12 Jyotirlingas of the Primordial Lord Shiva.

12 Jyotirlingas in India are the epitome of divine shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva. There divinity and immense devotion of people towards them make them the most visited shrines in India. It is said, seekers who pray to Shiva upon pleasing him get to visit these jyotirlingas.

Among the hindus, visiting all 12 jyotirlingas in one's lifetime is considered as clearing one's soul of all bad karmas accumulated over past lifes and the seeker is relieved of the cycle of life and death.There are 12 jyotirlingas across 7 states and each and every one of them has a special story associated to them.

Jyotirlingas can be divided into two words, one is Jyoti and other is Linga. Jyoti means light and Linga means a symbol,therefore, jyotirlingas literally means " A Symbol of Light".

There is an interesting story about how jyotirlingas came into existence for humans,gods and demons to pray. Once there was a tussle between Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu over who has a greater role in the universe to play.This tussle kept on for quite long and soon an argument broke between them. Seeing this, lord shiva got angry and appeared in front of them as an endless energy stream or endless Jyoti. This stream of energy stretched throughout the existence, it had no beginning and no end.

Then lord shiva asked lord vishnu and lord brahma to find any one of its end, and put forth a term that, whosoever succeeds in finding the end will be greater among them. Both gods flew on their vehicles in order to find it's end, and after searching for a long time, Lord vishnu being righteous accepted defeat and told Mahadeva, no one is more supreme than Lord Shiva himself.

But lord brahma being adamant to prove his greatness, lied to lord shiva that he found the beginning of the Jyoti. As mahadeva knew, no one is capable to find the jyoti understood that lord brahma lied and cursed him. Lord shiva cursed lord brahma that he won't be worshipped in any temples in Bharata and this is the reason why there are almost no temples dedicated to Lord Brahma. This endless Jyoti was a symbol of Lord Shiva and this symbol is what manifested as Jyotirlingas in 12 divine temples across Bharata.

Out of these 12 Jyotirlingas, starting from the north, 1 is in Uttarakhand[Kedarnath Shrine], 1 is in Uttar Pradesh[Kashi Vishwanath Shrine], 1 in Jharkhand[Baidyanath Shrine], 2 are in the State of Gujarat[Somnath Shrine, Nageshwar Shrine], 2 are in Madhya Pradesh[Mahakaleshwar Shrine, Omkareshwar Shrine], 3 are in Maharastra[Bhimashankar Shrine,Trimbakeshwar Shrine, Ghrishneshwar Shrine], 1 in Andra Pradesh[Mallikaarjuna Shrine] and lastly 1 in Tamil Nadu[Rameshwarem Shrine].

All the 12 jyotirlingas spread across bharat can be remembered by one shlokas as:

सौराष्ट्रे सोमनाधञ्च श्रीशैले मल्लिकार्जुनम् । उज्जयिन्यां महाकालं ओङ्कारेत्वमामलेश्वरम् ॥ पर्ल्यां वैद्यनाधञ्च ढाकिन्यां भीम शङ्करम् । सेतुबन्धेतु रामेशं नागेशं दारुकावने ॥ वारणाश्यान्तु विश्वेशं त्रयम्बकं गौतमीतटे । हिमालयेतु केदारं घृष्णेशन्तु विशालके ॥
एतानि ज्योतिर्लिङ्गानि सायं प्रातः पठेन्नरः । सप्त जन्म कृतं पापं स्मरणेन विनश्यति ॥

Saurashtre Somanathamcha Srisaile Mallikarjunam| Ujjayinya Mahakalam Omkaramamaleswaram || Paralyam Vaidyanathancha Dakinyam Bheema Shankaram | Setu Bandhethu Ramesam, Nagesam Darukavane|| Varanasyantu Vishwesam Tryambakam Gautameethate| Himalayetu Kedaaram, Ghrishnesamcha shivaalaye||
Etani jyotirlingani, Saayam Praatah Patennarah| Sapta Janma Kritam pApam, Smaranena Vinashyati||

Somnath Jyotirlinga
It is believed to be the first among the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva, the Somnath temple is located in Prabhas Patan,Smmnath,Gujarat. It is considered to be one of the most important pilgrimages in india.
Somnath means “Lord of the Soma”, an epithet of Shiva and was built by the Chanda-deva[Moon God] himself. Over time, the pillars of the inner temple were supported to be aglow with the luster of gemstones,rubies and crystals of all kinds. The temple had so much gold donated by Kings and Emperors of past age that it was looted 17 times by different tyrants from Arabia and middle-east.
The biggest of them was Mahumud Ghajani who loooted it 3 times and it is said that 40,000 Camels and other animals carried gold from it.

The temple was also attacked my muslim invaders and portugese ships and was destroyed 16 times. Different kings over the time built it again and again with equal lusture from the past and today it stands as one of the biggest hindu temple, shining with beauty till the southern end of Earth.

Mallikaarjuna Jyotirlinga
Sri Mallikarjuna Jyotirlinga is located in Kurnool district at srisailam in Andhra Pradesh. An area full of mountain ranges,forest of Kadali and Bilva trees, and Patalaganga (Krishnaveni river). This river is in the form of an underground spring, and this is where millions of devotees take the holy dip and go to worship the Jyotirlinga.

According to the legend, Shiva and Parvati stayed in Shrishailam, in order to remain close to his son Kartikey who had decided to stay alone on Mount Kravunja

Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga
This temple lies in the kingdom of avanti in the city of Indrapuri amravati or avantika. It is also known as he “Swarna Sringa” because of the number of golden pillars of several temples in the city. Mahakal can be divided into 2 words [Maha-Big and Kala-time], so the word literally means "One who is bigger than time" which is Lord Shiva.

There is an interseting thing which can be observed in Mahakaleshwar jyotirlinga, this is the one temple where a face and moustache is drawn on the linga. No other jyotirlinga out of 11 has a face drawn over it. The legend says, the lord blesses the one with pure soul and heart and the seeker upon pleasing the lord with his virtue gets the blessing of the lord.
It is said that those who visit the Mahakal temple will never be touched by sorrows, even in their dreams, and those who pray to the Mahakal would be granted all their wishes.

Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga
The jyotirlingas in this temple is self-born or also known as Swayambhu linga, located on the banks of river narmada in the city of Omkareshwar, Madhya Pradesh. The island and the river themselves are shaped like “Om”/[ॐ] naturally. Devotees feel blessed when they do parikrama around the temple as they are doing the parikrama of Om itself when they visit the temple.
There are two main Lord Shiva shrines: Omkareshwar which literally means “Lord of Omkaara or the Lord of the Om Sound” and other is, Amareshwar which stands for “Immortal lord” or “lord of the Immortals or Devas”.

Vaidyanath Jyotirlinga
Vaidyanath Temple also called as Baba Dham is one the most sacred abodes of Lord Shiva. This Jyotirlinga shrines is located in Deoghar, Jharkhand. The jyotirlinga got its name Vaidhya literally meaning 'doctor' from the fact that Lord Shiva cured demon king, Ravana as he was the greatest Shiva devotee.

Bhimashankar Jyotirlinga
One of the three jyotirlingas shrines in Maharashtra, Bhimashankar Temple is located in Pune. It is also the source of River Bhima in the Bhimashankar hills.
The temple of Bhimashankar is built in nagara style, embellished with Dashavatar statues.

Rameshwaram Jyotirlinga
The Rameswaram Jyotirlinga temple is one of the most worshipped and sacred pilgrimage sites in India. The jyotirlingam was made by Lord Rama when we went to Lanka after knowing Maa sita was kept in Ashoka Vataki by Ravana,he himself built the linga with soil dust and prayed there for 7 days straight before starting the epic battle with Ravana.
Today, it has been expanded into a large temple and is famous for its dravidian architecture and the Lingam worshipped by Lord Rama is known as Ramanathar.

Naganath Jyotirlinga
The temple is located in the city of Dwarka, in the state of Gujarat. According to legend,Pandavas came during their Vanvasa and built a hermitage for themselves at this place.

Kashi Vishwanath Jyotirlinga
Situated in the city varanasi which as old as time and also famous for the Dashashwamegha Yagya performed by Lord Brahma on it's ghat. The river bank has 84 ghats which stretches from the confluence of river varna and River ganga to river Assi and River ganga.
THe word Vishwanatha can be divided into 2 , namely, Vishwa- universe and Natha-Lord, so the word literally means "Lord of the Universe".

Triyambakeshwar Jyotirlinga
Second of the 3 jyotirlingas in Maharastra, Trimbakeshwar is situated in the city of Nashik and lies at the foothills of Brahmagiri mountain.
According to the Shiva Mahapurana, Gautam rishi and godavari requested Lord Shiva to reside there and he blessed them with a three face Jyotirlinga. The 3 faces symbolize hindu trinity of Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma.

Kedarnath Jyotirlinga
Kedarnath Jyotirlinga is located on the beautiful snow capped mountain in the city of sonprayag,Uttarakhand. It is one of the holiest shrines in bharata and a pilgrimage there is considered as one of the most auspicious event for a hindu. There are many ways to reach kedarnath shrine[Helicopter,On mule or a palanquin(Palki)] but the 18 Km trek from gaurikund to the shrine is most rewarding.
The temple was constructed by Pandava brother after they left the throne of hastinapur and procedded for Vana-prasthana.

Ghrineshwar Jyotirlinga
The third shrine in the state of maharastra, grineshwar jyotirlinga is situated in the Aurangabad. According to the legend,a very devout Shiva devotee, bhosala, once found a treasure hidden in the snake pit by the grace of Lord Ghrineshwar. In return, he spent the money to renovate the temple buildings and even built a lake in Shikharshinganapur.
Ghrineshwar means the "lord of compassion" and the temple is built of red rock and composed of a five-tier shikhara.

This is the last of Jyotirlinga and whosoever gets the opportunity of praying to the Lord at all 12 Jyotirlingas is released from the cycle of Samsara and attain Moksha. Ignorance eats people slowly and kills them with it's darkness. Jyotirlingas, with its Jyoti “light” and divinity frees people from darkness, and God's natural light fulfills all our wishes.

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