7

Lord Shiva has been worshipped in Linga form from time beginning as described in answer here. Among the Lingas there are 12 Jyotirlingas which are of special importance.

Mahatmya of 12 Jyotirlingas is described in Koti Rudra Samhita of Shiva Purana in the chapter "Dwadash Jyotirlinga Mahatmya". It states:

सौराष्ट्रे सोमनाथं च श्री शैले मल्लिकार्जुनम् ।
उज्जयिन्यां महाकालमोंकारे परमेश्वरम् ।।
केदारं हिमवत्पृष्ठे डाकिन्यां भीमशङ्करम् ।
वाराणास्यां च विश्वेशं त्रयम्बकं गौतमीतटे ।।
वैद्यनाथं चिताभूमौ नागेशं दारुकावने ।
सेतुबन्धे तु रामेशं घुश्मेशं च शिवालये ।।
द्वादशैतानि नामानि प्रात्यस्त्थाय यः पठेत् ।
सर्वपापविनिर्मुक्तं सर्वसिद्धिफलं लभेत्
।।

Somanath in Saurashtra, Mallikarjuna in Shri Saile, Mahakala in Ujjaiyana and Parameshawara also manifested as Omkara. Kedara in Himavat and Bhima Shankara in Dakinya. Vishewaswara in Varanasi and Trayambaka in side of Gautami. Vaidyanath in ChitaBhumi and  Nageshwara in forest of Daruka. Rameshwara in Setubandha and Ghusmeshwara in Shivalaya. These name of 12 Jyotirlingas who recites in morning, he gets freed from all sins and is eligible to get all Siddhis.

There are twelve Jyotirlingas mentioned in the similar popular verse.

Saurāṣṭre Somanāthaṃ ca Śrīśaile Mallikārjunam

Ujjayinyāṃ Mahākālam Omkāram Mamleśhwaram

Paraly Vaidyanāthaṃ cha Ḍākinyāṃ Bhīmaśhaṅkaram

Setubandhe tu Rāmeśaṃ Nāgeśhaṃ Dārukāvane

Vārāṇasyāṃ tu Viśveśaṃ Tryambakaṃ Gautamītaṭe

Himālaye tu Kedāraṃ Ghuśmeśaṃ ca Śivālaye

etāni jyotirliṅgāni sāyaṃ prātaḥ paṭhennaraḥ

saptajanmakṛtaṃ pāpaṃ smaraṇena vinaśyati

I have already asked a question about Somanath What is the story of Somanath Jyotirlinga? and Mallikarjun What is the story of Mallikarjuna Jyotirlinga? and Mahakaleshwar What is the story of Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga? and Omkareshwar What is the story of Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga? and Vaidyanath What is the story of Vaidyanath Jyotirlinga? and Bheemshankar What is the story of Bheemshankar Jyotirlinga? and Rameshwaram What is the story of Rameshwaram Jyotirlinga? and Nageshwar What is the story of Nageshwar Jyotirlinga?. Now I want to know the story of Vishwanath Jyotirling.

Please mention the scriptural reference.

Vishwanatha temple is situated on the bank of River Ganga in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.

enter image description here

By Unknown - http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/cdm/ref/collection/p15799coll123/id/78278, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30895506

8

The Greatness of Kasi (Varanasi) and Kasi Vishwanatha Temple are described in many Puranas. Kasi is known as Avimukta Kshetra. Chapter 22 of Kotirudra Samhita of Shiva Purana describes the origin of city of Kasi and Lord Vishwanatha in detail.

During creation, Nirguna Brahman got split into a Purusha and Prakriti (Saguna form as Shiva-Shakti; metaphorically Atma and Nature). The Nirguna Brahman (Sada Shiva) ordained Suguna forms to do a Tapasya for creation of first best being.

चिदानन्दस्वरूपं च निर्विकारं सनातनम्॥ २॥
तस्यैव कैवल्यतरोर्द्वितीयेच्छा ततोऽभवत्।
स एव सगुणो जातः शिव इत्यभिधीयते।। ३॥

Whatever things are visible on earth as substantive, as an entity in the form of knowledge or bliss, are eternal, free from blemish, desired for a second. That second, of the tree of salvation, was possessed of attributes and is called Śiva.

स एव हि द्विजो जातः पुंस्त्रीरूपप्रभेदतः।
यः पुमान् स शिवः ख्यातः स्त्रीशक्तिः सा हि कथ्यते। ४।।

It split into two- the male and the female forms. The male is known as Siva, while the female is shown as Sakti (Saguna forms).

चिदानन्दस्वरूपाभ्यां पुरुषावपि निर्मितौ।। ५॥
अदृष्टाभ्यां तदा ताभ्यां स्वभावान्मुनिसत्तमाः।
तावद्दृष्ट्वा तदा तौ च स्वमातृपितरौ द्विजाः।
महासंशयमापन्नौ प्रकृतिः पुरुषश्च तौ।। ६ ।।

O Excellent ascetics, the invisible Cita and Ananda created Purusa and Prakrti, O Brāhmanas, on seeing their parents, both Purusa and Prakrti developed a doubt.

तदा वाणी समुत्पन्ना निर्गुणात्परमात्मनः।
तपश्चैव प्रकर्तव्यं ततः सृष्टिरनुत्तमा।।७।।

Thereafter a divine voice emerged out from the great Atman free from attributes, “You perform penance, for the generation of the excellent creation.”

Then these Purusha-Prakriti or Shiva-Shakti asked the Supreme Nirguna SadaShiva the place where they could do tapasya. The Nirguna Shiva by staying in Sky or Cosmos then created wonderful city of five Koshas in length in cosmos. Then Lord Vishnu did Tapasya in that city and waters emerged from Him and the creation happened. The Jewel of his ear fell on a place on Earth when He came back to normal state after Tapasya and that Place is known as Manikarnika which is now called as Manikarnika Ghat.

ततश्च तेजसः सारं पञ्चक्रोशात्मकं शुभम्।
सर्वोपकरणैर्युक्तं सुन्दरं नगरं तथा।।९।।
निर्माय प्रेषितं तत्स्वं निर्गुणेन शिवेन च।
अन्तरिक्षे स्थितं तच्च पुरुषस्य समीपतः।। १० ।।

Thereafter a beautiful city was built, which was the essence of the lustre and was spread in five kosas and was quite beautiful in which all the amenities could be found. Siva built the city while remaining in the sky in the firmament near the Purusa.

तदाधिष्ठाय हरिणा सृष्टिकामनया ततः।
बहुकालं तपस्तप्तं तद्धयानमवलम्ब्य च।। ११॥

Visnu having been lodged in that city, became desirous of starting creation. He performed tapas sitting in meditation.

श्रमेण जलधाराश्च विविधाश्चाभवंस्तदा।
ताभिर्व्यामं च तच्छून्यं नान्यत्किञ्चिददृश्यत॥ १२॥

Because of his efforts, several streams of water emerged from that place. At that point of time, nothing was visible there.

ततश्च विष्णुना दृष्ट्वा किमेतद्दृश्यतेऽद्भुतम्।
इत्याश्चर्यं तदा दृष्ट्वा शिरसः कम्पनं कृतम्।। १३ ।।
Then Visnu saw as to what was the surprising thing found there? Then he shook his head.

ततश्च पतितः कर्णान्मणिश्च पुरतः प्रभोः।
तद्वभूव महत्तीर्थ नामतो मणिकर्णिका॥ १४॥

Then a gem emerging out of his ear fell on the ground, which was turned into a great place of pilgrimage known as Manikarnikā.

The Cosmic Shiva held that city with His trident and placed it on Earth where Jewel fell and this city of five Koshas is called Kashi.

जलौघे प्लाव्यमाना सा पञ्चक्रोशी यदाभवत्।
निर्गुणेन शिवेनाशु त्रिशूलेन धृता तदा॥ १५॥

When the said Manikarnikā in the form of water kept on flowing upto five kosas (Pañcakosi), then Siva held it over the tip of his trident.

To get rid of evil karmas and to remove bondage and to grant Moksha, Nirguna Shiva consecrated a Jyotirlinga with amsa of Him known as Avimukta Linga which grants the Moksha.

अविमुक्तं स्वयं लिङ्गं स्थापितं परमात्मना।
न कदाचित्त्वया त्याज्यमिदं क्षेत्रं ममांशकम्॥ २१॥
Lord Śiva, the supreme soul, there, had been consecrated as a Sivalinga known by the name of Avimukta and spoke, “You have been formed of my amsa as Jyotirlinga and therefore, you never leave this place.”

इत्युक्त्वा च त्रिशूलात्स्वादवतार्य हर:स्वयम्।
मोचयामास भुवने मत्र्यलोके हि काशिकाम्॥ २२॥

Thus speaking lord Śiva, grounded Kāši, with the tip of his trident and established it on earth.

ब्रह्मणश्च दिने सा हि न विनश्यति निश्चितम्।
तदा शिवस्त्रिशूलेन दधाति मुनयश्च ताम्।। २३ ।।

Even after the completion of a divine day of Brahmā, the city of Kāšî does not get destroyed. O Sages, at that point of time, Siva holds it over the tip of his trident.

पुनश्च ब्रह्मणा सृष्टौ कृतायां स्थाप्यते द्विजाः ।
कर्मणां कर्षणाचैव काशीति परिपठ्यते॥ २४॥

O Brähmanas, then Brahmā again recreates the universe, then he again establishes Kāśī. Because of the bondages of the karmas and their attraction thereto, it is called Kāši.

Nirguna Shiva then ordained Saguna Shiva to never leave this place. From that time, Suguna Vishwanatha Shiva (Shankara or Rudra) always stays at that place with Avimukteswara (formed from amsa of Nirguna Shiva).

And Lord Shiva also grants Moksha in Kashi area for the beings. Kailash Samhita of Shiva Purana in 3.2 states:

अतस्तदेव जानीयात्प्रणव सर्वकारणम् ।
निर्विकारी मुमुक्षुर्मां निर्गुणं परमेश्वरम् ।।
एनमेव हि देवेशि सर्वमन्त्रशि रोमणिम् ।
काश्यामहं प्रदास्यामि जीवानां मुक्तिहतवे ।।

Hence he who aspires for salvation and is free from aberration shall understand the Pranava as the cause of all, and Me as the Nirguna Parameshwara. I give this crest-jewel of mantras at Kashi for the liberation of all individual souls.

  • 2
    Very detailed and excellent answer. – SwiftPushkar Aug 5 '16 at 9:03

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