Thursday, March 20, 2014

Bhimashankar Jyothirlingam

Bhimashankar Temple
Bhimashankar Temple
Bhimashankar Jyotirlinga is situated in the north of Pune, on the Sahayadri, by the banks of the river Bhima and 50-km north west of Khed, near Pune in Maharashtra. Bhima Shankar Temple lies on the banks of the river Bhima. Bhimashankar is also the source of the river Bhima, which flows southeast and merges with the Krishna River near Raichur. The other Jyotirling shrines in Maharashtra are Tryambakeshwar and Grishneshwar.
It is from here that the Bhima River flows. It is believed that Lord Shiva was pleased by the devotion of a king named Bhimak of the sun Dynasty and is called the Jyotirlinga in the place. But according to the Shiv Purana the Bhimashankar Jyotirlinga is situated on the Mountain Brahmapur, district Kamrup of Assam. Lord Shiva had incarnated so that he could destroy the demons and protect his devotees and for the welfare of one and all.

The Temple
The Bhimashankara temple is a composite of old and the new structures and is built in the Nagara style of architecture. It is a modest temple yet graceful temple and it dates back to mid 18th century. The shikhara of the temple was built by Nana Phadnavis. The great Maratha ruler Shivaji is also said to have made endowments to this temple to facilitate the carrying out, of worship services. As with other Shiva temples in this area, the sanctum is at a lower level.

Although the structure here is fairly new, the shrine Bhimashankaram (and the Bhimarathi river) have been referred to in literature dating back to the 13th century CE. Saint Jnaneshwar is said to have visited Tryambakeshwar and Bhimashankar.

Other temples and shrines: There is a shrine to Kamalaja near the Bhimashankara temple. Kamalaja is an incarnation of Parvati, who aided Shiva in his battle against Tripuraasura. Kamalajaa was worshipped with offerings of lotus flowers by Bhrama. Shaakini and Daakini the Shivaganas who helped Shiva in the battle against the demon are also honored and worshipped here.

The Mokshakund thirtha is located 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.

There was a demon Tripurasura who did penance in the jungle of Bhimashankar very long ago i.e. in Tretayug, to please Lord Shiva in order to achieve the gift of immortality. Lord shiva, who is specially known for his kindness towards his devotees, was pleased with Tripurasura's commitment towards him. So as usual, he blessed him with the power of immortality with a condition that, "He should strive in the best interest of people, or he may be sued permanently for violating the condition."

With the flow of time, Tripurasura forgot the condition to which he was abided, and eventually started harassing people as well as other deities. There was a chaos for which all the deities approached Lord Shiva for remedy.

Thus in order to sue Tripurasura, Lord Shiv prayed to Goddess Parvati (Kamalaja Mata) in order to help him to accomplish this task. Accordingly Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati underwent a new form which is popularly known as "Ardha-Narya-Nateshwar" and killed Tripurasura on Kartik Pournima which is known as "Tripurari Pornima".

After the death of Tripurasura his wives (Dakini and Shakini) went to Lord Shiva with a question of their existence without Tripurasura. Thus Lord Shiva blessed both of them, with the power of immortality which he did to Tripurasura. Henceforth the realm Bhimashankar is known as "Dakinyam Bhimashankaram". 

How to reach Bhimashankar Temple
  • By Road :Bhimashankar is situated around 260 kms from Mumbai via Pune.From Pune You have to take the road that goes to Wada to reach Bhimashankar.
  • By Rail :The nearest Railhead is the Pune which is at a distance of 95 kilometres from Bhimashankar.
  • By Air :The nearest airport is the Pune Airport which is at a distance of 95 kilometres from Bhimashankar.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Nageswar jyotirling

Nageshwar Jyotirlinga
Nageshwar Jyotirlinga
Nageshwar Jyotirlinga is located on the route - from Dwarka to the Bet Dwarka (island), on the coast of Saurashtra in Gujarat. This holy place is also known as Nagnath.
Gulshan Kumar Charitable Trust has constructed a huge and attractive statue of Lord Shiva outside the temple. This 125 feet high and 25 feet broad statue is visible from a distance of 2 km.
Nageshwar Temple has simple but beautiful structure. It more or less looks like a new replica of Somanth Temple. After the main entrance gate there is a spacious hall or sabha mandap. On the right side of hall, you will find some stalls from where puja material, Prasad and silver model of Nag available for Offering. Main Jyotirlinga is placed in a beautiful and clean sanctum a little below the sabhamandap floor.

Legend Behind Nageshwar Temple
According to Shiv Purana, a Shiva devotee by name Supriya was attacked by a demon Daaruka while in a boat. The demon imprisoned him along with several others at his capital Daarukaavana where he resided with his wife Daaruki. Supriya advised all prisoners to recite the mantra ‘Aum Namaha Shivaya’. When Daruk came to know about this he ran to kill Supriya. Instantly Lord Shiva appeared in the form of a Jyotirlingam and vanquished the demon with the Paasupata Astram.

This Jyotirlinga manifestation of Shiva is worshipped as Nageswara. Two other sites in India, one near Audhgram near Purna in Andhra Pradesh and another near Almora in Uttar Pradesh also enshrine temples to Nageswara Jyotirlingam. According to the Shiv Purana, any one who ever with devotion reads the birth and greatness of this Jyotirlinga shall beget all material happiness and divine status in the end.

Significance of Jyotirlinga:
All jyotirlingas are symbol of immense faith and devotion and hold great mythological importance.According to The Puranas, by reciting the name of these; one can eliminate all the sins. The devotee becomes enlightened, calm, faithful and pure.
Saurashtra Somnatham Cha Shrishaile Mallikarjunam ||
Ujjainyam Mahakalomkare Mammaleshwaram ||
Parlyam Vaijnatham Cha Dakinyam Bheem Shankaram ||
Setu Bandhe Tu Ramesham Nagesham Daruka Vane ||
Varanasya Tu Vishwesham Tribakam Gautamitate ||
Himalaye Tu Kedaram Ghurmesham Cha Shivalaye ||
Aetani Jyotirlingani Sayam Prataha Pathennaraha ||
Sapta Janma Kritam Papam Smaranen Vinashyati ||
It is said that one who recites these 12 names regularly in the morning and evening he washes all the sins committed in the previous 7 births as well as attains power.

How to reach : Nageshwar Jyotirlinga is located near Dwarka, Gujarat. The distance between Dwarka and Nageshwar is merely 16 km. It is very easily accessible by airways, railways and roadways.

 By train : The nearest railways station is Dwarka/ Okha. Being considered as one of the Char Dham Dwarka is easily accessible from Jamnagar, Mumbai (945 km), Rajkot (270 km) and Ahmedabad (453 km).

By air : Jamnagar (146 Kms) and Rajkot (225 Kms) are the nearby Airports.  Regular flights from Mumbai International Airport are offered for Jamnagar from where Taxi cabs and buses are easily available to Dwarka and Nageshwar.

By Road:Gujarat’s superb State Highway connects Nageshwar and Dwarka with other towns of the state. Private Travel agencies offer conducted tour to Nageshwar and Dwarka whereas The State Transport Corporation provides frequent buses and luxury coaches from all over the state.

Vaidyanath jyotirling

Vaidyanath Temple
Vaidyanath Temple
Vaidyanath Temple, also called Vaijnath Temple and Baidyanth Temple is located at Deogarh in the Santal Parganas region of Bihar in the south west of Keeul Station. Baidyanath shrine is revered as one of the twelve Jyotirlingams of Shiva. It may be noted that some schools of thought believe Vaidyanath near Parali in Andhra Pradesh to be the Vaidyanatha Jyotirlingam.

Devotees of Lord Shiva believe that by sincere worship of Vaijnath Jyotirlinga a person is relieved of all worries and miseries in life. It is also said that by worshipping in the shrine a person attains Moksha and all types of happiness. As a tradition, devotees carry ‘Kanwars’ on their shoulders and complete their travel here.

Vaidyanath is also considered to be one of the 52 Shakti Pitha shrines of Sati. It is believed that the heart of Sati fell here, when her half burnt body being carried by Shiva at the end of Daksha's yagna  was chopped to pieces by Vishnu's discus.

Structure of Vaidyanath Jyotirlinga
Vaidyanath Temple at Deogarh houses a spacious courtyard bound by stone walls. In the temple complex are twenty-two other temples. The Baijnath or Vaidyanath temple faces east. The top of the Shiva Lingam is slightly broken, keeping with the legend that it chipped away when Ravana tried to uproot it. Near the temple is the Shivaganga Lake. 

As per Shiv Mahapuran, once Brahma (the Hindu God of creation) and Vishnu (the Hindu God of saving) had an argument in terms of supremacy of creation. To test them, Shiva pierced the three worlds as a huge endless pillar of light, the jyotirlinga. Vishnu and Brahma split their ways to downwards and upwards respectively to find the end of the light in either directions. Brahma lied that he found out the end, while Vishnu conceded his defeat. Shiva appeared as a second pillar of light and cursed Brahma that he would have no place in ceremonies while Vishnu would be worshipped till the end of eternity. The jyotirlinga is the supreme partless reality, out of which Shiva partly appears. The jyothirlinga shrines, thus are places where Shiva appeared as a fiery column of light.  Originally there were believed to be 64 jyothirlingas while 12 of them are considered to be very auspicious and holy. Each of the twelve jyothirlinga sites take the name of the presiding deity – each considered different manifestation of Shiva.  At all these sites, the primary image is lingam representing the beginningless and endless Stambha pillar, symbolizing the infinite nature of Shiva. The twelve jyothirlinga are Somnath in Gujarat, Mallikarjuna at Srisailam in Andra Pradesh, Mahakaleswar at Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh, Omkareshwar in Madhya Pradesh, Kedarnath in Himalayas, Bhimashankar in Maharastra, Viswanath at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Triambakeshwar in Maharastra, Vaidyanath at Deogarh in Jharkand, Nageswar at Dwarka in Gujarat, Rameshwar at Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu and Grishneshwar at Aurangabad in Maharastra.

According to the stories narrated in the Shiva Purana, it was in the Treta yuga that the demon Ravana, king of Lanka, felt that his capital would not be perfect and free from enemies unless Mahadeva (Shiva) stays there forever. He paid continuous meditation to Mahadeva. Ultimately Shiva got pleased and permitted him to carry his lingam with him to Lanka. Mahadeva advised him not to place or transfer this lingam to anyone. There should not be a break in his journey to Lanka. If he deposits the lingam anywhere on the earth, in the course of his journey, it would remain fixed at that place forever. Ravana was happy as he was taking his return journey to Lanka.

The other gods objected to this plan; if Shiva went to Lanka with Ravana, then Ravana would become invincible and his evil and anti-vedic deeds would threaten the world.

On his way back from Mount Kailash, it was time for Ravana to perform sandya-vandana and he could not carry out sandya-vandha with Shiva linga in his hand and therefore searched for someone who could hold it for him. Ganesh then appeared as a sheperd who was rearing sheeps nearby. Ravana requested Ganesh pretending as shepherd to hold the linga while he completes sandya-vandana and also guided him not to place the linga on ground at any movement. Ganesha warned Ravana about leaving the linga on the bank of the river and walking away if he doesnot return soon. Vishnu, pretending to be vexed by Ravena’s delay, set the linga down on earth. The moment linga was kept down, it got fixed to the ground. When Ravana after returning from sandya-vandana tried to move the linga, but he could not. Ravan failed miserably in his attempt to uproot the linga. The Gods were happy with Shiva linga not reaching Ravana’s place.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Holi - Festival of Color

Holi Celebration
Holi, is a spring festival. It is celebrated in the month of Phalguna, as the lunar month is locally known. It is the month of March that corresponds with this time of celebration. Though originated in the northern part of India, Holi has assumed a national flavor over the ages. Despite being a Hindu festival, it is now regarded as a secular event. For, the entire nation takes the day off, as people, irrespective of race, culture and ethnic background, enjoy the spirit of Holi. Cities and suburbs, towns and villages all come alive to catch the frenzy of March madness with a range of colors.

A Hindu festival, Holi has various legends associated with it. The foremost is the legend of demon King Hiranyakashyap who demanded everybody in his kingdom to worship him but his pious son, Prahlad became a devotee of Lord Vishnu. Hiranyakashyap wanted his son to be killed. He asked his sister Holika to enter a blazing fire with Prahlad in her lap as Holika had a boon which made he immune to fire. Story goes that Prahlad was saved by lord himself for his extreme devotion and evil minded Holika was burnt to ashes, for her boon worked only when she entered the fire alone.

Since that time, people light a bonfire, called Holika on the eve of Holi festival and celebrate the victory of good over evil and also the triumph of devotion to god. Children take special delight in the tradition and this has another legend attached to it. It says that there was once an ogress Dhundhi who used to trouble children in the kingdom of Prithu. She was chased away by children on the day of Holi. Therefore, children are allowed to play pranks at the time of 'Holika Dahan'.

Some also celebrate the death of evil minded Pootana. The ogress tried to Lord Krishna as an infant by feeding it poisonous milk while executing the plan of Kansa, Krishna's devil uncle. However, Krishna sucked her blood and brought her end. Some who view the origin of festivals from seasonal cycles believe that Pootana represents winter and her death the cessation and end of winter.

The celebration of Holi:
On the day of the festival, people get out in the street early in the morning with colored powder, colored water with sprayers and water filled balloons. They throw colors at each other and shout greetings like 'Holi hai'. The streets, building and people all get painted in gulal (colored powder). In many places processions are held and people sing and dance all the way. The joyous celebration continues till the mid day and in afternoon or evening people visit friends and relatives to distribute sweets and gather for feasts.

The celebration also signifies the onset of spring as the nature starts changing its colors and flowers bloom. It announces the beginning of the agricultural season in this part of the world.

Popular Dishes of Holi:
Like most of the Indian festivals, food plays a very curial role in Holi. Sweet meats as well as snacks are prepared with great care keeping the festive mood of the celebration in mind.
Some of the most popular Holi dishes are gujias, laddoos, mathri, kheer, pedas, dahi vada or dahi bhalla, chaat, and pakoras. Holi would remain incomplete without the intoxicating 'bhang ke sarbaat'. You can now find many interesting Holi recipes online.