Bhimashankar Jyotirlinga – Lord Shiva temple

Bhimashankar Jyotirlinga – Lord Shiva’s temple

Bhimashankar Temple is a Jyotirlinga  located 50 km northwest of Khed, near Pune, in Maharashtra. Bhima Shankar Temple lies on the banks of the river Bhima, in the ghat region of the Sahyadri hills in the village of Bhavagiri.

Legend behind Bhimashankar Temple

In the dence forest of Dakini, there lived a demon named Bhima with his mother Karkati. Bhima harassed and tortured everyone. Once he asked his mother about the details of his father. His mother told him that his father Kumbhakarna is the younger brother of Ravana, the king of Lanka. Both his father and uncle were slain by Lord Rama. She told her that Lord Rama was incarnation of Lord Vishnu. This infuriated Bhima and he vowed to avenge Lord Vishnu.

Defeat of Devas by Bhima and Kamrupeshwar’s devotion to Lord Shiva

Bhima performed severe penance to please Lord Brahma. Pleased, Brahma granted him the boon of becoming a very strong man. With this new strength, he captured all the divines including Vishnu and Indra. They were in his control. After this he won a victory over the great Shiva devotee Kamarupeshwar. Kamarupeshwar did not stop his worship of Shiva even when in prison. He performed the Puja with the same devotion, observing all the procedures his wife also joined him in this.

Bhimashankar Temple Jyotirlinga

Bhimashankar Temple Jyotirlinga

On the other hand, Brahma and Vishnu along with all the other divines started praying Shankara and of asking for deliverance from the wicked Demon King. Shiva assured the divines and sent them home after pacifying them.

Lord Shiva defeats Bhima

Bhima asked Kamrupeshwar to worship him instead of Lord Shiva. When Kamrupeshwar refused, Bhima raised his sword to strike the Shiva Linga. But as soon as he raised his sword, Lord Shiva appeared before him in full magnificence. Then the terrible war began. Holy sage Narad appeared and requested Lord Shiva to put an end to this war. It was then that Lord Shiva reduced the evil demon to ashes and thus concluded the saga of tyranny. All the Gods and the holy sages present there requested Lord Shiva to make this place his abode. Lord Shiva thus manifested himself in the form of the Bhimashankar Jyotirlinga.

Another story from Puran

There is another famous story about Bhimashankar. In ancient days there was a demon named Tripurasura, He harass and torture everybody in all three world namely Swarga, Naraka and Patal. Every one even Gods were scared of him.  Then Lord Shiva himself came to destroy Tripurasura. Lord Shankar assumed colossal proportions. Tripurasura feared when they saw this Rudravatar. The fight went on and at last Lord Shiva killed the wicked demon and set the there worlds free. After the fight Lord shiva was very tired so in order to get some rest he settled in the high areas of Sahyadri mountains. His sweat started pouring down from his huge body in thousands of streams. It all joined together and collected in a pond or Kund. The river that started from there is known as Bhima, which can be seen even today. Devotees then prayed to Bhimakaya Rudra to reside there for ever.  Lord Shiva listened to the devotees and stayed there as a Jyotirlinga forever.

Bhimashankar jyotirlinga

Bhimashankar jyotirlinga

 Architecture and surroundings

The Bhimashankara temple is a composite of old and the new structures in the Nagara style of architecture.  It is a modest yet graceful temple and it dates back to the 13th century and the sabhamandap developed in the 18th century by Nana Phadnavis.  The Diwan of the Peshwar, Nana Phadanvis renovated this temple.  It is decorated with the Dashavatar statues. These are very beautiful to look at. A unique and a huge bell can be seen in front of the the temple was presented by Chimaji Appa. (brother of Bajirao Peshwa). Chimaji Appa collected five large bells after he won in war against the Portuguese from Vasai Fort. When this bell is rung, the entire echoes with its sound.

Bhiashankar is declared as wildlife sanctuary in 1985.  It is rich in floral and fauna diversity. . A variety of birds, animals, insects, plants can be seen. A rare animal Malabar Giant squirrel locally called as ” Shekaru” can be found in deep forest.  It is said that the lions from these forests come to the shrine every night to get a Darshan of the Lord.

It seems as if Lord Shiva is keeping a silent vigil over the majestic ranges of the Sahyadris. The serenity interrupted only by the silent murmuring of the cool breeze and the occasional chirping of birds

Other temples and shrines 

There is a shrine to Kamalaja near the Bhimashankara temple. Kamalaja is an incarnation of Parvati, who helped Shiva in his battle against Tripurasura.  Shaakini and Daakini the Shivaganas who helped Shiva in the battle against the demon are also honored and worshiped here.

The Mokshakund thirtha is behind the Bhimashankara temple, and it is associated with the rishi Kaushika. There are also the Sarvathirtha, the Kusharanya thirtha where the Bhima river begins to flow eastward, and the Jyanakund.

Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga – Lord Shiva

Omkareshwar is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. The Temple of Lord Omkareshwar is situated on the banks of River Narmada, in between Indore & Khandwa. The temple is situated on an island, which is encircled by the Narmada River. The island is known as Mandhata island.

Omkareshwar Temple of Lord Shiva

This holy temple is situated in Madhya Pradesh, in the Khandwa district. This is situated on Mandhata island. An interesting fact about the island is that this is in the shape of Om symbol. Here are two temple, one of Omkareshwar and other of Mamleshwar or Amareshwar.

Omkareshwar Temple

Omkareshwar Temple

The Temple

The main Omkareswar temple is built in the North Indian style of architecture, with high spires.  The sanctum sanctorum containing the Jyotirlinga seems to have been originally a small temple of the old construction style, the dome being made of layers of stone slabs.

Puja at Omkareshwar Temple

There are three regular ‘Pujas’ in the temple. The morning puja done by the temple trust, the middle one by the priest of Scindia state and in evening by the priest of the Holkar state. The temple is always crowded with pilgrims, coming after a immersion in the Narmada and with pots full of Narmada water, coconuts and articles of worship, many of them performing Abhishek or special worships through the priests.
During fair or ‘Parva’ times there are heavy crowds in the temple. On every Monday, the gold plates three headed idol of Lord Omkar is taken in a palanquin with bands, drums , priests. The  devotees gather in procession known as Dola. First, they go to the river where worship is performed, and then through the streets of the town.

In the holy month of shravan, the processions take place, known as “Somvar Sawaris”. These are huge and grand. The crowds dance uttering the Lord’s name “Om Shambhu Bholenath”. In this procession, throwing Gulal making the atmosphere red.

Three Legends of Omkareshwar

Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga also has its own history and many stories. Out of these, three of them are prominent.

First story

This is about Vindhya Parvat (Mount). Once upon a time, Sage Narada (son of Lord Brahma), visited Vindhya parvat. In his spicy way, Narada told Vindhya Parvat about the greatness of Mount Meru.

This made Vindhya jealous of Meru and he decided to be bigger than Meru. Vindhya started worship of Lord Shiva to become greater than Meru. Vindhya Parvat practiced severe penance and worshipped parthivlinga (A linga made from physical material) along with Lord Omkareshwar for nearly six months.

As a result, Lord Shiva was pleased and blessed him with his desired boon. On a request of all the gods and the sages, Lord Shiva made two parts of the lingas. One half is called Omkareshwara and the other Mamaleshwar or Amareshwar.

Lord Shiva gave the boon of growing to Vindhya mountain, but took a promise that Vindhya will never be a problem to Shiva’s devotees. Vindhya began to grow, but did not keep his promise. It even obstructed the sun and the moon.

Soon, all deities approached sage Agastya for help. Agastya along with his wife came to Vindhya, and convinced him that he would not grow until the sage and his wife returned.

They never returned and Vindhya is there as it was when they left. The sage and his wife stayed in Srisailam which is regarded as Dakshina Kashi and one of the Dwadash Jyotirlinga.

Second Story

The second story relates to Mandhata and his son’s penance. King Mandhata of Ishvaku clan (an ancestor of Lord Ram) worshipped Lord Shiva here till the Lord manifested himself as a Jyotirlinga. Some scholars also narrate the story about Mandhata’s sons-Ambarish and Mucchkund, who had practiced severe penance and austerities here and pleased Lord Shiva. Because of this the mountain is named Mandhata.

Third Story

The third story from Hindu scriptures says that once upon a time there was a great war between Devas and Danavas(demon), in which Danavas won. This was a major setback for Devas and hence Devas prayed to Lord Shiva. Pleased with their prayer, Lord Shiva emerged in the form of Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga and defeated Danavas.

Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga – Lord Shiva as Mahakal

Lord Shiva is worshipped as Mahakala. Located in the ancient city of Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh, is the temple of Mahakaleshwar. This temple is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas in India.  There is an interesting story which explains about the Mahakaleshwar form of Shiva. This form of Lord Shiva is a fierce form which is beyond imagination and description. This story took place when Ujjain was known as Avanti and is mentioned in the Shiva Purana.

Lord Shiva as Mahakal

Lord Shiva as Mahakal

The Story of Mahakala

Once there lived a pious man in Avanti (nowadays Ujjain),  who was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. He had four sons and the family worshipped Lord Shiva daily.

Not far away from their home in a hill named Ratanmala. There lived an Asura (demon) named Dooshana. Demon Dooshana hated all forms of Shiva and vedic worship. He went around killing people who worshipped Shiva. Soon Dooshana came to know about the family in Avanti that worshipped Lord Shiva.

He arrived with his army and attacked the city. But the family continued to worship Shiva in the form of a Shivling.

Finally, the demon and soldiers reached the home of the pious man and started hurling weapons. The demon broke open the door and advanced towards the Shivling by raising a sword.

Suddenly, there was a deafening sound and there appeared a dreadful form beyond explanation before the Shivling. A single glance by the Mahakala form of Shiva burned the demon and his army into ashes. Uncontrollable and unsatisfied, the form of Shiva gave a huge roar; the entire universe trembled in fear.

But the family was but delighted to see Lord Shiva and continued chanting his glory and prayers. Before his true devotees, Shiva is always the Bholenath – one can be easily influenced. Hearing the prayers of his devotees, His anger subsided.

But the family who was aware of the dangers of the world realized that the form of Shiva as Mahakala was essential for peace and prosperity and asked him to reside in this form at Ujjain. Since then Shiva remains at Ujjain Mahakala Temple as Mahakala – the one with the power to annihilate all living and non-living.

Unknown facts about the Mahakaleshwar Temple

One of the oldest places of pilgrimage, the temple finds mention in ancient texts and scriptures and has been eulogised by the great Sanskrit poet and dramatist in emotive terms.

Mahakaleshwar Temple, with its astonishing architectural beauty, dominates the skyline of Ujjain and instills a sense of reverence among the devotees. The lingam at this spiritually important shrine is believed to be swayambhu (self-arisen).

Mahakaleshwar Ujjain

Mahakaleshwar Temple at Ujjain

The idol of Mahakaleshwar is known to be dakshinamurti, which means that it is facing the south. This is a unique feature, upheld by the tantric shivnetra tradition to be found only in Mahakaleshwar among the 12 Jyotirlingas. The idol of Omkareshwar Mahadev is consecrated in the sanctum above the Mahakal shrine. The images of Ganesh, Parvati and Karttikeya are installed in the west, north and east of the sanctum sanctorum.

To the south is the image of Nandi, the vehicle of Lord Shiva. The idol of Nagchandreshwar on the third storey is open for darshan only on the day of Nag Panchami. The temple has five levels, one of which is underground.

The temple itself is located in a spacious courtyard surrounded by massive walls near a lake. The shikhar or the spire is adorned with sculptural finery. Brass lamps light the way to the underground sanctum. It is believed that prasada (holy offering) offered here to the deity can be re-offered unlike all other shrines.

Bhasma Aarti at Mahakaleshwar

One of the most important rituals of Mahakaleshwar is Bhasma Aarti. The temple opens in the morning at 4AM with a special aarti – the one of its kind Bhasma Aarti – where the aarti is performed with sacred ash – Bhasma. Since ancient times, this bhasma used to be the fresh and burning hot ash from a funeral pyre, since Lord Shiva is believed to live in and enjoy the atmosphere of a cremation ground. However, now, the temple has changed its ways in keeping with modern times and the aarti is now performed with bhasma made with cow dung, what we call Vibhooti.

Mahakal Bhasma Aarti at Ujjain

Mahakal Bhasma Aarti at Ujjain

While those who have seen the original aarti (which was performed till about 15years ago) maintain that it was a different experience which can not be recreated. The present aarti is also a grand experience.

Another Legend of Mahakal

According to the Puranas, the city of Ujjain was called Avantika and was famous for its beauty and its status as a devotional epicenter. It was also one of the primary cities where students went to study holy scriptures. According to legend, there was a ruler of Ujjain called Chandrasena, who was a pious devotee of Lord Shiva and worshiped him all the time. One day, a farmer’s boy named Shrikhar was walking on the grounds of the palace and heard the King chant the Lord’s name and rushed to the temple to start praying with him. However, the guards removed him by force and sent him to the outskirts of the city near the river Kshipra. Rivals of Ujjain, primarily King Ripudamana and King Singhaditya of the neighboring kingdoms decided to attack the Kingdom and take over its treasures around this time. Hearing this, Shrikhar started to pray and the news spread to a priest named Vridhi. He was shocked to hear this and upon the urgent pleas of his sons, started to pray to Lord Shiva at the river Kshipra. The Kings chose to attack and were successful; with the help of the powerful demon Dushan, who was blessed by Lord Brahma to be invisible, they plundered the city and attacked all the devotees of Lord Shiva.

Mahakaleshwar Shivji

Mahakaleshwar Shivji

Upon hearing the pleas of His helpless devotees, Lord Shiva appeared in his Mahakala form and destroyed the enemies of King Chandrasena. Upon the request of his devotees Shrikhar and Vridhi, Lord Shiva agreed to reside in the city and become the chief deity of the Kingdom and take care of it against its enemies and to protect all His devotees. From that day on, Lord Shiva resided in His light form as Mahakala in a Lingam that was formed on its own from the powers of the Lord and His consort, Parvati. The Lord also blessed his devotees and declared that people who worshipped Him in this form would be free from the fear of death and diseases. Also, they would be granted worldly treasures and be under the protection of the Lord himself.

Lord Shiva facts

Har har Mahadev. Lord Shiva, the god of destruction has got softer sides of him also. Here are few stories, which will definitely be of interest to you.

 Lord Shiva had six sons

Shiva’s first son is Lord Ayyapa and not Lord Ganesha or Lord Kartikeya. People often forget that Shiva had more than just two sons. Shiva had 6 sons (Ayyapa, Andhaka, Bhauma, Khuja, Ganesh, and Karthikeya/Subramanya) and one daughter (Ashok Sundari).

Lord Ayappa, Ganesha and Kartikeya – Three sons of Shiva

Of these children, Ayyappa was oldest and Ganesha and Kartikeya are actually the youngest children.
Lord Ayyappa was born out of the union between God Shiva and Mohini, an avatar of Lord Vishnu. Ganesha and Kartikeya came long after Ayyappa, Andhaka, Bhauma, Khuja, and Ashok Sundari. It is believed Ashok Sundari was present at the time Ganesha was beheaded.

Lord Shiva in a smiling face is under the feet of angry Mother Kali

Perhaps the most humble lesson one can learn is from this legend. Lord Shiva, the Mahadev, is under the feet of Goddess Kali and smiling. He represents fury, anger and yet he is in his most benevolent form. Why is so? Read on.

Once upon a time, Goddess Kali was on a rampage. No demon, human or God stood a chance at stopping her blood-lust. A collective prayer was made to Lord Shiva by all beings to try to stop this Maha-Shakti form of his consort. Such was the power of the Goddess that wherever she set foot, absolute destruction followed suit.

The lord realized even he could not reason with such an elemental force. He had to reach out to her in terms of emotions. As such, he decided to lay down in the Goddess’ path. When Kali finally reached the spot where Lord was lying down, she did not notice him until she stepped on his chest.

So far, everything she was setting foot on was being destroyed. This was an exception, Kali was forced to look down and found the Lord there. Sudden realization dawned on her and she snapped out of her reverie and found herself extremely ashamed, sticking out her tongue instinctively as a sign of regret.

Devi Kali rgrets
Devi Kali rgrets

There are number of lessons here: No matter how resourceful one is, sometimes he has to deal with tact, as Lord did. Second, tricky situations can be overcome by thinking on your feet. In this story, we see shades of Lord Vishnu, when it comes to dealing with tact.

Lord Hanuman is an avatar of Lord Shiva

It is said that Bhagwan Hanuman is the eleventh reincarnation of the Lord. Also, Lord Hanuman is often recalled as Rudraavataar, or the reincarnation of Rudra and Shiva is also known as the Rudra.

The vanars or the ancestors of humans had helped Lord Rama (reincarnation of Lord Vishnu) in Ramayana.  Without their support, Rama could not have defeated Ravana.

Lord Hanuman is often worshipped for his devotion to Lord Rama and his part in the “good over evil.”  It is also depicted as the utter and infinite devotion of Lord Shiva to Lord Vishnu, as he reincarnated as a monkey and served him with all he had.

Lord Shiva and his family
Lord Shiva and his family

The Story of Amarnath cave

Amarnath cave is of utmost importance for followers of Lord. The legendary importance of Amarnath’s cave is related to the secret of immortality told to Lord Shiva’s wife Parvati. When Lord was insisted by his wife to reveal the secret of immortality, he decided to proceed towards the cave.

On his way to the cave he did a few things, which were great according to his devotees. Because of these few things, the entire way to the cave became blissful. Actually, in order to reveal the secret of amar katha, Lord left his son, vehicle, etc in various isolated places, which is why all these places seem like tirthasthal. There are two ways for Amarnath journey – Pahalgam and Sonmarg Baltal. According to mythology, Lord took the Pahalgam route to reach the cave.

Amarnath cave
Amarnath cave

Lord Shiva’s association with Nandi Bull

Lord Shiva and Nandi are inseparable. Nandi is the vehicle for the Hindu god of Shiva. In Hindu mythology, Nandi is the bearer of truth and righteousness. This story describes how Lord became associated with the bull Nandi.

One day, Surabhi, who was the original mother of all the world’s cows, began to give birth to an untold number of perfectly white cows.The milk from all these cows flooded the home of Lord.

Somewhere in the Himalaya. Angry at this disturbance to his meditation, the god struck the cows with fire from his third eye. In consequence, patches of the cows’ hides were turned brown. Still angry, the other gods sought to calm Lord down by offering him a magnificent bull – Nandi, the son of Surabhi and Kasyapa – which Shiva accepted and rode. Nandi also became the protector of all animals.

Nandi and Lord Shiva
Nandi and Lord Shiva

As Nandi is the assistant of the of Lord – he can also grant many boons. In South India – there is a tradition of talking one’s wish to Nandi’s ears that is then believed to be granted.

Powers of Nandi

Sudarshana chakra was given to Lord Vishnu by Lord Shiva

The famed Sudarshana chakra was bestowed to Lord Vishnu by Lord Shiva. Once, Vishnu was meditating Shiva’s sahasranama to please Lord. He kept thousand lotuses to please him. Lord wanted to test Lord Vishnu’s devotion and so he took one of the flower from flowers which Vishnu was using to offer it to Shivalinga on each naama.

At the thousandth name, vishnu was surprised to see he was not left with any flowers and so he took out his own eyes and offered it to Lord. As Lord Vishnu is also called Kamalnayan, his eye would serve the purpose of a Lotus flower. Shiva pleased with the level of devotion shown by Vishnu, bestowed Sudarshan chakra to Lord Vishnu.

Why Lord Shiva Covers His Body With Ash?

Lord Shiva’s body is always covered with ash and Shiv devotees wear ash tilak on forehead and hands. There is an interesting story in the Shiva Purana which narrates how Lord  came to be associated with Ash. There once lived a sage whose lineage was traced to the famous Saint Bhrigu. This sage performed intense austerities and became very powerful. He used to consume only fruits and later only green leaves and thus got the name – Pranada.

Sage Pranada continued his intense tapas and controlled all the animals and plants in the forest he lived. Once while cutting some grass to repair his hermitage, the sage cut his middle finger. But to his surprise instead of blood he saw sap of tree oozing through the cut.

Now Pranada thought that he had become so pious that instead of blood, sap is oozing through his body. Pride filled his mind and he started shouting in joy that he is the most pious man in the world now.

Lord Shiva who witnessed this event took the guise of an old man and reached the spot. When the old man asked for the reason for his uncontrollable delight, Pranada said that he has become the most pious man in the world as his blood as become quite similar to the sap of fruits and trees.

Then the old man asked what is there to be elated in this. It is just a sap. But when trees and plants are burned they turn into ash. Only ash remains that is surely the higher stage.

To demonstrate it the old man sliced his finger and suddenly ash came out of it. Sage Pranada soon realized that it was Lord standing before him and prayed to him for forgiveness for his ignorance.

It is said that ever since then Lord wears ash to remind his devotees about the ultimate reality and foolishness of getting enamored in physical beauty.

Lord Shiva tests Goddess Parvati

Few of us know that Shiva thoroughly tested Devi Parvati’s devotion before accepting her as a wife. He designed himself as a young Brahmin and told Parvati that would it be good for her to marry Lord who lived like a beggar and had nothing?

Parvati got very angry when she heard these words about Lord. She told him that she would marry no one but Shiva. Pleased with her answer, Lord came back to his real form and agreed to marry Parvati. Himavantha performed the wedding with great splendour.

Wedding of Shiva and Parvati
Wedding of Shiva and Parvati

Read the story of Lord Shiva marriage to Parvati here.

Lord Shiva stories

Mallikarjun Jyotirlinga – Lord Shiva’s temple

The Jyotirlinga of Mallikarjun : Lord Shiva Temple at Srisailam

Mallikarjun at Srisailam is one among the twelve Jyotirlinga, situated at Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh.  Mallikarjuna is an ancient temple of Lord Shiva that is architecturally and sculpturally rich.

Srisailam Bhramaramba Mallikarjuna swamy temple

Srisailam Bhramaramba Mallikarjuna swamy temple

Story behind Mallikarjun Temple

Once, Shiva and Parvati decided to find suitable brides for their sons, Ganesha and Kartikeya. They argued as to who is to get wedded first. Lord Shiva said that the one who goes round the world in Pradakshinam could get married first. By the time Lord Kartikeya could go round the world on his vahana peacock, Lord Ganesha went round his parents 7 times. Lord Siva got Buddhi(intellect), Siddhi (spiritual power), and Riddhi (prosperity) married to Lord Ganesha. Lord Kartikeya on his return was enraged and went away to stay alone on Mount Krouncha in the name of Kumarabrahmachari.

Lord Shiva and Kartikeya

Lord Shiva and Kartikeya

On seeing his father coming over to pacify him, he tried to move to another place, but on the request of the Devas, stayed close by. The place where Lord Shiva and Parvati stayed came to be known as Shrisailam. Lord Shiva visits Lord Kartikeya on Amavasya day & Parvati Devi on Poornima.

Another story

Once, a princess named Chandravati decided to go to the Jungles to do penance and meditation. She chose Kadali Vana for this purpose. One day, she witnessed a miracle. A Kapila cow was standing under a Bilwa tree and milk was flowing from all of its four udders, sinking into the ground. The cow kept doing this as a routine chore everyday. Chandravati dug up that area and was dumb founded at what she saw. There was a self-raising Swyambhu SivaLinga. It was bright and shining like the sun rays, and looked like it was burning, throwing flames in all directions. Chandravati prayed to Siva in this JyotirLinga. She built a huge Shiva Temple there. Lord Shankara was very pleased with her. Chandravati went to Kailash wind borne. She received salvation and Mukti. On one of the stone-inscriptions of the temple, Chandravati’s story can be seen carved out.

Mallikarjun as a Shakti peeth

Srisailam or Mallikarjun is one among the Maha shakti peeth. It is believed that Sati Devi’s upper lip has fallen here.  It is a place where Shakti peetha and Jyotirlinga are together.

Visiting this JyotirLinga not only blesses one with innumerable wealth, but also name and fame and fulfils all the desires. Mahashivratri is the main festival celebrated at Srisailam Mallikarjuna Swamy temple.

Jyotirlinga : Somnath ( Temple of Lord Shiva )

Somnath : Foremost of the twelve Jyotirlinga

First among the twelve jyotirlinga, located at Prabhas Patan in Saurashtra – Gujrat.  Somnath means,  ‘The protector of Moon God’.  Somnath temple was destroyed many times by Islamic kings and rulers and recently was rebuilt in November 1947, by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patael.

Somnath Mandir at Night

Somnath Mandir at Night

Legend :

According to Skanda Puran, Moon God (Chandra) was married to 27 (stars) of Daksha. Moon was more affectionate to his wife Rohini, and  didn’t show any interest in rest of his wives. This arouse anger and feeling of insult among them. Dissappointed with the behaviour for their husband one they went to their father Daksha and complained his about Moon. Daksha was very sad to see his daughter’s suffering so he decided to convince Moon but all in vain. Out of anger he cursed Moon that he would be decreasing in size.

Somnath Temple

Somnath Temple

Devas were very sad at Chandra’s plight, and went to Brahama for help. Lord Brahma, the Creator advised them to pray to Lord Shiva.  Chandra went for a penance for six months after which Lord Shiva appeared and granted him a boon.

Lord Shiva said, that in every month for 15 days he would grow in size and in another 15 days, he would be loosing 1 kala per day and decrease in size. That is why this place is also known as Somnath, Protector of Moon ( Moon is also known as Som). Lord Shiva is known as Someshwar. Devas have established a Someshwar kund and it is believed that taking a holy dip in kund, a person is relieved from all sins.

Chandra or Moon looks bright here hence, this place is also known as Prabhashpattana.

Chandra was first one to receive benefit so he built the temple in gold. Later, it was rebuilt by Ravana, in silver; then by Krishna in wood and by Bhimdev in stone.

Somnath temple was subjected to series of attacks, it was destroyed and rebuilt several times. In  725, an Arab governor of Sindh, Junayad, destroyed the temple, in 815 it was reconstructed in red sand stone. In 1024, Muslim invader, Ghazini again destroyed the temple and looted the treasure. Once again n 1292, temple was destroyed by Allaudin Khilji’s army.

Somnath_temple_in_1869

Somnath_temple_in_1869

In 1701, temple was totally destroyed, plundered and looted in a horrible way, many people were killed and lots of money were stolen.

In 1783, the temple was rebuilt at a site adjacent to the ruined temple by Sadhvi Alalya Devi, Holar.

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, renovated the temple on the advice of Kakasaheb Gadgil of Maharashtra. Jyotirlinga was reinstated on friday 1951 by Dr. Rajendra prasad(President).

Inspite  of destruction, the faith of devotees was never destroyed, and Somnath revived its grandeur.

 

Lord Shiva as a servant of Poet Vidyapati in form of Ugna

 Do you know that Lord Shiva once served Poet Vidyapati as a servant. Incredible, but true, Lord Shiva indeed decided to become the servant of a famous poet. Such is the power of Bhakti. Read on for the full story.

Ugna came to Vidyapati to serve

Poet Vidyapati was an ardent follower of Lord Shiva and seeing his bhakti for him, Lord Shiva got impressed with him. And Lord did the unthinkable and decided to come to live with the poet as a servant, with the name Ugna.

Poet was invited for a function

Ugna became a obedient and affectionate servant to the poet within a very short period. One day, the poet received an invitation to participate in a royal function of the king of Mithila. He took his loyal servant Ugna with him and they left for the king’s capital. On the way the poet became very thirsty but it was a huge barren land where he saw no drops of water.

Ugna was identified through the water of The Ganges

The poet became thirsty and asked Ugna to arrange for water. Ugna shown his inability as there was no water to be seen there. But Poet Vidyapati’s condition soon became worse. Lord Shiva in the guise of Ugna went to some place where he was not seen and took some water of the Ganges in a bowl and came back to Vidyapati. Drinking the water, the poet immediately recognised this as the holy water and demanded from Ugna that where did he find this water?

Initially, Ugna was not telling the truth, but on the insistence of Poet Vidyapati, he had to tell that he was none other than Lord Shiva. Knowing this, the poet became very sorry that Lord Shiva was serving him as a servant, but Lord pacified him that this was his wish to live with his bhakta and Vidyapati should not be sorry for the same.

Ugna Mahadev Mandir
Ugna Mahadev Mandir

Lord Shiva extracted a promise from Vidyapati

The poet wanted the lord to remain with him and he requested Lord Shiva to live with himself. Lord Shiva agreed to his request but he put a condition for the same. He asked him not to divulge the truth of Ugna to anyone. If he fails to do so, then Lord will get back to his place. Poet Vidyapati immediately agreed to this.

After this, Ugna remained with poet Vidyapati for several years and helped him to carry out few miracles as well. For example, he once defeated a poet of emperor Allauddin in his own language.

Vidyapati’s wife gets angry on Ugna

As all things does not remain the same, it was time for Ugna’s departure. Poet’s wife got frustrated with him one day and started beating him with a broom. Poet Vidyapati could not tolerate this as he knew the real identity of Ugna. Out of frustration, he asked her to stop and Lord Shiva immediately vanished. Poet realized his mistake, but it was too late.

Ugna leaves Poet Vidyapati

It is said that Poet Vidyapati then searched for Lord Shiva. He wandered through many temples, rivers and jungles in search of Ugna. Finally, Vidyapati found him in Nandanvana. Shiva told him that he would not go back to his house but would help him whenever required. The place where Ugna appeared before the poet as God is known as Ugnaasthan.

Ugna Mahadev Shivling
Ugna Mahadev Shivling

Kanwar festival or Shravan festival in India

Shravan festival in India

The month of Shrawan is a very holy month for hindu pilgrims. In this month, Lord Shiva is worshipped in Deoghar and people from all part of India throng at this place. They also undertook an arduous journey and offer water to Lord which they took from distant places and cover the distance on foot.

Kanwar Yatra is named after the Kanvar. Kanvar is a single pole  with two roughly equal loads fastened or dangling from opposite ends.  These loads are normally Ganges water which is offered to Lord Shiva after completion of Kanwar or Kanwad journey.

The month of Shravan is celebrated in worship to Lord Shiva and most devotees observe a fast on Mondays during this month. This festival is called Sharavn festival or Kanwar festival.

Kanwad festival

Ten days before Shiv-Teras thousands of Lord Shiva devotees gather in Haridwar to collect holy waters from the river Ganga to carry it back to their hometown and offer it at the local Shiv temple.

In north india, the Kanwarias take the water from Haridwar, Gangotri and other holy places. They take the water to their respective towns and offer the gangajaal to a local holy temple of Lord Shiva. This pilgrimage is done by covering the distance from Haridwar to their respective cities largely on foot. The devotees are mainly males, but females also celebrate this festival of Lord Shiva or Bhole Baba.

Kanwar festival - Devotees taking gangajaal from har ki pairi

Kanwar festival – Devotees taking gangajaal from har ki pairi, haridwar

Smaller pilgrimages are also undertaken to places like Allahabad and Varanasi.

In Bihar, during this festival, the kanwarias take the holy water from Sultanganj. Sultanganj has a special significance since Ganga turns northward at Sultanganj. The water is carried from here to Deoghar, the nearest Shiv jyotirling. This is 105 km far from sultanganj. It takes four days for the devotees to reach Deoghar walking. The devotees generally walk by day and take shelter at dharamshalas during night, some adventurous ones continue their journey during night.  Then there are Dak Kanwariyas, who cover the distance by running only in a day. They are supposed to travel the distance in one day only is quite arduous.  After offering water in Deoghar, devotees travel to basukinath, which is another place of interest for pilgrims.

Dak Kanwariyas during Shravan or Kanwar festival

Dak Kanwariyas during Shravan or Kanwar festival

108 names of Lord Shiva

Lord Shiva, one of the holy trinity of gods, is believed to play the role of the destroyer to this universe. He is father of Lord Kartikeya and Lord Ganesha and is married to Goddess Parvati. There are various names of lord Shiva with Mahadeva being the most famous. He is also called Neelkanth after he consumed poison during amrita manthan.

Names of Lord Shiva
Names of Lord Shiva
Wedding of Shiva and Parvati
Wedding of Shiva and Parvati
Angry Shiva
Angry Shiva

Here are 108 names of Lord Shiva with its meaning.

  1. Aashutosh – One Who Fulfills Wishes Instantly.
  2. Aja- Unborn.
  3. Akshayaguna – God With Limitless Attributes
  4. Anagha – Without Any Fault
  5. Anantadrishti – Of Infinite Vision
  6. Augadh – One Who Revels All The Time
  7. Avyayaprabhu – Imperishable Lord
  8. Bhairav – Lord Of Terror
  9. Bhalanetra – One Who Has An Eye In The Forehead
  10. Bholenath – Kind Hearted Lord
  11. Bhooteshwara – Lord Of Ghosts And Evil Beings
  12. Bhudeva – Lord Of The Earth
  13. Bhutapala – Protector Of The Ghosts
  14. Chandrapal – Master Of The Moon
  15. Chandraprakash -One Who Has Moon As A Crest
  16. Dayalu -Compassionate
  17. Devadeva – Lord Of The Lords
  18. Dhanadeepa – Lord Of Wealth
  19. Dhyanadeep – Icon Of Meditation And Concentration
  20. Dhyutidhara – Lord Of Brilliance
  21. Digambara – Ascetic Without Any Clothes
  22. Durjaneeya – Difficult To Be Known
  23. Durjaya – Unvanquished
  24. Gangadhara – Lord Of River Ganga
  25. Girijapati – Consort Of Girija
  26. Gunagrahin – Acceptor Of Gunas
  27. Gurudeva – Master Of All
  28. Hara – Remover Of Sins
  29. Jagadisha – Master Of The Universe
  30. Jaradhishamana -Redeemer From Afflictions
  31. Jatin – One Who Has Matted Hair
  32. Kailas -One Who Bestows Peace
  33. Kailashadhipati -Lord Of Mount Kailash
  34. Kailashnath – Master Of Mount Kailash
  35. Kamalakshana – Lotus-Eyed Lord
  36. Kantha – Ever-Radiant
  37. Kapalin – One Wears A Necklace Of Skulls
  38. Khatvangin – One Who Has The Missile Khatvangin In His Hand
  39. Kundalin – One Who Wears Earrings
  40. Lalataksha – One Who Has An Eye In The Forehead
  41. Lingadhyaksha – Lord Of The Lingas
  42. Lingaraja – Lord Of The Lingas
  43. Lokankara – Creator Of The Three Worlds
  44. Lokapal – One Who Takes Care Of The World
  45. Mahabuddhi – Extremely Intelligent
  46. Mahadeva – Greatest God
  47. Mahakala – Lord Of All Times
  48. Mahamaya – Of Great Illusions
  49. Mahamrityunjaya – Great Victor Of Death
  50. Mahanidhi – Great Storehouse
  51. Mahashaktimaya – One Who Has Boundless Energies
  52. Mahayogi – Greatest Of All Gods
  53. Mahesha- Supreme Lord
  54. Maheshwara – Lord Of Gods
  55. Nagabhushana – One Who Has Serpents As Ornaments
  56. Nataraja – King Of The Art Of Dancing
  57. Nilakantha – Blue Necked Lord
  58. Nityasundara – Ever Beautiful
  59. Nrityapriya – Lover Of Dance
  60. Omkara – Creator Of OM
  61. Palanhaar – One Who Protects Everyone
  62. Parameshwara – First Among All Gods
  63. Paramjyoti – Greatest Splendour
  64. Pashupati – Lord Of All Living Beings
  65. Pinakin – One Who Has A Bow In His Hand
  66. Pranava – Originator Of The Syllable Of OM
  67. Priyabhakta – Favourite Of The Devotees
  68. Priyadarshana – Of Loving Vision
  69. Pushkara – One Who Gives Nourishment
  70. Pushpalochana – One Who Has Eyes Like Flowers
  71. Ravilochana – Having Sun As The Eye
  72. Rudra – The Terrible
  73. Rudraksha – One Who Has Eyes Like Rudra
  74. Sadashiva – Eternal God
  75. Sanatana – Eternal Lord
  76. Sarvacharya – Preceptor Of All
  77. Sarvashiva – Always Pure
  78. Sarvatapana – Scorcher Of All
  79. Sarvayoni – Source Of Everything
  80. Sarveshwara – Lord Of All Gods
  81. Shambhu – One Who Bestows Prosperity
  82. Shankara – One Who Gives Happiness
  83. Shiva – Always Pure
  84. Shoolin – One Who Has A Trident
  85. Shrikantha – Of Glorious Neck
  86. Shrutiprakasha – Illuminator Of The Vedas
  87. Shuddhavigraha – One Who Has A Pure Body
  88. Skandaguru – Preceptor Of Skanda
  89. Someshwara – Lord Of All Gods
  90. Sukhada – Bestower Of Happiness
  91. Suprita – Well Pleased
  92. Suragana – Having Gods As Attendants
  93. Sureshwara – Lord Of All Gods
  94. Swayambhu – Self-Manifested
  95. Tejaswani – One Who Spreads Illumination
  96. Trilochana – Three-Eyed Lord
  97. Trilokpati – Master Of All The Three Worlds
  98. Tripurari – Enemy Of Tripura
  99. Trishoolin – One Who Has A Trident In His Hands
  100. Umapati – Consort Of Uma
  101. Vachaspati – Lord Of Speech
  102. Vajrahasta – One Who Has A Thunderbolt In His Hands
  103. Varada – Granter Of Boons
  104. Vedakarta – Originator Of The Vedas
  105. Veerabhadra – Supreme Lord Of The Nether World
  106. Vishalaksha – Wide-Eyed Lord
  107. Vishveshwara – Lord Of The Universe
  108. Vrishavahana – One Who Has Bull As His Vehicle

The festival of Mahashivaratri

Mahashivaratri festival

Lord Shiva, the god of destruction from the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh is worshipped on this festival. This day falls in the month of falgun, fourteenth day of krishna paksha, as per the hindi calendar.

Lord Shiiva and Devi Parvati

Lord Shiiva and Devi Parvati

How puja is performed?

On this day,devotees visit the Shiva temples in their area. They bath in the morning and bring holy water such as gangajaal to bath the Shivalinga. Womens observe this festival for well being of their husband and children. Leaves of bel, Dhatura, Milk are deemed to be favourites of Lord Shiva and devotees bring them to offer to him. Unmarried girls pray and keep fast on this day for a husband like Shiva, who is considered to be the ideal husband. The temples are reverberated with words “Har Har Mahadev”. Devotees then take rounds of Shiva linga and then offer gangajal or milk. There  is also the custom of staying awake all night on Shivaratri while chanting the name of Lord Shiva which relates to Neelkanth.

Worship of Lord Shiva

Worship of Lord Shiva

 Legends of Mahashivaratri

A number of legends are associated with this festival. The most important is the legend of Neelkanth on consumption of poison.

Neelkanth – churning of ocean

During the churning of ocean, a pot of poison (halahal) came out of the ocean. This had the potential to destruct the whole universe. Lord Vishnu advised gods to request Lord Shiva to consume the poison.
To save the mankind, Lord Shiva drank the poison after requested by gods. Goddess Parvati pressed her neck to prevent the poison reaching to stomach. Thus, the poison remained in the neck and his neck became blue. Thus the name Neelkanth. In an effort to keep Lord Shiva awake at the night,gods danced and played music. As the day broke out, Lord Shiva, pleased with their devotion blessed them all. Mahashivaratri is the celebration of this event by which Shiva saved the world.

Neelkanth mahadev

Neelkanth mahadev

According to another legend, Mahashivaratri  is the celebraton of wedding of Lord Shiva with Parvati.

Fair and melas

A number of melas are organized and celebrated in the indian subcontinent. In Nepal, Pashupati Nath temple celebrates Lord Shiva’s birthday with grandeur. At midnight, all the four doors of the main temple of pashupatinath are opened for whole night. Rudra mantra is enchanted  and offerings are given to Lord Shiva. Nepal Army pay homage to Lord pashupatinath by volleys of gun fires at Tundikhel parade ground in Kathmandu.

In Mandi (‘Varanasi of the Hills‘), Himachal pradesh, the Shivaratri fair is celebrated for seven days. About 200 deities are assembled in this holy town. This festival has gained the importance of international festival.

Mandi during Shivaratri fair

Mandi during Shivaratri fair

Pachmarhi hosts Shivaratri mela every year. The religious festival celebrates the wedding of Lord Shiva with Parvati. This is done at Mahadev Temple, nearby Pachmarhi.

 

Wedding of Shiva and Parvati

Wedding of Shiva and Parvati

In 2013 – This festival will be celebrated on 10th March.