‘Shiva’ means ‘auspicious’. Among all the deities, Shiva is the most auspicious. His name, look appearance, behavior, greatness and wealth – everything is auspicious i.e., everything is Shiva. Thus the one and only deity who is totally auspicious is Mahadeva, i.e., Shiva. Shiva means the one who is in control of everything all the senses, all life and the entire universe are in his control. Such an omniscient and omnipotent Lord is none other than Shiva himself. His greatness is infinite, it is beyond measure. N o one other than he himself is capable of understanding his greatness and his personality. However, to the extent that it is possible to describe such a great personality we find a delineation of the same in small parts in history, in the Vedas, Agamas and the Puranas. Shiva bestows on us the gifts and benefits of all the purusharthas. However, since he primarily grants us the power of knowledge the shastras
declare him to be “Jnanam Maheshwaraadichcheth.” He is the supreme embodiment of penance, austerity and renunciation. We shall make a small effort to bring to you a few parts of the puranas and history which delineate the greatness of such a character, ie., of Lord Shiva.
Churning of the ocean – Shiva’s great gift.
The devas and asuras were enemies by nature. Desiring to have nectar, they both came together and churned the ocean. At the very outset they face many hurdles. While they were churning the ocean, there came up haalaahala,
the deadliest among poisons, which began to burn the world. Lord Mahadeva consumed the poison and thus saved the world. This great event is beautifully described in the Shiva Purana, Matsya Purana, the Ramayana, and other great books. The person who narrated this story for the first time was Sootha Puranika. The first set of men to listen to it and enjoy it were Shaunaka and other Rishis. The story is given below.
Long ago, the Devas and Daithyas fought a battle in which innumerable Daithyas were slayed. But, Shukracharya, the preceptor of the Daithyas, brought back all of them to life by using Sanjeevani vidya. This power was a blessing which Shukracharya had got from Lord Shiva.
Thus the dead Daityas came back to life, but the dead Devas remained dead and gone. The Devas became worried. Led by their preceptor, Brihaspathi, Indra and the other Devas went to seek a solution from Brahmadeva, who lived on Mt. Meru.
Brahma understood their plight and said, “Dear Suras, make friends with asuras; use the Mandara mountain as the churning stick, and Vasuki the king of snakes, as the churning rope; churn the ocean, Ksheerasamudra, and you will
get nectar. Pray to Lord Vishnu and Lord Para shiva to bless you in your endeavour. Also, befriend Balindra, the king of daityas and enlist his cooperation. Your mission will succeed. “So saying Brahmadeva blessed the Devas.Accordingly the Devas prayed to Mahavishnu and Para shiva and received their blessings. Then they went to the king of Daityas, Balindra and said, “O chief of daityas, you are elder to us all and highly revered. We respect you; let us, Devas and Daityas, become friends and live in peace.
Let us try to obtain the nectar together taste it and then all of us can become immortal. Please be more understanding, help us and cooperate with us in thus endeavour.? Isn?t it necessary to befriend your sworn enemy in times of difficulties to fulfil your own desires? Yes, the Devas followed this very principle on this occasion.
The king of Daithyas honoured the Devas by readily agreeing to cooperate with them. Now, in order to obtain the nectar, the ocean had to be churned. So the question arose as to what could be used as an appropriate churning stick and churning rope. As it had been earlier suggested by Brahmadeva, they prayed to Mt. Mandara and Vasuki to help them churn the ocean. Both of them readily obliged. In answer to the prayers of the Devas and Daithyas, Lord Vishnu agreed to take on himself the full weight of the mountain. Everyone involved in this divine mission resolved to persevere boldly till the mission was complete. Thus the great task of churning the ocean began.
As the Devas and Asuras placed the mountain in the ocean, it fell into the unfathomable depths. They prayed to Lord
Vishnu, who according to the promise He had made, took the form of a huge tortoise and placed the mountain on His back firmly and held it thus.
As suggested by Vishnu, the Devas held the snake at its tail to churn the ocean. The Asuras welcomed the idea as holding the snake at the tail end was beneath their dignity; hence they held the snake at its hood. However, in a few
moments, they fainted as they could not withstand the flames of the snake?s poison. In order to save the situation, Devendra, the Lord of Devas, caused heavy rains. The flames subsided and they resumed work on churning
The terrible poison, Haalaahala, which could destroy the three worlds in a matter of minutes, sprang up choking everyone around. “O Lord, save us, O Lord” was the cry heard from every corner. Lord Vishnu looked at Shiva with a
naughty smile on His lips and said to Shiva, “Mahadeva, accept this poison and save the world. May you be the first to be honoured on this occasion.”
A gentle smile sailed across Shiva?s lips. He caused that dreadful poison to come onto his palm and as if he was drinking nectar, he swallowed it with ease. His consort, Parvathi, who was by him, was aware of her husband?s
great ability. Since she knew that he was doing this terrible act to save the world, she approved of his action by a nod of her head. “Prabhaavajnana Modata,” the deadly poison did not get down his throat. It got stuck at the point of the neck which acquired a splendour of its own now. From that day, Shiva came to be called Srikanta and Neelakanta.
Everyone present there praised Shiva for his benevolent action.
After the incident, the churning continued and there arose Airavatha, the divine elephant and the divine horse, Ucchaishrava. This was followed by the appearance of Kamadhenu and Kalpavriksha. Devendra added these to his
personal possessions. Then appeared sura, an intoxicant, which brought relief to the tired lot. Then followed Chandra whom Shiva received to adorn his head. Panchajanya and the precious stone, Kausthubha, followed and Lord Vishnu took them for himself. Lakshmidevi, who appeared later, accepted Lord Narayana as her husband according to the swayamvara system. Finally, the chief of physicians, Bhagawan Dhanvanthari, manifested himself holding the amruthakalasha, the bow! of nectar. When the Devas and Asuras saw it, they began to quarrel},
each one claiming that the nectar belonged to them.
Lord Narayana now appeared in an exquisitely attractive feminine form, Mohini, and with ?her? Vaishnavimaya, won the hearts of the Daityas. There is no one in this world who has not fallen a prey to feminine charm! The
fickleminded Daithyas handed the bowl of nectar to Mohini. Agreeing to obey her, they sat in a line like the Devas. Now the heart?s desire of the Devas was fulfilled. Mohini served them nectar first. Noticing this, one among Daithyas
by name Rahu, disguised himself as a Deva and tasted the nectar. Surya and Chandra, who noticed it, informed Maha Vishnu about it. Immediately Vishnu cut off the head of the Daithya with his divine wheel. He fell on the
ground roaring. The earth shook violently. But he did not die as he had tasted nectar. Even today it is said that Rahu?s body and head trouble Surya and Chandra during the time of eclipse.
Then Lord Narayana gave up his disguise and began to hurl missiles at the Daithyas. They began to vomit blood and appeared from a distance like peaks of blood and red hot stones. As a result of the Lord?s maya, they began to
fight with each other shouting “hit, cut, kill? and so on.
Nara and Narayana entered the battlefield with their weapons. Such as the bow, the wheel, etc. The Asuras were frightened out of their wits when they saw this shining divine wheel. They seemed to be consumed by its radiance and heat. Having got exhausted thus, they simply fell down dead, in thousands! Some brave among them fell on the Devas like gigantic clouds and a bloody battle ensued. The earth shook! Nara covered the entire sky space with innumerable arrows. The Asuras ran for their lives in great fear, entered the oceans and hid themselves there. Lord Vishnu retrieved the fiercely burning Wheel and put it on his finger. The Devas expressed their gratitude to all those who had cooperated with them in the task of churning the ocean and saw them off.
The Devas now implored Lord Nara to be the guardian of the bowl of nectar. Hence with the blessings of Nara, Narayana and Mahadeva, the Devas became immortal.
Killing of Andhakasura
Shiva, who is the giver of knowledge, dispels or removes the darkness of ignorance in us. It is due to His blessings that the darkness in us is destroyed, giving way to that light of knowledge, ? that everflowing river of Shivabhakthi, which helps us to attain salvation. Thus it is only devotion to Shiva which drives away ignorance in us and helps us to attain moksha, i.e., salvation. This is the essence underlying the slaying of Andhakasura. The destruction of Andhakasura is said to have taken place on Aardra darshana. ie., on the full-moon day in the month of Dhanu when star Ardra set in. A celebration takes place on this night.
Daithya Hiranyaksha performed tapasya with a view to getting a son. Lord Shiva was pleased with his tapasya. He stood before the asura and was about to grant a boon when, just for fun, Parvathi made Shiva close his eyes. A
few drops of perspiration fell from Shiva?s body, from which was born a sightless child. Shiva gave the child to Hiranyaksha. There are stories which tell us that the other drops of perspiration turned into rudrakshi trees.
The child was an incarnation of tamoguna (wickedness) and he grew up to be a very cruel person. But in the deep recesses of his heart he still had the divine spark of Shiva.
He looked like a mountain of soot. When he grew up he began to perform severe tapasya to please lord Brahma. The heat emanating from his penance began to spread to heaven. The Devas found it difficult to withstand the heat
and therefore they begged Brahmadeva to grant the Asura a boon. Brahmadeva appeared before the Asura and asked him what he wanted.
Andhakasura was happy. He implored Brahmadeva, “O great God, grant me strength and skills so that I cannot be killed by Devas.”
“So be it”, said Brahmadeva. Then the Lord passed his divine hands on the body of Andhakasura. As a result of the divine touch Andhaka shone with great lustre.
Once Shiva was enjoying the sights of nature in a forest called Mahakalavana on the slopes of the Himalayas along with his consort Parvathi. Andhaka happened to see them. He was attracted by the exquisite beauty of Parvathi and
fell in love with her. A person who desires to fulfil his carnal desires loses all sense of fear or hesitation. Immediately Andhaka tried to kidnap Parvathi. Shiva got angry. He decided to kill the demon and got ready to confront him.
Andhaka was blind. Now he had lost all his sense of right and wrong. He attacked Shiva fiercely. However bravely Shiva fought, he could not defeat Andhaka. He was very much distraught. Then he created the missile, Pashupatha, and hurled it at Andhaka. It hit Andhaka and blood began to flow from his body. As the blood dropped on the ground, from each drop came up one Andhaka; in this way thousands of Andhakas were created. Now Shiva had to deal with thousands of Andhakas. Each of them had lethal weapons such as Parashu (axe) musalathomara (sharp pestles), mudgara (hammer) and bhindiwala and they fell on Shiva like black clouds. In the terrible battle that ensued, however much Shiva tried to kill those Andhakas, their number multiplied in millions. In order to see the end of Andhaka, Shiva created blood drinking Mathruka ganas. H e ordered them to suck the blood of the demons. Brahmi, Maheswari, Kaumari, Malini, Sauparni, Vayavya, Shakti, Nairiti, Sauri Saumya and other mathrukas fell on the demons in multiples of millions and sucked the blood which flowed in the battle field. Their stomachs
got so full and that could not suck any more blood. However, the flow of blood and the increase in the number of Andhakas did not Stop. Shiva was helpless. In that state he sought the help of Vasudeva. Vasudeva created Shuska
Revathi who began to suck blood. However much blood she sucked, her stomach did not get filled. It remained as flat as ever! Dramatically, in just one moment, she sucked alli the blood from Andhaka?s body. Immediately Shiva, with
his trident, destroyed the entire tribe of Andhakas. The main Andhaka still remained. Filled with anger and fury, mustering all his strength this Andhaka rushed towards Gangadhara. Immediately Shiva pierced Andhaka?s body with his trident. He lifted the body, stuck to the end of his trident. Since it was Shiva himself who had created Andhaka, he did not wish to kill him.
“Visha Vrikshopi Samvardhya swayam chettu masampratham” (Kumara Sambhava by Kalidasa) Even if the tree which one nurtures and grows turns out to be a poisonous one, it should not be destroyed.
The very touch of the trident changed Andhaka. His ignorance was destroyed and he began to pray to Lord Shiva.
Andhakastu Mahaviryah tasya tushto bhavai bhavam !
Sannidhyam pradadou nithyam Ganeshatwam tatheivaca !!
Lord Srikanta was pleased with the asura?s prayer. He made Andhaka the leader of His ganas and asked him to stay with Him.
Tripura Samhara: (killing of Tripurasura)
The Tripura demons were the scourge of the three worlds. They lived in different places. They had received a strange boon. On the day the three met and on the day the three cities they lived in, came together, they would see their
end. This was Lord Brahma?s dictate. The three Demons began to trouble humans and Devas and there was no end to their exploits. The Devas went to Lord Mahavishnu and gave an account of their troubles and implored him to
help them. Mahavishnu appeared in person and offered to take them to Parashiva to find a solution to their problem because he felt that the Tripuras could be destroyed only by Lord Shiva and nobody else.
They came to Kailasa and prayed to Parameshwara. Shiva appeared before them and asked them what he could do for them. Th. Devas made obeisance to Shiva and said ingreat reverence, “O Lord our protector, the Tripuras have been troubling us for a long time. Now it has become intolerable. Please save us from them. They also told him the promise which Lord Mahavishnu had made: that is, when the Tripuras got together, Vishnu himself would enter the arrow hurled by Shiva, reinforce it and destroy the Tripuras.
Mahadeva listened to them patiently and decided to get ready for action. Before we begin any good or auspicious work we always pray to Lord Ganesh, the remover of all hurdles. Though Ganesha was His own son, he prayed to
him to remove all the hurdles in his efforts tokill the Tripuras. He also implored Ganesha to make the three demons come together somehow.
Swastivachanakeischeiva tesham nasteeha durlabham !
putrarthi labhate putran dhanarthi dhanamuttamam !!
lstan kamanawapnoti natra karya vicharana !
yashchadhi testiavamaidam tava nityam Ganeswara !!
“O Lord, those Who invoke you will not find anything inpossible to achiev. You fulfil the desires of all those who pray to you with devotion.” Those who pray regularly to the Lord this way will definitely have their desires fulfilled by Him. In order to prove that there is no doubt in this truth, Lord Shankara Himself prayed to Lord Ganesha.
Presently Lord Vighneswara appeared before Parameswara. He said, “What should I do for the benefit of the Devas?” Lord Shankara said, “Lord of all ganas, the Tripurasuras have become arrogant and have forgotten about the
well-being of the world. They have become incorrigible scourges of the world. They have been troubling the Devas and humans alike. Only when these three and their three cities come together, they can be killed. Whatever one
does they never meet in one place. Hence we desire that you take up the task of making them come together by causing them to become stupid and dull headed. Once their power of thinking decreases they will make a slip and
come together.” Vinayaka agreed to do so.
You are already aware that we always pray to Ganesha and worship him before we begin any auspicious work. We believe that if we do so, our work will go on smoothly without any hurdles. However it is interesting to note that it
was Lord Parameswara himself who had blessed Ganesha with this power. The Tripuras, in their arrogance, had forgotten to pray to Lord Ganesha. Ravana did not pray to Ganesha when he went to get Shiva?s atmalinga. Therefore his mission failed and the atmalinga got consecrated at Gokarna. Now as desired by the Devas and
Parashiva, Ganesh cast sucha spell on the Tripuras that they developed an irresistible desire to meet each other. Very soon, they fulfilled this desire too as they met. Immediately Lord Parashiva, who had been waiting for this opportunity, began his task of destroying the asuras.*
Lord Shiva reached the banks of the Narmada. Destroying the Tripuras was an arduous task. The reason was that the wives of the Tripuras were great pathivratas. The power they had acquired as pathivrathas had made their husbands invincible in battles. Banasura was the leader of the Tripuras. Moreover, their subjects lived righteous lives, chanting the Vedas and performing all religious rites as prescribed by the shastras. This had added to the strength the Tripuras had already acquired.
It was thus not easy for anyone to overcome them.
Conflict among the Tripuras and their destruction
Lord Shiva thought about ways and means of destroying the asuras. After a long period of reflection he decided to seek the help of Sage Narada to distract the attention of the three wives of the Tripuras. Sage Narada went to
them and suggested that there was a vrata which was superior to the Pathivratha. He thus diverted their attention from the pathivratha which they had been performing all along with utter devotion. He then convinced them so well
that they actually began to perform the vrata he suggested.
In the same way Lord Mahavishnu took the incarnation of Lord Buddha and preached to the people about the futility of yajnas and yagas saying that they involved violence and that Vedic rites would not give the desired fruit immediately. He questioned as to why people should think of the other world which they had not seen and which was unreal. He then asked them to be happy and lead a peaceful life here on this earth and not put the body to
unnecessary pain Such impressive words hag their effect on the gullible and they began to tal ill of the Vedas. In the same way the three wives of the Tripuras lost their concentration and Vighneswara?s effort brought the Tripuras
Now Shiva used Mount Mandara as the bow, snake Vasuki as the bow-string, Kumaraswamy as the point on which he would place the arrow and Lord Vishnu as the arrow proper. He placed Lord Agni at the tip of the arrow, Vayu on the face and made the four Vedas the horses and wheels of the chariot. The chariot became all divine. The Aswini Devas became the reins, Lord Indra became the axle of the chariot. Kubera stood at the head of the chariot. On the right stood Yama and on the left, Kala. Lord Brahma became the charioteer. Thus equipped for the kill, Maheswara, who waited for a thousand years, found that finally the time for the action was drawing near.
The three cities (Tripuras) came together in space. Now, Parameshwara brought out three of the most powerful arrows, each of which had three nodes. Letting them go, he separated the three cities. This action brought about a number of ill-omen in the three cities.
Women lost their lustre. Horses made of timber began to gallop along the streets. Animals in pictures opened their eyes. People dreamt that everyone was clad in red. and every object seemed to be upside down. They became
dull-headed and lost their power of thinking. A terrible storm began to blow. It appeared as though there was going to be a deluge. Fires appeared in all places; mountain peaks and trees got burnt and fell down. There was confusion
and chaos all over. People ran for their lives. All beautiful parks and gardens got destroyed. The cities appeared to be burning and from a distance they appeared like a ball of fire.
These were caused by the fire of Lord Parameswara?s anger. Everywhere one could see misery and tears and hear screams of helpless people. Elephants were running all over madly and it appeared as though they were praying to
God for protection. Thousands of Daityas were reduced to ashes. Swans and other water birds got burnt. Lotus flowers got destroyed in the boiling waters of lakes. The God of Fire consumed everything and everyone he met-children, pathivratha women, old people, cattle, birds and beasts. Women cursed Agnideva as they were reduced to ashes one after another. Agnideva seemed to be telling them. “I am helpless, I am only obeying the order of Lord Parameswara which has entered my being, is running about helter-skelter and burning everything indiscriminately. I am not free; what can I do?”
Banasura saw the cities being consumed by fire. He thought that Lord Parameswara was doing it just to test him. He knew that no one except Lord Shankara had the power to kill him. He placed the Shivalinga on his head; abandoning everyone and everything, he went out of the burning city. He began to pray to Lord Shiva from the bottom of his heart. He stood in space and addressed the following words to Lord Shankara: “O Lord Parameshwara, if you
desire to kill me, do so; but please spare the Shivalinga on my. head. Hey Lord Parameshwara, grant me the boon so that I remain your devotee in all my lives to come.” He sang the praise of the Lord in the totaka metre. It was believed that anyone who praised the Lord in that metre would get his desires fulfilled.
Shiva, who never let his devotees down, was pleased with Banasura?s prayer. He appeared before him and said, “Son, Banasura, be composed. Do not fear. May you live in the city, Suvarna, with your wife, children, friends and
servants for many years to come. From this moment onwards, no one, including Devas, will be able to kill you. You can roam about the three worlds without fear.” He saved the city, Suvarna, from the raging fire. The other two
cities were burnt completely. The remains of one city, also called Tripuranthaka, fell on Shrishaila, and the second on the mountain range of amarakantaka.
When everything was burnt down, people installed Kotilingas (one crore lingas) in those places. Even today we can see the Jwaleswara linga there.
Amarakantaka is a very holy place. It is believed that one who lives there, will lead a very happy life and attain heaven when he dies. On the slopes of Amarkantaka, it is said, thousands of Sages observe vratas and perform
tapasya even today. Those who take a holy dip in the Narmada will be cleansed of all their sins and attain Shiva sannidhya when they die
Killing of Gajasura
When Devi killed Mahishasura, all the Devas went back to their abodes and began to live in peace.
Gajasura was the son of Mahishasura. He was very angry at his father?s death. He wanted to take revenge on the killer for which he needed abundant strength. He began to perform severe tapasya to please Lord Brahma. He wanted to get a boon which would give him near immortality, that is, he would not be killed either by a man or a woman, nor by Sages who had conquered their senses.
He went to the slopes of the Himalayas, chose a suitable place, stood looking at the sky on the tips of his big toes. It was a very severe tapasya. He appeared as bright as Pralaya Surya. The heat, emanated from his body, began to
burn the three worlds. Rivers, lakes and seas became almost dry.
The Devas were frightened. They left Devaloka and sought refuge in Brahmaloka. They begged Brahmadeva to save them. Brahmadeva came to the place where Gajasura was performing tapasya along with Devas. He addressed the following words to Gajasura, “Hey Gajasura, | am pleased with your tapas and I have come here to grant you a boop, Ack for anything you want.”
Gajasura prayed to the Lord with a single minded devotion and said, “O Lord, grant me a boon according to which neither humans nor Sages will be able to kill me.”
Though what the Asura asked for was to, difficult to obtain, Brahmadeva granted it.
As soon as he received the boon, Gajasura was elated and he went straight to his place. With the help of his big army, he launched a ruthless attack against the Devas, Rakshasas humans, gandharvas, yakshas, nagas and garudas and completely routed them. Without paying heed to their honour or position, he attacked the Dikpalakas and dislodged them.
He made Amaravathi his capital and sat on Indra?s throne. The Devas served him with humility. Though there were heavenly pleasures for his enjoyment, he was not really satisfied. His acts went beyond the limits of decency, his
wickedness saw no ends.
He began to torture the Devas and the Sages. He also tortured shivaganas He tortured all those who were leading righteous lives.
Once this arrogant Gajasura entered Shankara;s Kashi. The people, who were in Anandavana, ran helter-skelter out of fear and took refuge in Shiva begging him to protect them.
Gajasura destroyed all the pramatha ganas he met on his way. All the devas, led by Indra, prayed to Lord Shankara to protect them from Gajasura. They told him all about the violent acts the Asura was indulging in. They prayed:
“O Lord Parameswara, the protector of the three worlds, your devotees are being subjected to torture by Gajasura. Wherever he sets his foot, even if they are mountains, they shake and break into pieces; trees tumble, oceans are
disturbed. His body is thousands of miles tall and equally big. He knows witchcraft. Wherever he goes, he wins. He is filled with pride that he is immortal and that no one is strong enough to kill him. Therefore, O Lord Parameshwara, put an end to this Asura?s onslaughts and save your devotees.”
Lord Parashiva made up his mind to destroy the Asura. When Gajasura saw Parashiva, he got ready to face a battle with him. There was a terrible duel between the two. Gajasura shot sharp arrows at Parashiva and hurt him. Shiva
began to cut the Asura?s arrows half way. Then, taking a sword, the Asura rushed forward to destroy Shiva.
Parashiva knew that conventional weapons would not kill Gajasura. Therefore he lifted his trident, pierced the Asura?s body with it and lifted him in the air as if he was holding an umbrella. Gajasura was frightened for the first
time in his life and implored the Lord to save him, chanting the following hymn.
Devadeva mahadeva tava bhaktosmi sarvada!
Jane twam tridiveshana trishoolim smaraharinam !!
Meaning: “O mercy incarnate, kindly listen to my words. You are the only God worshipped by one and all. It is because of you that this world exists and moves. One who meets death at your hands is truly blessed.”
“O God among Gods, O great Mahadeva, 1 am your servant. You have reduced Manmatha to ashes. If I were to die at your hands, I shall consider myself to be fortunate and blessed because you are the omnipotent Ishwara, who
When Shankara heard the Asura?s words; he relented and said, “Hey Demon King, J am pleased with you. Ask for any boon you want.”
When Gajasura heard Lord Shankara, he said, “O great Lord, you are infact a digambara, you are the sky. My skin has been purified by the touch of the fire from your trident. Kindly wear it always. It is soft and fits you well. You
have won it after defeating me in a battle. Hence it is only befitting that it remains comfortably with you.
“May this skin always be soft, pure and sweet smelling on you. May it enhance your beauty! Though flames of tapasya emanate from your body all the time, this skin will not burn you; it will cool down the heat. M y skin is really
blessed. Had it been full of sin, would it have had the good fortune to be blessed by your divine touch?
“if you are really pleased, O Lord, grant me a boon. Since you will be putting on my skin which is like an elephant’s skin, may you get the name ?Kriththivaasa’. (Kriththi means skin, vaasa means cloth; one who has draped the skin
as if it were cloth.) Please bless me.”
Lord Shankara was immensely pleased with the words of the Asura. He said,
“Hey Gajasura, your body is blessed. Therefore let a holy linga come out of the earth here. Let it be worshipped and help people in their journey to salvation. Let this place become a holy place.”
“Let this linga become popular by the name Krithivaseswara. Let all the sins of those who worship it disappear. Let this be known as the holiest of all the lingas in the world.” So saying, Lord Parameshwara put on Gajasura?s skin. The inhabitants of Kashi celebrated a great festival that day. All the Pramatha Ganas took active part in the festivity.
All the devas were pleased and they prayed to Parameshwara and thanked him profusely. They went to their abodes in a happy mood. The world again becamea safe and happy place.
Kalabhairava wasa part incarnation of Lord Parameswara. Once brahmakapala got stuck in his hand. It was a sin. In order to redeem the sin he began to beg for alms We all know that God is free from sins, yet he did this act for the
welfare of the world. But the moment he entered holy Kashi, the brahmakapala got detached from his hand and fell to the ground. At that point came into being a holy lake by name Kapala Moksha. Bhairava was supremely happy and he danced round it to his heart?s content.
Bhairava remained in Kashi as the local deity of the place and began to redeem the sins of his devotees.
It is believed that all those, who fast on the eighth day (ashtami) of the darker half of the month (Krishna Paksha) of Margashira, and spend the whole night praying or singing bhajans in the holy presence of Kalabhairava, are cleansed of all their sins.
Even a darshan of Kalabhairava is enough to cleanse many of the sins committed during previous births.
Twelve Holy places of Jyothirlingas:
Every one knows that Lord Narayana took ten incarnations to destroy adharma and the wicked and protect dharma and those who follow it.
In the same way in order to establish love of God and for the welfare of devotees, Bhagawan Shankara manifested Himself in the form of a Linga in twelve places which are considered very holy, Which are those twelve Jyothirlingas? Which are those holy Shivakshetras?
Bhagawan Vedavyasa gives details about those places in Shivamaha Purana.
Varanasyam tu Viswesham
Sethubandhe tu Ramesham
Ghushmesham cha Shivalaye
Pratharuthaya yah patheth
Sarva siddhi phalam labheth
Somanatha Jyothirlinga is i n Prabhasakshetra? i n Saurashtra (GujarathKathiyawada).
Dakshaprajapathi celebrated the marriage of his twenty seven daughters with Chandra, but Chandra loved only one of them, Rohini. Daksha was angry and cursed Chandra to grow weaker. Chandra was struck by tuberculosis, a
dreaded disease. The nectar in him began to dry up. The earth and life on it got adversely affected by it. Chandra prayed to Lord Brahma and sought his help in coming out of his problem. Brahmadeva appeared before him and
suggested to him to go to holy Prabhasa, and pray to Lord Shiva for six months observing strict vritas. Accordingly Chandra went to Prabhasa and prayed to Lord Shiva for six months. Mrithunjaya Shiva appeared before
Chandra and granted him immortality. Chandra then said that he would grow weaker durngKrishnapaksha (darker half of the month) and brighter during Shuklapaksha (brighter half of the month) Then, he would appear in full glory
on Poornima (full-moon day). Later on in answer to a prayer by the Devas including Chandra, Shiva got Himself installed as Jyothirlinga at Somanatha.
Mallikarjuna Jyothirlinga is on the Srishaila mountain, on the bank of the River Krishna which lies in the district of Krishna in AndhraPradesh.
Once Ganesha and Shanmukha had a quarrel in the presence of Lord Parameswara. In order to solve it, the Lord asked both to go round the world and return. Shanmukha got on to his vehicle, the peacock, and started on the
journey round the world. Ganapathi had a big fat body. Though he was fat, his mind was very sharp. He made his divine parents, Parashiva and Parvathi, sit on two seats, went round them three times and prostrated at their feet. By doing so he deemed himself to have travelled round the world and derived the same fruits which he would have, if he had actually gone round the world. Shanmukha got angry when he heard what Ganesha had done, went out in a huff,
climbed the Crauncha mountain and sat there. Shiva and Parvathi went there to calm him down. When Shanmukha came to know that his parents were coming to him, he went further. But Shankara appeared as Jyothirlinga at that
point in the mountain and it is called Mallikarjuna Jyothirlinga today.
Mahabaleswara Jyothrilinga is in Ujjaini, which is known as one of the seven Mokshapuris on the bank of the River Shipra in Madhyapradesh. Ujjaini is also called Avanthike.
Chandrasena, the king of Ujjain, was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. Once he was immersed in the worship of Shiva. At that time a cowherd woman came there with her five year old son. The boy felt like praying to Shiva. He picked up
a stone on the way, brought it home and began to worship it as if it was a Shivalinga. The mother called him for his meal but he did not respond to her as he was deep in prayer. She called him several times but he continued
praying. She got so angry that she lifted that stone and threw it away. Even then, the boy did not go to eat. He went on crying, calling out to Shiva. He cried for such a long time that he lost consciousness. Shiva was pleased with his
devotee and appeared before him. The boy regained consciousness and saw a beautiful temple with a Jyothirlinga in it. The boy was surprised and prayed to Shiva in great devotion. Then the mother and the king also came to that
place. The boy Srikara, his mother and the king worshipped Shiva as Mahakaleswara and attained Shivadhama.
Parameswara Jyothirlinga is in holy Omkara on the bank of the Narmada in Maharashtra.
On the advice of Sage Narada, Vindhya went to holy Omkarakshethra to do tapasya to please Lord Shiva. He made a linga of mud and worshipped it for six months with great devotion, without even moving from there. Shiva was pleased with Vindhya and appeared before him and granted him boons he asked for. Then, on a request from the Devas and the Sages living around the place, Parameshwara agreed to remain at that place and did so with pleasure.
Kedareshwara Jyothirlinga is seen in the state of Uttaranchal, in holy Kedara which is Situated in the Himalayas and on the bank of River Mandakini.
A Sage by name Nara Narayana was performing tapasya at holy Badarikashrama. He made a linga out of mud, performed pooja to it everyday and implored Shiva to receive his pooja. Shiva, who resided in the mud linga, came everyday and received his pooja as soon as the Sage invoked him. Once Shiva was pleased with the Sage and asked him to beg for anything he desired. The Sage implored, “O great master of the cosmos, if you are really pleased with my prayer, stay here to receive pooja from your devotees everyday.”
Accordingly Shiva came to stay in that place (Kedara) in the form of a Jyothirlinga.
Bhimashankara Jyothirlinga is on the Sahyadri range of mountains on the bank of river Bhima which is situated in Maharashtra.
The king of Kamaroopa (Assam) was a greatdevotee of Lord Shiva. A demon by name Bhima heard of the king?s fame. He was jealous of the king and thus came to him. Brandishing his sword, he said, “What are you doing here?” The king, who was praying with devotion, said:
Bhajam Shankaram devam Swabhakta paripalakam
I Worship holy Shankara, the protector of his devotee.
The angry demon struck the king with hissword. The sword, however, hit the linga. Immediately Shiva appeared and killed the demon The Devas and Sages begged Lord Shankar to remain at that place so that they could worship him. Shiva agreed and thus came to he known there as Bhimashankara.
Vishweshwara Jyothirlinga is in Kashi (Varanasi) on the river Ganga in Uttar Pradesh.
It is said that Kashi is the first city to be created. During the great deluge, Lord Shankar held the city upon the point of his trident and again during the second creation, he put it down Therefore it is believed that this city is indestructible. It was here that Lord Vishnu performed tapasya seeking Shankara?s help. When he lay down, a lotus came out of his navel and Brahma came into being in it. That was the beginning of creation. Sage Agatsya performed
tapasya, seeking Lord Parameswara?s blessings. All these happenings here were due to Lord Shankara’s greatness. All those who die in this city are blessed ones, for, it is said that Lord Shankara initiates them into the taraka mantra.
Thryambakeshwara Jyothirlinga is in Nasik on the bank of the river Godavari in Maharashtra.
The Godavari came into being as a result of the tapasya done by sage Gowthama. Therefore it is called Gowthami. It is also called Dakshinaganga. Lord Shankara stayed here in answer to the prayers of sage Gowthama and
Vaidyanatheswara Jyothirlinga is in Parali in Maharashtra. It is also known as a cremation ground.
Once Ravana performed severe tapasya in Himalayas seeking Lord Shankara?s blessings. Cutting off his heads one after the other, he piled up nine of them and offered them to Shiva. When he was about to cut his tenth head, Shiva
appeared before him, gave him his atmalinga and asked him to install it in the city of Lanka. He, however, warned him not to place it on the ground till he reached Lanka.
On the way Ravana felt the need for easing himself. He saw a cowherd and asked him to hold the linga for a while. The cowherd could not hold it for long on account of its great weight and placed it on the ground. When Ravana saw it, he was heart broken. He tried to lift it. However much he tried, he could not. He placed the impression of his right thumb on the linga and left the place disappointed. Even today it is believed that if lepers take a bath here
and worship Shiva, they will be cured of leprosy.
Nageswara Jyothirlinga is in Darukavana near Bete Dwaraka.
A rakshasi by name Daruka lived in a forest as a result of Goddess Parvathi?s grace. Hence the place was called Darukavana. Her husband was Daraka. There was a vaishya by name Supriya who was an ardent devotee of Shiva.
Once, when he was on a voyage, Daruka ! attacked him, took him prisoner and put him in jail. Supriya, continued to pray to Shiva even in jail. He encouraged the other prisoners also to pray to Lord Shiva. Daruka ordered his servant
to kill Supriya while he was engrossed in prayer. Even when the Demon?s servant came to kill him, he was not disturbed. In order to fill his devotee with courage, Lord Shankara appeared before him in the form of a brilliant, shining Jyothirlinga, and blessed him with the weapon, Pashupatha. Supriya killed the Demon with the
weapon and finally attained mukti. He was taken to Shivaloka. As desired by Lord Shankara, the Jyothirlinga there came to be called Nagesh Jyothirlinga.
With the intention of waging a war against Ravana in order to get back Seeta, Sriramachandra: came to the banks of the south sea which was on the way to Lanka. Here, he created a linga out of sand and worshipped Lord Shiva. He pleased the Lord and got blessed that he would win over Ravana. The linga installed by the holy hand of Srirama came to be called Rameshwara linga.
Ghushmeshwara Jyothirlinga is in Verula on the slopes of Devagiri.
A brahmin by name Sudharma had two wives by name Sudeha and Ghushma. used to make one hundred and one lingas out of mud everyday, worship them with a lot of devotion and immerse them in the lake nearby. She got a son in course of time by the grace of | Shiva. The son grew up and became a good person. Sudeha became jealous of Ghushma and one day she got Ghusma?s son drowned in a deep lake. Ghushma did not know it. Unaware
of the tragedy, she made 101 lingas as usual, worshipped them and immersed them in the lake. What a wonder! How can we mortals describe the greatness of Shiva! The young man, drowned by his stepmother, came up alive. As
he came up he said, “Dear mother, I have come back alive after dying due to drowning.” So Saying, he touched the feet of his mother.
Presently, Lord Parashiva appeared before them and asked them to tell Him what boon they desired. Ghushma begged the Lord to pardon the crime committed by her sister and implored Shiva to stay there so that she could
worship him every day. Shankara said, “So be it.” Thus he became famous by the name Gjisjesjwara. The lake came to be called Shivalaya.
In this way Lord Shankara came to stay in twelve places as twelve Jyothirlingas and is worshipped by millions of devotees. He blesses his devotees arid in fact, has becorne the main pillar supporting the entire universe.
Namastunga Shirashumbi Chandrachaamaara
Trailokya nagaraarambha moola stambadya
The greatest among poets, Kalidasa, in the naandishloka (prologue) to his famous play “Malavikagnimitra’, delineates Ashtamoorthy Shiva thus:
“Though Shiva has infinite wealth to give to his devotees, He himself leads a very simple life clad in an elephant skin. Though he has granted half of his body to his consort Parvathi, he is considered to be the greatest and is highly
revered by Sages who have conquered their senses. Though he has been protecting the earth with the help of the sun, the moon, fire, air, earth, water sky and jeevathma (life), He is not proud about it. Let this great Lord show us the
way to deliverance by removing the darkness of ignorance in all of us.