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What is a Jyotirlinga, and where is it found?

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15th October, 2019 07:20 IST

In Hinduism, Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh's name are taken collectively while referring to creation, sustenance and destruction, respectively. The Universe wouldn't exist without the holy trinity that performs the three diverse yet fundamental duties to keep the cycle of birth, life and death moving. Creation is attributed to Brahma and sustenance is credited to Vishnu, while Mahesh or Lord Shiva represents the infinite power, that is responsible for constructive destruction.

There's a beautiful legend that proves Shiva's infinite nature, and it also narrates the story of how Jyotirlingas came into being. Once, Lord Brahma and Vishnu got into an argument to prove each other's supremacy. This didn't go well with Shiva, who took the form of a beam of light. He threw a challenge to the duo stating that whoever finds the source or the end of the luminous pole, would be declared superior.

To take part in the contest of one-upmanship, Vishnu took the form of a boar and plunged downwards while Bramha flew upwards after transforming into a swan. The duo spends days but fails to find the source or the end. In the end, Brahma lies to Lord Shiva, stating that he found the point of origin while Vishnu conceded defeat. 

To punish Brahma for telling a lie, Lord Shiva cursed him, stating that he wouldn't be fortunate enough to be worshipped. Probably, this is the reason why there are fewer temples dedicated to Lord Brahma than those devoted to Vishnu and Shiva. For the uninitiated, the most famous temple dedicated to Lord Brahma is in Pushkar, Rajasthan. However, according to another version of the legend, after searching for days, both Brahma and Vishnu conceded defeat after learning about Shiva's infinite form.

Shiva first took the Linga form on the fourteenth day in the month of Phalguna / Magha in the Hindu calendar. Hence, this day is known as Maha Shivratri. 

Jyotirlinga means the luminous beam that emits light. According to the ancient texts, there are as many as 64 Jyotirlingas, but twelve are very famous. These Lingas are Swayambhus, meaning the self-originated ones. One can find the Jyotirlingas in the following places:

Somnath near Veraval, Gujarat
Nageshvara in Dwarka, Gujarat
Mahakaleshwar in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh
Omkareshwar in Madhya Pradesh
Mallikarjuna in Srisailam, Andhra Pradesh
Ramanatha Swamy in Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu
Kedarnath in Rudraprayag, Uttarakhand
Bhimashankar in Maharashtra
Trayambakeshwar in Nashik, Maharashtra
Grishneshwar in Aurangabad, Maharashtra
Baidyanath in Deoghar, Jharkhand
Vishwanath in Kashi (Varanasi), Uttar Pradesh

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