Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Lord Siva at Nageshwar in Gujarat, India

Nageshvara Jyotirlinga is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines mentioned in the Shiva Purana. There are many shrines in India which are believed to be identical to this Jyotirlinga. The major three such shrines are the Nageshwara temple near Dwaraka (Gujarat) the Nagnath temple in Aundha in Maharashtra, and the Jageshwara temple near Almora in Uttarakhand. It is believed to be the first Jyotirlinga on earth.

Shiva Purana says Nageshvara is in the Darukavana, which is an ancient epic name of a forest in India. Darukavana finds mention in Indian epics like Kamyakavana, Dvaitavana, Dandakavana, etc.

According to legends, the Balakhilyas, a group of dwarf sages, worshipped Shiva in Darukavana for a long time. To test their devotion and intentions, Shiva came to Darukavana as a digambara (nude) ascetic, wearing only Nagas (serpents). The wives of the sages were attracted towards him and ran after the ascetic, leaving their husbands. The sages got very disturbed, frustrated, lost their patience and cursed the ascetic to lose his Linga. The severed Shivalinga fell on the earth and whole world trembled. Brahma and Vishnu came to Shiva and requested him to save the earth from destruction and take back his Linga. Shiva consoled them and took back his Linga (Vamana Purana Ch.6 and 45).

Then Shiva promised his divine presence in Darukavana as Jyotirlinga for ever. Later, Darukavana became the favorite place of Nagas, and Vasuki worshipped Shiva here for long, and thereafter the Jyotirlinga came to be known as Nagnath or Nageshvara.

Also, there is a narrative in the Shiva Purana on the Nageshvara Jyotirlinga. It says a demon named Daruka attacked a Shiva devotee, named Supriya, and imprisoned her along with several others in his city of Darukavana. This place was a city of snakes and Daruka was the king of the snakes. On the insistence of Supriya, all the prisoners started to chant the holy mantra of Shiva and instantly Lord Shiva appeared and vanquished the demon and later started to reside here in the form of a Jyotirlinga.

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