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By Swami Harshananda
Jyotirliṅgas literally means ‘liṅgas of light’.
When Brahmā and Viṣṇu were quarrelling about their mutual greatness, it is believed that Śiva manifested himself as a jyotirliṅga or liṅga (pillar) of light. He told them that whoever succeeded in finding his (liṅga’s) extremity was the greater one.
Twelve liñgas, spread all over India, are specially designated as Jyotirliṅgas. Pilgrimage to these places is considered to be very meritorious. These Jyotirliñgas are:
- Somanātha in Gujarat
- Mallikārjuna in Sriśaila, Andhra Pradesh
- Mahākāla in Ujjayinī, Madhya Pradesh
- Parameśvara or Oṅkāreśvara in Oṅkāra an island in the Narmadā river
- Kedāra in the Himalayas
- Bhīmāśaṅkara at the source of the river Bhimā in Maharashtra
- Viśveśvara in Kāśi or Vārāṇasi, Uttar Pradesh
- Tryambakeśvara near Nāsik in Maharashtra
- Vaidyanātha in Citābhumi, Bihar
- Nāgeśa in Dvārakā, Gujarat
- Rāmeśvara in Setubandha, Tamil Nadu
- Ghṛṣṇeśa in Śivālaya, near Daulatabad of Maharashtra
The Śivapurāna of Kotirudrasamhitā narrates the legends connected with these liṅgas.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore