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Who Founded Hinduism? The Origin Of Hinduism and Sanatana Dharma-hindufaqs

Introduction

What do we mean by Founder? When we say a founder, we mean to say that someone has brought into existence a new faith or formulated a set of religious beliefs, principles and practices which were not in existence before. That cannot happen with a faith such as Hinduism, which is considered eternal. According to the scriptures, Hinduism is the religion of not just humans. Even gods and demons practice it. Ishwar (Ishwara), the Lord of the universe, is its source. He also practices it. Hence, Hinduism is God’s Dharma, brought down to the earth, just as the sacred River Ganga, for the welfare of the humans.

Who is then the Founder of Hinduism (Sanatana Dharma)?

 Hinduism is not founded by a person or a prophet. Its source is God (Brahman) himself. Hence, it is considered an eternal religion (Sanatana dharma). Its first teachers were Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Brahma, the creator God revealed the secret knowledge of the Vedas to gods, humans and demons in the beginning of creation. He also imparted to them the secret knowledge of the Self, but due to their own limitations, they understood it in their own ways.

Vishnu is the preserver. He preserves the knowledge of Hinduism through countless manifestations, associated gods, aspects, saints and seers to ensure the order and regularity of the worlds. Through them, he also restores the lost knowledge of various Yogas or introduces new reforms. Further, whenever the Hindu Dharma declines beyond a point, he incarnates upon earth to restore it and revive its forgotten or lost teachings. Vishnu exemplifies the duties which humans are expected to perform upon earth in their individual capacity as householders within their spheres.

Shiva too plays an important role in upholding Hindu Dharma. As the destroyer, he removes the impurities and confusion that creeps into our sacred knowledge. He is also considered the universal teacher and the source of various art and dance forms (Lalitakalas), Yogas, vocations, sciences, farming, agriculture, alchemy, magic, healing, medicine, Tantra and so on.

Thus, like the mystic Ashvattha Tree which is mentioned in the Vedas, the roots of Hinduism are in heaven, and its branches are spread out on earth. Its core is divine knowledge, which governs the conduct of not only humans but also of the beings in other worlds with God acting as its creator, preserver, concealer, revealer and remover of obstacles. Its core philosophy (the shruti) is eternal, while it changing parts (smriti) keep changing according to the time and circumstances, and the progress of the world. Containing in itself the diversity of God’s creation, it remains open to all possibilities, modifications and future discoveries.

Also Read: Prajapatis – the 10 sons of Lord Brahma

Many other divinities such as Ganesha, Prajapati, Indra, Shakti, Narada, Saraswati and Lakshmi are also credited with the authorship of many scriptures. Apart from this, countless scholars, seers, sages, philosophers, gurus, ascetic movements and teacher traditions enriched Hinduism through their teachings, writings, commentaries, discourses and expositions. Thus, Hinduism is derived from many sources. Many of its beliefs and practices found their way into other religions, that either originated in India or interacted with it.

Since Hinduism has its roots in the eternal knowledge and its aims and purpose are closely aligned to those of God as the Creator of all, it is considered an eternal religion (Sanatana dharma). Hinduism may disappear from the face of the earth due to the impermanent nature of the world, but the sacred knowledge which forms its foundation will remain forever and keep manifesting in each cycle of creation under different names. It is also said that Hinduism has no founder and no missionary goals because people have to come to it either by providence (birth) or personal decision due to their spiritual readiness (past karma).

The name Hinduism, which is derived from the root word, “Sindhu” came into usage due to historical reasons. Hinduism as a conceptual entity did not exist until the British times. The word itself does not appear in literature until the 17th Century A.D. In medieval times, the Indian subcontinent was known as Hindustan or the land of Hindus. They were not all practising same faith, but different ones, which included Buddhism, Jainism, Shaivism, Vaishnavism, Brahmanism and several ascetic traditions, sects and sub sects.

The native traditions and the people who practiced Sanatana Dharma went by different names, but not as Hindus. During the British times, all the native faiths were grouped under the generic name, “Hinduism” to distinguish it from Islam and Christianity and to dispense with justice or settle local disputes, property and tax matters.

Subsequently, after the independence, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism were separated from it by enacting laws. Thus, the word Hinduism was born out of historical necessity and entered the constitutional laws of India through legislation.

Shambhu, this name of Lord Shankar indicates his blissful personality. He assumes the form of gross elements during playful moments.
Sanskrit:
नमामि देवं परमव्ययंतं
उमापतिं लोकगुरुं नमामि ।
नमामि दारिद्रविदारणं तं
नमामि रोगापहरं नमामि ॥२॥
Translation:
Namaami Devam Param-Avyayam-Tam
Umaa-Patim Loka-Gurum Namaami |
Namaami Daaridra-Vidaarannam Tam
Namaami Roga-Apaharam Namaami ||2||

Meaning:

2.1 I reverentially bow down to the Divine Lord Who abides as the unchangeable state beyond the human mind,
2.2: To that Lord Who is also embodied as the consort of Devi Uma, and Who is the Spiritual Teacher of the whole World, I reverentially bow down,
2.3: I reverentially bow down to Him Who tears asunder our (inner) Poverties (He being present as our most Glorious Inner Being),
2.4: (And) I reverentially bow down to Him Who takes away our Diseases (of Samsara) (by revealing His Glorious Nature).

Source: Pinterest

Sanskrit:

नमामि कल्याणमचिन्त्यरूपं
नमामि विश्वोद्ध्वबीजरूपम् ।
नमामि विश्वस्थितिकारणं तं
नमामि संहारकरं नमामि ॥३॥

Translation:

Namaami Kalyaannam-Acintya-Ruupam
Namaami Vishvo[a-U]ddhva-Biija-Ruupam |
Namaami Vishva-Sthiti-Kaarannam Tam
Namaami Samhaara-Karam Namaami ||3||

Meaning:

3.1: I reverentially bow down (to Him) Who is the cause of all Auspiciousness, (ever present behind the mind) in His Inconceivable form,
3.2: I reverentially bow down (to Him) Whose form is like the seed giving rise to the Universe,
3.3: I reverentially bow down to Him Who is also the cause of the maintenance of the Universe,
3.4: (And) I reverentially bow down (to Him) Who is (finally) the destroyer (of the Universe).

Sanskrit:

नमामि गौरीप्रियमव्ययं तं
नमामि नित्यंक्षरमक्षरं तम् ।
नमामि चिद्रूपममेयभावं
त्रिलोचनं तं शिरसा नमामि ॥४॥

Translation:

Namaami Gaurii-Priyam-Avyayam Tam
Namaami Nityam-Kssaram-Akssaram Tam |
Namaami Cid-Ruupam-Ameya-Bhaavam
Tri-Locanam Tam Shirasaa Namaami ||4||

Meaning:

4.1: I reverentially bow down to Him Who is dear to Gauri (Devi Parvati) and unchangeable (which also signifies that Shiva and Shakti are inseparably connected),
4.2: I reverentially bow down to Him Who is Eternal, and Who is the One Imperishable behind all the perishable,
4.3: I reverentially bow down (to Him) Who is of the nature of Consciousness and Whose Meditative State (symbolizing the all-pervading consciousness) is immeasurable,
4.4: To that Lord Who has Three Eyes, I reverentially bow down.
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Shiva and Parvati as Ardhanarisvara

1. Shiva’s  Trishul or Trident symbolizes the unity of 3 worlds of a human being-his inside world, the immediate world around him and the broader world, a harmony between the 3. The crescent moon on his forehead that gives him the name of  Chandrashekar, dates back from the Vedic age when Rudra and Soma, the Moon God, were worshipped together. The Trishul in his hand also represents the 3 Gunas-Sattva,Rajas and Tama, while the Damaru or the drum represents the sacred sound OM from which all languages are formed.

Shiva's Trishul or Trident
Shiva’s Trishul or Trident

2. Bhagiratha  prayed to Lord Shiva for getting the Ganga to earth, which would flow over his ancestor’s ashes and grant them salvation. However when Ganga was descending to Earth, she was still in a playful mood. She felt she would just rush down and sweep Shiva off his feet. Sensing her intentions, Shiva, imprisoned the falling Ganga in his locks. It  was again on Bhagiratha’s plea, that Shiva let Ganga flow from his hair. The name Gangadhara comes from Shiva carrying Ganga on his head.

Lord Shiva and Ganga
Lord Shiva and Ganga

3. Shiva is represented as Nataraja, the Lord of Dance, and there are two forms, Tandava, the fierce aspect representing destruction of  universe, and Lasya, the gentler one. The demon being surpressed under Shiva’s feet is Apasmara symbolizing ignorance.

Shiva as Nataraja
Shiva as Nataraja

4. Shiva along with his consort Parvati is represented in the Ardhanarisvara form, which is a half male, half female icon. The concept is  of  the masculine energy(Purusha)  and feminine energy( Prakrithi)  of the universe in a synthesis. At another level, this is also used to symbolize that in a marital relationship, the wife is one half of the husband, and has an equal status.  That is the reason why Shiva-Parvati are often held as examples of a perfect marriage.

Shiva and Parvati as Ardhanarisvara
Shiva and Parvati as Ardhanarisvara

5. Kamadeva, the Hindu god of love, Cupid’s equivalent albeit clothed, was burned to ash by Shiva. This was when Devas were waging a war against Tarakasur. He could only be defeated by Shiva’s son. But Shiva was busy in meditation and well, no one procreates when meditating. So Devas asked Kamadeva to pierce Shiva with his love arrows. He managed except Shiva woke up in rage. Apart from Tandava, the other thing that Shiva is known to do in anger is open his third eye. If he views anyone from his third eye, then the person is burned down. This is exactly what happened to Kamadeva.

6. Ravana was one of Shiva’s greatest devotees. Once he tried to uproot Mount Kailasa, Shiva’s abode in the Himalayas. I cannot remember the exact reason why he wanted to do so but anyway, he could not succeed in this endeavour. Shiva trapped him beneath Kailasa. To redeem himself, Ravana started singing hymns in praise of Shiva. He cut off one of his heads to make a veena and used his tendons as the instrument’s string to make music. Eventually, over many years, Shiva did forgive Ravana and freed him from under the mountain. Also, post this episode, Shiva was so moved by Ravana’s prayer that he became his favorite devotee.

Shiva and ravana
Shiva and ravana

7. He is known as Tripurantaka because he destroyed the 3 flying cities Tripura with Brahma driving his chariot and Vishnu propelling the warhead.

Shiva as Tripurantaka
Shiva as Tripurantaka

8. Shiva is a pretty liberal God. He allows everything which is otherwise considered unconventional or taboo in religion. One need not follow any set rituals to pray to him. He is not a sucker for rules and is known to grant wishes to anyone and everyone. Unlike Brahma or Vishnu who want their devotees to prove their mettle, Shiva is fairly easy to please.

Kids dressed as Shiva on Maha Shivratri

Maha Shivaratri is a Hindu festival celebrated annually in reverence of the god Shiva. It is the day Shiva was married to the goddess Parvati. The Maha Shivaratri festival, also popularly known as ‘Shivaratri’ (spelt as Sivaratri, Shivaratri, Sivarathri, and Shivarathri) or ‘Great Night of Shiva’, marks the convergence of Shiva and Shakti. Chaturdashi Tithi during Krishna Paksha in month of Magha is known as Maha Shivaratri according to South Indian calendar. However according to North Indian calendar Masik Shivaratri in month of Phalguna is known as Maha Shivaratri. In both calendars it is naming convention of lunar month which differs. However both, North Indians and South Indians, celebrate Maha Shivaratri on same day.  Of the twelve Shivaratris in the year, the Maha Shivarathri is the most holy.

shankar Mahadev | Maha Shiv Ratri
shankar Mahadev

The legends signify that this day is the favorite of Lord Shiva and also throws light on his greatness and the supremacy of Lord Shiva over all other Hindu Gods and Goddesses.
Maha Shivaratri also celebrates the night when Lord Shiva performed the ‘Tandava’, the cosmic dance.

In honour of Siva, one of the Hindu Trinity, representing the destructive aspect in the universe.Though generally, the night time is considered sacred and suitable for the worship of the feminine aspect of’ the deity and the day time for that of’ the masculine, yet on this particular occasion Siva is worshipped during the night time, and as a matter of fact, it is specially enjoined to be observed then. The observance of the Vratha is believed to secure for the devotee immunity from the eftects of sin committed either wittingly or unwittingly. The night is divided into four quarters, each quarter going by the name of a Jama called also Yama and pious people keep awake during every one of it , worshipping Iswara.

The festival is principally celebrated by offerings of Bael leaves to Shiva, all-day fasting and an all-night-vigil (jagaran). All through the day, devotees chant “Om Namah Shivaya”, the sacred mantra of Shiva. Penances are performed in order to gain boons in the practice of Yoga and meditation, in order to reach life’s highest good steadily and swiftly. On this day, the planetary positions in the Northern hemisphere act as potent catalysts to help a person raise his or her spiritual energy more easily. The benefits of powerful ancient Sanskrit mantras such as Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra increase greatly on this night.

Stories:
There are many incidents told about the greatness of this day. Once a hunter in a jungle after searching throughout the jungle, was quite tired and could not get any animal. In the nightfall a tiger started chasing him. to escape from that he climbed a tree. That was a Bilva tree. The tiger sat under the tree waiting for him to come down. The hunter who sat on a branch of the tree was quite tense and didn’t want to sleep. He was plucking the leaves and putting down as he was not able to be idle. Below the tree there was a Shiva lingam. The whole night went on like this. God was pleased with the Upavasa (hunger) and the Pooja the hunter and the tiger did even without knowledge. He is the peak of the grace. He gave the hunter and the tiger “Moksha”. The drenching rain constituted a bath and his action of throwing the bael leaves on the Shiva Lingam, the worship of Shiva on the Shivaratri night. Though his actions were not intentional to worship Shiva, yet he is said to have gained heaven as he had observed the Shivaratri Vratha unwittingly.

              Also read : Most Badass Hindu Gods : Shiva

Once Parvati asked Lord Shiva which devotees and rituals pleased him the most. The Lord replied that the 14th night of the new moon, in the dark fortnight during the month of Phalgun, is his favorite day. Parvati repeated these words to Her friends, from whom the word spread to all creation.

Kids dressed as Shiva on Maha Shivratri
Kids dressed as Shiva on Maha Shivratri
Credits: theguardian.com

How is Maha Shivaratri celebrated

According to the Shiva Puran, six items are regarded precious to worship and offer Lord Shiva in Maha Shivaratri.
The six Items are Beal fruit, Vermilion Paste (Chandan), Food Items (Prasad), Incense, Lamp (Diyo), Betel Leaves.

1) Beal Leaf (Marmelos leaf) – offering of Beal Leaf represents purification of the soul.

2) Vermilion paste (Chandan) – Applying chandan on Shiva Linga after washing the Linga represents good feature. Chandan is inseparable part of Worshipping Lord Shiva.

3) Food items – Food items such as rice and fruits are offered to the Lord to ensure a long life and fulfillment of desires.

4) Incense (Dhoop batti) – Incense sticks are lit before Lord Shiva to be blessed with wealth and prosperity.

5) Lamp (Diyo) – The lighting of Cotton handmade batti , lamp or diyo is believed to be helpful to gain knowledge.

6) Betel leaves (Paan ko patta) – Beatle leaves or Pan ko pat represents satisfaction with maturity.

Also read: Why Shiva was always high on marijuana being a GOD?

Shiva Puran states, the beat of Damaru revealed the first seven letters of music. Those notes are source of language too. Shiva is inventor of notes of music Sa, Re, Ga, Ma Pa, Dha, Ni. He is worshiped as inventor of language on his birthday too.

The Shiva linga is washed with Pancha kavya (mixture of five products of cow) and Panchamatrit (mixture of five sweet things). Pancha kavya includes cow dung, cow urine, milk, Curd and Ghee. Panchamrit includes Cow milk, Yogurt, Honey, Sugar and Ghee.

In front of the Shiva Linga Kalash (Medium size vessel with small neck) filled with mixed water and milk is set. The neck of the Kalash is tied with white and red piece of cloth. Flower, mango leaves, peeple leaves, beal leaves are kept inside the kalash. Mantras are chanted to worship Lord Shiva.

Shiva idol | Maha Shivratri
Shiva idol

In Nepal, millions of Hindus attend Shivaratri together from different part of the world at the famous Pashupatinath Temple. Thousands of devotees also attend Mahasivaratri at the famous Shiva Shakti Peetham of Nepal.

The indian devotee visits many big and small shiva temples to do their offerings and pray. The 12 Jyotirlingas are the famous of them all.

In Trinidad and Tobago, thousands of Hindus spend the auspicious night in over 400 temples across the country, offering special jhalls to Lord Shiva.

Credits: Photo credits to the Original Photographer.

Nageshvara Jyotirlinga - 12 Jyotirlinga

This is the Fourth part of 12 jyotirlinga in which we will discuss about last four jyotirlinga which are
Nageshwara, Rameshwara, Trimbakeshwar, Grishneshwar. So lets start with the nineth jyotirling.

9) Nageshvara Jyotirlinga:

Nageshvara Jyotirlinga is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines mentioned in the Shiva Purana. Nageshvara is believed to be the first Jyotirlinga on the earth.

Nageshvara Jyotirlinga - 12 Jyotirlinga
Nageshvara Jyotirlinga – 12 Jyotirlinga

The Shiva Purana says Nageshvara Jyotirlinga is in ‘the Darukavana’, which is an ancient name of a forest in India. ‘Darukavana’ finds mention in Indian epics, such as Kamyakavana, Dvaitavana, Dandakavana. There is a narrative in the Shiva Purana about the Nageshvara Jyotirlinga which tells of a demon named Daaruka, who attacked a Shiva devotee named Supriya and imprisoned him along with many others in his city of Darukavana, a city under the sea inhabited by seasnakes and demons. At the urgent exhortations of Supriya, all the prisoners started to chant the holy mantra of Shiva and immediately thereafter the Lord Shiva appeared and the demon was vanquished, later residing there in the form of a Jyotirlinga.
And this is how it happened: the demon had a wife, a demoness named Daaruki who worshipped Mata Parvati. As a result of the demoness Daaruki’s great penance and devotion, Mata Parvati gave her a great boon: the goddess enabled her to master the forest where she performed her devotions, and the forest she renamed ‘Darukavana’ in her honour. Wherever Daaruki went the forest would follow her. In order to save the demons of Darukavana from the punishment of the gods, Daaruka summoned up the power she had been given by the goddess Parvati. Devi Parvati had given her power enough to move the forest and so she moved the entire forest into the sea. From here they continued their campaign against the hermits, kidnapping people and keeping them confined in their new lair under the sea, which was how that great Shiva devotee, Supriya, had wound up there.

Nageshvara Jyotirlinga - 12 Jyotirlinga
Nageshvara Jyotirlinga – 12 Jyotirlinga

The arrival of Supriya caused a revolution. He set up a lingam and made all the prisoners recite the mantra Om Namaha Shivay in honour of Shiva while he prayed to the lingam. The demons’ response to the chanting was to attempt to kill Supriya, though they were thwarted by Shiva appearing there and handing him a divine weapon that saved his life. Daaruki and the demons were defeated, and the demons that Supriya didn’t kill were saved by Parvati. The lingam that Supriya had set up was called Nagesha; it is the tenth lingam. Shiva once again assumed the form of a Jyotirlinga with the name Nageshwar, while the Goddess Parvati was known as Nageshwari. The Lord Shiva announced there and then that he would show the correct path to those who would worship him.

10) Ramanathaswamy Temple:
Ramanathaswamy Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to god Shiva located on Rameswaram island in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. It is one of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams, where the three of the most revered Nayanars (Saivite saints), Appar, Sundarar and Tirugnana Sambandar, have glorified the temple with their songs.

Rameswaram temple
Rameswaram temple

According to the Ramayana, Rama, the seventh incarnation of god Vishnu, is believed to have prayed to Shiva here to absolve sin of killing a brahmana, committed during his war against the demon king Ravana in Sri Lanka. Rama wanted to have the largest lingam to worship Shiva. He directed Hanuman, the monkey lieutenant in his army, to bring the lingam from Himalayas. Since it took longer to bring the lingam, Sita, the wife of Rama, built a small lingam out of the sand available in the sea shore, which is believed to be the lingam in the sanctum.

Rameshwaram temple corridor
Rameshwaram temple corridor

The primary deity of the temple is Ramanathaswamy (Shiva) in the form of lingam. There are two lingams inside the sanctum – one built by Goddess Sita, from sand, residing as the main deity, Ramalingam and the one brought by Lord Hanuman from Kailash called Vishwalingam. Rama instructed that Vishwalingam should be worshipped first since it was brought by Lord Hanuman – the tradition continue even today.

11) Trimbakeshwar Temple:

Trimbakeshwar (त्र्यंबकेश्वर) or Tryambakeshwar is an ancient Hindu temple in the town of Trimbak, in the Trimbakeshwar tehsil in the Nashik District of Maharashtra, India, 28 km from the city of Nashik. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas.
It is located at the source of the Godavari River, the longest river in peninsular India. The Godavari River, which is considered sacred within Hinduism, originates from Bramhagiri mountains and meets the sea near Rajahmudry. Kusavarta, a kund is considered the symbolic origin of the river Godavari, and revered by Hindus as a sacred bathing place.

Trimbakeshwar Temple - 12 Jyotirlinga
Trimbakeshwar Temple – 12 Jyotirlinga

Trimbakeshwar is a religious center having one of the twelve Jyotirlingas. The extraordinary feature of the Jyotirlinga located here is its three faces embodying Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Rudra. Due to excessive use of water, the linga has started to erode. It is said that this erosion symbolizes the eroding nature of human society. The Lingas are covered by a jeweled crown which is placed over the Gold Mask of Tridev (Brahma Vishnu Mahesh). The crown is said to be from the age of Pandavs and consists of diamonds, emeralds, and many precious stones.

All other Jyotirlingas have Shiva as the main deity. The entire black stone temple is known for its appealing architecture and sculpture and is at the foothills of a mountain called Brahmagiri. Three sources of the Godavari originate from the Brahmagiri mountain.

12) Grishneshwar Temple:

Grishneshwar, Grushneshwar Jyotirlinga is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines mentioned in the Shiva Purana. Grishneshwar is believed as the Last or 12th (twelfth) Jyotirlinga on the earth. This pilgrimage site is located at a village called Verul which lies at a distance of 11 km from Daulatabad (Devagiri) and 30 km from Aurangabad. It lies at a close proximity to the Ellora caves.

Grishneshwar Temple
Grishneshwar Temple

The temple stands as an illustration of the pre-historic temple traditions as well as of the pre-historic architectural style and structure. The inscriptions on the temples are a source of much attraction to ardent travellers. The temple, built of red rocks, is composed of a five tier shikara. Restored in the 18th century by Ahilyabai Holkar, the temple is 240 x 185 feet tall. It houses beautiful carvings and sculptures of many Indian Gods and Goddesses. Holy water is known to spring from inside the 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 nearby 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 Ghushma’s 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. Ghushma’s daughter-in-law, however, saw stains of blood on her husband’s 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.

Read Previous Part: 12 Jyotirlinga of shiva: Part III

Credits: Photo credits to the original photograph and their owners

kedarnath temple - 12 Jyotirlinga

This is the Third part of 12 jyotirlinga in which we will discuss about next four jyotirlinga which are
Kedarnath, Bhimashankar, Kashi Vishwanath and Vaidhyanath . So lets start with the fifth jyotirling.

5) Kedarnath Temple
Kedarnath Mandir is one of the holiest Hindu temples dedicated to the god Shiva. It is on the Garhwal Himalayan range near the Mandakini river in Kedarnath, Uttarakhand in India. Due to extreme weather conditions, the temple is open only between the end of April (Akshaya Tritriya) to Kartik Purnima (the autumn full moon, usually November). During the winters, the vigrahas (deities) from Kedarnath temple are brought to Ukhimath and worshiped there for six months. Lord Shiva is worshiped as Kedarnath, the ‘Lord of Kedar Khand’, the historical name of the region. The temple structure is believed to have been constructed in the 8th century AD, when Adi Shankara visited.

kedarnath temple - 12 Jyotirlinga
kedarnath temple – 12 Jyotirlinga

According to Hindu mythology, during the Mahabharatha war, the Pandavas killed their relatives; to absolve themselves of this sin, the Pandavas undertook a pilgrimage. But Lord Vishweshwara was away in Kailasa in the Himalayas. On learning this, the Pandavas left Kashi. They reached the Himalayas via Haridwar. They saw Lord Shankara from a distance. But Lord Shankara hid from them. Then Dharmaraj said: “Oh, Lord, You have hidden yourself from our sight because we have sinned. But, we will seek You out somehow. Only after we take your Darshan would our sins be washed away. This place, where You have hidden Yourself will be known as Guptakashi and become a famous shrine.”
From Guptakashi (Rudraprayag), the Pandavas went ahead till they reached Gaurikund in the Himalayas valleys. They wandered there in search of Lord Shankara. While doing so Nakul and Sahadev found a buffalo which was unique to look at.

Then Bheema went after the buffalo with his mace. The buffalo was clever and Bheema could not catch him. But Bheema managed to hit the buffalo with his mace. The buffalo had its face hidden in a crevice-in the earth. Bheema started to pull it by its tail. In this tug-of war, the face of the buffalo went straight to Nepal, leaving its hind part in Kedar. The face is Doleshwar Mahadev in Sipadol, Bhaktapur, Nepal.

On this hind part of Mahesha, a JyotirLinga appeared and Lord Shankara appeared from this light. By getting a Darshan of Lord Shankar, the pandavas were absolved of their sins. The Lord told the Pandavas, “From now on, I will remain here as a triangular shaped JyotirLinga. By taking a Darshan of Kedarnath, devotees would attain piety”. A triangular shaped rock is worshiped in Garbhagriha of the temple. Surrounding Kedarnath, there are many symbols of the Pandavas. Raja Pandu died at Pandukeshwar. The tribals here perform a dance called “Pandav Nritya”. The mountain top where the Pandavas went to Swarga, is known as “Swargarohini”, which is located off Badrinath. When Darmaraja was leaving for Swarga, one of his fingers fell on the earth. At that place, Dharmaraj installed a Shiva Linga, which is the size of the thumb. To gain Mashisharupa, Shankara and Bheema fought with maces. Bheema was struck with remorse. He started to massage Lord Shankara’s body with ghee. In memory of this event, even today, this triangular Shiva JyotirLinga is massaged with ghee. Water and Bel leaves are used for worship.

kedarnath temple - 12 Jyotirlinga
kedarnath temple – 12 Jyotirlinga

When Nara-Narayan went to Badrika village and started the worship of Parthiva, Shiva appeared before them. Nara-Narayan wished that, for the welfare of the humanity, Shiva should remain there in his original form. Granting their wish, in the snow-clad Himalayas, in a place called Kedar, Mahesha himself stayed there as a Jyoti. Here, He is known as Kedareshwara.

An unusual feature of the temple is the head of a man carved in the triangular stone fascia. Such a head is seen carved in another temple nearby constructed on the site where the marriage of Shiva and Parvati was held. Adi Shankara was believed to have revived this temple, along with Badrinath and other temples of Uttarakhand; he is believed to have attained mahasamadhi at Kedaranath.

 

 

6) Bhimashankar Temple:
Bhimashankar Temple is a Jyotirlinga shrine located 50 km northwest of Khed, near Pune, in India. It is located 127 km from Shivaji Nagar (Pune) in the Ghat region of the Sahyadri hills. Bhimashankar is also the source of the river Bhima, which flows southeast and merges with the Krishna river near Raichur.

Bhimashankar Temple - 12 Jyotirlinga
Bhimashankar Temple – 12 Jyotirlinga

The Bhimashankara temple is a composite of old and the new structures in the Nagara style of architecture. It shows the excellency of the skills achieved by ancient Vishwakarma sculptors. It is a modest yet graceful temple and it dates back to 13th century and the sabhamandap developed in the 18th century by Nana Phadnavis. The shikhara was built by Nana Phadnavis. The great Maratha ruler Shivaji is said to have made endowments to this temple to facilitate worship services. As with other Shiva temples in this area, the sanctum is at a lower level.

It is believed that the ancient shrine was erected over a Swayambhu Lingam (that is the self emanated Shiva Lingam). It can be seen in the temple that the Lingam is exactly at the centre of the floor of the Garbagriham (the Sanctum Sanctorum). Intricate carvings of divinities interspersed with human figurines adorn the pillars and the doorframes of the temple. Scenes from mythology find itself captured in these magnificent carvings.

This temple is closely associated with the legend of Shiva slaying the demon Tripurasura associated with the invincible flying citadels Tripuras. Shiva is said to have taken abode in the ‘Bhima Shankara’ form, upon the request of the Gods, on the crest of the Sahyadri hills, and the sweat that poured forth from his body after the battle is said to have formed the Bhimarathi river.

7) Kashi Vishwanath Temple:

Kashi Vishwanath Temple is one of the most famous Hindu temples and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is located in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India, the holiest existing place of Hindus. The temple stands on the western bank of the holy river Ganges, and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the holiest of Shiva temples. The main deity is known by the name Vishwanatha or Vishweshwara meaning Ruler of the universe. The temple town, which claims to be the oldest living city in the world, with 3500 years of documented history, is also called Kashi and hence the temple is popularly called Kashi Vishwanath Temple.

The temple has been referred to in Hindu scriptures for a very long time and as a central part of worship in the Shaiva philosophy. It has been destroyed and re-constructed a number of times in the history. The last structure was demolished by Aurganzeb, who constructed the Gyanvapi Mosque on its site.

The Vishweshwara Jyotirlinga has a very special and unique significance in the spiritual history of India. Tradition has it that the merits earned by the darshan of other jyotirlinga scattered in various parts of India accrue to a devotee by a single visit to Kashi Vishwanath Temple. Deeply and intimately implanted in the Hindu mind, the Kashi Vishwanath Temple has been a living embodiment of India’s timeless cultural traditions and highest spiritual values.

Kashi Vishwanath - 12 Jyotirlinga
Kashi Vishwanath – 12 Jyotirlinga

The temple complex consists of a series of smaller shrines, located in a small lane called the Vishwanatha Galli, near the river. The linga of the main deity at the shrine is 60 cm tall and 90 cm in circumference housed in a silver altar. The main temple is quadrangle and is surrounded by shrines of other gods. There are small temples for Kaalbhairav, Dhandapani, Avimukteshwara, Vishnu, Vinayaka, Sanishwara, Virupaksha and Virupaksh Gauri in the complex. There is a small well in the temple called the Jnana Vapi also spelled as Gyaan vapi (the wisdom well). The Jnana Vapi well sites to the north of the main temple and it is believed that the Jytorlinga was hidden in the well to protect it at the time of invasion. It is said that the main priest of the temple jumped in the well with the Shiv Ling in order to protect the Jyotirlinga from invaders.

A Shiva temple has been mentioned in the Puranas including the Kashi Khanda (section) of Skanda Purana. The original Vishwanath temple was destroyed by the army of Qutb-ud-din Aibak in 1194 CE, when he defeated the Raja of Kannauj as a commander of Mohammad Ghori. The temple was rebuilt by a Gujarati merchant during the reign of Shamsuddin Iltumish (1211-1266 CE). It was demolished again during the rule of either Hussain Shah Sharqi (1447-1458) or Sikandar Lodhi (1489-1517). Raja Man Singh built the temple during Akbar’s rule, but orthodox Hindus boycotted it as he had let the Mughal emperors marry within his family. Raja Todar Mal further re-built the temple with Akbar’s funding at its original site in 1585.

Kashi Vishwanath temple replaced by a mosque
Kashi Vishwanath temple replaced by a mosque

In 1669 CE, Emperor Aurangzeb destroyed the temple and built the Gyanvapi Mosque in its place. The remains of the erstwhile temple can be seen in the foundation, the columns and at the rear part of the mosque.The Maratha ruler Malhar Rao Holkar wanted to destroy the Gyanvapi mosque and re-construct the temple at the site.However, he never actually did that. His daughter-in-law Ahilyabai Holkar later constructed the present current temple structure near the mosque.

8)Vaidhyanath Jyotirlinga temple:

Vaidhyanath Jyotirlinga temple, also known as Baba dham and Baidyanath dham is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the most sacred abodes of Shiva. It is located in Deoghar in the Santhal Parganas division of the state of Jharkhand, India. It is a temple complex consisting of the main temple of Baba Baidyanath, where the Jyotirlinga is installed, and 21 other temples.

Vaidhyanath Jyotirlinga temple
Vaidhyanath Jyotirlinga temple

According to Hindu beliefs, the demon king Ravana worshipped Shiva at the current site of the temple to get the boons that he later used to wreak havoc in the world. Ravana offered his ten heads one after the another to Shiva as a sacrifice. Pleased with this, Shiva descended to cure Ravana who was injured. As he acted as a doctor, he is referred to as Vaidhya (“doctor”). From this aspect of Shiva, the temple derives its name.

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

The other gods objected to this plan; if Shiva went to Lanka with Ravana, then Ravana would become invincible and his evil and anti-vedic deeds would threaten the world.
On his way back from Mount Kailash, it was time for Ravana to perform sandya-vandana and he could not carry out sandya-vandha with Shiva linga in his hand and therefore searched for someone who could hold it for him. Ganesh then appeared as a shepherd who was rearing sheep nearby. Ravana requested Ganesh pretending as shepherd to hold the linga while he completes sandya-vandana and also guided him not to place the linga on ground at any movement. Ganesh warned Ravana about leaving the linga on the bank of the river and walking away if he doesn’t return soon. Ganesh, pretending to be vexed by Ravena’s delay, set the linga down on earth. The moment linga was kept down, it got fixed to the ground. When Ravana after returning from sandya-vandana tried to move the linga, but he could not. Ravan failed miserably in his attempt to uproot the linga. The Gods were happy with Shiva linga not reaching Ravana’s place.

Read Next Part: 12 Jyotirlinga of shiva: Part IV

Read Previous Part: 12 Jyotirlinga of shiva: Part II

Credits: Photo credits to the original photograph and their owners

Somnath Temple - 12 Jyotirlinga

This is the second part of 12 jyotirlinga in which we will discuss about first four jyotirlinga which are
Somnatha, Mallikarjuna, Mahakaleshwara and Omkareshwara. So lets start with the first jyotirling.

1) The Somnath Temple:

The Somnath Temple, located in the Prabhas Kshetra near Veraval in Saurashtra on the western coast of Gujarat, India, is the first among the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines of the god Shiva. The temple is considered sacred due to the various legends connected to it. Somnath means “Lord of the Soma”, an epithet of Shiva.

Somnath Temple - 12 Jyotirlinga
Somnath Temple – 12 Jyotirlinga

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.

The Somnath Temple is known as “the Shrine Eternal”, having been destroyed SIXTEEN TIMES by Muslim invaders. Apart from the countless riches (gold, gems etc..) it was widely believed to have had a floating Shiva linga (also believed to be the Philosopher’s Stone), which was also destroyed by Mahmud of Ghazni during his raids.
The first temple of Somnath is said to have existed before the beginning of the Christian era. The second temple, built by the Maitraka kings of Vallabhi in Gujarat, replaced the first one on the same site around 649. In 725 Junayad, the Arab governor of Sind, sent his armies to destroy the second temple. The Pratihara king Nagabhata II constructed the third temple in 815, a large structure of red sandstone. In 1024, Mahmud Ghazni raided the temple from across the Thar Desert. During his campaign, Mahmud was challenged by Ghogha Rana, who at the ripe age of 90, sacrificed his own clan fighting against this iconoclast.

Destruction of Somnath Temple
Destruction of Somnath Temple

The temple and citadel were ransacked, and more than 50,000 defenders were massacred; Mahmud personally hammered the temple’s gilded lingam to pieces and the stone fragments were carted back to Ghazni, where they were incorporated into the steps of the city’s new Jamiah Masjid (Friday mosque). The fourth temple was built by the Paramara King Bhoj of Malwa and the Solanki king Bhima of Gujarat (Anhilwara) or Patan between 1026 and 1042. The wooden structure was replaced by Kumarpal who built the temple of stone.The temple was razed in 1297 when the Sultanate of Delhi conquered Gujarat, and again in 1394. The Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb destroyed the temple again in 1706. The current is the 7th one that was built by the Efforts of Sardar Patel.

Somnath Temple - 12 Jyotirlinga
Somnath Temple – 12 Jyotirlinga

2) Mallikaarjuna Temple:
Sri Mallikarjuna second of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Lord Siva situated at Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh state, India. It is one of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams.

Mallikaarjuna -12 Jyotirlinga
Mallikaarjuna -12 Jyotirlinga

When Kumar Kartikeya returned to Kailash after completing his trip around the earth, he heard about Ganesha’s marriage from Narada. This angered him. In spite of being restrained by his parents, he touched their feet in obeisance and left for Krounch Mountain. Parvati was very distraught at having to be away from her son, implored Lord Shiva to look for their son. Together, they went to Kumara. But, Kumara went away a further three Yojanas, after learning about his parents coming after him to Krouncha Mountain. Before embarking on a further search for their son on each mountain, they decided to leave a light on every mountain they visited. From that day, that place came to be known as JyotirLinga Mallikarjuna. It is believed that Shiva and Parvati visit this palce on Amavasya (No moon day) and (full Moon day) Pournami, respectively.

Mallikaarjuna -12 Jyotirlinga
Mallikaarjuna -12 Jyotirlinga

Once, a princess named Chandravati decided to go to the Jungles to do penance and meditation. She chose Kadali Vana for this purpose. One day, she witnessed a miracle. A Kapila cow was standing under a Bilwa tree and milk was flowing from all of its four udders, sinking into the ground. The cow kept doing this as a routine chore everyday. Chandravati dug up that area and was dumb founded at what she saw. There was a self-raising Swyambhu SivaLinga. It was bright and shining like the sun rays, and looked like it was burning, throwing flames in all directions. Chandravati prayed to Siva in this JyotirLinga. She built a huge Shiva Temple there. Lord Shankara was very pleased with her. Chandravati went to Kailash wind borne. She received salvation and Mukti. On one of the stone-inscriptions of the temple, Chandravati’s story can be seen carved out.

3) Mahakaleshwar Temple :

Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga (महाकालेश्वर ज्योतिर्लिंग) is third of the twelve Jyotirlingams, which are supposed to be the most sacred abodes of Shiva. It is located in the ancient city of Ujjain in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India. The temple is situated on the side of the Rudra Sagar lake. The presiding deity, Shiva in the lingam form is believed to be Swayambhu, deriving currents of power (Shakti) from within itself as against the other images and lingams that are ritually established and invested with mantra-shakti.

Mahakaleshwar Temple - 12 jyotirling
Mahakaleshwar Temple – 12 jyotirling

The idol of Mahakaleshwar is known to be dakshinamurti, which means that it is facing the south. This is a unique feature, upheld by the tantric shivnetra tradition to be found only in Mahakaleshwar among the 12 Jyotirlingas. The idol of Omkareshwar Mahadev is consecrated in the sanctum above the Mahakal shrine. The images of Ganesh, Parvati and Karttikeya are installed in the west, north and east of the sanctum sanctorum. To the south is the image of Nandi, the vehicle of Lord Shiva. The idol of Nagchandreshwar on the third storey is open for darshan only on the day of Nag Panchami. The temple has five levels, one of which is underground. The temple itself is located in a spacious courtyard surrounded by massive walls near a lake. The shikhar or the spire is adorned with sculptural finery. Brass lamps light the way to the underground sanctum. It is believed that prasada (holy offering) offered here to the deity can be re-offered unlike all other shrines.

The presiding deity of time, Shiva, in all his splendor, reigns eternally in the city of Ujjain. The temple of Mahakaleshwar, its shikhar soaring into the sky, an imposing facade against the skyline, evokes primordial awe and reverence with its majesty. The Mahakal dominates the life of the city and its people, even in the midst of the busy routine of modern preoccupations, and provides an unbreakable link with ancient Hindu traditions. On the day of Maha Shivaratri, a huge fair is held near the temple, and worship goes on through the night.

Mahakaleshwar Temple - 12 jyotirling
Mahakaleshwar Temple – 12 jyotirling

The shrine is revered as one of the 18 Maha Shakti Peetham. i.e it is believed to have enshrined with the presence of Shakti due to the falling of body parts of the corpse of Sati Devi, when Lord Shiva carried it. Each of the 51 Shakti peethas have shrines for Shakti and Kalabhairava. The Upper Lip of Sati Devi is said to have fallen here and the Shkati is called as Mahakali.

4) Omkareshwar Temple:

Omkareshwar (ओंकारेश्वर) is  one of the 12 revered Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva. It is on an island called Mandhata or Shivapuri in the Narmada river; the shape of the island is said to be like the Hindu ॐ symbol. There are two temples here, one to Omkareshwar (whose name means “Lord of Omkaara or the Lord of the Om Sound”) and one to Amareshwar (whose name means “Immortal lord” or “lord of the Immortals or Devas”). But as per the sloka on dwadash jyotirligam, Mamleshwar is the jyotirling, which is on other side of Narmada river.

Omkareshwar - 12 Jyotirling
Omkareshwar – 12 Jyotirling

Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga also has its own history and stories.Three of them are prominent. The first story is about Vindhya Parvat (Mount). Once upon a time Narada (son of Lord Brahma), known for his non-stop cosmic travel, visited Vindhya parvat. In his spicy way Narad told Vindhya Parvat about the greatness of Mount Meru. This made Vindhya jealous of Meru and he decided to be bigger than Meru. Vindhya started worship of Lord Shiva to become greater than Meru. Vindhya Parvat practiced severe penance and worshipped parthivlinga (A linga made from physical material) along with Lord Omkareshwar for nearly six months. As a result Lord Shiva was pleased and blessed him with his desired boon. On a request of all the gods and the sages Lord Shiva made two parts of the lingas. One half is called Omkareshwara and the other Mamaleshwar or Amareshwar. Lord Shiva gave the boon of growing, but took a promise that Vindhya will never be a problem to Shiva’s devotees. Vindhya began to grow, but did not keep his promise. It even obstructed the sun and the moon. All deities approached sage Agastya for help. Agastya along with his wife came to Vindhya, and convinced him that he would not grow until the sage and his wife returned. They never returned and Vindhya is there as it was when they left. The sage and his wife stayed in Srisailam which is regarded as Dakshina Kashi and one of the Dwadash Jyotirlinga.

The second story relates to Mandhata and his son’s penance. King Mandhata of Ishvaku clan (an ancestor of Lord Ram) worshipped Lord Shiva here till the Lord manifested himself as a Jyotirlinga. Some scholars also narrate the story about Mandhata’s sons-Ambarish and Mucchkund, who had practiced severe penance and austerities here and pleased Lord Shiva. Because of this the mountain is named Mandhata.

Omkareshwar - 12 Jyotirling
Omkareshwar – 12 Jyotirling

The third story from Hindu scriptures says that once upon a time there was a great war between Devas and Danavas(demon), in which Danavas won. This was a major setback for Devas and hence Devas prayed to Lord Shiva. Pleased with their prayer, Lord Shiva emerged in the form of Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga and defeated Danavas.

Read Next Part: 12 Jyotirlinga of shiva: Part III

Read Previous Part: 12 Jyotirlinga of shiva: Part I

Credits:
Photo credits to original photographers.
www.shaivam.org

A Jyotirlinga or Jyotirling or Jyotirlingam (ज्योतिर्लिङ्ग) is a devotional object representing the god Shiva. Jyoti means ‘radiance’ and lingam the ‘mark or sign’ of Shiva, or a symbol of the pineal gland; Jyotir Lingam thus means the The Radiant sign of The Almighty. There are twelve traditional Jyotirlinga shrines in India.
shankar Idol in Uttarakhand
Worship of shivalinga is considered the prime worship for the devotees of Lord shiva. Worship of all other forms is considered secondary. The significance of the shivalinga is that It is the resplendent light (flame) form of the Supreme – solidified to make the worship of It easier. It represents the real nature of God – formless essentially and taking various forms as It wills.

It is believed that Lord Shiva first manifested himself as a Jyotirlinga on the night of the Aridra Nakshatra, thus the special reverence for the Jyotirlinga. There is nothing to distinguish the appearance, but it is believed that a person can see these lingas as columns of fire piercing through the earth after he reaches a higher level of spiritual attainment.
Originally there were believed to be 64 jyothirlingas while 12 of them are considered to be very auspicious and holy. Each of the twelve jyothirlinga sites take the name of the presiding deity, each considered a different manifestation of Shiva. At all these sites, the primary image is lingam representing the beginningless and endless Stambha pillar, symbolizing the infinite nature of Shiva.

Shivling
Shivling

Dwadasa Jyotirlinga Stotra by Adi Shankaracharya:

“सौराष्ट्रे सोमनाथं च श्रीशैले मल्लिकार्जुनम् ।
उज्जयिन्यां महाकालमोकांरममलेश्वरम् ।
परल्यां वैद्यनाथं च डाकिन्यां भीमशंकरम् ।
सेतुबंधे तु रामेशं नागेशं दारूकावने ।
वाराणस्यां तु विश्वेशं त्रयंम्बकं गौतमीतटे ।
हिमालये तु केदारं घुश्मेशं च शिवालये ।
ऐतानि ज्योतिर्लिंगानि सायं प्रातः पठेन्नरः ।
सप्तजन्मकृतं पापं स्मरणेन विनश्यति ।”

‘Saurashtre Somanaatham Cha Sree Saile Mallikarjunam
Ujjayinyaam Mahaakaalam Omkaare Mamaleswaram
Himalaye to Kedaram Daakinyaam Bhimashankaram
Vaaranaasyaam cha Viswesam Trayambakam Gowtameethate
Paralyaam Vaidyanaatham cha Naagesam Daarukaavane
Setubandhe Ramesham Grushnesam cha Shivaalaye ||’

The twelve Jyotirlingam are:

1. Somanatheshwara: Somanaatheshwara in Somnath is the foremost of the twelve Jyotirlinga Shrines of Shiva, held in reverence throughout India and is rich in legend, traditions and history. It is located at Prabhas Patan in Saurashtra in Gujarat.

2. Mahakaleshwara: Ujjain – Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga shrine The ancient and historic city of Ujjain or Avanti in Madhya Pradesh is home to the Jyotirlinga shrine of Mahakaleshwar.

3. Omkareshwara: a.k.a Mahamalleshwara – Omkareshwar, an island in the course of the river Narmada in Madhya Pradesh is home to the Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga shrine and the Amareshwar temple.

4. Mallikarjuna: Sree Sailam – Sree Sailam near Kurnool enshrines Mallikarjuna in an ancient temple rich in architectural and sculptural wealth. Aadi Sankaracharya composed his Sivanandalahiri here.

5. Kedareshwara: Kedaareshwara of Kedarnath is the Northernmost of the Jyotirlingas. Kedarnath, nestled in the snow clad Himalayas is an ancient shrine rich in legend and tradition. It is accessible only on foot, six months in a year.

6. Bhimashankara: Bhimashankar – Jyotirlinga Shrine is associated with the legend of Shiva destroying the demon Tripurasura. Bhimashankar is located in the Sahyadri hills of Maharashtra, accessed from Pune.

7. Kashi Vishwanatheshwara: Kaashi Vishwanaatheshwara Varanasi – The most celebrated pilgrimage site in India The Vishwanath temple in Benares in Uttar Pradesh is the goal of the thousands of pilgrims that visit this ancient city. The Vishwanath shrine is revered as one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva.

8. Triambakeshwara: Tryambakeshwar – The origin of the river Godavari is intimately linked with this Jyotirlinga shrine near Nasik in Maharashtra.

9. Vaidyanatheshwara: – Vaidyanath temple at Deogarh The ancient pilgrimage town of Deogarh in the Santal Parganas area of Bihar is revered as one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Shiva.

10. Naganatheshwara: – Nageshwar near Dwarka in Gujarat is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva.

11. Grishneshwara: – Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga Shrine is a temple located in the vicinity of the tourist town of Ellora, which has several rock cut monuments from the 1st millennium CE.

12. Rameshwara: – Rameswaram: This vast temple in the island of Rameswaram, in Southern Tamilnadu enshrines Ramalingeswarar, and is revered as the southernmost of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines of India.

Also read 12 Jyotirlinga of shiva: Part II

What is the Story Behind Kumbh Mela - hindufaqs.com

History: It is described that while Durvasa Muni was passing on the road, he saw Indra on the back of his elephant and was pleased to offer Indra a garland from his own neck. Indra, however, being too puffed up, took the garland, and without respect for Durvasa Muni, he placed it on the trunk of his carrier elephant. The elephant, being an animal, could not understand the value of the garland, and thus the elephant threw the garland between its legs and smashed it. Seeing this insulting behavior, Durvasa Muni immediately cursed Indra to be poverty-stricken, bereft of all material opulence. Thus the demigods, afflicted on one side by the fighting demons and on the other by the curse of Durvasa Muni, lost all the material opulence’s in the three worlds.

kumbh Mela, Worlds biggest peaceful gathering | Hindu FAQs
kumbh Mela, Worlds biggest peaceful gathering

Lord Indra, Varuna and the other demigods, seeing their lives in such a state, consulted among themselves, but they could not find any solution. Then all the demigods assembled and went together to the peak of Sumeru Mountain. There, in the assembly of Lord Brahma, they fell down to offer Lord Brahma their obeisances, and then they informed him of all the incidents that had taken place.

Upon seeing that the demigods were bereft of all influence and strength and that the three worlds were consequently devoid of auspiciousness, and upon seeing that the demigods were in an awkward position whereas all the demons were flourishing, Lord Brahma, who is above all the demigods and who is most powerful, concentrated his mind on the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Thus being encouraged, he became bright-faced and spoke to the demigods as follows.
Lord Brahma said: I, Lord Siva, all of you demigods, the demons, the living entities born of perspiration, the living beings born of eggs, the trees and plants sprouting from the earth, and the living entities born from embryos—all come from the Supreme Lord, from His incarnation of rajo-guna [Lord Brahma, the guna-avatara] and from the great sages [rishs] who are part of me. Let us therefore go to the Supreme Lord and take shelter of His lotus feet.

Brahma | Hindu FAQs
Brahma

For the Supreme Personality of Godhead there is no one to be killed, no one to be protected, no one to be neglected and no one to be worshiped. Nonetheless, for the sake of creation, maintenance and annihilation according to time, He accepts different forms as incarnations either in the mode of goodness, the mode of passion or the mode of ignorance.

after Lord Brahma finished speaking to the demigods, he took them with him to the abode of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, which is beyond this material world. The Lord’s abode is on an island called Svetadvipa, which is situated in the ocean of milk.

The Supreme Personality of Godhead directly and indirectly knows how everything, including the living force, mind and intelligence, is working under His control. He is the illuminator of everything and has no ignorance. He does not have a material body subject to the reactions of previous activities, and He is free from the ignorance of partiality and materialistic education. I therefore take shelter of the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord, who is eternal, all-pervading and as great as the sky and who appears with six opulence’s in three yugas [Satya, Tretä and Dväpara].

When offered prayers by Lord Shiva and Lord Brahma, the Supreme Personality of Godhead Lord Vishnu was pleased. Thus He gave appropriate instructions to all the demigods. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is known as Ajita, unconquerable, advised the demigods to make a peace proposal to the demons, so that after formulating a truce, the demigods and demons could churn the ocean of milk. The rope would be the biggest serpent, known as Vasuki, and the churning rod would be Mandara Mountain. Poison would also be produced from the churning, but it would be taken by Lord Siva, and so there would be no need to fear it. Many other attractive things would be generated by the churning, but the Lord warned the demigods not to be captivated by such things. Nor should the demigods be angry if there were some disturbances. After advising the demigods in this way, the Lord disappeared from the scene.

churning of ocean of milk, Samudra manthan | Hindu FAQs
churning of ocean of milk, Samudra manthan

One of the item come from the churning of ocean of milk  was nectar which will give strength to demigods (Amrit). For twelve days and twelve nights (equivalent to twelve human years) the gods and demons fought in the sky for possession of this pot of Amrita. From this nectar some drops spills at Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nashik while they were fighting for nectar . So on earth we celebrate this festival to get the pious credits and meet the purpose of life that is going to back to godhead  our eternal home where our father is waiting for us. This is opportunity we get after associating with saints or holy man who follow scriptures.

Mahadev drinking Halahala poison | Hindu FAQs
Mahadev drinking Halahala poison

Kumbh mela provides us this great opportunity to purify our soul by bathing in holy river and serving saints.

Credits: MahaKumbhaFestival.com

There are many similarities among different mythical characters of different epics. I dont know whether they are same or related to each other. Same thing is there in Mahabharata and Trojan war. I wonder if our mythology is influenced by theirs or theirs by ours! I guess we used to live in the same area and now we had different versions of same epic. Here I have compared some of the characters and I tell you this is very interesting.

The most obvious parallel is between Zeus and Indra:

Indra and Zeus
Indra and Zeus

Zeus, the God of rains and thunder is the most worshipped God in Greek Pantheon. He is the king of Gods. He carries with himself a thunderbolt.Indra is the God of rains and thunder and he too carries a thunderbolt called Vajra. He is also the king of Gods.

Yama and Hades
Yama and Hades

Hades and Yamraj : Hades is the God of the netherworld and death. A similar role is carried by Yama in the Indian Mythology.

Achilles and Lord Krishna: I think Krishna and Achilles both were the same. Both were killed by an arrow piercing their heel and both are the heroes of the two of the world’s greatest epics. Achilles heels and Krishna’s heels were the only vulnerable point on their bodies and the reason of their deaths.

Achilles and Lord Krishna
Achilles and Lord Krishna

Krishna dies when Jara’s arrow pierces his heel. Achilles death was caused by an arrow in his heel too.

Atlantis and Dwarka:
Atlantis is a legendary island. It is said that after a failed attempt to invade Athens, Atlantis sank into the ocean “in a single day and night of misfortune.” In Hindu Mythology, Dwarka, a city built by Vishwakarma on the order of Lord Krishna is supposed to have suffered a similar fate of submersion into the sea after a war among the Yadavas, the descendants of Lord Krishna.

Karna and Achilles: Karna’s kawach (armour) has been compared with that of Achilles’s Styx-coated body. He has been compared to the Greek character Achilles on various occasions as they both have powers but lack status.

Krishna and Odysseus: It is the character of Odysseus that is a lot more like Krishna. He convinces a reluctant Achilles to fight for Agamemnon – a war the Greek hero did not want to fight. Krishna did the same with Arjuna.

Duryodhana and Achilles: Achilles mother, Thetis, had dipped the infant Achilles in the river Styx, holding him by his heel and he became invincible where the waters touched him—that is, everywhere but the areas covered by her thumb and forefinger, implying that only a heel wound could have been his downfall and as anyone could have predicted he was killed when an arrow shot by Paris and guided by Apollo punctures his heel.

Duryodhan and achilles
Duryodhan and achilles

Similarly, in Mahabharata, Gandhari decides to help Duryodhana triumph. Asking him to bathe and enter her tent naked, she prepares to use the great mystic power of her eyes, blind-folded for many years out of respect for her blind husband, to make his body invincible to all attack in every portion. But when Krishna, who is returning after paying the queen a visit, runs into a naked Duryodhana coming to the pavilion, he mockingly rebukes him for his intention to emerge so before his own mother. Knowing of Gandhari’s intentions, Krishna criticizes Duryodhana, who sheepishly covers his groin before entering the tent. When Gandhari’s eyes fall upon Duryodhana, they mystically make each part of his body invincible. She is shocked to see that Duryodhana had covered his groin, which was thus not protected by her mystic power.

Helen of Troy and Draupadi:

Helen of Troy and Draupadi
Helen of Troy and Draupadi

In Greek mythology, Helen of Troy has always been projected as a seductress who eloped with young Paris, forcing her despairing husband to fight the war of Troy to get her back. This war resulted in the burning of the beautiful city. Helen was held accountable for this annihilation. We also hear of Draupadi being blamed for Mahabharata.

Brahma and Zeus: We have Brahma changing into a swan to seduce Saraswati, and Greek mythology has Zeus changing himself into many forms (including a swan) to seduce Leda.

Persephone and Sita:

Persephone and Sita
Persephone and Sita


Both were both forcibly abducted and wooed, and both (in different circumstances) disappeared under the Earth.

Arjuna and Achilees: When the war starts out, Arjuna is unwilling to fight. Similarly, when the Trojan War starts, Achilees does not want to fight. The lamentations of Achilles over the dead body of Patroclus are similar to lamentations of Arjuna over the dead body of his son Abhimanyu. Arjuna laments over the dead body of his son Abhimanyu and pledges to kill Jaydrath the following day. Achilles laments on the dead pody of his brother Patroculus, and pledges to kill Hector the following day.

Karna and Hector:

Karna and Hector:
Karna and Hector:

Draupadi, although loves Arjuna, begins to have a soft corner for Karna. Helen, although loves Paris, begins to have a soft corner for Hector, for she knows that Paris is useless and not respected while Hector is the warrior and well respected.

Please do read our Next post “What are the similarities between Hinduism and Greek mythology? Part 2” to continue reading.

Mahadev drinking Halahala poison | Hindu FAQs

The  Dev (gods) and Rakshashas (demons) got together for the colossal task  of churning the cosmic ocean. Mount Mandara, was used as the pole to  stir the waters. And Vishnu’s Koorma Avatar(Tortoise) balanced the  mountain on its back thereby preventing it from sinking in the depths of  the unfathomable ocean. The great serpent Vasuki was used as the  churning rope. As the ocean was churned lot of goodies came out of it  which the Devs and Rakshashas distributed amongst themselves. But from  the depths of the ocean also came out the ‘Halahal’ Or ‘Kalkoot’ visha(poison). When  the poison was taken out, it started heating up the cosmos considerably.  Such was its heat that people started running in dread, animals started  dying and plants started withering. The “Visha” had no taker hence  Shiva came to everyone’s rescue and he drank the Visha. But, he did not  swallow it. He kept the poison in his throat. Since then, Shiva’s throat  became blue, and he came to be known as Neelkantha or the blue-throated  one.

Mahadev drinking Halahala poison Mahadev drinking halahala poison

Now  this caused immense heat and Shiva started getting restless. A restless  Shiva is not a good omen. Hence the gods undertook the task of cooling  Shiva off. According to one of the legends Chandra Dev (Moon god) made  Shiva’s hair his abode to cool him.

Some legends even claim that Shiva  moved to Kailash (which has subzero temperatures all year round) post  the Samudra Manthan episode. Shiva’s head was covered with “Bilva  Patra”. So you see everything was being done to cool Shiva off

Shiva smoking pot Shiva smoking Marijuana

Now  coming back to the question – Marijuana is supposed to be a coolant. It  lowers down the body’s metabolism and that brings the overall body  temperature down. Same is the case with Cannabis (Bhang) and Datura.  Bhang and Datura are closely associated with Shiva as well.

Credits: Atul Kumar Mishra
Image Credits: To the owners.

The city of Kashi is famous for the shrine of Kaal Bhairav, the kotwal of Kashi or the policeman of Varanasi. His presence evokes fear, no different from some of our policemen. He has a thick moustache, rides a dog, wraps himself in tiger skin, wears a garland of skulls, has a sword in one hand and in another, holds the severed head a criminal.


People go to his shrine to do jhaad: sweeping of hex. Hex means the disruption of one’s aura through witchcraft (jadoo-tona) and malefic gaze (drishti or nazar). Black threads and iron bracelets are sold in shops around the temple, offering Kaal Bhairav’s protection to the devotee.
The story goes that Shiva took the form of Bhairava to behead Brahma who became arrogant after creating the world. Brahma’s head seared into Shiva’s palm and he wandered the earth chased by Brahma-hatya, the infamy of killing the creator.


Shiva finally descended from Kailas southwards along the river Ganga. A point came when the river turned north. At this point, he dipped his hand in the river, and Brahma’s skull became undone and Shiva was thus liberated form Brahma-hatya. This became the site of the famous city of Avimukta (site where one is liberated) which is now called Kashi. It is said that the city stands on Shiva’s trident. Shiva stayed here as the guardian, driving away all those who threaten the city, protecting its inhabitants.

The idea of eight Bhairavs guarding the eight directions (four cardinal and four ordinal) is a common theme in various Purans. In the south, many villages have the shrine of 8 Vairavar (local name for Bhairav) in the eight corners of the village. Bhairava is thus acknowledged as the guardian god.

In many Jain temples, Bhairav stands along with his consort, Bhairavi, as a guardian god. In Gujarat and Rajasthan, one hears of Kala-Bhairav and Gora-Bhairav, the black and white guardians, who watch over shrines of the Goddess. Kala-Bhairav is more popularly known as Kaal, the black (Kala) referring to the black hole of time (Kaal) that consumes everything. Kaal Bhairav is associated with alcohol and wild frenzy. By contrast, Gora Bhairav or Batuk Bhairav (the small Bhairav) is visualized as a child who likes to drink milk, maybe laced with bhang.

The name Bhairav is rooted in the word ‘bhaya’ or fear. Bhairav evokes fear and takes away fear. He reminds us that fear is at the root of all human frailties. It is fear of invalidation that made Brahma cling to his creation and become arrogant. In fear, we cling to our identities like dogs cling to bones and their territories. To reinforce this message, Bhairav is associated with a dog, a symbol of attachment, as the dog wags its tail when the master smiles and whines when the master frowns. It is attachment, hence fear and insecurity, that makes us cast hexes on people and suffer from hexes cast by people. Bhairav liberates us from all.

Credits: Devdutt Pattnaik (Seven secrets of shiva)

Fascinating Stories about Lord Shiva Ep III - Shiva fight with Narasimha avatara - hindufaqs.com

Perhaps one of the least known stories about Shiva is his fight with Narasimha avatara of Lord Vishnu in the form of Sharabha. One version says he killed Narasimha! Another says Vishnu assumed another superhuman form Gandaberunda to fight Sharabha.

The mythical creature Sharabha shown here is part-bird and part-lion. Shiva Purana describes Sharabha as thousand-armed, lion-faced and with matted hair, wings and eight feet. In his clutches is Lord Narasimha, whom Sharabha slays!

Fascinating Stories about Lord Shiva Ep III - Shiva fight with Narasimha avatara - hindufaqs.com
Fascinating Stories about Lord Shiva Ep III – Shiva fight with Narasimha avatara – hindufaqs.com


First, Vishnu assumed the form of Narasimha to slay Hiranyakashipu, an asura (demon) king, who was terrorizing the universe and devotee of Shiva.The Shiva Purana mentions: After slaying Hiranyakashipu, Narasimha’s wrath was not appeased. The world trembled, fearing what he might do. The Devas (the gods) requested Shiva to tackle Narasimha. Initially, Shiva brings forth Virabhadra, one of his terrifying forms, in order to calm Narasimha. When that failed, Shiva manifested as the human-lion-bird Sharabha. Shiva then assumed the Sharabha form. Sharabha then attacked Narasimha and seized him up until he was immobilized. He thus quelled Narasimha’s terrifying rage. Narasimha became a devotee of Shiva after being bound by Sharabha. Sharabha then decapitated and de-skinned Narasimha so Shiva could wear the hide and lion-head as a garment. The Linga Purana and Sharabha Upanishad also mention this mutilation and murder of Narasimha. After the mutilation, Vishnu assumed his normal form and retired to his abode, after duly praising Shiva. It was from here on that Shiva came to be known as “Sharabeshamurti” or “Simhagnamurti”.

This myth is particularly interesting because it brings to forth the past rivalries between Shaivites and Vaishnavites.

The Vaishnavites have a similar story of Vishnu transforming into Gandaberunda to fight Sharabha, in yet another bird form: a 2 headed eagle.

Credits: Wikipedia
Harish Aditham

Fascinating Stories about Lord Shiva Ep II - Parvati once donated Shiva - hindufaqs.com

Parvati once donated Shiva to Brahma’s Sons on Narad’s advice.

This happened when their second child, Ashokasundari, left home (Kailasha) for meditation.

This is the story: When Kartikeya, their first child, was born, he was given to the Kritikas (some women from Kritika place). This was done because Shiva believed that by growing in that place, he would imbibe skills that would help in warfare later. After coming to Kailasha, he immediately went to train to fight Tarakasura, one of the strongest daemons in the Hindu mythology. Shortly after killing him, he was sent to another kingdom for its protection. So Parvati was not given much opportunities to enjoy the company of her son.

Similar things happened with Ashokasundari. She was shortly motivated to go for meditation.

So Parvati was very upset because her family was never together. Menavati, her mother, tells her that in order to take care of this, Shiva himself should spend more time at home. So now the problem was how to make this happen.

Narad to the rescue! He tells Parvati that when Sachi, the wife of Indra, was having similar problem, she donated Indra to Narad. But Narad gave Indra back to her as he couldn’t see any advantage of keeping him. Since then Indra used to spend most of the time at home. So both Menavati and Narad convince Parvati to adopt a similar method. Narad tells Parvati that she could donate Shiv to the 4 Brahma sons – Sanaka, Sanatana, Sanandana and Sanatkumara.

(Brahma sons taking Shiv along with them)

The donation actually happened, but contrary to their expectation, the Brahma sons did not give Shiv back (who would, eh?).

Then there was a massive uproar everywhere as Shiva was no longer taking care of the worldly affairs – he was now a “property” of the Brahma sons and had to obey their orders. So Parvati assumes a form of an old lady and tries to show them how the world would get devastated if Shiva was not freed. They were convinced and let go of Shiva.

Creits: To original post by Shikhar Agarwal

Fascinating Stories about Lord Shiva Ep I - Shiva and Bhilla - hindufaqs.com

The series ‘Fascinating Stories about Lord Shiva’. This series will be focusing on many known and unknown stores of Shiva. There will be a new story per episode. Ep I is a story about Shiva and Bhilla. There was a sage named Veda. He used to pray to Shiva every day. The prayers lasted till the afternoon and after the prayers were over, Veda used to go to the nearby villages to beg alms.

A hunter named Bhilla used to come to the forest every afternoon to hunt. After the hunt was over, he used to come to Shiva’s linga (image) and offer to Shiva whatever it was that he had hunted. In the process of doing this, he often moved Veda’s offerings out of the way. Strange though it might seem, Shiva was stirred by Bhilla’s offerings and eagerly used to wait for it every day.

Bhilla and Veda never met. But Veda noticed that every day his offerings lay scattered and a little bit of meat lay by the side. Since this always happened when Veda had gone out to beg for alms, Veda did not know who was responsible. One day, he decided to wait in hiding so as to catch the culprit red-handed.

While Veda waited, Bhilla arrived and offered what he had brought to Shiva. Veda was amazed to discover that Shiva himself appeared before Bhilla and asked, “Why are you late today? I have been waiting for you. Did you get very tired?”
Bhilla went away after making his offerings. But Veda came up to Shiva and said, “What is all this? This is a cruel and evil hunter, and yet, you appear before him. I have been performing tapasya for so many years and you never appear before me. I am disgusted at this partiality. I will break your linga with this stone.”

“Do it if you must,” replied Shiva. “But please wait till tomorrow.”
Next day, when Veda came to present his offerings, he found traces of blood on top of the linga. He carefully washed away the traces of blood and completed his prayers.

After some time, Bhilla also came to present his offerings and discovered traces of blood on top of the linga. He thought that he was in some way responsible for this and blamed himself for some unknown transgression. He picked up a sharp arrow and began to pierce his body repeatedly with this arrow as punishment.
Shiva appeared before both of them and said, “Now you see the difference between Veda and Bhilla. Veda has given me his offerings, but Bhilla has given me his whole soul. That is the difference between ritual and true devotion.”
The place where Bhilla used to pray to Shiva is a famous tirtha known as bhillatirtha.

Credits : Brahma Purana

hindufaqs.com Shiva- Most Badass Hindu Gods Part II

Shiva One of the most Badass Hindu GOD, also referred to by names like Rudra, Mahadev, Trayambak, Natraja, Shankar, Mahesh, etc. is considered the personification of the Masculine element of the universe. In the holy trinity of Hinduism, he is considered the ‘destroyer’ of cosmos.
Origin of Shiv shown in a graphic novel

Such is the scale of his wrath, that he had cut off, one of the heads of Brahma, who is a major god and also happens to be part of the trinity. Hindu mythology is loaded with his exploits.

The nature and character of Shiva is marked with simplicity, yet there are unpredictable, contradictory and complex philosophical traits in his personality. He is considered the greatest dancer and musician, yet he prefers to stay away from the pomp of the heavens. Shiva is a hermit, lives a secluded life and enjoys the company of heinous and outcast creatures like Pisachas (vampires) and Preta (Ghost). He dresses himself with tiger hide and sprays human ash all over himself. Shiva loves intoxication (opium, cannabis, and hash are openly offered to him in hindu temples to this day!)however, he is known for being kindhearted, selfless and a maintainer of cosmic balance.  Not only did he slay demons and egotist demi-gods, he has beaten the hell out of all major Heroes of Indian Mythology like Arjuna, Indra, Mitra etc. at some point to destroy their ego.

In contemporary Hindu religion, Shiva is one of the most revered gods. But he is also the most feared.

There are many versions of this story. However in all of them, there are certain common observations. Brahma was a conformist, brahmanical god. A critical study of his character would reveal his prejudice and unfair bias towards Rakshas, Gandharva, Vasu, non-human races and lower forms of creation. Brahma is not immortal. He sprang out of Vishnu’s navel and was entrusted the responsibility of creating mankind. Shiva on the other hand is something different and beyond Brahma. As the omnipresent present manforce of the cosmos, Shiva adored all forms of creation without any bias and prejudice. There are no sacrifices allowed in Shiva temples. Even breaking coconuts (which is symbolic of human sacrifice) is forbidden, despite sacrifice being an essential element of Vedic/brahmanical culture.
Shiva's Rudra avtar shown in a TV serial

Shiva’s boons to rakshasas were the root cause of all major disturbances and invasion on paradise (Swarga). Brahma’s four heads were representative of four dimensions of his thinking. One of it looked down upon of Shiva, and was purist and Devkula (Aryan stock convieniently!) supremacist. Brahma had some grudge against Shiva, for he had slayed one of Brahma’s biological sons Daksha (who also happened to be Shiva’s father in law!!).
Still in his Shankara (cool) form, Shiva had requested Brahma on various occasions to be more kind and inclusive, but that was all in vain. Finally succumbing to his anger, Shiva assumed the dreaded form of Bhairava and chopped off the Brahma’s fourth head that represented his egoist side.

Shiva is representative of the egalitarian and all-inclusive spirit of Hinduism. He was on the verge of supporting Ravana against Ram, if not for Ravana’s towering ego. Though the list of his victims includes the who’s who of Indian mythology (He didn’t spare even his own son Ganesh!), Shiva is considered the easiest god to be pleased.

shankar Idol in Uttarakhand

Some More Info

Symbols of Shiva

1. Trishul : knowledge, desire and implementation

2. Ganga : flow of wisdom and spiritual teachings

3. Moon : Shiv is Trikal-Darshi, master of time

4. Drum : words of vedas

5. Third Eye : destroyer  of evil, when it opens it destroy anything that comes in vision

6. Serpent : ego as ornament

7. Rudraksh :  creation

Bhasm on body and rudraksh never dies like flowers and does not have any distraction (smell)

8. Tiger skin : no fear

9. Fire : destruction

Credits: Post credits Ashutosh Pandey
Image credits to the original post.