This saddened Nivruttanath. A few days later, he also entered Samadhi here, in this holy place of his Guru Gahineenath. It is here in this cave, that Gahineenath had given the initiation or Deeksha of Nathpanth to
Nivruttinath. It is said that Sri Datta Bhagawan attained Siddhi is this very cave. Close by, is Neelaparvat, where Neelambika shrine is located. On the Anjali Parvat, Hanuman’s mother Anjani did her penance,
On the parikrama path, there are beautiful places like Ram Teerth, PrayagTeerth and Nrisimha Teerth etc. The Peshwa kings planted trees at every 25-hand distance. During the reign of the Peshwas, criminals were asked to do the Parikrama (circumambulating) of Brahmagiri as punishment.
Tryambak city is approximately fifteen hundred feet above sea level. It has clean mountain air and is also a holy shrine. The Temple of Tryambakeshwar was built by King nanasaheb Peshawar. The pillars on all four sides of the Temple are adorned with beautiful carvings.There is a Nandi temple in front of the main temple. Everyday drummers arrives to play on the Nakkaras.
In the main temple of Tryambakeshwar JyoLirLinga, Nitya (constant) Puja, Arati and Prasad etc., are arranged. On special occasions, big festivals are also organised. On such occasions, the idol ofthe Lord is decorated with nice clothes and jewellary, including a crown studded with expensive gemstones. A crown was brought by Naro Shankarji as part of his spoils, when he attacked the South. He dedicated this crown to Lord Shiva. Sardar Vinchurkarji gave a beautiful chariot to the reigning diety.
Every Monday, the chariot of Tryambakeshwar goes to Kushavarti with great aplomb and comes back into these great rivers of Gangs and Godavari, a small river called Ahilya joins it. On this Sangam (meeting place) a ritual by the name Nagaharam bal-Naganarayanbal is organised by some people. It is believed that due to some unfulfilled desires of ancestors, some people do not have children. In orderto remove this ritual of Naganarambal is held. It is performed like the North Indian obsequies. It is said that by fulfilling this ritual, people will be blessed with children. Someone rightly said-
“Tatra gatwa kuru shraddhaap’tunuddishya yatnataha”!
The Tryambakeshwar JyotirLinga is an unique, great, holy and wonderful place of pilgrimage.
“Jays Tryambakeshwar! Jaya Tryambakeshwar!!”