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Mahashivaratri Festival

Mahashivaratri Festival or the The Night of Shiva is celebrated with devotion and religious fervor in honor of Lord Shiva, one of the deities of Hindu Trinity. Shivaratri falls on the moonless 14th night of the new moon in the Hindu month of Phalgun, which corresponds to the month of February - March in English Calendar. Celebrating the festival of Shivaratri devotees observe day and night fast and perform ritual worship of Shiva Lingam to appease Lord Shiva.

Legends of Mahashivratri
There are various interesting legends related to the festival of Maha Shivaratri. According to one of the most popular legends, Shivaratri marks the wedding day of Lord Shiva and Parvati. Some believe that it was on the auspicious night of Shivaratri that Lord Shiva performed the Tandava, the dance of the primal creation, preservation and destruction. Another popular Shivratri legend stated in Linga Purana states that it was on Shivaratri that Lord Shiva manifested himself in the form of a Linga. Hence the day is considered to be extremely auspicious by Shiva devotees and they celebrate it as Mahashivaratri - the grand night of Shiva.

Traditions and Customs of Shivaratri


Various traditions and customs related to Shivaratri Festival are dutifully followed by the worshippers of Lord Shiva. Devotees observe strict fast in honor of Shiva, though many go on a diet of fruits and milk some do not consume even a drop of water. Devotees strongly believe that sincere worship of Lord Shiva on the auspicious day of Shivaratri, absolves a person of sins and liberates him from the cycle of birth and death. Shivaratri is considered especially auspicious for women. While married women pray for the well being of their husbands unmarried women pray for a husband like Lord Shiva, who is regarded as the ideal husband. To mark the Shivratri festival, devotees wake up early and take a ritual bath, preferably in river Ganga. After wearing fresh new clothes devotees visit the nearest Shiva temple to give ritual bath to the Shiva Lingum with milk, honey, water etc. On Shivaratri, worship of Lord Shiva continues all through the day and night. Every three hours priests perform ritual pooja of Shivalingam by bathing it with milk, yoghurt, honey, ghee, sugar and water amidst the chanting of Om Namah Shivaya and ringing of temple bells. Nightlong vigil or jaagran is also observed in Shiva temples where large number of devotees spend the night singing hymns and devotional songs in praise of Lord Shiva. It is only on the following morning that devotee break their fast by partaking prasad offered to the deity.

Shivaratri Rituals
Devotees of Lord Shiva observe the Shivaratri Festival by following the prescribed rituals with sincerity and devotion. All through the day, devotees abstain from eating food and break their fast only the next morning, after the nightlong worship. Ritual baths of Shivalinga in the numerous Shiva temples by Shiva worshipper, mainly women, is another significant feature of Shivratri customs and traditions. Devotees strongly believe that ritual worship of Lord Shiva on the auspicious day of Shivaratri absolves them of past sins and they are blessed with Moksha.

Rituals Observed on a Shivaratri Morning


As a tradition devotees wake up early in the morning of the Mahashivratri day and take a ritual sunrise bath, preferably in the holy waters of river Ganga. They also offer prayers to the Sun God, Vishnu and Shiva as a part of a purification rite observed on all-important Hindu festivals. After wearing fresh new clothes devotees visit the nearest Shiva Temple to give the customary bath to the Shivalinga.

On a Shivratri day, Shiva temples are thronged by devotees, mainly women, who come to perform the traditional Shivalinga pooja and seek blessings from the god. At times there is so much rush in the temples that devotees have to wait for their turn to observe pooja. At their turn for worship, devotees circumambulate the Shivalinga, three or seven times, and then pour water over it. Some also pour milk. Sounds of bell and shouts of Shankarji ki Jai or (Hail Shiva) reverberate in the temple premises.

Ritual Bath of Shivalinga


Following the rituals prescribed in the Shiva Purana, every three hours, Shivalingam is given a special bath with milk, yoghurt, honey, sandalwood paste and rose water. Puja, meditation and chanting of Om Namah Shivaya accompany the ritual bath. Following the bath, vermilion paste is applied on the linga. Traditionally, leaves of a forest tree Aegle marmelos (bilwa, maredu, wood apple) are used for Shiva puja. Thereafter, Bilwa leaves, which have to be a stalk with three leaves, is kept on top of the Shivalinga. Ber or jujube fruit is a special offering to the god on this day. Beetle leaves are also offered by some. Some also offer bilwa leaves in the belief that the Goddess Lakshmi resides in them. Others believe it is offered for its cooling effects on the hot-tempered deity. Many devotees also decorate the linga with flowers and garlands and offer incense sticks and fruit.

Significance of Puja Items


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According to the Shiva Purana, there is a special significance of the six essential puja items used in the Shiva worship. Bathing of Shivalinga with water, milk and honey and wood apple or bel leaves added to it, represents purification of the soul. The vermilion paste applied on the linga after the ritual bath represents virtue. Offering of fruits symbolizes longevity and gratification of desires. Burning of incense sticks yields wealth. The lighting of the lamp symbolizes attainment of knowledge. Offering of betel leaves marks satisfaction with worldly pleasures.

All-Night Shiva Worship


Worship of Lord Shiva continues all through the night on Shivaratri Festival. Devotees stay awake all night and spend the night in Shiva temples in worship of Lord Shiva. Singing of hymns and verses in praise and devotion of Lord Shiva besides the intense chanting of Om Namah Shivay, the mantra that is said free people from all their sins, continue through the night on Shivaratri. Special worship of Shiva by priests continues through the nightlong prayer vigil. During this ritual worship, Lord Shiva is offered special food made from the fruits of the season, root vegetables and coconuts. Those observing the Shivaratri Fast break their fast the next morning by consuming the prasad offered to Shiva.

Significance of Shivratri
Festival of Mahashivaratri is the most important festival for the millions of devotees of Lord Shiva. The festival has been accorded lot of significance in Hindu mythology. It says that a devotee who performs sincere worship of Lord Shiva on the auspicious day of Shivratri is absolved of sins and attains moksha.

Significance of Shivaratri in Hinduism


Festival of Mahashivaratri has tremendous significance in Hinduism. According to sacred scriptures, ritual worship of Lord Shiva on Shivratri festival that falls on the 14th day of the dark fortnight in the month of Phalgun pleases Lord Shiva the

most. This fact is said to have been declared by Lord Shiva himself, when his consort Parvati asked him as to which ritual performed by his devotees pleases him the most. Even till date, devotees of Lord Shiva perform the ritual worship of Shivratri with care and devotion. They observe day and nigh fast and give sacred bath to Shiva Linga with honey, milk, water etc. Hindus consider it extremely auspicious to worship Lord Shiva on a Shivaratri as it is believed that worship of Lord Shiva with devotion and sincerity absolves a devotee of past sins. The devotee reaches the abode of Lord Shanker and lives there happily. He is also liberated from the cycle of birth and death and attains moksha or salvation.

Significance of Shivaratri for Women


Mahashivratri Festival is also considered to be an extremely significant festival by women. Married and unmarried women observe fast and perform Shiva Puja with sincerity to appease Goddess Parvati who is also regarded as Gaura - one who bestows marital bliss and long and prosperous married life. Unmarried women also pray for a husband like Lord Shiva who is regarded as the ideal husband.

Marriage of Shiva and Shakti


The legend of marriage of Shiva and Shakti is one the most important legends related to the festival of Mahashivaratri. The story tells us how Lord Shiva got married a second time to Shakti, his divine consort. According to legend of Shiva and Shakti, the day Lord Shiva got married to Parvati is celebrated as Shivaratri - the Night of Lord Shiva.

The Legend
Legend goes that once Lord Shiva and his wife Sati or Shakti were returning from sage Agastyas ashram after listening to Ram Katha or story of Ram. On their way through a forest, Shiva saw Lord Rama searching for his wife Sita who had been kidnapped by Ravana, the King of Lanka. Lord Shiva bowed his head in reverence to Lord Rama. Sati was surprised by Lord Shivas behavior and inquired why he was paying obeisance to a mere mortal. Shiva informed Sati that Rama was an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Sati, however, was not satisfied with the reply and Lord asked her to go and verify the truth for herself. Using her power to change forms, Sati took the form of Sita appeared before Rama. Lord Rama immediately recognized the true identity of the Goddess and asked, "Devi, why are you alone, where's Shiva?" At this, Sati realized the truth about Lord Ram. But, Sita was like a mother to Lord Shiva and since Sati took the form of Sita her status had changed. From that time, Shiva detached himself from her as a wife. Sati was sad with the change of attitude of Lord Shiva but she stayed on at Mount Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva. Later, Satis father Daksha organised a yagna, but did not invite Sati or Shiva as he had an altercation with Shiva in the court of Brahma. But, Sati who wanted to attend the Yagna, went even though Lord Shiva did not appreciate the idea. To hre great anguish, Daksha ignored her presence and did not even offer Prasad for Shiva. Sati felt humiliated and was struck with profound grief. She jumped into the yagna fire and immolated herself. Lord Shiva became extremely furious when he heard the news of Satis immolation. Carrying the body of Sati, Shiva began to perform Rudra Tandava or the dance of destruction and wiped out the kingdom of Daksha. Everybody was terrified as Shivas Tandava had the power to destroy the entire universe. In order to calm Lord Shiva, Vishnu severed Sati's body into 12 pieces and threw them on earth. It is said that wherever the pieces of Shaktis body fell, there emerged a Shakti Peetha, including the Kamaroopa Kamakhya in Assam and the Vindhyavasini in UP. Lord Siva was now alone undertook rigorous penance and retired to the Himalayas. Sati took a re-birth as Parvati in

the family of God Himalaya. She performed penance to break Shivas meditation and win his attention. It is said that Parvati, who found it hard to break Shivas meditation seeked help of Kamadeva - the God of Love and Passion. Kaamadeva asked Parvati to dance in front of Shiva. When Parvati danced, Kaamadeva shot his arrow of passion at Shiva breaking his penance. Shiva became extremely infuriated and opening his third eye that reduced Kaamadeva to ashes. It was only after Kamadevas wife Ratis pleading that Lord Shiva agreed to revive Kaamadeva. Later, Parvati undertook severe penance to win over Shiva. Through her devotion and persuasion by sages devas, Parvati, also known as Uma, was finally able to lure Shiva into marriage and away from asceticism. Their marriage was solemnized a day before Amavasya in the month of Phalgun. This day of union of God Shiva and Parvati is celebrated as Mahashivratri every year.

Another Version of the Legend


According to another version of the legend, Goddess Parvati performed tapas and prayers on the auspicious moonless night of Shivaratri to ward off any evil that may befall her husband. Since then, womenfolk began the custom of praying for the well being of their husbands and sons on Shivaratri day. Unmarried women pray for a husband like Shiva, who is considered to be the ideal husband.

Samudra Manthan
This very popular Shivaratri legend from Puranas explains why people stay awake all night on Shivaratri. Besides, it also tells us why Lord Shiva is also known as Neelakantha.

Legend Behind Samudra Manthan


Once Indra - the King of Gods, while riding on an elephant came across Durvasa Muni who offered him a special garland. Indra accepted the garland but put in on the trunk of the elephant. The elephant was irritated by the smell and it threw the garland on the floor. This enraged the sage as the garland was a dwelling of Sri (fortune) and was to be treated as prasada. Durvasa Muni cursed Indra and all devas to be bereft of all strength, energy, and fortune. In battles that followed this incident, devas were defeated and asuras (demons) led by Bali gained control of the universe. Devas sought help from Lord Vishnu who advised them to treat asuras in a diplomatic manner. Devas formed an alliance with asuras to jointly churn the ocean for the nectar of immortality and to share it among them. Lord Vishu told Devas that we would arrange that they alone obtain the nectar.

The Churning of the Ocean


The churning of the milk - ocean was an elaborate process. Mount Mandara was used as churning rod and Vasuki, the King of Serpents, became the churning rope. Lord Vishnu himself had to intercede in so many ways to aid the Devas. All kinds of herbs were cast into the ocean and many great beings and objects were produced from the ocean and were divided between asuras and gods. It is said that following things emerged from the Samudra Manthan:

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Sura or Varuni - Goddess and creator of wine Apsaras - various divine nymphs Kaustubha - a rare diamond said to be the most valuable jewel in the world Uchhaishravas - the divine white horse Kalpavriksha - the wish-granting tree Kamadhenu - the wish fulfilling cow

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Airavata - the white elephant Lakshmi - the Goddess of Fortune and Wealth. Vishnu and Her were reunited after having been separated for many ages.

Haalaa-Hala - the Poison


During the Sagar Manthan by the gods and demons, haalaa-hala, a pot of poison also came out of the ocean. This terrified the Gods and demons as the poison was so toxic that it effects would have wiped out the entire creation. On the advice of Lord Vishnu, Gods approached Lord Shiva for help and protection as only he could swallow it without being affected. On the request of gods and out of compassion for living beings, Lord Shiva drank the poison. However, Parvati - Lord Shivas consort pressed his neck so that the poison does not reach his stomach. Thus, it stayed in his throat neither going up nor going down and Shiva remained unharmed. The poison was so potent that it changed the color of Lord Mahadevas neck to blue. For this reason, Lord Shiva is also called Neelakantha (the bluenecked one) where Neela means blue and Kantha means neck or throat. As part of the therapy, doctors advised gods to keep Lord Shiva awake during the night. Thus, Gods kept a vigil in contemplation of Lord Shiva. To amuse Shiva and to keep him awake, the gods took turn performing various dances and playing music. As the day broke out, Lord Shiva, pleased with their devotion blessed them all. Shivaratri is the celebration of this event by which Shiva saved the world. Since then, on this day and night - devotees fast, keep vigil, sing glories of Lord and meditate.

Churning Out Divine Nectar


At last, Dhanvantari - the Divine Physician appeared with a pot of Amrita (nectar of immortality) in his skilful hands. Fierce fighting ensued between devas and asuras for the nectar. To protect the nectar from asuras, devas hid the pot of nectar at four places on the earth - Prayag (Allahabad), Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik. At each of these places, a drop of the nectar spilled from the pot and since then, it is believed that these places acquired mystical power. Grand Kumbh Mela is celebrated at the four places after every 12 year for this reason. Eventually, Lord Vishnu took the form of a beautiful woman, Mohini. While her beauty bewildered the asuras, Mohini seized the nectar and returned it to the Devas, who drank it immediately

Legend of Shiva Linga


The legend of Shiva Linga or Lingodbhavamurthy is deeply related to Mahashivaratri. The legend narrates the story of vain search by Brahma and Vishnu to discover the Aadi (beginning) and the Antha (end) of Lord Shiva. The legend thus proves the supremacy of Lord Mahadeva over other Hindu Gods and explains why the lingam is believed to be one of the most potent emblems in Hindu ideals. The story is stated in the three of the puranas - the Kurma Purana, the Vayu Purana and Shiva Purana

The Legend
According to Puranas, once the other two of the triads of Hindu Gods, Brahma and Vishnu were fighting over each others prowess. Horrified at the intensity of the battle, the other gods asked Shiva to intervene. To make them realize the futility of their fight, Lord Shiva assumed the form of a flaming Linga in between Brahma and Vishnu and challenged both of them by asking them to measure the gigantic Linga (phallic symbol of Lord Shiva). Awestruck by its magnitude, Brahma and Vishnu decided to find one end each to establish supremacy over the other.

Lord Brahma took the form of a swan and went upwards while Lord Vishnu assumed the form of Varaha - a boar and went into the earth towards nether land. Both searched for thousands of miles but neither could find the end. On his journey upward, Brahma came across Ketaki flower. Exhausted and bewildered with his search to find the uppermost limit of fiery column, Brahma made Ketaki assent to lie that he had seen the top of the column where the flower had previously resided. Accompanied by his accomplice, Brahma confronted Vishnu and asserted that he had indeed discovered the origin of the cosmic column. At this point, the central part of the pillar split open and Shiva revealed himself in his full glory. Overawed, both Brahma and Vishnu bowed before him accepted lord Shivas supremacy. Lord Shiva also explained to Brahma and Vishnu that both of them were born out of him and that the three were then separated out into three different aspects of divinity. However, Lord Shiva was angry with Brahma for making a false claim. The Lord cursed Brahma that no one would ever pray to him. (This legend explains why there is hardly any Brahma temple of significance in India.) Lord Shiva also punished the Ketaki flower for testifying falsely and banned her from being used as an offering for any worship. Since it was on the 14th day in the dark fortnight of the month of Phalguna that Shiva first manifested himself in the form of a Linga, the day is extremely auspicious and is celebrated as Mahashivaratri - the grand night of Shiva. To celebrate the occasion, devotees of Lord Shiva fast during the day and pray to the Lord throughout the night. It is said that worshipping of Lord Shiva on Shivaratri bestows one with happiness and prosperity.

The Legend of Lubdhaka


The legend of Lubdhaka is deeply related to Mahashivaratri and explains the popular custom of all-night worship of Lord Shiva on the festival. As a tradition devotees recite the legend of Lubdhaka while they observe fast in worship of Lord Shiva on Mahashivaratri. And, it is only after observing an all night fast that devotees eat the prasad offered to Shiva. There is yet another version of this legend, which is popular as the legend of King Chitrabhanu. This legend has been narrated by Bhishma in Shanti Parva of the Mahabharata and has been discussed later in this article.

Story of Lubdhaka
Story goes that Lubdhaka - a poor tribal man and a devout worshipper of Lord Shiva once went into the deep forests to collect firewood. As the darkness engulfed the jungle, Lubdhaka lost his way and could not find his way home. He became extremely terrified as deep growls of animals began to fill the jungle. Seeking protection till daybreak, Lubdhaka climbed the nearest bel tree and sought safety and shelter in its branches. Since Lubdhaka was perched on the branch of a tree he was afraid that if he dozed he might fall off from the tree. To keep himself awake all night, Lubdhaka decided to pluck one leaf from the bheel tree and drop it while chanting the name of Shiva. By sunrise, the devout tribal realized that he had dropped thousands of leaves on to a Shiva Lingam, which he had not seen in the darkness. Lubdhakas all night worship pleased Lord Shiva and by his divine grace tigers and other wild animals went away. Thus, Lubdhaka not only survived but was also rewarded with divine bliss. According to Puranas, ever since that day, the story of the tribal Lubdhaka has been recited every year on the night of Mahashivaratri. This popular legend also form the basis of the popular custom of offering bhel (Aegle marmelos) leaves to Lord Shiva on Shivaratri.

Different Version of the Legend - Story of King Chitrabhanu


Shanti Parva of the Mahabharata, talks about the legend of King Chitrabhanu observing the festival. The story, as told by Bhishma while resting on the bed of arrows and discoursing on Dharma, says that once King Chitrabhanu of the Ikshvaku dynasty who ruled over the whole of Jambudvipa was observing a fast with his wife, it being the day of Maha Shivaratri. The sage Ashtavakra came on a visit to the court of the king and inquired the king about reasons for keeping a fast. Answering the sages query, King Chitrabhanu who had the gift of remembering the incidents from his previous birth said that in the past birth he was a hunter in Varanasi and his name was Suswara. His livelihood was to kill and sell birds and animals. One day while he was roaming through the woods in search of animals, he was overtaken by the darkness of the night. To seek shelter from wild animals, Suswarna seeked shelter in the branches of nearest tree, which happened to a bael. Suswarna has also shot a deer that day but had no time to take it to home. So he bundled it up and tied it to a branch on the tree. Hunger and thirst tormented Suswarna and kept him awake all night. Feeling sad that his poor wife and children were starving and must be anxiously waiting for his return, Suswarna began to shed profuse tears. To pass away time, Suswarna engaged himself in plucking bael leaves and dropping them down onto the ground. Having passed the night thus, next morning, Suswarna sold the deer and bought some food for himself and his family. But, the moment he was about to break his fast, a stranger came to him begging for food. Humbly, Suswarna served food to stranger first and then had his own. Later, at the time of his death, Suswarna saw two messengers of Lord Shiva who were sent down to conduct his soul to the abode of Lord Shiva. It was then that Suswarna learnt for the great merit he had earned by the unconscious worship of Lord Shiva during the night of Shivaratri. The divine messengers told Suswarna that there was a Lingam at the bottom of the tree on which he spent the night. The leaves he dropped therefore fell on the Lingam. While his tears, which he had shed out of sorrow for his family, fell on the lingam and washed it. Besides, he had observed a fast all day and all night. Thus, Suswarna had unconsciously worshiped the Lord Shiva. Concluding the story, the King said that he lived in the abode of the Lord and enjoyed divine bliss for long ages. Now, he has reborn as Chitrabhanu.

The Legend of Ganga


The legend of Gangas descent from the heavens into the earth has been narrated in the Hindu mythological epic of Ramayana. The legend explains the popular custom of giving bath to Shiv Linga on Shivaratri festival.

The Legend
Once King Sagar - the ruler of Ayodhya and an ancestor of Lord Rama successfully performed the Ashwamedha Yagya for 99 times. Each time, he sent the horse around the earth it returned to the kingdom unchallenged. However, Indra - the King of Gods became jealous of King Sagars success. So when King Sagar performed the sacrifice of the 100th time, Indra kidnapped and hid the Yagya horse in the hermitage of Kapila Muni In search of the horse, sixty thousand princes from Ayodhya reached Kapil Munis hermitage. They mistook the sage to be the abductor and attacked him. An enraged Kapila Muni burnt the 60,000 princes to ashes. On hearing about

the plight of his father and uncles, King Bhagiratha - one of the grandchildren of King Sagar requested Kapila Muni to grant a solution to the problem. Kapila Muni advised that the waters of the river Ganga would miraculously bring back the dead princes to life.

King Bhagirath left his kingdom and began to mediate for the salvation of the souls of his ancestors. It is said that
Bhagirath observed a penance to Brahma for a thousand years, requesting Ganga to come down to earth from heaven and wash over his ancestor's ashes to release them from a curse and allow them to go to heaven. Pleased with the devotion, Brahma granted Bhagiraths wish but told him to pray to Lord Shiva, as he alone could sustain the weight of her descent. Accordingly, Lord Shiva held out his thick matted hair to catch the river as she descended. The meandering through Shivas lock softened Gangas journey to the earth and the holy waters of river Ganga thus washed away the ashes of Bhagiraths ancestors. A modified version of the legend says, what reached the earth were just sprinkles from Lord Shivas hair. The Ganga, thus, became an attribute of Shiva. This manifestation of Shiva is known as Gangadhara. The legend is re-enacted by devotees of Lord Shiva as they give a bath to the linga during worship. And for this reason, many devotees prefer to take a dip in the holy water of river Ganga on a Shivaratri day.

Lord Shiva's Assurance


The legend of Lord Shivas assurance explains the popularity of Shivaratri festival amongst the devotees. Besides, it also tells us why we observe fast in the name of the Lord and perform ceremonial baths on a Shivaratri day.

The Legend
Story goes that after creation was complete, Lord Shiva began to live on top of the mount Kailash with his consort Parvati. One day, Goddess Parvati asked Shiva that his devotees perform many rituals to please the Lord, but which one pleases him most. To this, Lord Shiva replied that the 14th night of the new moon, during the month of Phalgun is his favorite day. The day is celebrated as Shivaratri. On this day, devotees observe strict spiritual discipline and worship Shiva in four different forms during each of the four successive three-hour periods of the night. Lord further said that the devotees offer him bel leaves on the day and that those leaves were precious to him than the precious jewels and flowers. Explaining the right way of worshipping to Shiva, the Lord said, devotees should bathe me in the milk during the first period, in curd at the second, in clarified butter in the third and in honey in the fourth and the last period. Lord Shiva further added that next morning devotees must feed the Brahmins first and, only after following the prescribed ritual must he break the fast. Shiva further told Parvati that rituals of Shivaratri could not be compared with any other. Goddess Parvati became deeply impressed with Lord Shivas speech and she narrated it to her friends. Through them the word spread all over the creation. Hence, Shiva devotees began to celebrate Shivaratri by fasting and by performing the ceremonial baths and making an offering of bel leaves.

About Goddess Parvati


Goddess Parvati is regarded as the power and divine consort of Lord Shiva - the Destroyer. Like her consort Shiva, Goddess Parvati is said to have both mild and terrible aspects

Goddess Parvati is known by different names like Lalita, Uma, Gauri, Kali, Durga, Haimavati etc. Two of her fierce but very powerful forms are Durga (Goddess beyond reach) and Kali (Goddess of Destruction). As the mother of the universe, Parvati is known as Amba and Ambika, which means 'mother'. As Lalita, she represents the aspect of beauty.

Appearance of Goddess Parvati


When shown along with Shiva, Goddess Parvati has only two hands, the right one holding a blue lotus and the left hanging loosely by the side. When represented independently, Parvati Ma is shown with four hands, two hands holding red and blue lotuses and the other two exhibiting the varada and Abhaya mudras. Goddess Parvati has a charming personality. Married women adore Parvati for her happy married life. Picture of Lord Shiva, Parvathi and their sons Ganesha and Kartikeya depicts an ideal example of family unity and love.

Parvati as Sati or Dakshayani


According to Puranas, in her first incarnation, Parvati Devi was Sati or Dakshayani, the daughter of Daksa and was married to Lord Shiva. Once, Daksha performed a great yagna or sacrifice and insulted Lord Shiva by not inviting him or Sati. Even then, Sati went to attend the yagna. To her great disappointment, Daksha did not acknowledge her presence and did not offer prasad for Lord Shiva. Utterly depressed by the treatment meted out to her, Sati ended her life by igniting herself through the fire of yagna. After the death of Sati, Lord Shiva became very sad and depressed. He renounced the world and went into deep meditation in the snow-covered peaks of the Himalayas. Meanwhile, the demons lead by Taraka, rose from the netherworld and drove devas out of the heavens. The gods sought a warrior who would help them regain the celestial realm. Lord Brahma said, only Shiva can father such a warrior, but he is oblivious of the world. At the persistence of the Gods, Sati agreed to take a re-birth as Parvati, the daughter of Himavan and Mena. It was only after performing intense austerities that Goddess Parvathi succeeded in pleasing Shiva and making him accept her again as his consort.

The Divine Homemaker


With Parvati by his side, Shiva became a family man. Inspired by her beauty, Shiva became the fountainhead of the arts, dance and drama. But he did not abandon his ways as a hermit and continued to meditate. His carefree attitude and his refusal to shoulder household responsibilities sometimes angered Parvati. But then she would come to terms with his unconventional ways and make peace. The consequent marital bliss between Shakti and Shiva ensured harmony between Matter and Spirit and brought stability and peace to the cosmos. Parvati thus became Ambika, Goddess of the household, marriage, motherhood and family.

Ten Aspects of Parvati


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Given here are the ten aspects of Parvati, termed as Dasamahavidyas. These are the representations of transcendent knowledge and power. The first is Kali who is the goddess of time that destroys everything. The second one, Tara is the power of golden embryo from which the universe evolves. She also stands for void or the boundless space. The third one Sodasi literally means 'one who is sixteen years old. She is the personification of fullness and perfection.

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The fourth, Vidya Bhuvanevari represents the forces of the material world. The fifth one, Bhairavi stands for desires and temptations leading to destruction and death. The sixth Vidya Chinnamasta represents the continued state of self-sustenance of the created world in which is seen continuous self-destruction and self-renewal, in a cyclic order. She is a naked deity holding her own severed head in hand and drinking her own blood. Dhumavati, the seventh one personifies the destruction of the world by fire, when only smoke (dhuma) from its ashes remains. The eighth, Vidya Bagala is a crane - headed goddess. She represents the ugly side of living creatures like jealously, hatred and cruelty. Matangi, the ninth Vidya is the embodiment power of domination. The tenth and the last Vidya Kamala is the pure consciousness of the self, bestowing boons and allaying the fears of the supplicants. She is identified with Lakshmi, the Goddess of Fortune.

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Shiva Tandava
Lord Shiva is also known as Nataraj, the Dancing God. This divine art form is performed by Lord Shiva and his divine consort Goddess Parvati. The dance performed by Lord Shiva is known as Tandava. Shivas Tandava is a vigorous dance that is the source of the cycle of creation, preservation and dissolution. Tandava depicts his violent nature as the destroyer of the universe.

Characteristics of Tandava Dance


According to scholars, Characteristics of the Tandava Dance have been described in the fourth chapter of Bharat Munis Nata Shastra, which is referred to as fifth Veda and an expression of Lord Shivas eternal dance - Tandava. It says that Shivas Tandava is embellished with 108 karanas and the 32 anghaharas - the composite parts of the dance. Bharat Muni further says that Lord Shiva conceived the dance, as he was very much fond of dancing every evening. Shiva further mentioned that 108 karnas included in tandava could be employed in the course of dance, fight, and personal combats and in other special movements like strolling.

Types of Tandava
Some scholars believe that there are seven different types of Tandava. The tandava performed with joy is called Ananda Tandava and that which is performed in violent mood is called Rudra Tandava. The other types of tandava identified are Tripura Tandava, Sandhya Tandava, Samara Tandava, Kaali Tandava, Uma Tandava and Gauri Tandava. However, there are few people who believe that there are 16 types of Tandava.

Significance of Shiva's Tandava Nritya


According to religious scholars, the cosmic dance of Shiva, called 'Anandatandava,' meaning, the Dance of Bliss symbolizes the cosmic cycles of creation and destruction, as well as the daily rhythm of birth and death. The dance is a pictorial allegory of the five principle manifestations of eternal energy - creation, destruction, preservation, salvation, and illusion. According to learned scholar, Coomerswamy, the dance of Shiva also represents his five activities namely,

y y y y

'Shrishti' - creation, evolution 'Sthiti' - preservation, support 'Samhara' - destruction, evolution 'Tirobhava' - illusion

'Anugraha' - release, emancipation, grace

The overall temper of the image is paradoxical, uniting the inner tranquillity, and outside activity of Shiva.

Lasya
The dance performed by Goddess Parvati is known as Lasya. In Lasya, the movements are gentle, graceful and sometimes erotic. Some scholars call Lasya, the feminine version of Tandava. Lasya is of two kinds - Jarita Lasya and Yauvaka Lasya. According to the Puranas, Shiva dances a wild and vigorous (tandava) dance in the cremation grounds at night but dances a soft and graceful (lasya) dance in the tranquillity of the twilight.

Shiva Linga
Shiva Linga is the holy symbol of Lord Shiva that is considered sacred by the devotees of Lord Shiva. The word, Lingum in Sanskrit means, symbol. Shiva Lingum, therefore means symbol of Lord Shiva and is therefore considered most sacred by Shaivaites. Siva Linga has been worshipped in Hinduism since ages. Worship of Shiva Linga is regarded sacred and superior Shiva Mahapurana. This is because the form makes worship simple while maintaining the truth that God does not have any definite form.

Structure of Shiva Linga


Most prevalent icon of Shiva and virtually found in all Shiva temples, Shiva Linga is a rounded, elliptical, an-iconic image that is usually set on a circular base or peetham. According to some scholars the Peetham represents Parashakti, the manifesting power of God. Shiva Lingas are usually made of stone that may either be carved or naturally existing - svayambhu, such as shaped by a swift-flowing river. Shiva Lingas may also be made of metal, precious gems, crystal, wood, earth or transitory materials such as ice. Some scholars say that transitory Shiva Linga may be made of 12 different materials such as sand, rice, cooked food, river clay, cow dung, butter, rudraksha seeds, ashes, sandalwood, darbha grass, a flower garland or molasses.

Various Interpretation of Shiva Linga


Besides regarding Shiva Linga as the symbol and form of Lord Shiva, religious scholars have given various interpretations of Shiva Linga. Here is the brief description of some of the popular theories and interpretations related to Shiva Linga and its origin: Worship of the Phallus According to some scholars, worship of Shiva Linga in effect means worship of the reproduction function. For, they say that the other meaning of the Sanskrit word Linga is gender in general and phallus (the male reproductive organ) in particular. They believe that the base of the Lingam corresponds to the Yoni which mean vagina or the female reproductive organ. Correspondence of Linga and Yoni in a Shiva Linga is therefore interpreted as the representation of the process of copulation. Scholars further opine that the Kalash (container of water) that is suspended over the Shiva Linga from which water drips over the Linga also correspond to the idea of intercourse. Connecting the origin of Shiva Linga to the early Indus Valley civilization, scholars opine that tribes of the Indus Valley took to the togetherness of Lingam and Yoni in a Shiva Linga as the point of energy, creation and enlightenment. Interpretation in Tantra According to Tantra, Lingam is a symbol of Shiva's phallus in spiritual form. They say, the lingam contains the soulseed within which lies the essence of the entire cosmos. The lingam arises out of the base (Yoni) which represents Parvati according to some or Vishnu, Brahma in female and neuter form according to others. Interpretation in Puranas

Puranas, especially the Vamana Purana, Shiva Purana, Linga Purana, Skanda Purana, Matsya Purana and VisvaSara-Prakasha attribute the origin of Shiva Linga to the curse of sages leading to the separation of and installation of the phallus of Lord Shiva on earth. Some also refer to the endlessness of the lingam to be linked to the egos of Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma. Interpretation of Shiva Linga as an Abstract Symbol of God Some scholars of the Hindu scriptures say that Linga is merely an abstract symbol of the God. They point towards several legends in Hinduism where a sundry rock or even a pile of sand has been used by as a Lingam or the symbol of Shiva. Citing a particular instance they say, Arjuna once fashioned a linga of clay when worshipping Shiva. Scholars of Puranas, thus argue that too much should not be made of the usual shape of the Lingam. Scholars say that the interpretation of Shiva Linga as an abstract form of God is also consonant with philosophies that hold that God may be conceptualized and worshipped in any convenient form. The form itself is irrelevant, as the divine power that it represents is all that matters. Scholars thus say that Sivalinga represent the formless Nirguna Brahman or the formless Supreme Being.

Shiva Aarti
Recite Lord Shiva Aarti on the auspicious occasion of Mahashivratri to invoke divine blessings of Lord Shiva. For better understanding, meaning of the Shiv Arti has been provided in English along with the verses.

Jai Shiv Onkara Har Shiv Onkara, Brahma Vishnu Sadashiv Arddhagni Dhara. Om hara hara Mahaadevaa...
Meaning: Glory to you, O Shiva! Glory to you, O Omkaara! May Brahma, Vishnu and the assembly of other gods, including the great Lord Shiva, relieve me of my afflictions!

Ekanan Chaturanan Panchanan Rajai, Hansanan Garudasan Vrishvahan Sajai. Om hara hara Mahaadevaa...
Meaning: Being the Absolute, True being, Consciousness and Bliss, you play the roles of all the three Gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. As Vishnu, you have but one face, as Brahma four and as Shiva five. They gladden the sight of all who behold them. As Brahma you prefer the back of the swan for your seat, as Vishnu you like to ensconce yourself on the back of Garuda (A large mythological eagle - like bird believed to be the vehicle of Lord Vishnu) and as Shiva you make the sacred bull your conveyance; all these stand ready. O Great Lord, pray rid me of my afflictions!

Do Bhuj Char Chaturbhuj Das Bhuj Te Sohai, Tinon Roop Nirakhta Tribhuvan Jan Mohai. Om hara hara Mahaadevaa...
Meaning: As Brahma, you possess two arms, as Vishnu four and as Shiva (Dashabaahu) ten, all of which look matchlessly lovely. No sooner do the inhabitants of the three spheres behold you than they are all enchanted. O great Lord Omkaara, pray rid me of my afflictions.

Akshaymala Vanmala Mundmala Dhari, Chadan Mrigmad Sohai Bhale Shashi Dhari. Om hara hara Mahaadevaa...
Meaning: You are, O great Lord Omkaara, wearing a garland of Rudraaksha, another of forest flowers the third of skulls; your forehead, glistening in the moonlight which it holds, is smeared with sandal-paste and musk. Pray rid me of my afflictions.

Shvetambar Pitambar Baghambar Ange, Sankadik Brahmadik Bhootadik Sange. Om hara hara Mahaadevaa...
Meaning: O great Lord Omkaara, your body is attired in white and yellow silken clothes and in tiger skin, while in your company are troops of goblins, gods like Brahma and divine seers like Sanaka. Pray rid me of my afflictions.

Kar Men Shreshth Kamandalu Chakra Trishooldharta, Jagkarta Jagharta Jag Palankarta. Om hara hara Mahaadevaa...
Meaning: O great Lord Omkaara, you hold akamandalu (the mendicants water-jar) in one of your hands and in another a trident; you bring joy to all, destroy all distress and sustain the whole world. May you rid me of all my afflictions!

Brahma Vishnu Sadashiv Janat Aviveka, Pranvakshar Ke Madhye Yah Tinon Eka. Om hara hara Mahaadevaa...
Meaning: The ignorant (unwise and stupid) know Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva as three individual gods, but they are all indistinguishably fused into a single mystic syllable OM. Pray rid me of my afflictions.

Trigun Shiv Ki Aarti Jo Koi Nar Gave, Kahat Shivanand Swami Manvanchhit Phal Pave. Om hara hara Mahaadevaa...
Meaning: Says Swami Shivananda, He who recites this Arti to the Lord of the three gunas-sattva, rajas and tamas attains fulfillment of his hearts desire. O great Lord Omkaara, may you rid me of my afflictions.

Shiva Chalisa
Shiva Chalisa is a prayer for Lord Shiva - one of the Gods of Hindu trinity, the other two being Brahma and Vishnu. Shiva Chalisa praises the Lord and asks for his help in removing hardships and obstacles in devotee's life. It is said that devotees seeking blessings of Lord Shiva must recite Shiva Chalisa with devotion and sincerity. It is suggested that devotees should focus their mind on Lord Shiv or his image and then recite Shiv Chalisa. Here, Lord Shiv Chalisa is presented along with English Translation for better understanding. Lord Shiv Chalisa Jai Ganesh Girija Suvan Mangal Mul Sujan Kahat Ayodhya Das Tum English Translation Glory to Lord Ganesh, the Divine Son of Goddess Girija, the cause of all auspiciousness and

Dev Abhaya Varadan

intelligence. Ayodha Dass (the composer of these verses) humbly requests that every one be blessed with the boon of being fearless.

Jai Girija Pati Dinadayala Sada Karat Santan Pratipala Bhala Chandrama Sohat Nike Kanan Kundal Nagaphani Ke Anga Gaur Shira Ganga Bahaye Mundamala Tan Chhara Lagaye Vastra Khala Baghambar Sohain Chhavi Ko Dekha Naga Muni Mohain Maina Matu Ki Havai Dulari Vama Anga Sohat Chhavi Nyari Kara Trishul Sohat Chhavi Bhari Karat Sada Shatrun Chhayakari Nandi Ganesh Sohain Tahan Kaise Sagar Madhya Kamal Hain Jaise Kartik Shyam Aur GanaraU Ya Chhavi Ko Kahi Jata Na Kauo

O Glorious Lord, consort of Parvati You are most merciful. You always bless the poor and pious devotees. Your beautiful form is adorned with the moon on Your forehead and on your ears are earrings of snakes' hood. The holy Ganges flows from your matted hair. The saints and sages are attracted by Your splendid appearance. Around Your neck is a garland of skulls. White ash beautifies Your Divine form and clothing of lion's skin adorns Your body. O Lord, the beloved daughter of Maina on Your left adds to Your splendid appearance. O Wearer of the lion's skin, the trishul in Your hand destroys all enemies.

Nandi and Shri Ganesh along with Lord Shiva appear as beautiful as two lotuses in the middle of an ocean. Poets and philosophers cannot describe the wonderful appearance of Lord Kartikeya and the dark complexioned Ganas (attendants). O Lord, whenever the Deities humbly sought Your assistance, You kindly and graciously uprooted all their problems. You blessed the Deities with Your generous help when the demon Tarak outraged them and You destroyed him. O Lord, You sent Shadanan

Devan Jabahi Jaya Pukara Tabahi Dukha Prabhu Apa Nivara Kiya Upadrav Tarak Bhari Devan Sab Mili Tumahi Juhari Turata Shadanana Apa

Pathayau Lava-Ni-Mesh Mahan Mari Girayau Apa Jalandhara Asura Sanhara Suyash Tumhara Vidit Sansara Tripurasur Sana Yudha Machayi Sabhi Kripakar Lina Bachayi Kiya Tapahin Bhagiratha Bhari Purva Pratigya Tasu Purari Danin Mahan Tum Sama Kou Nahin Sevak Astuti Karat Sadahin Veda Nam Mahima Tab Gayaee Akatha Anandi Bhed Nahin Payee Pragate Udadhi Mantan Men Jvala Jarat Sura-Sur Bhaye Vihala Kinha Daya Tahan Kari Sahayee Nilakantha Tab Nam Kahayee Pujan Ramchandra Jab Kinha Jiti Ke Lanka Vibhishan Dinhi Sahas Kamal Men Ho Rahe Dhari Kinha Pariksha Tabahin Purari

without delay and thus destroyed the evil ones Lava and Nimesh. You also destroyed the demon Jalandhara. Your renown is known throughout the world. O Lord, Purari, You saved all Deities and mankind by defeating and destroying the demons Tripurasura. You blessed Your devotee Bhagirath and he was able to accomplish his vow after rigorous penance. O Gracious One, devotees always sings Your glory. Even the Vedas are unable to describe Your greatness. No one is as generous as You are.

Lord, when the ocean was churned and the deadly poison emerged, out of Your deep compassion for all, You drank the poison and saved the world from destruction. Your throat became blue, thus You are known as Nilakantha. When Lord Rama worshipped You, He became victorious over the king of demons, Ravana. When Lord Rama wished to worship Thee with one thousand lotus flowers, the Divine Mother, to test the devotion of Shri Ram, hid all the flowers at Your request. O Lord, You kept on looking at Shri Ram, who wished to offer His lotus-like eyes to worship Thee. When You observed such intense devotion, You were delighted and blessed Him. You granted His heart's desire.

Ek Kamal Prabhu Rakheu Joi Kushal-Nain Pujan Chaha Soi Kathin Bhakti Dekhi Prabhu Shankar Bhaye Prasanna DiyeIchchhit Var

Jai Jai Jai Anant Avinashi Karat Kripa Sabake Ghat Vasi Dushta Sakal Nit Mohin Satavai Bhramat Rahe Mohin Chain Na Avai Trahi-Trahi Main Nath Pukaro Yahi Avasar Mohi Ana Ubaro Lai Trishul Shatrun Ko Maro Sankat Se Mohin Ana Ubaro Mata Pita Bhrata Sab Hoi Sankat Men Puchhat Nahin Koi Svami Ek Hai Asha Tumhari Ava Harahu Aba Sankat Bhari Dhan Nirdhan Ko Deta Sadahin Jo Koi Janche So Phal Pahin Astuti Kehi Vidhi Karai Tumhari Kshamahu Nath Aba Chuka Hamari Shankar Ho Sankat Ke Nishan Vighna Vinashan Mangal Karan Yogi Yati Muni Dhyan Lagavan Sharad Narad Shisha Navavain Namo Namo Jai Namah Shivaya Sura Brahmadik Par Na Paya Jo Yah Patha Karai Man Lai

Glory be unto You O Gracious, Infinite, Immortal, All-pervading Lord. Evil thought torture me and I keep on travelling aimlessly in this world of mundane existence. No relief seems to be coming my way.

O Lord! I beseech Your help and seek your divine blessing at this very moment. Save and protect me. Destroy my enemies with Your Trishul. Release me from the torture of evil thoughts.

O Lord, when I am in distress, neither my parents, brothers, sisters nor loved ones can relieve my suffering. I depend only on You. You are my hope. Eliminate the cause of this tremendous torture and bless me with Your compassion. O Lord, You bless the downtrodden with prosperity and grant wisdom to the ignorant. Lord, due to my limited knowledge, I omitted to worship Thee. Please forgive me and shower Your grace upon me. O Lord Sankar, You are the destroyer of all miseries. You remove the cause of all obstacles and grant Your devotees eternal bliss. The saints and sages meditate upon Thy most beautiful form. Even celestial beings like Sharad and Narad bow in reverence to You. O Lord, prostration to You. Even Brahma is unable to describe Thy greatness. Whosoever recites these verses with faith and devotion receives Your infinite blessings.

Tapar Hota Hai Shambhu Sahayee Devotees who chant these verses with intense love become prosperous by the grace of Lord Shiva. Even the childless wishing to have children, have their desires fulfilled after partaking of Shiva-prasad with faith and devotion. On Trayodashi (13th day of the dark and bright fortnights) one should invite a pandit and devotedly make offerings to Lord Shiva. Those who fast and pray to Lord Shiva on Trayodashi are always healthy and prosperous. Whosoever offers incense, prasad and performs arti to Lord Shiva, with love and devotion, enjoys material happiness and spiritual bliss in this world and hereafter ascends to the abode of Lord Shiva. The poet prays that Lord Shiva removed the suffering of all and grants them eternal bliss. O Universal Lord, every morning as a rule I recite this Chalisa with devotion. Please bless me so that I may be able to accomplish my material and spiritual desires. Om Shivaya Namaa

Riniyan Jo Koi Ho Adhikari Patha Karai So Pavan Hari Putra-hin Ichchha Kar Koi Nischaya Shiva Prasad Tehin Hoi Pandit Trayodashi Ko Lavai Dhyan-Purvak Homa Karavai Trayodashi Vrat Kare Hamesha Tan Nahin Take Rahe Kalesha Dhupa Dipa Naivedya Charhavai Anta Vasa Shivapur Men Pavai Kahai Ayodhya Asha Tumhari Jani Sakal Dukha Harahu Hamari

Nitya Nema kari Pratahi Patha karau Chalis Tum Meri Man Kamana Purna Karahu Jagadish Om Shivaya Namaa

Shiva Prayer
For the devotees of Lord Shiva here is a collection of Lord Shiva Prayers with meaning! Devotees seeking blessings of Lord Shiva must recite Shiv Prarthana with sincerity and faith.

Lord Shiva Prayer - I


Om Sarva Mangal Manglaye Shivay Sarvaarth Sadhike Sharanye Trayambake Gauri Narayaani Namostu Te

Meaning:

Oh the divine couple Shiva Parvati ! O ! Thee, the protectors of this universe, Along with Lords Brahma and Vishnu We pray to You for our well-being, prosperity and the enlightenment of our souls.

Lord Shiva Prayer - II


This mantra is a prayer to Lord Shiva who is addressed as Sankara and Trayambaka. Sankara means giver of blessings: (sana = blessings, Kara = the Giver). Trayambaka is the three eyed one, where the third eye signifies the giver of knowledge, which destroys ignorance and releases us from the cycle of death and rebirth. Om Namastestu Bhagavan Visvesaraya Mahadevaya Trayambakaya Tripurantakaya Trikagni - Kalaya Kalagni - Rudraya Nil - Kanthaya Mrityunjaya Sarvesvaraya Sadadhivaya Sriman Mahadevaya Namah.

Meaning:
Om. I bow down to Lord Shiva, who is the creator and protector of the universe, who is the greatest among Gods, who has three eyes, who is the annihilator of all the three worlds, one whose throat is blue, who is the conqueror of death, who is the Lord of all, who is propitious who is possessed of all marks of greatness and who is the greatest among Gods. To him my prostration.

Lord Shiva Prayer - III


Naagendra haaraaya thriloochanaaya bhasmaangadhaaraaya maheshwaraaya Nityaaya shudhdhaaya digambaraaya tasmai nakaaraaya namahshivaaya

Meaning:
Salutations to Shiva who wears a serpent as garland, who is three-eyed, whose bare body is covered with ashes, who is forever pure and the very embodiment of sacrifice.

Shiva Dhun
Shivo Bhokta, Shiva Bhojya Shivo Karta, Shivah Karma Shivah Karanatmakah

Meaning:
Shiva is the experiencer and the highest object of experience. Shiva is the goal of Sadhana. There is nothing apart from Shiva. There is nothing other than Shiva. Whatever there is, is Shiva. There is nothing, which is not Shiva. There is no place, which is not Shiva. There is no time, which is not Shiva. To be aware of this is to be aware of Shiva.

Maha Mrityunjay Mantra


The Maha Mrityunjay Mantra or Lord Shiva Mantra is considered extremely powerful and significant by the Hindus. Also known as the Moksha Mantra of Lord Shiva, chanting of Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra is said to create divine vibrations that heals. Devotees of Lord Shiva further believe that Maha Mrityunjay evokes the Shiva within human beings and removes the fear of death, liberating one from the cycle of death and rebirth.

Significance of Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra


Devotees strongly believe that proper recitation of the Maha Mrityunjaya rejuvenates, bestows health, wealth, long life, peace, prosperity and contentment. It is said that chanting of Shiva Mantra generates divine vibrations that ward off all the negative and evil forces and creates a powerful protective shield. Besides, it is said to protect the

one who chants against accidents and misfortunes of every kind. Recitation of the mantra creates vibration that pulsates through every cell, every molecule of human body and tears away the veil of ignorance. Hindus believe that recitation of the mantra ignites a fire within that consumes all negativity and purifies entire system. It is also said to have a strong healing power and can cure diseases declared incurable even by the doctors. Many believe Maha Mrityunjay Mantra to be a mantra that can conquer death and connect human beings to their own inner divinity.

The Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra


The following Maha Mrityunjay Mantra has been taken from the Sukla Yajurveda Samhita III. 60. The Mantra is addressed to Lord Shiva and is a centuries old technique of connecting one to pure consciousness and bliss. Om Tryambhakam Yajamahe Sugandhim Pushtivardhanam | Urvarukamiva Bandhanan Mrityor Mukshiya Maamritat || Meaning: Om. We worship The Three-Eyed Lord Shiva who is fragrant and who increasingly nourishes the devotees. Worshipping him may we be liberated from death for the sake of immortality just as the ripe cucumber easily separates itself from the binding stalk. Explanation: The mantra is a prayer to Lord Shiva who is addressed as Sankara and Trayambaka. Sankara is sana (blessings) and Kara (the Giver). Trayambaka is the three eyed one (where the third eye signifies the giver of knowledge, which destroys ignorance and releases us from the cycle of death and rebirth).

Best Time to Chant


Chanting the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra with sincerity, faith and devotion in Bramha Muhurata is very beneficial. But one can also do Maha Mrityunjaya japa anytime in a pure environment with great benefit and discover the happiness that's already within.

Different Names of Lord Shiva


One of the most important Hindu deities, Lord Shiva is known by several names. The Shiva Purana list 1008 names for Lord Shiva. Each of these names in Sanskrit signifies certain attribute of the Lord. Given here are 108 names of Lord Shiva with their meaning.

108 Names of Lord Shiva S No


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Lord Shiva Name


Aashutosh Aja Akshayaguna Anagha Anantadrishti Augadh Avyayaprabhu Bhairav Bhalanetra Bholenath

Meaning
One who fulfills wishes instantly Unborn God with limitless attributes Without any fault Of infinite vision One who revels all the time Imperishable Lord Lord of terror One who has an eye in the forehead Kind hearted Lord

11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48

Bhooteshwara Bhudeva Bhutapala Chandrapal Chandraprakash Dayalu Devadeva Dhanadeepa Dhyanadeep Dhyutidhara Digambara Durjaneeya Durjaya Gangadhara Girijapati Gunagrahin Gurudeva Hara Jagadisha Jaradhishamana Jatin Kailas Kailashadhipati Kailashnath Kamalakshana Kantha Kapalin Khatvangin Kundalin Lalataksha Lingadhyaksha Lingaraja Lokankara Lokapal Mahabuddhi Mahadeva Mahakala Mahamaya

Lord of ghosts and evil beings Lord of the earth Protector of the ghosts Master of the moon One who has moon as a crest Compassionate Lord of the Lords Lord of Wealth Icon of meditation and concentration Lord of Brilliance One who has the skies as his clothes Difficult to be known Unvanquished Lord of River Ganga Consort of Girija Acceptor of Gunas Master of All Remover of Sins Master of the Universe Redeemer from Afflictions One who has matted hair One Who Bestows Peace Lord of Mount Kailash Master of Mount Kailash Lotus-eyed Lord Ever-Radiant One who wears a necklace of skulls One who has the missile khatvangin in his hand One who wears earrings One who has an eye in the forehead Lord of the Lingas Lord of the Lingas Creator of the Three Worlds One who takes care of the world Extremely intelligent Greatest God Lord of All Times Of great illusions

49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86

Mahamrityunjaya Mahanidhi Mahashaktimaya Mahayogi Mahesha Maheshwara Nagabhushana Nataraja Nilakantha Nityasundara Nrityapriya Omkara Palanhaar Parameshwara First among all gods Paramjyoti Pashupati Pinakin Pranava Priyabhakta Priyadarshana Pushkara Pushpalochana Ravilochana Rudra Rudraksha Sadashiva Sanatana Sarvacharya Sarvashiva Sarvatapana Sarvayoni Sarveshwara Shambhu Shankara Shiva Shoolin Shrikantha Shrutiprakasha

Great victor of death Great storehouse One who has boundless energies Greatest of all Gods Supreme Lord Lord of Gods One who has serpents as ornaments King of the art of dancing The one with a blue throat Ever beautiful Lover of Dance Creator of OM One who protects everyone First among all gods Greatest splendor Lord of all living beings One who has a bow in his hand Originator of the syllable of OM Favorite of the devotees Of loving vision One who gives nourishment One who has eyes like flowers Having sun as the eye The terrible One who has eyes like Rudra Eternal God Eternal Lord Preceptor of All Always Pure Scorcher of All Source of Everything Lord of All Gods Abode of Joy Giver of Joy Always Pure One who has a trident Of glorious neck Illuminator of the Vedas

87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108

Shuddhavigraha Skandaguru Someshwara Sukhada Suprita Suragana Sureshwara Swayambhu Tejaswani Trilochana Trilokpati Tripurari Trishoolin Umapati Vachaspati Vajrahasta Varada Vedakarta Veerabhadra Vishalaksha Vishveshwara Vrishavahana

One who has a pure body Preceptor of Skanda Lord of All Gods Bestower of happiness Well pleased Having Gods as attendants Lord of All Gods Self-Manifested One who spreads illumination Three-Eyed Lord Master of all the Three Worlds Enemy of Tripura One who has a trident in his hands Consort of Uma Lord of Speech One who has a thunderbolt in his hands Granter of Boons Originator of the Vedas Supreme Lord of the Nether World Wide-eyed Lord Lord of the Universe One who has bull as his vehicle

Jyotirlinga
Somnath Temple in Gujarat
Somnath Temple Jyotirlinga is situated at Somnath Patan (the south coast of Saurashtra), near Veraval in (Prabhas Kshetra) Kathaiwad district in Gujarat. Somnath is considered to be the first of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Shiva and is a revered pilgrimage center in India.

Legend of Somnath Temple


Skanda Purana, in a chapter on Prabhasa Khanda, describes the emergence of this Jyotirlinga. Legend goes that the moon was married to the 27 daughters of Daksha Prajapati. Amongst all his wives, he had special love towards Rohini and neglected the others. Seeing the negligence of Chandra towards his other wives Prajapati Daksha cursed Chandra that he would lose his beauty and radiance. But because of a moon devoid of radiance and beauty the entire world became lifeless. A disturbed Chandra, came down to Prabhasa with Rohini and worshipped the Sparsa Linga of Somnath after which he was blessed by Shiva to grow and shine in the bright half. As the moon regained his light here, this town came to be known as Prabhasa. Brahma, one of the trinity, installed

the Brahmashila, and paved way for the construction of the temple. On the request of the Chandrama and other gods Bhagwan Shankar assumed the name Somchandra (Jyotirlinga) and resided there eternally. He became famous by the name Somnath in the three worlds. Since, it was the Prabhas Kshetra where Bhagwan Shri Krishna performed all his Lilas. In this temple there is a small cave in which a lamp burns continuously. The Skanda Purana describes the Sparsa Linga of Somnath as one bright as the sun, the size of an egg, lodged underground. The Mahabharata also refers to the Prabhasa Kshetra and the legend of the moon worshipping Shiva.

Ransacking and Rebuilding of Somnath Jyotirlinga


Somnath Jyotirling has been destroyed and rebuilt a number of times in the history:

Accounts of glory and wealth of Somnath by the Arab traveler Al Biruni prompted a visit by Mahmud of Ghazini who ransacked and destroyed the temple in 1025 CE. It was immediately rebuilt by King Bhima of Gujarat and King Bhoja of Malwa. Somnath temple was destroyed again by Alaf Khan, the general of Allauddin Khilji in 1300 CE. It was rebuilt again by King Mahipala of the Chudasama dynasty. Somnath shrine was destroyed yet again in 1390, 1490, 1530 and finally in 1701 by Aurangazeb. It was rebuilt with perseverance each time after it was destroyed.

y y

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Mallikarjun Temple in Andhra pradesh


Mallikarjun Temple is situated on Shri Shaila Mountain by the banks of the Patal Ganga, Krishna River in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. Also known as Kailash of the South, Mallikarjuna constitutes one of the 12 Jyotirlingam shrines of Shiva and is one of the greatest Shaivaite shrines in India. The presiding deities of Mallikarjuna Temple are Mallikarjuna (Shiva) and Bhramaramba (Devi). Every year there is a fair organized on account of Mahashivratri.

Legend of Mallikarjun Jyotirlinga


According to Shiva Purana, when Lord Ganesh was married of before his Kartikeya, and because of this brother Kartikeya became angry. Despite being stopped and consoled by his parents Shiv-Parvati, Kartikeya went away to the Kraunch Mountain. Even the Gods went and tried consoling Kartikeya but all their efforts were in vain. Because of this incident Shiv-Parvati were very sad and both decided that they would themselves go to Kraunch Mountain. However, when Kartikeya came to know that his parents have arrived, he went away. Eventually Lord Shiva assumed the form of Jyotirlinga and resided on that mountain by the name of Mallikarjuna. Mallika means Parvati, while Arjuna is another name of Shiva. In this way both Shiva and Parvati came to reside in this linga. It is said that by merely seeing the tip of mountain one is emancipated from all his sins and worries. The person becomes free from the vicious cycle of life and death.

Architecture of Mallikarjun Temple


The architecture of the ancient Mallikarjun Temple is very beautiful and intricate. The temple has fort like walls, towers and a rich endowment of sculptural work. The huge temple is built in the Dravidian style with lofty towers and sprawling courtyards and is considered to be one of the finest specimens of Vijayanagar architecture. Temple of Tripurantakam, Siddavatam, Alampura and Umamaheswaram located in the vicinity of Mallikarjuna Jyotirlina are considered to be the four gateways to Sri Sailam.

Bhramaramba Shrine

Located adjacent to the Mallikarjun Temple is a shrine dedicated to Goddess Jagdamba who is known as Bhramaramba here. The Bhramaramba shrine is considered to be of great significance. Legend has it that Durga is said to have assumed the shape of a bee and worshipped Shiva here, and chose this place as her abode.

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Mahakaleshwara Temple in Ujjain


Mahakaleshwara Temple is located by the banks of river Kshipra, in the dense Mahakal forests in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh. It is an important Shaivaite pilgrimage centre in North India and is revered as one of the 12 Jyotilinga manifestations of Shiva.

Legend Behind Mahakal Temple


According to an episode narrated in Puranas, a five-year-old boy named Shrikar was enthralled seeing the devotion of King Chandrasena of Ujjain towards Lord Shiva. Shrikar took a stone and by considering it a linga started worshipping it regularly. Others thought that his worship as merely a game and tried to dissuade him in all ways. But all the efforts went in vain. On the contrary, devotion of Shrikar increased by every passing day. Pleased by the boys devotion Lord Shiva assumed Jyotirlinga form and resided in the Mahakal forest. According to another popular legend related to Mahakal Temple, a demon by name, Dushana tormented the residents of Avanti. Shiva appeared from the ground and vanquished the demon. Then, upon the request of the inhabitants of Avanti, Shiva took up a permanent abode here as Mahakaleshwara Jyotirlinga.

Architecture of Mahakal Temple


Bhagwan Mahakaleshwar Temple is located near a lake and has a spacious courtyard surrounded by massive walls. The temple has five levels, one of that is underground. Brass lamps light the way to the underground sanctum or Garbha Griha where the Jyotirlinga is situated. The Linga is quite big in size and is encircled by a snake of silver. On one side of the Linga there is the idol of Lord Ganesha while on the other side, idols of Goddess Parvati and Kartikeya are installed. The shikhara of temple is adorned with sculptural finery.

Significance of Mahakaleshwara Temple


Mahalakesheshwar Temple is consider significant by the Hindus for the following reasons: Mahakaleshwara Temple in Ujjain is regarded amongst the seven holy places that can liberate a human. The other six Mukti-Sthal being Ayodhya, Mathura, Haridwar, Benares, Kanchipuram and Dwarka. All devotees that come to participate in the famous Kumbh Mela organized year on the banks of the Kshipra River consider it important to seek blessings of Lord Mahakaleshwar. The Mahakaleshwar Temple has also been referred to in the Tamil hymns of the Nayanmar saints of the 1st millennium CE.

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Omkareshwar Temple in Madhya Pradesh


Omkareshwar Temple is situated on the mountain Mandhata by the banks of Narmada River in the Malva area in Madhya Pradesh. Omkareshwar Temple is one of the 12 revered Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva. The temple is closely linked with Mammaleshwar Temple (situated on the south of river Narmada) as both the forms of Shiva have been counted as one.

Legend behind Omkareshwar Temple

Shiva Purana describes the greatness of Omkareshwar and Mammaleshwar. It says, two sons of the sun dynasty Mandhata - Ambarish and Mucchkund practiced severe penance and austerities here and pleased Lord Shiva. They also performed great religious sacrifices in this place because of which the mountain is named Mandhata. Another popular legend says that once upon a time Vidhya Parvat practiced severe penance and worshipped Parthivarchana along with Lord Omkareshwar for nearly six months. As a result Lord Shiva was pleased and blessed him with the desire boon. On the sincere request of all the gods and the sages Lord Shiva made two parts of the lings. One half being Omkareshwara and the other Amaleshwara or Amareshwar. Some scholar say, King Mandhatha of the Ishvaku clan is believed to have worshipped Shiva here. Besides, Govinda Bhagavatpaada, the Guru of Shankaracharya is believed to have lived in a cave here.

Structure and Significance of Omkareshwar Temple


Omkareshwara Temple is located at a distance of about 12 miles from Mortakka in Madhya Pradesh. A special feature of the location of Omkareshwar Temple is that the river Narmada branches into two and forms an island Mandhata or Shivapuri in the center. The shape of the island resembles that of the visual representation of the Omkara sound, Om. There are two temples here, one to Omkareshwar and one to Amareshwar. The Omkareshwar Temple is built in the Nagara style and is characterized by a lofty shikhara. There are also shrines to Annapurna and Ganesha here. Before entering the temple one has to pass through two rooms. The Omkareshwar is not affixed to the ground but is naturally installed there. There is always water around it. The significance of this linga is that the linga is not situated below the cupola. The idol of Lord Shiva is situated on the top of the temple. The temple can be reached by ferry from the banks of the river. A huge fair is organized here on the day of Kartik Poornima.

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Vaidyanath Temple in Deogarh


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.

Legend Behind Vaidyanath Temple


Legend has it that demon King of Lanka, Ravana meditated upon Lord Shiva, as he wanted to request him to come over to Sri Lanka and make his capital invincible. It is said that Ravana attempted to lift Mount Kailash and take it with him to his capital. However, Lord Shiva crushed it with his finger. Ravana prayed to him and sought his mercy, after which Bhagwan Shiva gave him one of the twelve Jyotirlingams on the condition that if it were placed on the ground it shall fix itself to the ground and shall remain there for eternity.

Ravana thanked Lord Shiva and holding the Linga carefully started of to the Lanka. However, Varuna the God of Water, entered his belly and caused him to feel an urgent need to relieve himself. Vishnu then came down in the form of a lad and volunteered to hold the Jyotirlingam as he relieved himself. Before Ravana returned, Vishnu placed the Jyotirlingam on the ground and it became rooted to the spot. A disappointed Ravana offered severe penance to Shiva here, and cut off nine of his heads. Shiva revived him and joined the heads to the body, as if by the work of a Vaidya or a physician, hence this Jyotirlingam goes by the name Vaidyanath. According to another legend, Vaidyanath is 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. Some people believe that this temple was re-discovered by a cowherd Baiju and hence named Baijnath.

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.

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Bhimashankar Temple in Pune


Bhimashankar Temple Jyotirlinga is situated in the ghat region of the Sahyadri hills in the village of Bhavagiri, 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 Jyotirlinga shrines in Maharashtra are Tryambakeshwar and Grishneshwar. It may be noted that according to the Shiv Purana the Bhimashankar Jyotirlinga is situated on the Mountain Brahmapur in district Kamrup, Assam.

Legend behind Bhimashankar Temple


According to the legends, once a demon called Bhima lived with his mother Karkati in the dense forests of Dakini, on the lofty ranges of the Sahaydris. It is said that Bhima was so cruel that every one was scared of him. But what tormented Bhima was his curiosity regarding his own existence. One day, Bhima urged his mother to tell him who his father was and why had he abandoned them in the wilderness of the forest. His mother revealed that he was the son of Kumbhakarna, the younger brother of the mighty King Ravana - the King of Lanka. Bhimas mother Kartaki also told him that Lord Vishnu in his incarnation as Lord Rama annihilated Kumbhakarna. This infuriated Bhima and he vowed to avenge Lord Vishnu. Bhima performed severe penance to please Lord Brahma. The compassionate creator was pleased by the dedicated devotee and granted him immense prowess. With so much power, Bhima began to cause havoc in the three worlds. He defeated King Indra and conquered the heavens. He also defeated a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva - Kamrupeshwar and put him in the dungeons. All this angered the Gods and they along with Lord Brahma beseeched Lord Shiva to come for their rescue to which Lord Shiva agreed. Tyrant 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. It is believed that the sweat that poured forth from Lord Shivas body after the battle formed the Bhimarathi River.

Structure of Bhimashankara Temple


Bhimashankara Temple is situated in picturesque extreme end of the Sahayadri Ranges and provides a wonderful view of the forts, the rivers and the hill stations around. The dense forests surrounding the high ranges also play an abode to the rare species of flora and fauna. Bhimashakara Temple dates back to mid 18th century and is a composite of old and the new structures and is built in the Nagara style of architecture. The shikhara of the temple was built by Nana Phadnavis. Shivaji the great Maratha ruler is said to have facilitated the carrying out of worship services. As with other Shiva temples in this area, the sanctum is at a lower level. The best time to visit the Bhimashankar Temple is said to be Maha Shivaratri as the temple organizes grand festivities on the occasion.

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Rameshwaram Temple in Tamil Nadu


Rameshwaram Temple is situated in the island of Rameswaram, off the Sethu coast of Tamil Nadu and is reached via the Pamban Bridge across the sea. The huge temple is known for its long ornate corridors, towers and 36 theerthams. Rameshwaram Jyotirlinga represents the southernmost of the 12 Jyotirlingams of India and has been a time honored pilgrimage center held on par with Banaras. Rameshwaram Temple Jyotirlinga is associated closely with the Ramayana and Rama's victorious return from Sri Lanka.

Legend behind Rameshwaram Temple


According to a popular legend, it was Lord Rama who installed this Linga here. Story goes that when Lord Ram was on his way to attack Ravana, he reached this place where he made a linga of sand and worshipped it. It is said that when Lord Rama was drinking water on the seashore there was a celestial proclamation - "You are drinking water without worshipping me". Listening to this Lord Rama made a linga of sand and worshipped it and asked to be blessed so that he could vanquish Ravana. Lord Shiva blessed him accordingly. He also requested Lord Shiva to reside eternally here so that entire mankind should benefit from it. Shiva then manifested himself as the Linga and got installed there for eternity. According to yet another legend, while returning to Ayodhya, Ram worshipped Lord Shiva in the form of a Shiva Lingam made of earth by Sita. It is said that Hanuman was entrusted with the task of bringing an image of Viswanathar from Banaras. Anticipating delay in Hanuman's return from Benares, Rama offered worship to a Shivalingam at a pre-chosen auspicious moment. This lingam is referred to as Ramalingam and the town is known as Rameswaram. There is yet another Shivalingam here - Viswanathar said to have been brought by Hanuman from Banares. This Shivalingam is referred to as Kasilingam and Hanumalingam. Prayers are offered to Viswanathar before they are offered to Ramanathaswamy.

Structure of Rameshwaram Temple


Rameswaram Temple is spread over an area of 15 acres and has lofty gopurams, massive walls and a colossal Nandi. Rameswaram Jyotirlinga also boasts of a 4000 feet long pillared corridor with over 4000 pillars, supposedly the longest in the world. The carved granite pillars are mounted on a raised platform. Worth noticing fact about this corridor is that the rock is not indigenous to the island and is said to have been brought in from elsewhere in Tamil Nadu across the sea. The eastern Rajagopuram towers to a height of 126 feet and has nine levels. The Western Rajagopuram is also quite impressive though not as tall as the Eastern one. The temple also has several mandapams with mini shrines to other deities. There is a huge Nandi measuring 12 feet in length and 9 feet in height with the idols of Viswanatha Naicker and Krishnama Naicker. The lingams are housed in the inner section of the Ramalingeshwara. High walls enclose the temple, forming a rectangle with huge pyramidal gopura entrances on each side.

Significance of Rameshwaram Temple Jyotirlinga


Significance of Rameshwaram Temple Jyotirlinga has been described through a shloka in Manas:

Je rameshwar darshan kari hahi | Te tanu taji mam loka sidaari hahi ||
Meaning: Those who go to Rameshwar and seeks my blessings, shall always reside in Shivloka. It is said that there is greatness associated with the ceremonial bath given to the linga by water of the Ganga.

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Nageshwar Temple in Dwarka


Nageshwar Temple or Nagnath Temple is located on the route between Gomati Dwarka and the Bait Dwarka Island on the coast of Saurashtra in Gujarat. The Jyotirlinga enshrined in the Temple of Nagnath is known as Nageshwar Mahadev and attracts thousands of pilgrims all round the year. This powerful Jyotirlinga symbolizes protection from all poisons. It is said that those who pray to the Nageshwar Linga become free of poison. The Rudra Samhita sloka refers to Nageshwar with the phrase 'Daarukaavane Naagesham'.

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.

Structure of Nageshwar Temple

Nageshwar Mahadev Sivalingam is facing South while the Gomugam is facing east. There is a story for this position. A devotee by name Naamdev was singing bhajans in front of the Lord. Other devotees asked him to stand aside and not hide the Lord. To this Naamdev asked them to suggest one direction in which the Lord does not exist, so that he can stand there. The enraged devotees carried him and left him on the southside. To their astonishment, they found that the Linga was now facing South with the Gomugam facing east.

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Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi


Vishwanath Temple is located amidst the crowded lanes in the holy city of Varanasi also known as Kashi and Benares. The Vishwanath Temple enshrines one of the twelve Jyotirlingams of Lord Shiva and is one of the most revered pilgrimage sites for Hindus. It is believed that Varanasi is the point at which the first Jyotirlinga, the fiery pillar of light by which Shiva manifested his supremacy over other gods, broke through the earths crust and flared towards the heavens. More than the Ghats and even the Ganga, the Shivalinga installed in the temple remain the devotional focus of Varanasi. Millions of pilgrims converge here to perform an abhishekam to the sacred Jyotirlingam with sacred water of river Ganga.

Significance of Vishwanath Temple


Also famous by the name of Shiv Vishwanath Kashi, Shri Vishweshwar Temple is said to be dear to Lord Shiva. Hindus believe that those who come and die here attain liberation. It is said that Lord Shiva gives the Tarak Mantra to the ones who are going to die here. Some also believe that the Lord resides here and is the giver of liberation and happiness. The one who prays and worships Vishweshwar with devotion attains all his desires and one who incessantly recites his name attains all siddhis and finally gets liberated.

Structure of Shri Vishwanath Jyotirlinga Temple


Shri Vishwanatha Temple is situated amidst the crowded lanes of Varanasi on the banks of the rive Ganga. The temple can be approached from a lane called Vishwanatha lane. Beside its religious significance, the temple is also an architectural marvel. The magnificent edifice offers a breathtaking view to the onlooker. The Kashi Vishwanath Temple is also popularly known as the 'Golden Temple' due the gold plating done on its 15.5-meter high spire. One tonne of gold donated by Maharaja Ranjit Singh has been used in the gold plating of the spire. Inside the courtyard is the temple of Vishwanatha surrounded by many subsidiary shrines. A well, called Jnana Vapi i.e. wisdom well located to the north of the main temple. The Vishwanatha temple consists of a mandapa and a sanctum. Inside the sanctum a linga is set into the center of the floor in a square silver altar. The Linga is of black stone. Though the interior of the temple is not large and elaborate it presents the peaceful atmosphere ideal for worship.

History of Vishwanath Temple


The famous Vishwanath Temple has been rebuilt several times. The original was supposed to have been built in 1490. However, the original Jyotirlinga of Kashi Vishwanath is a not available. The old temple was destroyed as a result of the Mughal invasion and Aurangazeb built a mosque in place of it. The ancient idol of Vishweshwar is situated in Jnana-Vapi. Even today the western wall of the mosque show the remnants of a temple which had very intricate and fine artwork on it. Both the Kashi Vishwanath and the Gyanvapi Mosque are adjacent to each other

The latest structure standing here dates back to the 18th century. It is said that once Lord Shiva came in the dream of Rani Ahilya Bai Holkar of Indore. She, being a devotee of Lord Shiva, got the current temple built in 1777 at a distance from the original one.

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Trimbakeshwar Temple in Nasik


Shri Trimbakeshwar Temple is located at a distance of about 30-km from Nasik in Maharashtra near the mountain named Brahmagiri from which the river Godavari flows. Trimbakeshwar Temple is revered as one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva and as the source of the river Godavari. Just as Ganga is known as Bhagirathi and is one of the most important river in North India, in the same way, Godavari is also known as Gautami Ganga and is the most sacred river in South India. According to Shiv Purana, it is because of the earnest request of Godavari, Gautam Rishi and other gods that Lord Shiva agreed to reside here and assumed the famous name Trimbakeshwar. Interestingly, locals refer to the river here as Ganga and not as Godavari. All the heavenly Gods promised to come down to Nasik, once in twelve years, when Jupiter resides in the zodiac sign of Leo. On this a grand fair is organized at this place. Devotees take a holy bath in the Gautami Ganga and then seek the blessings of Trimbakeshwar.

Legend Behind Trimbakeshwar Temple


Legend goes that a sage name Gautam Muni resided on the Brahmagiri hill with his wife Ahilya. By virtue of his devotion, the sage received from Varuna, a bottomless pit from which he received an inexhaustible supply of grains and food. The other rishis, jealous of his fortune, arranged for a cow to enter his granary and caused it to die as Gowtam Rishi attempted to ward it off with a bunch of Darbha grass. Gautam Rishi, therefore, worshipped Lord Shiva to bring the Ganga down to his hermitage to purify the premises. Pleased with devotion, Shiva requested Ganga to flow down and make Sage Gautam pure. After that Ganga flowed down. Lord Shiva told Ganga to stay there eternally for the good of everyone. All the Gods started singing the praises of Gautam Rishi, Ganga and Lord Shiva. On the request of all the Gods, Lord Shiva resided by the river Gautami by the name Trimbakeshwar (one of the Jyotirlingas). Hindus believe that Trimbak Jyotirlinga is one, which fulfills everyones desires. It emancipates all from their sins and miseries. Another popular legend behind Trimbakeshwar Temple is the legend of Lingodbhava manifestation of Shiva. It says once Brahma and Vishnu searched in vain to discover the origin of Shiva who manifested himself as a cosmic column of fire. Brahma lied that he had seen the top of the column of fire and was hence cursed that he would not be worshipped on earth. In turn Brahma cursed Shiva that he would be pushed underground. Accordingly, Shiva came down under the Brahmagiri hill in the form of Tryambakeshwar. Trimbakeshwar Temple is the only place where Shivlinga is not out but its inside the floor. Some scholars say that Goddess Parvati also came down along Lord Shiva and Ganga. The place is therefore called Tryambakeshwa (three lords). Others believe that the place is so called because of the presence of three Shivlinga of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. The Shivlinga of Lord Mahesh has alwaysflowing water among the three Shivlingas.

Structure of Trimbakeshwar Temple


Trimbakeshwar Temple is an ancient shrine, however the current structure is a result of the reconstruction efforts undertaken by the Peshwa Balaji Bajirao in mid 18th century. The temple is built of black stone in the Nagara style of architecture and is enclosed in a spacious courtyard. The sanctum internally a square and externally a stellar structure houses a small Shivalingam - Tryambaka. The sanctum is crowned with a graceful tower, embellished with a giant Amalaka and a golden kalasha. In front of the garbagriha and the antarala is a mandap with doors on all four sides. Three of these doorways are covered with porches and the openings of these porches are ornamented with pillars and arches. Curvilinear slabs rising in steps form roof of the mandapam. The entire structure is ornamented with sculptural work featuring running scrolls, floral designs, and figures of gods, yakshas, humans and animals. The Shivalingam is seen in a depression on the floor of the sanctum. Water constantly oozes out from the top of the Shivalingam. Usually, the Shivalingam is covered with a silver mask but on festive occasions a golden mask with five faces, each with a golden crown covers it.

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Kedarnath Temple in Himalayas


One of the holiest pilgrimages for the Hindus, Kedarnath Temple Jyotirlinga is located in the picturesque surroundings of Rudra Himalaya Range at a height of 12000 feet on a mountain named Kedar. Near Kedarnath is the source of the river Mandakini that joins Alakananda at Rudraprayag. This place is approximately 150 miles away from Hardwar and 132 miles north of Hrishikesh and is accessible by foot. The temple at Kedarnath enshrining the Jyotirlingam of Shiva opens only 6 months a year (April-November) when the sun enters the zodiac sign of Aries and it is closed when the sun enters Scorpio. The priests then go to Ukhimath, where the worship of Kedareshwara is continued during the winter season. Tradition has it that when undertaking Kedarnath Yatra pilgrims first visit Yamunotri and Gangotri and bring with them the holy waters from the sources of the rivers Yamuna and Ganga and offer abhishekams to Kedareshwara. The traditional pilgrim route is Haridwar - Rishikesh - Devaprayag - Tehri - Dharasu Yamunotri - Uttar Kashi - Gangotri - Triyugnarayan - Gowrikund and Kedarnath. The alternative route to Kedar from Rishikesh is via Devprayag, Srinagar, Rudraprayag and Ukhimath.

Legend Behind Kedarnath Temple


Legend goes that Nara and Narayana - two incarnations of Vishnu performed severe penance in Badrikashraya of Bharat Khand, in front of a Shivalingam fashioned out of earth. Pleased with their devotion, Lord Shiva appeared in front of them and said that they may ask for a boon. Nar and Narayan requested Shiva to take up a permanent abode as a Jyotirlingam at Kedarnath so that all people who worship Shiva shall be freed from their miseries. According to yet another popular legend related to Kedar Temple, Goddess Parvati worshipped Kedareshwar to unite with Shiva as Ardhanareeswarar. Besides, the Pandavas are believed to have visited this area several times. Arjuna is believed to have come here to pray to Shiva to obtain the coveted Pasupataastra. The other Pandavas are believed to have come here in search of him, where Draupadi came across the heavenly lotus Kalyana Saugandikam, and requested Bhima to bring here some more of the same. It was during his venturing out to seek these flowers that Bhima met Hanumaan.

Significance of Kedarnath Temple


Located in the lofty Himalayas, Kedarnath Temple is one of the best known Shivasthalams in India and is considered to be one of the most sacred pilgrimage centers of the country. It is believed that by praying to Kedareshwar, one can get all his desires fulfilled. Importance of the shrine can be further understood from the beliefs that Upamanyu prayed to Lord Shiva in this place in Satayuga while in Dwapar, the Pandavas worshipped Lord Shiva here. Even the spiritual leader Adi Sankaracharya is closely associated with Kedarnath.

Structure of Kedarnath Temple


Kedarnath Shrine is scenically placed amidst the lofty, snow - covered mountains and grassy meadows covering the valleys. Immediately behind the temple is the high Keadardome peak, which can be sighted from great distances. It is believed that the temple of Kedarnath was constructed by the Pandavas. At the entrance of the temple is the statue of Nandi, the divine bull of Shiva. Walls inside the temple are exquisitely carved with images. The revered Shiva Lingam housed in the temple is in the unusual pyramidal form.

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Grishneshwar Temple in Daulatabad


Grishneshwar Temple is an ancient pilgrimage site revered as the abode of one of the 12 Jyotirlinga manifestation of Lord Shiva. The Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga shrine is located at a village called Verul, which lies 20 km from Daulatabad (near Aurangabad in Maharashtra) and approximately 100 kms from Manmad station. Located close to Daulatabad (once known as Devagiri) is the popular tourist attractions Ajanta - Ellora. The Grishneswar Temple was constructed by Ahilyabhai Holkar who also re-constructed the Kashi Viswanatha Temple at Varanasi and the Vishnu Paada Temple at Gaya. The Grishneshwar Temple is also known by several other names like Kusumeswarar, Ghushmeswara, Grushmeswara and Grishneswara.

Legend Behind Grishneshwar Temple


According to Shivapuran, in the southern direction, on a mountain named Devagiri lived a Brahmin called Brahmavetta Sudharm along with his wife Sudeha. The couple did not have a child because of which Sudeha was sad. Sudeha prayed and tried all possible remedies but in vain. Frustrated of being childless, Sudeha got her sister Ghushma married to her husband. On the advice of her sister, Ghushma used to make 101 lingas, worship them and discharge them in the near by lake. With the blessings of Lord Shiva, Ghushma gave birth to a baby boy. Because of this, Ghushma became proud and Sudeha started feeling jealous towards her sister. Out of jealously, one night she killed Ghushmas son and threw him in the lake where Ghushma used to discharge the lingas. Next morning, Ghushmas and Sudharm got involved in daily prayers and ablutions. Sudeha too, got up and started performing her daily choirs. Ghushmas daughter-in-law, however, saw stains of blood on her husbands bed and parts of the body drenched in blood. Horrified, she narrated everything to mother-in-law Ghushma who was absorbed in worshipping Shiva. Ghushma did not deter. Even her husband Sudharma did not move an inch. Even when Ghushma saw the bed drenched in blood she did not break down and said he who has given me this child shall protect him and started reciting Shiva-Shiva. Later, when she went to discharge the Shivalingas after prayers she saw her son coming. Seeing her son Ghushma was neither happy nor sad. At that time Lord Shiv appeared before her and said - I am pleased with your devotion. Your

sister had killed your son. Ghushma told Lord to forgive Sudeh and emancipate her. Pleased with her generosity, Lord Shiva asked her another boon. Ghushma said that if he was really happy with her devotion then he should reside here eternally for the benefit of the multitudes in form of a Jyotirling and may you be known by my name. On her request, Lord Shiva manifested himself in the form of a Jyotirling and assumed the name Ghushmeshwar and the lake was named as Shivalaya thereafter.

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Mahashivratri Essay
Shivratri - the festival celebrating the marriage of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati infuses the spirit of devotion and dedication among the Hindus. Feel the verve of the festival with these lovely Shivratri essays contributed by our visitors. We also invite you to send Mahashivratri essay to our site and help us enrich this page.

Maha Shivratri in Mauritius


In Mauritius, Mahashivratri is celebrated with great devotion. Here pilgrims start their preparation one month before the festival. People from different societies around the island spent a lot of time for Shivaratri preparations. Sometimes whole night is spent in preparing beautifully decorated 'Kanwars' which they carry during their pilgrimage to Grand Bassin also known as 'Ganga Taloa'.The Ganga Talao is a crater lake with a small island in the middle was discovered by Pandit Gosain Naipaul 108 years ago. This year we are celebrating the 108th anniversary of its discovery. In this context a 'Maha Shiv Katha' has been organized. In the sixties the lake was made sacred by pouring holy water from Ganga into it. During the whole week starting from Saturday, about five to six thousand devotees converge to the sacred lake either by transport or on foot from every corner of the island. These devotees chant Bhajans and Mantras on Lord Shiva during their pilgrimage. There is a great effervescence throughout the island. Thousands of volunteers all round the country spend their time serving the pilgrims with food and other facilities. One of the most important mandir of the island, 'the Umanath Mandir' of Montagne Blanche receive about 5,000 pilgrims offering them food and shelter on their way to the sacred lake. On the eve of Shivratri festival, processions are organized all round the island. On the day of the festival at 4.00 am, the prayer starts with 'Shiv Abhishek' and the whole day the place is thronged by large number of devotees who come to offer the holy water from Ganga Talao and fruits to Lord Shiva in the temples. Afternoon session leads to 'Char Pahar ki Pooja'. The pooja ceremony starts at 6.00 pm with the first Pahar. The acharya performs Maha Abhishek. Then it follows with the second pahar at 9.00 pm, the third pahar at 12.00 pm and the fourth pahar at 3.00 am. The holy pooja ends with a 'Maha Yagya' around 6:00 am next day. Devotees chant Maha mantra "Om Namah Shivaye" 18, 216, 324 and 452 times on each of the pahar respectively. Whole night, the 'Shivalay' is animated with bhajans and religious hymns. Some artisits and localities perform the 'Tandava' and dramas on Lord Shiva. Thus, the festival of Shivaratri unite all the Hindus of the island. It is one of the festivals which is celebrated with such great devotion in Mauritius. HAR HAR MAHADEV..... HAR HAR MAHADEV.... HAR HAR MAHADEV....

Esoteric Explanation of Mahashivaratri


Mahashivratri is the auspicious night of Lord Shiva. All Hindu Festivals convey certain stories/episodes which have some deep inner meaning. Here is a beautiful story associated with the holy festival of Mahashivaratri. A tiger was chasing a man and the man out of fear ran and ran and finally climbed a tree and sat on its branch. The tiger was also following the man and sat just under the tree. The man out of fear started plucking the leaves and dropped them one by one to keep him awake whole night. Next day morning, Lord Shiva appeared before the man and blessed him. The man attained liberation. Three Gunas i.e. Tamas, Rajas and Satwik are Structure, Metabolism and Intellect. Tamas is dull, lethargic and fearful representing the physical body. Rajas are feelings and emotions representing the mental personality in the form of tiger. And finally, Satwic is intellect in the form of plucking Bilwa leaves and offering them just below the Shivalinga. Bilwa leaf has three segments representing all these three gunas. If one uses these three i.e.physical, mental and intellectual in a balanced manner, the self or the soul attains liberation i.e. Moksha. Contributed by: V.T.Panchapagesan, NJ, USA

Scientific Explanation of Maha Shiv Ratri


Ratri is Dark which is Ignorance. Ignorance begets Fear. Knowledge begets Confidence. There are two forces acting on us and they are Positive Force and Negative Force. Faith is the positive force enriching Human Lives. Doubt is the negative force robbing of Glow and Meaning. Siva means Movement/Action. Soul is eternal and it is a continuous process of identifying itself to The Supreme. Jyothir Ling in Kedarnath indicates the Gunas within us i.e. Tamas, Rajas and Satwic. If they are balanced, life is blissful. Contributed by: V.T.Panchapagesa, NJ. USA

Mahashivratri, the night of Shivji


Mahashivratri, the night of Shivji,is one of the most sacred festivals of Hindus. There are many myths and rituals behind Mahashivratri. First of all, it celebrates the wedding day of Parvati Mata and Lord Shiva. The divine couple finally got together after rebirth of Sati as Parvati Ma. At our mandir, there is a "Shiva-Lila" where actors enact the story of Sati and the wedding day, it just feels so sacred. There are also more myths such as Shivji drinking the 'Halahal' during the Samundra Manthan and the bringing of Ganga Maiya through Shivji's dreadlocks. My mom observes a very strict fast during this auspicious day. She doesn't eat anything until the vigil is complete. During the vigil, we bathe the Shivalinga at 6:00 p.m., 9:00 p.m., 12 midnight, 3:00 a.m., and 6:00 a.m. with each ingredient of the 'Panchamrit' separately (one ingredient every bathing time). At 6:30 a.m., we perform 'Maha Abhishekh' with each of the five ingredients separately, panchamrit and rose water. After 'bilva patra puspanjali', we do the 'Maha Arti'. After this, all of us offer prayer to Shivji and mom breaks her fast with the remaining panchamrit and gives us the Panchamarit as prasad. Shivratri is the perfect night to pray to Bhole Nath and achieve mukti. JAI SHIV SHANKAR!!! SHRI BHOLE NATHJI KI JAI!!! Contributed by: Manveer Sihota

Mahashivratri
Mahashivratri celebrates the marriage of Lord Shiva with Goddess Parvati. It falls on the 14th night of the

new moon. According to the Hindu mythology, on this moonless night, Lord Shiva danced the Tandava which signifies creation, preservation and destruction of the cosmos. Every year millions of devotees fast in honor of Lord Shiva and offer prayers in various Shiva temples. People perform some rituals on this day and the most significant practice is to offer coconut, Bael leaves and fruits to Lord Shiva. People wait in long queues outside Shiva temples to worship Lord Shiva. They sing bhajans and kirtan in honor of Lord and his consort Pravati. By: Sakshi Sibal

Maha Shivratri in Fiji


Maha Shivratri in Fiji is celebrated by all Hindus in their homes, Ramayan Mandalis, temples and schools. People fast, pray and feast. Devotees offer jaggery, laddu and sugarcane to Lord Shiva. Offering Bel Patra and milk to Shivling is an important ritual of this day. Mothers offer special prayers for their sons and daughters, wives for their husbands and unmarried girls for ideal husbands. The popularity of this festival has increased double fold during last 15 - 20 years. Thanks to the mass media and the learned priests of Shri Sanatan Dharam Pratinidhi Sabha and school system of the Republic of Fiji Islands. By: Satya Nand Sharma Navua, Fiji