Jyotirling or Jyotirlinga or Jyotirlingam is an image or avatar of the almighty god Shiva. “Jyoti” means radiance and “Lingam” means the sign or image of the supreme power Shiva. The word “Jyotirlingam” means the radiant avatar or sign of almighty god Shiva. There are 12 holy Jyotirlinga shrines in India at different locations. All 12 Jyotirlinga shrines includes Somnath (Gir Somnath, Gujarat), Mallikarjuna (Srisailam, Andhra Pradesh), Mahakaleshwar (Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh), Omkareshwar (Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh), Kedarnath (Rudraprayag, Uttarakhand), Bhimashankar (Maharashtra), Vishwanath (Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh), Trimbakeshwar (Nashik, Maharashtra), Baidyanath (Deoghar, Jharkhand), Nageshvara (Dwarka, Gujarat), Ramanathashwami (Rameshvaram, Tamilanadu) and Grishneshwar (Aurangabad, Maharashtra).
Legend and Myth behind Jyotirling or Jyotirlinga or Jyotirlingam:
As per holy Siva Mahapurana, once Creator Brahma (the god of creation) and Preserver god Vishnu (the form of God during Preservation) had an argument over supremacy of creation. To settle the dispute, Supreme God Shiva or Mahadeva pierced the three worlds appearing as a huge Infinite Pillar of Light, the Jyotirlinga which later cooled into the Holy Mountain Annamalai (on which the Temple of Arunachaleshvara is located). Almighty gods Vishnu and Brahma split their ways to downwards and upwards individually to find the end of the light in either direction. Brahma lied that he found out the end, while Vishnu conceded his defeat. This lie of Brahma annoyed Shiva making him curse Brahma that even though he is the creator of the universe he would not be worshipped. The jyotirlinga is the Supreme Siva, partless reality, out of which Shiva appeared in another Form, Lingodbhava. The jyothirlinga shrines are Temples where Shiva appeared as a fiery column of light. As we all know that Mahadeva or Supreme Shiva has been worshipped continuously in the form of fiery column of light till date.
Initially there were believed to be 64 jyothirlingas while 12 of them are considered to be very auspicious and divine. Each of the 12 jyothirlinga places take the name of the reigning god, each considered a different avatar of Shiva. At all these places, the primary image is lingam signifying the beginningless and endless Stambha pillar, indicating the infinite nature of Shiva.
The Shanskrit Sloka of 12 Jyotirlingas:
There is an auspicious Sanskrit Sloka which describes the significance and name of each Jyotirlinga with its location at the holy land of India.
सौराष्ट्रे सोमनाथं च श्रीशैले मल्लिकार्जुनम्।
Saurāṣṭre Somanāthaṃ ca Śrīśaile Mallikārjunam
Meaning: Somanath in Saurashtra (Veraval, Saurashtra, Gir Somnath, Gujarat, India) and Sri Mallikarjuna in Shri-Shailam (Srisailam, Andhra Pradesh, India).
Somanath as per legend: Generally, Somnath is believed the first pilgrimage site. The Dwadash Jyotirlinga pilgrimage starts with the Somnath Temple. The temple, that was ruined and re-built sixteen times, is held in reverence throughout India and is rich in legend, tradition, and history. It is situated at Prabhas Patan (Somnath – Veraval) in Saurashtra region of Gujarat state in western India.
Mallikārjuna as per legend: Mallikārjuna, also called Śrīśaila, is situated on a mountain in Kurnool District in Rayalaseema. It enshrines Mallikarjuna in a primeval temple that is architecturally and sculpturally rich and great. It is a place where Shakti peetha and Jyotirlingam are together. Adi Shankara composed his Shivananda Lahari at this holy place.
उज्जयिन्यां महाकालमोङ्कारम मलेश्वरम्॥
Ujjayinyāṃ Mahākālam Omkāram Mamleśhwaram
Meaning: Mahakaal in Ujjain (Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, India) and Mamleshwar in Omkareshwar (Omkareshwar, Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh).
Mahakaleshwar as per legend: Mahakal, Ujjain (or ancient Avanti) in Madhya Pradesh, India is holy city where the Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga temple is situated. The Lingam at Mahakal is believed to be Swayambhu, the only unique one of the 12 Jyotirlingams to be so. It is also the only one facing south and also the temple to have a Shree Rudra Yantra perched upside down at the ceiling of the Garbhagriha (where the Shiv Lingam sits). It is a site where Shakti peeta and Jyotirlingam are together.
Mamaleshwar as per legend: Omkareshwar is situated in Madhya Pradesh on an island in the Narmada River and it is an another Jyotirlinga shrine where the Mamaleshwar temple is sitiated.
परल्यां वैद्यनाथं च डाकिन्यां भीमशङ्करम्।
Paraly Vaidyanāthaṃ cha Ḍākinyāṃ Bhīmaśhaṅkaram
Meaning: Vaidyanath in Chitabhoomi, (Deogarh) Jharkhand (Deogarh, Jharkhand, India) and Bhimashankaram in Dakinya (Bhimashankar, Maharashtra, India).
Baidyanath as per legend: Baidyanath Jyotirlinga temple, also known as Baba vaidyanath dham and vaidyanath dham is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas and It is situated in Deoghar in the Santhal Pargana division of the state of Jharkhand, India. It is a temple complex containing of the main temple of Baba Vaidyanath, where the Jyotirlinga is installed, and 21 other temples.
According to Hindu beliefs, the demon king Ravana worshipped Shiva at the current site of the temple to get the blessings that he later used to create havoc in the world. Ravana offered his ten heads one after another to Shiva as a sacrifice. Content with this, Shiva helped to cure Ravana who was injured. As he performed as a doctor, he is mentioned to as Vaidhya (“doctor”). From this aspect of Shiva, the temple derives its name.
Bhimashankar as per legend: Bhimashankar is very much debated. There is a Bhimashankara temple near Pune in Maharashtra, which was mentioned to as Daakini country, but Kashipur in Uttarakhand was also referred to as Daakini country in prehistoric days and a Bhimashkar Temple known as Shree Moteshwar Mahadev is present there.
Another Bhimashankar is in the Sahyadri range of Maharashtra. The Bhimashankar temple near Guwahati, Assam is the jyotirlinga as per the Sivapuran. As per to Linga Purana, Bhimasankar temple in Bhimpur near Gunupur of Rayagada district in South Orissa is also believed as Bhimasankar Jyotirlinga, which is located at the western part of the holy Mahendragiri mountains and at the river bank of Mahendratanaya (which is also believed as the Daakini area by many historian).
सेतुबन्धे तु रामेशं नागेशं दारुकावने॥
Setubandhe tu Rāmeśaṃ Nāgeśhaṃ Dārukāvane
Meaning: Ramesham (Rameshwaram) in Sethubandh (Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu, India) and Nagesham in Daruka-Vana (Dwarka, Gujarat, India).
Ramesham as per legend: Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu is home to the huge Ramalingeswarar Jyotirlinga temple and is respected as the southernmost of the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines of India. It enshrines the Rameśvara (“Lord of Rama”) pillar. It is also one of the Padal Petra Stalam of Pandya Naadu cited in Thevaaram.
Nageshvara as per legend: Nageshvara Jyotirlinga is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines stated in the Shiva Purana and the Dvādaśa Jyotirliṅga Stotram, tells one of the jyotirlinga namely Nagesh is situated in Daruka-Vana and most possibly the present day Dwarka region. Other claims to the Nagesh Jyotirlinga status come from – Aundha Naganath (Hingoli District of Maharashtra) and Jageshwar (Almora District of Uttarakhand).
वाराणस्यां तु विश्वेशं त्र्यम्बकं गौतमीतटे।
Vārāṇasyāṃ tu Viśveśaṃ Tryambakaṃ Gautamītaṭe
Meaning: Vishwesham (Vishvanath) in Vanarasi (Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India) and Trimbakeshwar in Daruka-Vana (Nashik, Maharashtra, India).
Vishwanath as per legend: The Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh is place for the Vishwanath Jyotirlinga shrine, which is maybe the most sacred of Hindu shrines. It is also one of the Padal Petra Stalam of Vada Naadu stated in Thevaaram. The temple is located in Varanasi, the holiest city for Hindus, where a Hindu is anticipated to make a pilgrimage at least once in his life, and if possible, also pour the remains of cremated ancestors on the River Ganges. The temple stands on the western bank of the divine river Ganges, and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas. Actually, it is a divine place where Shakti peeta and Jyotirlingam are together. It is the holiest of all Shiva temples. The main deity is known by the name Vishwanath or Vishweshwara meaning Ruler of the universe. The temple town, is considered the oldest living city in the world, with 3500 years of documented history, is also called Kashi.
Trimbakeshwar as per legend: The Holy Trimbakeshwar Temple, near Nasik in Maharashtra, is a Jyotirlinga shrine related with the origin of the Godavari River.
हिमालये तु केदारं घुश्मेशं च शिवालये॥
Himālaye tu Kedāraṃ Ghuśmeśaṃ ca Śivālaye
Meaning: Kedar (Kedarnath) in the Himalayas (Rudraprayag, Uttarakhand, India) and Ghrishnesh (Ghrishneshwar) in Shivalaya (Verul) (Ellora, Aurangabad, Maharashtra, India).
Kedarnath as per legend: Kedarnath in Uttarakhand is respected as the northernmost and the closest Jyotirlinga to Lord Shiva’s eternal home of Mount Kailash. Kedarnath forms a part of the smaller Char Dham pilgrimage journey of Hinduism. Snow-cladded Kedarnath is open only for six months a year. It is also one of the Padal Petra Stalam of Vada Naadu stated in Thevaaram. Shiva assumed the form of wild boar and dived into the earth at Kedarnath to emerge at Pashupatinath. Pure ghee is applied at Kedarnath lingam as the boar was wounded.
Ghrishneshwar as per legend: Ghrishneshwar Temple, sometimes referred to as the Dhushmeshwar temple, is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines cited in the Shiva Purana.
एतानि ज्योतिर्लिङ्गानि सायं प्रातः पठेन्नरः।
etāni jyotirliṅgāni sāyaṃ prātaḥ paṭhennaraḥ
Meaning: One who recites these Jyotirlingas every evening and morning.
सप्तजन्मकृतं पापं स्मरणेन विनश्यति॥
saptajanmakṛtaṃ pāpaṃ smaraṇena vinaśyati
Meaning: is relieved of all sins committed in past seven lives.
एतेशां दर्शनादेव पातकं नैव तिष्ठति।
eteśāṃ darśanādeva pātakaṃ naiva tiṣṭhati
Meaning: One who visits these, gets all his wishes fulfilled
कर्मक्षयो भवेत्तस्य यस्य तुष्टो महेश्वराः॥
karmakṣayo bhavettasya yasya tuṣṭo maheśvarāḥ
Meaning: and one’s karma gets eradicated as Maheshwara gets satisfied to the worship.
Dwadash Jyotirlinga Praise Recite (द्वादश ज्योतिर्लिंग स्तुति): This Sanskrit Slok is very divine to recite for getting Shiva’s blessings. We have to recite it whenever you get time in morning and evening. It’s really a remarkable for inner peace.
सौराष्ट्रे सोमनाथं च श्रीशैले मल्लिकार्जुनम्।
उज्जयिन्यां महाकालमोंकारं ममलेश्वरम् ॥1॥
परल्यां वैजनाथं च डाकियन्यां भीमशंकरम्।
सेतुबन्धे तु रामेशं नागेशं दारुकावने ॥2॥
वारणस्यां तु विश्वेशं त्र्यम्बकं गौतमी तटे।
हिमालये तु केदारं ध्रुष्णेशं च शिवालये ॥3॥
एतानि ज्योतिर्लिंगानि सायं प्रातः पठेन्नरः।
सप्तजन्मकृतं पापं स्मरेण विनश्यति ॥4॥
॥ इति द्वादश ज्योतिर्लिंग स्तुति संपूर्णम् ॥