The Story of Siva Linga’s Origin

In the secluded and thick forests of Darukavana, select Rishis and Yogis called  were engaged in deep Tapasya and their wives who were all Maha Pativratas were engaged  in serving the Tapasis in their Spiritual Activities of ‘Karma Kanda’ like ‘Japa-Homas’.  Maha Deva arrived in that atmosphere to test the depth and earnestness of their devotion in the disguise of a semi lunatic but as an astonishingly handsome youth; he was half-naked some times laughing and some times crying but behaving erratically. Out of curiosty in the beginning and as a temptation eventually the women folk including the elderly ones, not to mention of the youthful ones and of course the ‘kanyas’ made a beeline to the handsome young man and the Rishis found a noticeable  transformation in their outlook with sympathy and soft corner. Some entrerprising women even tried to converse with the person but he did not respond positively. As the men in that small Society reprimanded him and even threatened him to leave the Place, he did not reply and laughed away as though they were in a negative mode. Finally, his presence became a nuisance upsetting their peace of mind as the women folk started getting more and more  attracted to him  by the  day. In one go, the Rishis confronted him and cursed him that his Linga be dropped. Brahma appeared and admonished the Maharshis and apologised to Maha Deva. The Munis too realised their terrible mistake and sought unreserved apologies to the youth in disguise. Maha Deva no doubt accepted their sincere apologies but reprimanded them for their flippant reactions without trying to assess the truth; he said that the entire Srishti occurred due to  Stree  and Pumlingas  and one shopuld not hasten to wrong conclusions ; a Brahmavaadi might be a naked person, or ash-smeared or even a child and least-communicative as he might be engrossed in inner-meditation enjoying bliss or crying for the betterment of Society around  and as such ‘prima facie’ interpretations might be misleading. This was how Shiva guided the Rishis not to confuse Maya for Satya or Illusions for Reality! Maha Deva also suggested that ‘Karma Kanda’ could certainly be a foundation to the path for Self-Realisation or a means for Salvation but not the end by itself  just as mistaking wood for the forest!

Shata-Rudreeyam: Thus Linga Formations are representations of Maha Deva and worship to Lingas is most certainly the worship to Shiva and his virility itself. While there are crores of Linga Swarupas made of sand, rock, metal and various other matetial bases all over the Universe, distinct Beings like Brahma-Vishnus, Deva-Danavas, Yaksha-Gandharvas, Muni-Manavas and others were stated to worship Shiva Lingas in their own ways having materialised them with varying materials and varying names of Shiva. This staggering mateial base with which the Lingas were made and distinguished with different names of Maha Devas was called Shata Rudreeyam.: Brahma meditated the feet of  a Golden Linga called Jagat Pradhana; Krishna to the head of a black stone Linga named Urjit; Sanakadi Munis to the heart of Jagadrati Linga; Sapta Rishis worshipped a Darbha Linga named Vishwa Yoni; Narada conceived an all-pervasive Akaakasha Linga and worshipped Jagatvija; Indra worshipped a Vajra Linga named Vishwatma; Surya to a copper Linga called Vishwasruga; Chandra to a pearl Linga named Jagatpati; Agni worshipped Indra Nila Mani Linga called Vishweshwara; Brihaspati to a Pushparajamani called Vishwa Yoni; Yama Dharma Raja to a brass Linga called Shambhu; Shukracharya paid penance to Padmaraaga Man Linga called  Vishwakarma; Kubera worshipped a Golden Linga called Ishwara; Vishwa Deva Ganas prayed to a Silver Linga named Jagatgati; Ashtavasus to a Glass Linga known as Bhavodbhava; Marud Ganas to TriLoka Linga made of three metals called Umesha/ Bhupesha; Rakshasas prayed to an Iron Linga called Bhuta Bhavya Badhavya; Guhyaka Ganas prayed to a Mirror-made Shiva Linga named Yoga; Jaigeesha Muni performed puja to Maya Linga named Jaigeeshwara; King Nimi did penance to a Ugala Netra Linga or Two Eyed Linga called Sharva; Dhanvantari worshipped Gomaya Linga (cow-dung) in the name of Sarva Lokeshwareshwara; Gandharvas made pujas to a wooden Linga called Sarva Shreshtha; Lord Rama made intense Japa to Vidyunmani Linga named Jyeshtha; Banasura made sacrifices to a Marakata Mani Linga named Varishtha; Varuna Deva revered Sphatika Mani Linga named Parameshwara; Naga Ganas prayed to Munga (Black Pearl) Linga named Lokatrayankara; Shani Deva performed Japa on Saturday Amavasya Midnights to Bhavari Swarupa Linga (Honey Bee) called Jagannatha; Ravana worshipped Chameli Flower Linga named Sudurjaa; Siddha Ganas prayed to Manasa Linga  called ‘Kama Mrityu Jaraatiga’; and so on.

Dwadasha Jyotir Lingas: Nandeshwara described the most Celebrated Twelve Shiva Lingas viz. Kedarnath in Himalayas [Uttaranchal], Bhima Shankar in Dakinya [Pune, Maharashtra], Vishweshwara in Varanasi, Triambaka on Godavari Banks, Somanath in Sourashtra [Gujarat], Mallikarjuna in Shri Shaila [Andhra Pradesh], Mahakaala in Ujjain [Madhya Pradesh], Omkareshwara [also in Madhya Pradesh], Vaidyanath at Deogarh [Bihar], Nageshwara near Dwaraka [Gujarat], Rameshwara [Tamil nadu] and Ghishneshwara  [near Ellora Caves, Aurangabad, Maharashtra].

Somanath is a Sparsha Linga and the Water Body Chandra Kund is stated to cure Leprosy and Tuberculosis. Its legend originated from Daksha Prajapati’s Curse since Daksha married off twenty seven of his daughters to Chandra but the latter displayed extreme affection for Rohini to the complete neglect of others and Daksha cursed Chandra to gradually disappear from the Sky. There was havoc to the worlds in the absence of Chandra as there was neither moon shine nor coolness in the nights and worse still there were no ‘Aoushadhis’ nor Brahmanas whose Lord Chandra was performing Yagnas. Lord Shiva sorted the problem of creating Shukla Paksha or the First Bright Fortnight as Chandra would reach a peak of Shine upto Pournami and in the subsequent fortnight of Krishna Paksha would wane  upto Amavasya.

Shri Shailam: Shiva and Parvati appeared as Mallikarjuna and Bhramaramba as Kartikeya left for Tapasya on the Krouncha Mountain since he felt cheated on his return from a ‘Bhu Pradakshina’or circumambulation of Earth as per a Pact approved by his parents for an earlier wedding but his brother Ganesha did not do so and merely performed three Pradakshinas around his parents much faster than Kartik; Ganesha knew that the Pradakshinas were as good as Bhu Pradakshina  around their parents as per Scriptures! Shiva and Parvati tried to reach Kartikeya on Mountain to pacify him. Devi Parvati assumed the form of bees all over her body to kill Mahishasura and hence her Avatara as Bhramaramba. It is stated that Vrishabha Deva the Carrier of Maha Deva did severe Tapasya at the same Place and Shiva Parvatis obliged their darshan in the form of Mallikarjuna and Bhramaramba here. Also Rama installed a Sahasra Linga there and so did Pandavas the Pancha Pandava Lingas. Further, Adi Shankara is stated to have scripted his memorable Work of ‘Shivananda Lahari’ here.

Ujjain:  Lord Shiva’s Swayambhu (Self- Generated) Linga as Mahakaal on the banks of River Kshipra is a unique specimen of Jyotirlingas maintained on Tantrik Principles. The mythological background of the Temple related to a pious Brahmana well versed in Vedas and Sciptures who gave birth to four highly learned sons named  Deva Priya, Priyamedha, Survita and Suvrata. A demon called named Dushana lived on a nearby hill Ratnamala who could not tolerate the very concept of Vedas and their applications and particularly hated  the Brahmana brothers and on one day along with his co-demons encountered the brothers while they were engrossed in an ‘Abhisheka’ to the Mahakaala Linga. As the demons surrounded the Brahmana brothers and were about to kill them, there was a frightful and reverberating roar of ‘Humkaara’which instantly exterminated the killer demons. The Brahmana brothers prostrated gratefully before the Linga and recited soulful stotras and Maha Kaala made his unique appearance and intensified their Tri-Kaala pujas which were continued grom generation to generation. The experience of early morning ‘Bhasmabhishekas’ with the bhasma / ash of the first dead body of Ujjain as purified appropriate Mantras with the Sacred waters of River Ksdhipra continues to be awe-inspiring till date! Ujjain, the erstwhile Capital of Avanti has a glorious past as it was ruled by Mauryas and Guptas, especially by Vikramaditya and his renowned ‘Nava- Ratnas’ or the Nine Gems of Poets especially of Kalidaasaa, Vetala Bhatta and Varahamihira; his step btother Saint Bhartuhari who spurned on Kingship is still reputed for Bhartruhari caves as one went inside beyond a point would never return! Kala Bhairava Idol in the Temple  in the vicinity of the Caves accepts half of any intoxicating liquor  and leaves behind as a ‘Prashad ‘ or return of the Offerings. Ujjain is one of the Seven Illustrious ‘Mukti Sthalaas’ or Salvation Places in Bharat, besides Ayodhya, Mathura, Haridwar, Varanasi, Kanchipuram and Dwaraka.

Omkareshwara: Situated  on the banks of River Narmada on the Mandhata Island formed in the shape of OM in Sanskrit, Omkareshwara is another famed Jyoir Lingas. The Legend was that Narada provocked the powerful Vindhya Mountain as the latter boasted of his height and might; Vindhya was  noboubt high but was not comparable to that of Meru Mountain, Narada said. Vindhya Raja felt jealous and resorted to concentrated Tapasya to Maha Deva who granted Vindhya’s request to establish a Shiva Linga on the banks of Narmada River. Puffed by Shiva’s presence there, Vindhya grew taller and taller to compete with Sumeru. This disturbed Surya’s  routine circumambulation of the Universe as he had to return half way as one half of the Universe remained  dark. Devi Bhagavati asked Sage Agastya from Varanasi to visit Vindhya Raja who out of veneration for the Muni bent down  as Agastya asked Vindhaya to be in that position till he returned and the Muni had yet to return from Dakishna Bharat eversince!

Kedareswara: Flanked the snow-clad peaks of Himalayas at a height of 3585 m from Sea level Kedar is the highest point of human comprehension where the Kedareshwara Jyotirlinga is present. The incarnations of Vishnu as Nara and Narayana  Maharshis in the form of Mountains meditated  to Shiva for times immemorial.  Pandavas performed penance to Shiva for the welfare of humanity and the latter was materialsed as a Swayambhu Linga as Kedareshwara- a large expanse of Black Stone with an inclined elevation  in the middle. The belief is that the Pancha Pandavas in their final journey reached the Temple chasing a Bull- Lord Shiva Himself-and Bhima sought to catch the tail but failed; finally they all attained Salvation at the Mountain Top. It is also believed that Adi Shankara too attained his Moksha on the Mountain Top.

Bhima Shankar: Located in the Ghat Region of  Sahyadri Hills near the head of the Bhima River that merged with River Krishna too, Bhima Shankara Jyotir Linga was stated to have materialised on its own as Maha Deva killed Demon Bhima the son of Kumbhakarna, the brother of Rananasura. Demon Bhima wished to avenge the killings of his father and King Ravana by Shri Rama and secured the boon of invincibility against Devas and other Beings from Brahma by the dint of extreme penance. Besides dislodging Indra and Devas from their Seats of Power, the Demon Bhima provoked Maha Deva as the Demon tormented his devotee a staunch Shiva Bhakta named King Kamarupeshwara insisting that instead of worshipping Shiva the Demoon should worship him instead. As the Demon was about to destroy the Shiva Linga worshipped by the King, Mahadeva appeared and sliced the demon’s head and the sweat from Shiva’s forehead while killing the demon turned into a water flow since called Bhima River. The Jyotir Linga manifested as a powerful representation of  ‘Artha Nareeswara’ bestowing proof of fulfilment of devotees who throng the Temple in large crowds especially on Mondays and Shiva Ratris. As in respect of Ujjain, the Swayambhu Linga here too is set at a level lower than the normal Ground. The Bhima Shankar Temple is also stated to have ben associated wirh the killing of Tripurasuras and there was a manifestation of Devi Parvati in a Place nearby as Kamalaja since Brahma worshipped her.

Another version from the Koti Rudra Samhita of Shiva Purana indicated Dakininam Bheema Shankara as the slayer of Bhimasura and that  Bhima Shankara’s Temple was situated at Kamarup (Assam) on Bhimapur Hill where King Sudakshina was saved and the Jyotir Linga was consecrated as Shiva Rathis were celebrated with tremendous pomp and show with great fervour. Yet another version  stated that Bhima Shankar Jyotir Linga appeared as a Swayambhu at Kashipur near Nainital which was chronicled as the Dakini Country where Bhima of Pandavas married a Dakini woman named Hidimba and there too there was a Jyotir Linga as  Swayambhu.

Varanasi: Famed as the Place of  Devas that was founded by Bhagavan Shiva Himself some thousand years ago, Kasi the confluence of Rivers Varana and Asi, has a hoary legend with world-wide reputation, referred to in Rig Veda and Puranas. This was the spot where Bhagavan Vishweshvara manifested as Avimukta Jyotirlinga. Brahma was stated to have made such extraordinary Tapasya to such an extent that Vishnu moved his head across so fast in disbelief and his ear-ring fell on the banks of the River Ganges and continued his search there and the Sacred Spot was named ‘Manikarnika’ ever since. As Brahma recited Vedas in praise of Maha Deva once, the latter was annoyed as  Brahma’s wrong and misleading stanza was recited and  Shiva sliced one of Brahma’s ‘Pancha Mukhas’ or Five Faces in great exaspration; the sliced  head found a lasting Place as Brahmakund. Varanasi is also reputed as one of the Shakti Peethaas where Sati Devi’s ear-rings fell where Devi Vishalakshi’s shrine stands now. The Shrine of Devi Annapurna exists where during a long spell of famine broke in Kasi and Devi Bhagavati herself served ‘Anna’ or cooked rice food to one and all daily and Maha Deva too was a beneficiary as a beggar of the charity of food so received into the Brahma Kapala of the sliced head of Brahma since the Brahma Hatya sin haunted Shiva till his Vimochana! The illustrious Harischandra Ghat where King Harischandra was posted as a Slave at Smashana or burial ground continues  its operations of despatching the Souls of dead bodies to Kailasa! Ranging from Kings and Queens, Foreign Plunderers, Saints like Adi Shankara, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Vivekananda, Dayananda, Tulasi Das, and Guru Nanak, non-Hindu Followers and even athiests have been attracted to this Unique Kasi and Lord Vishweswara blesses them all!

Tryambakshwara: Located some thirty kilometers away from Nasik in Maharashtra the Jyotirlinga attracts thousands of pilgrims round the year providing boons of fulfillment of material desires and spiritual solace.  This is the Source Point of the Holy River Godavari; the famed couple of  Sage Gautama and his wife Ahalya made such selfless prayers to end the  long spell of famine  and Lord Varuna blessed a constant flow of Water. As the incessant  flow of water and the resultant abundance of foodgrains created jealousy of co-Sages and their wives, they created a Maya Cow which destroyed grains. Gautama killed the Maya Cow and  the co-Sages banished the Gautama couple to a lonely hermitage on the mountain called Brahmagiri.The Sage made an extraordinatry penance and the pleased Maha Deva  who bestowed a doubled boon of calling up Ganga in the form of a River called Gautami and also to manifest  a Jyotir Linga named Traibakeshwara. There was a legendary allusion that when Narayana created from his navel a lotus stem and on top of it Brahma was generated, Brahma did not approve of Narayana’s  superiority and when a quarrel followed, a mammoth Shiva Linga manifested on its own as a Column of Fire. The Column had no beginning nor top but Brahma lied that he found the height of the Fire Column and quoted a Ketaki Flower as a witness. Shiva gave a curse that the Ketaki flower should not be utilised for worship to any Deity and that there should not be worship to Brahma. Brahma gave a return curse to Shiva that the Trayambakeshwara Linga should be pushed underground. Indeed, the Trayambakeshwara was under Brahmagiri and the Jyotirlinga is small in size in a depression on the floor with water constanly oozing out from the top. Varaha Tirtha is famed as Lord Vishnu had a bath in the River in Varaha Swarupa. Kushwa Tirtha is called so as Sage Gautami spread his Kushasana or Darbhasana while receiving the waters of Ganga.

Vaidyanath (At Deogarh/Parli?): Ravanasura performed a relentless penance for several years but Shiva remained unresponsive. He dug up a pit and worshipped Shiva Linga and sacrificed his hands one by one and finally Shiva appeared and gave the boon of invincibility of Devas, ignoring however human and other Beings on Earth. He also secured the boon of a carrying Shiva to Lanka for adoration  in his Puja Griha; Shiva gave a Linga but cautioned that it should not be kept on ground, lest it would not  be pulled out again. Devas were concerned that Shiva’s absence from Kailasha might adversely affect Dharma and thus prayed to Parvati and Ganesha to ensure that the Shiva Linga would not reach Lanka. Parvati with Varuna creatred an illusion of  sweet water and Ravana was tempted and got his stomach bloated; he asked a passer- by boy (Ganesha) to hold the Linga for an ablution and the boy kept the Sacred Linga on the ground and got stuck: that was the famed Jyotir Linga of Vaidyanath.

The controversy is whether  this Linga is at Deogarh in Jarkhand off some 220km from  Patna or at Parli or Kantipura in Maharashtra.  In Deogarh, million devotees worship especially in the Shravana Month (July-August). Several pilgrims  traditionally carry Ganges water from Sultanganj to Deoghar, a distance of hundred kilometers, to perform Abhisheka to the Linga and some Sadhus even carry by walk water barefooted! The Legend was that Ravanasura desired to perform ablutions and as there was no water, he used his fist to hit the Earth and there emerged a pond called Shiva Ganga. In Parli in Maharashtra the legend is that Amba Yogeswari desired to marry Vaidyanath (Maha Deva) and waited for  the bridegroom party to arrrive even past the Muhurta or the precise time of wedding and Amba cursed the party to turn into Stones. Another Story ascribed to this Kshetra was that after Samudra Mathana or the churning of the Ocean of Milk, Dhanvantari was hidden among fourteen gems inside the Shivalinga and as Demons tried to take them away forcibly, huge flames came out and the latter had to retreat. The belief among the devotees is that after performing Abhisheka,the Tirtha water contains medicinal properties to cure all kinds of  diseases.  This Sacred Place is also considered as Mohini Avatara of Vishnu distributed Amrit to Devas and denied to Danavas. A Vateswara Temple in the vicinity is believed to contain a Vata Vriksha (Banyan Tree) where the incident of Satyavan and Savitri occurred and Yama Deva blessed the couple with long-life! A Pond nearby named after Muni Markandeya signified the hallowed place where the Muni embraced the Shiva Linga to escape death and Maha Deva  was pleased by his devotion and granted eterrnal life.

Nageswara Jyotirlinga (Dwaraka/ Naganath/ Jagdeshwar):

The Place of Maha Deva’s manifestation of a Jyotirlinga as Nageswara at Dwaraka in Gujarat or Naganath at Aoudh in Prabhasa Kshetra in Maharashjtra or as Jagdeshwar near Almora in Uttarakhand  is a controversy but all the three palces have substantial following of devotees in all the Kshetras. The legend was that there was a Demon couple named Daruka and Daruki and the latter performed extreme meditation to Devi Parvati who granted her the boon that whereever she went their forest too should travel and the demons created  havoc by  way of destroying Yagnas and Spiritual Tasks and killing Brahmanas and devotees. Sage Ourva gave a curse to the demons and followers would be destroyed on Earth and the latter had to move into the Seas where too they attacked Ships and harassed the Ship mates. One Vaishya traveller of a Ship named Supriya who was a staunch devotee of Maha Deva was thrown into a prison along with fellow shipmates by the demons and as Vaishya appealed to Shiva the latter appeared and destroyed the Demon and his party. The devotees commemorated the joyous monent as Maha Deva manifested on the Sea Coast as Nageshwara Linga.

Some 18 km from Dwaraka the Jyoirlinga of a small size appeared as set underground of a few feet and it could be touched by devotees. The Story was that Sant Namadeva and  approached the Linga and rendered soulful bhajans (group singings) even while a band of Brahmanas were reciting ‘Rudra Paaraayana’ and the Temple Management asked the Sant’s party to shift to the back of the Temple and when the bhajans  were sung the Shiva Linga turned around facing the Bhajan Party and the Management of the Temple prostrated to Namadeva. As the Temple is closed, the belief has been that snakes hover around the Linga with their hoods opened up. A huge Shiva Idol was built to beckon devotees visiting the Nageswara Linga.

The Naganatha Jyotirlinga at Naganatha in Aoudh in Maharashtra was stated to have been visited by Adi Shankaracharya. The legend of this Linga was that when Pandavas visited the Place during their ‘Aranya Vasasa’or forest life after being banished as nomads for twelve long years following their loss of Kingdom as Yudhishtara lost the game of dice, Bhima discovered a pond of warm milk in the surroundings and as he tried to dig up the milddle of the pond there was blood gushing out; Bhima reached the depths of the pond and was surprised to notice that blood gushed out from a Shiva Linga of extreme radiance. The Story of the demons Daruka and Daruki are also in vogue in this Kshetra. Interestingly there are idols of a sulking Parvati and pacifying Shiva as though  Daruki’s killing was not appreciated by Parvati and Shiva explained  the need to do so.

Bala Jagdeshwara Jyotirlinga at Darukavana in Almora has the Story of ‘Balakhilyas’or dwarf Maharshis perrforming a strict discipline of Tapasya along with their families and Maha Deva desirous of testing them appeared there as a semi-lunatic, half-clad but hefty and handsome youth. The womenfolk came to be inreasingly infatuated with the highly reticent and  unresponsive youth of wonder and the group of Rishis encounterd the youth one day and gave a ‘shaap’ that his ‘Linga’ or manhood should be dropped! Indeed that dropped Linga of Shiva was manifested as an extremely brillinat Jyotirliga as Jagdeshwar who has no physique, Gunas or Characteristics, Sex, Age, Time, Distance and Tatwas. The Rishis were ashamed of their suspicion that the semi-lunatic youth was seeking to woo their women folk but  Maha Devaarrived there to guide them that Karma-Kanda or worship for the sake  of  physical discipline was not enough but that should be accompanied by mental purity and forbearance as well! The main bye-line Mantra from Shukla Yajur Veda which resounds in the Pujas at the Temple is: Aum Traamabakam Yajamahe Sugandham Pushti Vardhanam, Urvarukamiva bandhanaan Mrityor Mokshiyemaamritaat/ (We pray to Maha Deva whose eyes are the Sun, Moon and Fire; may He protect us from disease, poverty and fear and bless us with prosperity, longevity and good health!)

Rameshwaram: Signifying the celebrartion of victory following the devastation of Demon Ravana and his clan, Lord Rama performed the installation of Shiva Linga in gratitude and dutiful homage to Maha Deva. Having crossed the ‘Setu bandhana’ or the bridge across the Sea,  Rama decided to install the Linga after prayers at Varanasi and despatched Hanuman to pray Vishwesvara and bring a fascimile of the Kasi Linga for installation but since Hanuman could not return by the Muhurtha or the Exact Time of Auspiciousness, Devi Sita improvised a Langa Swarupa out of Sea-shore Sand and was consecrated formally amid the chanting of Veda Mantras. On return, Hanuman was disturbed that he could not bring  the  Kashi Linga and tried to remove the ‘temporary’ Shiva Linga and tried his best to replace it with what he brought from Kashi but could not; instead a seperate Linga was installed in the vicinity of the Sand Linga. There are thirty six Tirthas or Water-wells around the Temple-twenty within the Temple Complex itself and all of these  are stated to possess medicinal properties. It is customary that several devotees take bath from the water-wells and walk with wet clothes into the nearness of the Jyotirlinga for ‘Darshan’ for worship to it.

Ghrishneshwara: There was a pious Brahmana Sudharma who had no progeny as his wife Sudeha was barren. She proposed that her younger sister Ghushma / Kusuma- a staunch devotee of Shiva – to wed her husband and made them agree. Eventually, Kusuma gave birth to a boy. But the elder sister became  jealous and one day threw the child in a nearby pond; but a Shiva Linga was immersed in the pond too. Kushma wept at the loss of the child and intensified her faith to Maha Deva. A few days hence, the dead body of the child floated and there was commotion all over in the village. Maha Deva granted his vision to Kusuma and conveyed that he would punish Sudeha but Kusuma requested Shiva to pardon her sister. The ever merciful Shiva brought life to the dead son and the entire village realised the miracle of the dead boy coming  back alive . Kusuma prayed to Shiva that he should stay in the pond for ever and that was the origin of Ghrushneshwara or Kusmeshwara Jyotirlinga,which is some thirty km away from Aurangabad in the village of Verul or Yelur where River Yela flows. The Jyotirlinga of Ghrishnashwara as also accompanied by Devi Parvati as Grishneshwari. It is stated that the Patel of the Village secured a treasure in a snake-pit and enabled the construction of a Temple to house the Jyotirlinga.[Ellora and Ajanta caves, which are World Heritage Sites also Shirdi are 30 km,  106 kmand 130 km away from the Ghrishneshwara Temple ].

Upalingas: Apart from the afore-described Dwadasha Jyotirlings, there are quite a few Upalingas too like Atrishwara Linga in a forest named Kamda on Chitrakuta Mountain where the Maharshi saved people from prolonged drought for some fifty years; once Arti fainted out of thirst and his wife Anasuya went in search of water; Devi Ganga appeared and offered water from a spring and Anasuya carried a Kamandalu-full of water and quenched Atri’s thirst. It was from that Spring emerged the Sacred Mandakini River and as the result of the Tapasya, the prolonged drought ended and Bhagavan Shiva appeared as the Atrishwara Linga. Mahabaleshwara Linga emerged maily at Gokarna and partly at Murudeshwara, Dhareshwara and Gunavante in Karnataka; Ravanasura obtained Maha Deva’s Atma Linga but despite the warning that it should not be kept on ground upto Lanka from Kailasa , he had to stop over to attend to ablutions and trusted  Ganesha who appeared as  boy wh downed the Linga which got stuck to the ground. The mighty Ravana tried to pull it out but parts of Linga were scattered yet the Linga was fixed to the Earth. Batuknath Linga  appeared as a result of intense Tapasya for several years by a son of Dadhichi Muni called Sudarshan since he sinned on Shiva Ratri by sleeping with his wife and without taking bath performed ‘Abhisheka’ to the Shiva Linga.  Devi Parvati requested Shiva to pardon Sudarshan as otherwise he was a steadfast devotee. Satisfied by the sincere atonment of Sudarshana, Maha Deva manifested himself as Batuka Natha Linga. Similarly there were many such manifestations of Maha Deva  as Hatakeshwara Linga signifying Prakriti-Purusha combine at Daruka Forests in Uttaranchal Forests; Rishishwara Linga at Naimisharanya; Laliteshwara  Linga on way from Deva prayaga to Kedareshwara and  Pashupatinatha Linga in Khatmandu, Nepal.

Pancha Bhuta Lingas: Representing the Pancha Bhutas or the Five Elements of Prithivi (Earth), Aapas (Water), Tejas (Radiance), Vayu (Air) and Akasha (Sky), Five Lingas were manifested as follows: Prithvi Linga as Ekamreshwara with Kamakshi as his consort at Kanchipuram in Taminnadu; Jala (Water) Linga as Jambukeshwara with Akhilandeshwari as his consort at Tiruvanaikaval in Trichinapalli, Tamilnadu; Tejo Linga as Arunachaleshwara with Unnamalai Devi as his consort  at Tiruvannamalai again in Tamilnadu; Vayu Linga as Kalahasteswara with Devi Jnana Prasoonamba as his consort at Kalahasti in Andhra Pradesha and Akasha Linga as Vaidya Nateshwara / Nataraja along with Devi Shivakami at Chidambaram in Tamilnadu.

The Prithvi Linga called Ekamreshwara  manifested on its own to enable Bala Kamakshi to perform Tapasya in the vicinity of a Ekamra Vriksha or a Mango Tree in Kanchi Kshetra. The  Linga is of hand size of the shape of a Plantain Tree flower signifying the imprints of the bracelets of Mahadeva’s embrace of Devi  Parvati! The legend of the manifestation of the Linga was that as crores of Shaktis who claimed equality to Parvati, Mahadeva smiled and all the Shaktis got disrobed and Parvati closed his three eyes so that he did not have to see their nudity. But when Mahadeva’s eyes were closed there was Pralaya and ‘Surya Chandradi Devas’ disappeared. Parvati was stunned and regetted her indiscretion which actually was an extraordinary sin as the entire Universe was extinguished! Parvati fell on Shiva’s feet and he asked her to take the Swarupa of a Bala and perform Tapasya in Kasi first as Katyayani the adopted baby of Katya Muni; at the time of famine in Varanasi, Bala provided food all the population of Kasi and gor the encomium  as Devi Annapurna. Subsequently Bala shifted to Kanchi as directed by Mahadeva and did Tapasya under the Ekamara Vriksha at Kanchipura and grew up  as Kamakshi; that indeed was the background of the Ekamreshwara Linga.

The Jala Linga at Jambukeshwara manifested on its own under a Jambu tree in forest in Tiruvanai -kaval near Chandra Tirtha a tributary of River Kaveri. The legend was that there were two members of Shiva Ganas called Pushpadanta and Malyava who were cursed to become an elephant and a spider; they both worshipped the Jala Linga in their own ways; the elephant with flowers and bathing the Linga with its trunk while the spider ensured that tree leaves would not fall on the Linga by spinning a web . The elephant complained that the spider made the Place dirty above the Linga and the spider defended that the falling of tree leaves would convert dirtier. In the quarrel that followed both died and Shiva granted Kingship to the Spider in its next birth and the elephant was reborn again in the same form and the King built several Shiva Temples including the Jambulinga Temple in which the Shiva Linga was partly submerged in water.

Arunachaleshwara Linga in Tiruvannamalai has the legend that both Brahma and Vishnu found an ‘Agni Stambha’or a huge Pillar of Fire and their efforts to know its beginning and end proved futile. Brahma performed Manasika Puja or worship in mind and so did Vishnu; pleased by their devotion  granted them the boon to convert the endless Agni Stambha to a miniatured Linga which could be worshipped not only by Devas but human beings aslo. Interestingly, even at the Pralaya or the Great Dissolution the Land of Arunachaleshwara was in tact. The Arunachala Mountain Range has Pancha Mukhas or the Five Faces of Lord Rudra viz. Tatpurusha, Aghora, Sadyojata, Vamana Deva and Ishana. It is strongly believed that a full ‘Pradakshina’ or circumambulation of the fourteen km distance of the Mountain would be as good as a Pradakshina of Maha Deva himself. A huge mass of devotees push around the Mountain barefooted on every full moon night and the Pournami of Chaitra Month happens to be very special culminating into a ten day festival of ‘Kartika Deepa Darshana’ when a mammoth lamp is lit in an open vessel with three tonnes of ghee atop the mountain.

Shri Kalahasteswara Linga too was stated to be a Swayambhu or Self-Generated  on the banks of River Swarnamukhi some 36 km away from Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh. This is essentially a Vayu Linga and successive Kings of Chola, Raya, Pallava and Pandya Vamshas made enormous contributions of the Buildings of this famed Shiva Linga. The Temple has the Legend that Three Species of God’s creation viz. a Spider called Shri, a Snake called Kaala and  an Elephant called Hasti were very devout followers of the Swayambhu Linga; Shri the Spider weaved cobwebs on the top of the Linga as Kala the serpent placed Gems on the Top of the Linga and the Hasti  collected waters from the Sarovaras and by throwing sharp currents of water worshipped by way of ‘Abhishekas’or washings of water. Thus the Spider-Snake-Elephant trio worshipped Shiva on their own thus justifying their Actions. Another Story of Kalahasti to related to a legend of Bhakta Kannappa a hunter who offered his hunt as  Naivedya or offering every day. One day the Linga showed three eyes  weeping and bleeding blood. Kannappa had extreme anguish  and cut and fixed one of his own eyes to that of Maha Deva. As the latter’s second eye too commenced crying, Kannappa never hesitated and fixed his second eye on Maha Deva’s face. That was the heightend faith of Kannappa. Maha Deva appeared and restored the eys of Kannappa and desired that he should be near to the Linga and eversince he joined the band of sixty three Nayanars in the vicinity of Kalahasteswara. The Kalahasti Temple is reputed to ward off Rahu-Ketu Doshas or deficiencies of Graha Dosha, Sarpa Dosha or of unmarried women or women of  barrenness.

Shri Nateshwara (Akasha) Linga at Chidambaram in Tamilnadu is famed for the ‘Chidambara Rahasyam’ or the Secret of  ‘Shunya’ or ‘Nothingness’ of the Universe signifying ‘Akasha’ and   the Ever-Repetitive Cyclical Process of Srishti-Sthiti-Laya or Creation-Preservation-Termination. The legend is that Adi Sesha, the bed of Lord Vishnu,  desired to witness the Cosmic Dance of Maha Deva and came down  to Earth as Patanjali or the one who descended. A high devotee of Shiva called Vyaghrapada who prayed to Mahadeva to grant him the powerful paws of a tiger with which to pluck the leaves of BilwaTrees  for worship  also desired to witness Shiva’s Cosmic Dance. Maha Deva along with Devi Shiva Kami gave an appointment to Patanjali and Vyaghrapada to witness the Unique Shiva Tandava or  the Cosmic Dance of Shiva. Lord Vishnu as well as Brahma and Devas went ino ecstacy as they were fortunate to vision the spectacle of the Tandava.

Sri V.D.N.Rao and Shri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham presents the Essence of Puranas in English, condensed by Sri. V.D.N.Rao, devotee of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. Compiled, Composed and Interpreted by V.D.N.Rao, Former General Manager, India Trade Promotion Organisation, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi Ministry of Commerce, Govt. of India The author can be contacted at [email protected]