Jyotir Linga Trayambakeswar, Trimbak near Nasik

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Brahmagiri hills are a part of a charming countryside, in the wilderness of Maharastra surrounded by green and years of worship. A voice sings the praise of the 12 Jyotir Lingas and attributes his worship to Lord Shiva. The sweetness in his voice wake the senses and sends goose pimples through oneself, just experiencing the peace at Trayambakeswar temple.

Om Namah Shivaya

A shikhara rising up into the sky carries with it smaller vimanas intricately carved into itself. Its not just the beauty of these minor temples dotting the roof that stands out, its a reminder of the recurring pattern of our births, a cycle we don't want to get out of.

My life, like these endless vimanas, goes through its never-ending rhythm of living and desire. A churn so strong, that I do not know the way out. A reflection of this endless living with no effort to rise out of it brings the Jyotir Linga of Trayambakeshwar temple to those suffering this misery. How blind are we, that we don’t see this glaring truth in front of us and just leave it to being an ancient wonder. All that remains is a stone Linga embedded deep within these walls that beckons us to look within ourselves and find our own flame of enlightenment.

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The potency of this Linga is well known, from the yuga of Gautama Rishi(sage) and his wife Ahilya who lived in their ashram here and attained great siddhas such that it rendered even Indra insecure. Gautama Rishi's devotion was so superior that Varuna (Lord of water) blessed him with a bottomless well from which rose unlimited supply of grain. The other sages conspired against him in jealousy. Few versions run from here on. A cow once strayed into their ashram and began to eat the grain. This cow is believed to be the incarnation of Ganesha in some cases and Jaya(an associate of Parvati)in other versions.

When Gautama rishi saw the cow eating into the supply, he tried to shoo the cow away with a bunch of Darbha grass. The cow died within the ashram, this in reality was an illusion created and Gautama Rishi brings Kala Sarpa dosha upon himself. Kala(time) sarpa (snake like) dosha (sin) is a state of higher misery given to those who have attained higher levels of perfection like the great sages in ancient times. The misery is such that it follows generations of lineage of those who have commit a sin, the death of the sacred animal - the cow, being one of them.

In order to release himself from this dosha, Gautama made a small Linga and diligently worshipped the Lord asking for respite. He prayed to the Lord, asking for the Ganges to descend to the earth, in the form of Godavari, and flow through his ashram and rid him off the sin of killing a cow within his courtyard. The Lord answered his prayers and the source of the Ganges starts here in the south and forms the River Godavari.

The Ganges still flows within the shrine chamber, ever covering this small linga, that stays beneath the earth with the water rising out. The Lord lies here submerged, in a constant abhishekam, the worship of whom resurrects anyone from this endless churn of living.

Photo courtesy: ©Lux


Jyotirlinga - Kasi Vishwanath, Varanasi

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Kasi-kshetrancha Kalabairava darsanam|
Prayaga madhavam Trushtva Yega Bilvam Sivarpanam||
Maha-Smsana Nilayam Prasanna Spadiga-prabavam|
Vedhacvam Jyothir Roopamcha Yega Bilvam Sivarpanam||

... Varanasyantu Vishwesam ...

The ancient city of Varanasi understands life in a different way from the rest of the world. The Ganges ever flowing sweeps the banks of this ancient city as she flows by. A city seeped in faith, aware that the only truth is death and reminds itself every time with every spec of ash that merges with the river, the essence of life leaves the body to return another day. This city has seen the soul depart every day with every burning pyre reminding us about the only truth that lies is the realm of Shiva.

While the mind dwells on the limitation of life, and witnesses its freedom along the burning ghats of the Ganges, as the ash merges into water, it presents a very different spectacle on the morning of Shivaratri.

As one rises up in the early hours of the morning, to make a visit to the Kasi Vishwanath temple, there is a strong possibility that you get run over by a clan of nagas visiting the Lord on this auspicious day. A river of ash clad naked men just gushes through the narrow street of Vishwanatha temple, and nothing except the Ganges can stop them. Its a different world, of Gods and saints, of a river of ash clad aspirants coming to life and suddenly disappearing into the darkness for another night of Shivaratri.

And then the path is open to us. To step in the direction of this ancient temple, to breath in the air that surrounds it, to imbibe the peace and tranquility it presents is a very different experience altogether. A series of small temples are located deep within the jungle of temples and mosques within this narrow street. And here within this small compound you find everybody. The heavend descend to earth to present its silent extravaganza.

The various shrines present within this complex are dedicated to Vishnu, Virupakshi Gauri, Avimukta Vinayaka along with a cluster of five Lingas that are enclosed inside another shrine chamber called Nilakanteshwar temple. Apart from them,Shanishchara and Virupaksha also are housed here. Interestingly there is a shrine chamber dedicated to Avimukteshwara Shiva, which has also been speculated to be the main Jyotir Linga at Kasi Vishwanath.

The main story goes that this temple was constructed by a brahmin called Divodas on the request of Nikumbha and Aunikumbha. This pleased the Lord and he granted a boon to all his devotees. Divodas wanted to have a son but he was not blessed with one. This enraged him and he went and destroyed the same temple he had built for the Lord. Nikumbha cursed the land and said it would be devoid of worshippers. When the land grew empty the Lord descended again and took residence here permanently. The Lord stands here as a Swayambhuvalinga. Parvathi offered food here to all her devotees and is known by the name of Annapoorni. The Lord Himself is seen with a bowl here, asking for annam from the seated Goddess.This is also a ShaktiPeetham as the Goddess's left hand fell here when her corpse was cut my Vishnu's Sudarshan chakra.

The Shiva Linga here is placed within a square shaped mettalic (silver/brass) pit. The Linga is of black stone. The Lord is worshipped and bathed with holy Ganges water and flowers are offered. The puja to the Lord for the day is complete when the Arti rises into the air and fills the chamber with song and light. Truly its a journey through life to heaven in a single visit to Kasi.

Photo courtesy: Liveindia.com


Jyotirlinga Nageshwar / Naganath Shiva

Nageswaram Naganatham Nagabrana booshidham |

Nataka-pradham Navarasa Pradham Jyodhir-Swaroopam Vandhe Namami ||

The Jyotirlinga Shloka goes: ...Nagesham Daarukavane...

There are three different interpretations to this part of the Jyotirlinga Shloka. The first version is that Darukavan is in Dwaraka, the land of Lord Krishna. There is another belief that goes to say that Darukavana means Daruka Vane or deodar forests at the Himalayan foothills, which would be Jageshwar which houses another cluster of Shiva temples. The third to take claim to Nageswar Shiva is Audhgram near Purna in Andhra Pradesh.

The surrounding mythologies seem to be constant and all of them refer to a demon
called Daruka. Daruka was known to be a tyrant, who didn't allow anyone to live in peace. A merchant by the name of Supriya came to Darukavanam while he was out sailing to sell his wares. (This also probably explains why Dwaraka is celebrated to host a Jyotirlinga shrine as its on a coastline) Supriya was an ardent Shiva devotee. Daruka asked Supriya to teach him how to worship Lord Shiva, how to perform puja and penance. Supriya was worried that Daruka would gain additional power with his puja and hence refused to help. This enraged Daruka andhe tortured Supriya, but it didn't change Supriya's mind. Seeing the devotion of Supriya, Lord Shiva appeared in Jyotirlinga form and destroyed Daruka. But Supriya's problems did not end here. Daruki, who was Daruka's wife took on the reign and continued torturing everyone. Shiva vanquished her too and gave darshan to the people of Darukavana in Jyotirlinga form.

They say this linga is different from all the others as its Gomugam (the extension of
the Linga from which the fluids of libation flow out) faces South, unlike all others that face North. It is beleived that a devotee called Namdev was singing bhajans to the Lord when one of the devotees asked him to move so that they could view the Lord. Namdev, continued to sing asking the devotees if there was any place that the Lord did not exist, he would be happy stand there. The enraged devotee, moved him to the south of the Linga only to realize that the Shiva Linga had turned South and pointed its Gomugam to the east.

Indian mythology has its charm. From great Gods testing aspirants to great sages
reaching extreme heights of perfection to mortal devotees of the Lord getting to see His favor in their lifetimes. It probably just goes to say that a pure heart and a clean mind with sincerity is all that is needed to achieve this. Does it really matter where the real Jyotirlinga is hosted? Would it make the other Lingas installed in the Indian country side any less potent? Shiva is worshipped, respected with awe and possibly feared as well. Nobody would question that, but what needs to be questioned is whether we are willing and capable to handle that kind of potency.

Photo courtesy: Liveindia.com


Taj Mahal - To break or for keeps?

I do not reply to many forwards, I scarcely react to most of them, but there was one series i felt strongly towards...The doubt in the minds of people who started the chain mail of forwarding the possibility that there was a Shiva temple or "Mahal" below the Taj.

Yet it bothered me, when I received it from more than one source, I began to reply back. The claim was simple, a Shiva temple had been uprooted or buried centuries ago and the Taj was built in its place, a spiritually potent shrine supposedly gave way to a marvel in white. Who ever started that mail, picked up pictures (which maybe true), and he/she very half heartedly interpreted them as symbols of Shiva entwined in Islamic design. Focus was on designs looking like Trishul among floral patterns and other auspitious hindu symbols being found on the mausoleum, right upto secret wells and chambers. What was the purpose? Demolish Taj to build a Shiva temple?

I couldn't help but question why this mail made it to so many mailboxes? Why didn't we think before forwarding it? Or was I being a fool taking it seriously. No I didn't think so. People still want to know the possibility of the presence of a ravaged Shiva temple lurking under the strong marble of the Taj.

So I raised the question...Do you want to dig it up or demolish it like the Babri mazjit to find nothing under it? Or do you want to leave it to your belief in your heart that Shiva doesn't need a temple to fundamentally exist.

And then...Wooosh! they proclaim the Taj a new wonder of the world. Campaigns ran, it was hyped as usual by the media, and people casted votes. Taj is back on the list of 7 wonders bringing fakir land and snake charmered India to the world map as hosting a beauty in marble. Pride could have bloated all our chests, we made it!! It didn't matter who the other 6 were. I don't think most of us even cared to find out, Taj is back and thats all that matters.

The same people who questioned the truth below the Taj with reference to a Shiva temple, today rejoice that the Taj has been rightfully respected. Now, do you want it to stay or do you want it to go?? What would we do if we knew the truth anyway?

As a religiously influenced nation, what do you want to do with the Taj. Now with Taj on the map of 7 wonders, am happy that the west made it clear, the Taj is here to stay.

We might be confused, we might not think, we might not know what do to with the Taj, but for now we don't have to worry. The Taj lives on, Shiva temple or otherwise. The world put our doubts to rest...if any, the only good thing I did was delete that mail.

Disclaimer on audio:

- Palaces could have been cleared for making the Taj, but the claimed presence of a Shiva Mahal sounds absurd, the canons of architecture never gave guidelines for a Mahal. Gods didn't ever have palaces, they only had temples with detail instructions for their building.
- Sealing of rooms...we will never know
- The well...so what about it. Its a well not a theertham.
- Do not trust the audio, I couldn't shut it down.


Jyotir Linga Rameswaram, shrine near the sea

Rameshwaram – Temple for a cosmic bath

It was a moment, a moment recorded in faith, not written on a tablet or a wall but in the mind’s of the generations to follow, an event that brought awe and amazement over the truth, that there is a supernatural out there.

In the middle of the vast ocean, a King lay his feet on the sandy beaches of earth and turned the island into a sacred land. It was an island that took the shape of the sacred subtle sound OM. On this island He was advised to worship the Lord by a great sage, who guided him through his worship. It was here that his worship brought into being a huge column of fire that rose out of the ocean and presented itself as a Jyotir Linga among these sacred sands.

A miracle on the golden sands remains embedded in the mind. The vast ocean ahead gives no hint that it ever subdued to a column of fire. Its sunrise again, the calm waters send ripples to the coast, ripples that gentle toss the boats waking the world out of deep slumber. Times have changed, the very idol of the Lord that once was worshipped by the great King in the open, is now covered well within the walls of a huge temple. Three prakaras, need to be crossed to see the Lord deep within his dark chamber. A chamber where the very light of the Jyotir Linga now lies dim, and is visible only to a true sincere aspirant.

They say the great King was Lord Rama who was advised by sage Agastya to perform the worship to Lord Shiva to rid himself off the karma of having killed Ravana, a great Shiva Bhakta. It was Hanuman who went to the banks of Narmada (or Kailasa is debatable) and brought back the Shiva Linga for the worship but didn’t make it in time. Lord Rama made a replica of the Lord in sand and Lord Shiva rose to give it its life. Hanuman was very disappointed that he didn’t make it in time and that the ritual was performed in his absence. He tried to uproot the Linga but was unsuccessful and the marks of it are still visible on the Linga. The Shiva Linga Hanuman brought was also installed, a little to the south, and should be worshipped first before the main Linga is worshipped.

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Rameshwaram – Temple for a cosmic bath

It’s a different world there, when one descends into Rameshwaram, with 51 theerthams scattered around this island. 22 of these wells are well within the temple complex. The feeling of purity is very evident when you walk through the corridors, bathing at each well and heading into the temple to finally meet the Lord. The times have changed, the dark torch lit corridors now blaze with electric lights, yet the pillars and the music carries you back into those times, of a different living, perfect living with a slower life and more room for peace and spiritualism and oneness with the Lord.