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6.26.2007

Jyotir Linga Bhimashankar, Sahyadri Hills


View location map of this temple!

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.






















Click on the photos to enlarge.

Photo courtesy: world66.com (Creative Commons License), Copyright © 1998-2001 Live India Internet Services!

6.19.2007

Jyotir Linga Vaidyanath at Deogarh, Bihar















Click on the photo to enlarge it.

Trithalam trigunadhaaram trinetram chatriyayudham |
Trijanma-papasamharam Yega-vilvam Sivarpanam ||


Though this is a write up on Deogarh Vaidyanath temple, there is a strong possibility the original Jyotir Linga is at Parali, Andhra Pradesh... Quoting the stotram - Paralyam Vaidyanatham

It’s a peaceful evening, as one walks around this quaint temple complex. This complex originally had 12 but now there are 22 temples in all that are dedicated to various Gods, the primary deity being Lord Shiva. Temple bells ring as devotees intimate the Lord that they have come to visit him. A bath in the nearby Shivaganga Lake purifies them before they make their way towards the main sanctum.

This temple complex is simple, with small shrines scattered around within its walls. The interesting aspect about this temple is that even today modern scientists have not been able to open a ventilated door; hence the popular belief of the common folk is that this temple has originally been built by Lord Viswakarma. This temple complex is also famous for being one of the 52 Shakti peethas of Sati. It is believed that when Vishnu used his Sudarshan chakra to destroy her half burnt body as Lord Shiva carried it; her heart fell here at Deogarh.

This temple complex lies on the undulating land of the plateau landscape among small hills, near the Shivaganga. The well-lit courtyard of this complex in ancient days would have had fire torches lighting up the various passages around the temples with oil lamps within shrine chambers, bringing the presence of the luminous Jyotir Linga out for any ardent aspirant to witness.

Talking about devotees, there were none as great as Ravana himself, who is known to be one of the greatest bhaktas of Lord Shiva. It is believed that it was his wish to bring the Jyotir Linga back with him to Sri Lanka. He is known to have attempted to raise the very peak of Mount Kailasa, which has been so beautifully depicted in the Ravana Anugrahamurti. Lord Shiva, pressed him down with his toe and promised to give Ravana a Jyotir Linga to take back home, with a condition that should he ever keep the Linga on the ground, it would take root again.

Having accepted the condition, Ravana started his long trek back to Lanka. On his way back to Lanka, Varuna the Lord of water created a disturbance in his stomach, and Ravana felt the need to relieve himself. Vishnu disguised as a lad offered to hold the Linga, but soon got tired and laid the Linga on the ground. With this the Linga was finally rooted to the ground here at Deogarh. Ravana tried very hard to uproot it, damaging it a little in the process. The Linga still carries the chip. Ravana, disappointed with the event, decided to worship Lord Shiva, and came to cutting off 9 of his heads. It was then that Shiva descended in the disguise of a Vaidhya and joined the various heads of Ravana, back on him. Shiva is therefore known as Shiva Vaidyanatha at Baidhyanath Dham.

At the entrance of this temple is a well called the Chandrakoopa well, the waters of which are considered very holy since the well has been built and consecrated with water from several theerthas by Ravana himself. It is believed that all physical ailments get cured when one visits this temple.

They say that this temple went into ruins and was later discovered by a young man called Baiju. According to folklore he used to religiously worship the Linga and hence this jyotir linga came to be known as Baidhanath.

Photo courtesy: © Kundan Amitabh, Angika.com 2004

6.10.2007

Jyotir Linga Omkareswar and Amaleshwar in the Vindhya hills



Omkara Mantra Nilayam Mandhara Kusumapriyam |
Prutharaga priyadharam Jyothir mayam sivam Namami ||


An island was once cut out by the sacred Narmada as she flows furiously by the Vindya mountain. Omkareshwar is located in the little town of Mandhata, a little town still brimming with life among the lush green Vindhya hills along the Narmada. A sacred island, which carries the ancient charm of the north, as well as mythological legacy of Rishi Agasthya, Omkareshwar holds to the world one of the Jyotir Lingas out of 12. Interestingly this Linga was split into two, one placed at Omkareshwar and the other part was placed at Amaleshwar.

Omkareshwar gives the feel of the untouched north, untouched by the parasitic evolutions sold by the west. Here once can sit back and relax, having Lassi or a limca, and look at various colors of Sindur lined up for sales at shops near Dhabas. And then the curiosity moves on to the bridge that takes us back into the silence where only the sound of Om can be heard, on this island that is shaped the same way. A modern bridge that appears more like a blotch in this beautiful scenery connects ancient ghats from one side to the other, with even more ancient building towering around giving us a feeling that this still belongs to the ancient world, remnants of a city once built by the king of the Ikshvakus, King Mandhata who is believed to have worshipped Lord Shiva here.

Temple, ancient and sacred dot these beautiful ghats, a picture very similar giving the feeling of Varanasi and the Ganges. Rectangular boats ferry pilgrims across the river which shows all around, steep rising fort walls with ancient palaces and ghats with stairs leading up to the higher parts of this almost magical town, promising a darshan of the Lord in Jyotir Linga form.

As one rises up these steps, revealing a archaic world, where life goes on as usual, where old generations are replaced by new, where life may appear to “improve” but leaves behind the quaint little town hosting a grand temple to the Lord, and everyone gets to worship Him, bathing Him in abhishekam, on their own, something unheard of in the south of the Vindhyas. Mandhata is charming, with jarokhas and modern buildings intermingled so seamlessly that people and Gods in red occupy the street temples together, and worship still goes on as usual.

But what had Agasthya got to do with all this? It is believed that Narada once descended down into Bhu Loka and visited Mount Vindhya and sang praises of Mount Meru, saying all the devas live there. This was Narada’s way of attempting to reduce Mount Vindhya’s pride about his land. On the contrary Mount Vindhya prayed to Lord Shiva and performed penance vigorous enough for the Lord to appear in Jyotir Linga form as Omkareshwar and grant him a boon. Mount Vindhya, in comparison to Mount Meru wished that he would grow taller. And the wish was granted on a condition that he should not hinder the faith or worship of other Shiva devotees. Mount Vindhya grew, so much so that he blocked the Sun from rising as well as the moon. It was then that Rishi Agasthya descended to earth on the request of all in heaven and came upon the Vindhya range. He said he was headed south of the Vindhyas and that the mountains shouldn’t grow until he returned. Sure enough Mount Vindhya agreed and with that his growth was stopped. Sage Agasthya never returned to the North.

Omkareshwar also holds other treasures; Shankaracharya’s Guru is believed to have spent some time here in a cave. This island is also called Shivpuri. This also hosts to the Panchamuga Ganesha and Annapurani whose worship is considered equally auspicious. There is a lot to believe about Omkareshwar and Amaleshwar, apart from the others who hold equal respect in these soils.

















Video courtesy: VALPARD FILMS on Youtube

6.04.2007

Jyotir Linga Ujjain(Avanti) - Mahakala Shiva

















Mahakalam Lavanyam Madhura Karunarasa varithim |
Mahalingam Mangalaroopam Jyothir swaroopam sirasa namami||

Ujjain, a land of mystery and secrecy held together by a small little town, is considered to be one of the holiest shrines in India. Born within itself, a swayambhuva linga and not man made, this Linga is powerful to derive its own energy and has not been induced by mantra shakti, unlike other Lingas.

The interesting part of this temple is that it is multi-storeyed and the actual Jyotir Linga is underground. The beauty of it is that one walks through dark passages lit with brass lamps to find the Lord sunken within the earth, still alive and brimming with overpowering presence.

What a presence! To think that it actually spreads to the Linga above and makes the entire temple more potent. The presence of the Lord is far more intense here. The shikhara of this temple towers above enveloping Mahakaleshwar, a form of Dakshinamurthi Shiva Himself. Parvati, Ganesha and Karthikeya also reside within these walls.

The idol of Omkareshwar Shiva is placed above Mahakaleshwar Shiva who resides in the lower chamber. A additional floor as been attributed to Nagchandreswar, who is worshipped by devotees only on Nagpanchami day.

A silent Linga, Mahakaleswar Shiva and Omkareshwar, all reside together here. The myth goes as follows. Ujjain, previously known as Avanti was located on the banks of the sacred river Shipra. In this little town lived a brahmin named Vedhapriya who had four sons. Close to Avanti was a mountain kingdom called Ratnamala which was ruled by a demon King called Dushanan. Dushanan has done immense worship to Brahma and had acquired a lot of power and was now almost invincible. He had grown to be very proud and began to illtreat his people and subjects. Dushanan finally invaded Avanti and began to rule it with tyrany. A lot of unhappy people went to Vedhapriya to seek his help.

Vedhapriya at that time was performing Shiva puja with his four sons. When the people came to their house, Vedhapriya's eldest son Devapriya consoled them saying they were not strong enough to face the fierce demon. They told them to leave it in Lord Shiva's hands and continued to worship the Lord. King Dushanan came to know this and decided to kill Vedhapriya and destroy all the Lingas they were worshipping. He came upon the pit from which mud was traditionally taken to make the Lingas for centuries. As he advanced with his army, Lord Shiva rose out of the pit as a column of fire in Jyotir swarupa form and burnt King Dushana and his entire army in one blow.

All the people worshipped this form of the Lord and named Him Mahakala Jyotir Linga, the protector of the Universe.

Photo courtesy: Copyright © 1998-2001 Live India Internet Services!