Jyotir Linga Bhimashankar, Sahyadri Hills
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Kshetragyam Kshetrapalancha Parartyaika prayojanam|
vyomakesam Jyothir-swaroopam Beemasankaram Namamyaham||
It’s the peak of the rainy season, and the ghats are lush green and fresh under the cloudy sky. The air smells of the earth just wet with droplets of pure water from heaven as the clouds grey out the sunlight. Heavy droplets, bringing to the mind peace and tranquility that one doesn’t have to pay for but just experiences. The Sahyadri hills unfold their carpets of thick vegetation and it’s a divine feeling to feel the cool breeze ruffle ones hair! The mind is peaceful, the senses awake, the focus is Bhimashankar.
In this picturesque land among fort walls and rich pure streams of water lies a little temple, ancient and powerful holding the very light of the Lord within its walls. Here the ancient temple bell rings and the sound reverberates through the air, divine echo that has been heard since 1720 AD. Times have changed, new replace the old and yet this temple still stands there in all its ancient finery. Built in the ancient Nagara style, this temple has small shikharas rising upwards towards the ancient finial where one can see the orange glow of the flag that gloriously surmounts it.
It’s a winding way to walk down along a railing with small shops selling everything that can be offered to the divine within. Interestingly here, the lesser known milk weed flowers are offered as compare to the common marigold yellow mounds in baskets. A dip in the sacred waters of the kund here transports the mind to a different world as one proceeds to meet the Lord.
Closing one's eyes and drifting towards infinity draws the soul to the sound of a river, a sacred river called Bhimarathi, fed by the divine sweat of Lord Shiva as He rests after the Tripurantaka Samharam. The story goes that the demon Tripurasura had accumulated enough power and had started harassing every one at Swarglok, Bhulok, and patal(Netherworld). Lord Shiva came to their rescue and took on the form of Rudravatar. He defeated Tripurasura and saved the three worlds.
The Puranas indicate that Bhima was an asura born to Kumbakarna and Karkadi. When he heard from his mother that his father, grandfather and uncles had been slain by Lord Rama in war he decided to avenge their deaths. He did severe penance and won the favour of Lord Brahma who granted him immense power and strength. With this he defeated the devas and finally came to attack all the Kings. King Priyadarman (Kamarupeswar) of Kamarupa and his queen Dakshinadevi were thrown into the dungeons. They continued to worship Lord Shiva even in the dungeons. Fearing they would vanquish him, Bhima commanded them to stop worship. When they refused he went ahead to kill them. Shiva rose out of the Linga they worshipped, in Jyotir Linga form and destroyed the asura. On the request of all the devas Shiva continues to reside here as Bhimashankar.
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