A Jyotirlinga is the radiant sign that represents Shiva. In all there are twelve Jyotirlinga Kshetras in India that are held in high reverence in Sanatan Dharma.Shiv Mahapurana says that once an argument took place between Vishnu and Brahma regarding supremacy. When they reached Shiva for a solution,Shiva pierced the three worlds as a huge endless pillar of light and asked them to find its end. While Vishnu went downwards to find the end,Brahma went upwards. On the way, Brahma convinced Ketaki flower to tell a lie in his support. While Vishnu came back empty-handed, Brahma lied that he had found the end. He produced Ketaki flower as a witness.Angered Shiva cursed Brahma that he would have no place in ceremonies
while Vishnu would be worshipped till the end of eternity.The Jyotirlinga Mandirs are, thus, those places where Shiva appeared as a fiery column of light. Each of these are considered a different manifestation of Shiva and have a story behind their origin. In all these Mandirs, the Shivalingam represents the infinite column of light that is symbolic of the infinite nature of Shiva.Two of the most famous Jyotirlingas are Kedarnath and Somnath, both in North and North West India.
Somnath is believed to be the first of the twelve Jyotirlingas. It is located on the Western Coast of Gujarat on the ancient Triveni Sangam of three rivers-Kapila, Hiran and Saraswati.Legends says that Chandra (Som/ Moon) married 27 daughters
(Nakshatras) of Daksha Prajapati. Out of all his wives, he was more partial towards Rohini. Seeing his other daughters sad, Daksha became angry and cursed Chandra to be inflicted with skin disease.
Chandra, then, constructed a Shilling at the Prabhas Teerth and prayed to Shiva for forgiveness. Shiva gave Chandra a boon that he would lose one Kala (shade) every day and decrease in size for 15 days only to grow back in next 15 days. Shiva stayed here and came to be known as Somnath.
There is a belief that the Shilling was hidden within the hollowness of Syamantak Mani believed to have magnetic properties which enabled the Shivlinga to remain suspended in mid-air.The Somnath Mandir has withstood several destructions in the past. It was looted and destroyed as many as seventeen times. The present structure
was constructed by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel between 1947-1951.
The journey to Kedarnath Jyotirlinga is, perhaps, the toughest out of the twelve Jyotirlingas. Situated in the high mountains of Uttarakhand. It is one of the most important Dhams amongst the Chota Char Dham.The Mandir is open only between the end of April (Akshay Tritiya) to Kartik Purnima (autumn full moon, usually November) every year. Duringthe winters, the vigrahas from Kedarnath are brought to Ukhimath and worshipped there for six months.Legend says that after the Mahabharata war, the Pandavas needed to absolve themselves form the sin of killing their own relatives. This was possible only after the darshan of Shiva. So they sought Shiva everywhere who hid from their view. When the Pandavas reached Gauri Kund in the Himalayas, Shiva took the form of a bull but Bhima started chasing him.Shiva went underground but Bhima managed to get hold of his hind part.The hump of the bull remained in Kedarnath, navel emerged in Madhya-Maheshwar, arms appeared in Tunganath , face in Rudranath and hair in
Kalpeshwar. These are collectively called Panch Kedar (five sacred places).
The Mandir at Kedarnath was, then, built by the Pandavas. Later restructuring was done under the guidance of Adi Shankaracharya Ji in 8th C AD. The present structure has been built using massive stone slabs.Before the Garbha Griha, there is a Hall with the images of Devi Parvati and the five Pandavas. At the entrance, a huge Nandi is present that is worshipped before entering the main Mandir.In Sanatan Dharma, Jyotirlingas are held in high esteem. It is believed that the mere reciting of names of the Jyotirlingas can help eliminate all sins.
Since time immemorial, these Jyotirlingas are the centre of deep faith and reverence.
ARTICLE BY: JAYA UPADHYAYA