Srisailam

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Legends

Parvata

Once upon a time there was a great maharshi popular by the name “Shilaada“. He had great Tapas-shakti and was a maha-gnyaani. He once thought it will be nice if he has santaanamwho will continue his lineage of divine knowledge. He then again did a great tapas for Shiva for getting Satsantaanam. Parameshwara appeared and blessed him with two children: Nandi, and Parvata. All of us know the story of Nandi,who went on to become the Vaahanam of Shiva.

Parvata, also followed the foot steps of his father and brother, and did a great tapas for Shiva. Parameshwara appeared and Parvata was filled with brahmaanandam. He did not ask for anything as he attained Brahma-gnyaanamat the very sight of Shiva. However Shiva insisted that Parvata must ask some Varam. Parvata then wished that he will become a mountain and Parameshwara should always stay on him. Shiva blessed the same and said he would stay on Parvata as Parvateshwara in a Jyotirlinga form. Parvata was extremely happy. Shiva went on and said, “not only this, you will also become Me (You will get Shiva-aikyam)”. Then Parvata went on to ask that Shiva must bless all those who come to this mountain.

As blessed by Parameshwara, Parvata took the form of a huge mountain range with 5 main shikharams:

  1. the main shikharam is what we call today as ShriShailam. This became the “Eeshaana” mukham of Shiva.
  2. On the East, Tripurantakam-shikharam became the “Tatpurusha” mukham
  3. On the West, Brahmeshwaram–shikharam (Alampuram) became the “Sadyojaata” mukham
  4. On the North, Maheshwaram-shikharam (Uma-Maheshwaram) became the “Vaamadeva” mukham
  5. On the South, Siddhavatam-shikharam became the “Aghora” mukham

Thus, Parvata, with 5 shikharams, became the sthaavara-shareeram of Parameshwara. And on top of the main shikharam, again Shiva stayed back as Parvateshwara Jyotirlingam, which later on became Mallikaarjuna-Jyotirlingam.

A thousand Namaskaarams to the great bhakta, Parvata, who brought Shiva to earth, in and as, the great ShriShaila Kshetram!

Vasumati

Once upon a time there was a princess by name Vasumati. She was a great Shiva bhakta. She did Tapas for a long time. Brahmadeva then appeared and said “O Vasumati! As a result of your severe Tapas you now have poorna-gnyaanam of all Vedic knowledge, and hence I am giving you the title `Shri‘ “.

`Shri‘ then humbly replied to Brahma “O Pitaamaha! What is the use of such titles? They only increase one’s ahankaaram. I think one who merely has good name and fame is not a dhanya, but one who has additionally has given it up to Shiva (one who does Shiva-arpanam of his Naamam) is a real dhanya. I heard that the great bhakta Parvata not only did Shivaarpanam of his name (his name was taken by Shiva as Parvateshwara), but also he gave-up his roopam (his mountain form became Parvateshwara‘s body). Parvata attained Shiva-aikyamby giving up his Naama-Roopas!”.

Brahmadeva was happy to see the Gnyaana-Vairagyam in Shri. He then advised her to continue her Tapas for Shiva and then her desire to do Shiva-arpanam of her Naamam (equivalently Shiva-arpanam of her divine Vedic knowledge) will be fulfilled. Shri then performed a very long and severe tapas for Parameshwara. The Lord appeared, accepted her name, and Shri attained the un-attainable moksham. From then onwards the Parvata mountain range became popular as “ShriParvatam” or equivalently “ShriShailam” and Parvateshwara jyotirlinga became popular as “ShriParvateshwara“. Thus Shiva, the Bhaktavatsala, included Her name in His name.

This story is indeed an eye-opener, as most perform tapas to merely obtain something from God. However, Vasumati performed tapas not only for obtaining divine knowledge, but also to give it up to Paramaatma.

Chandravati

Once upon a time there was a princess by name Chandraavati. Because of janma-janmaantara mahaa-punyams she was a Shiva bhakta from childhood. She used to like doing pooja of Shiva with mallika flowers. Because Parameshwara‘s color is described in Shaatras as spotless white (Arjuna Varnam), she considered mallika flowers the best suit for His pooja.

She performed such nischala pooja with mallika haarams to the ShriParvateshwara Jyotirlingam. Her tapas in the form of mallika poojacontinued for so many years that the nearby teertha kundam became popular as Mallika Kundam! Even today one can have darshan of this Divya Kundam in ShriShailam, which as per Shaastras contains the punya-jalam of Saraswati river.

Shiva, the Dayaalu, was deeply moved by Chandraavati’s nirmala bhakti and appeared before her and asked her wish. Chadraavati replied saying “O Parameshwara! I only have one wish. Please accept this mallika haaram. Please wear it on your forehead, just below the crescent moon and above Your third eye. I will be a dhanya seeing You decorated like this”. It is indeed difficult for us common people to even partially understand such nishkaama bhakti as Chandraavati‘s. When Mahaadeva, who controls all the 14 lokams, appeared as a result of so many years of severe tapas, and asked for a wish, she had nothing to ask for herself and only wanted to see her ishta-daivam decorated with mallika haarams.

Chandrashekhara was impressed with the selfless wish and immediately took the mallika haaram and decorated Himself with it in exactly the same position as was desired by Chandraavati. While decorating Himself, few drops of Gangafrom Shiva‘s Jataajuutam and few drops of makarandam from the mallikaahaaram also fell into the MallikaKundam, multiplying its divinity further.

He then asked “O dear Chandraavati! How do I look now?”. Chandraavatiexperienced brahmaanandam and replied “O Bhagavaan! I am unable to decide whether You are fairer or the mallika haaram decorating you is fairer. Since Shaastras describe You as Arjuna (one who is white by color and by deeds), please accept the name Mallikaarjuna“. From then onwards ShriParvateshwara Jyotirlingam became popular as Mallikarjuna Jyotirlingam. Chandraavati then attained Shiva-aikyam. Paramaatma is the only one who makes a Sharanaagatias Himself, showing that His Karuna has no limits!

While this story gives one meaning of Mallikaarjuna, there are others as summarised below:

  1. When Subrahmanya stayed back at Kumaaragiri in Tripuraantaka kshetram, UmaaDevi (Parvati) and Shiva could not stay in Kailaasam without seeing their dear son, hence both came down to earth as a Jyotirlingam on ShriShailam centered in a Arjuna-Vruksham around which a Mallika creeper was there. Hence the ShriShaila Jyotirligam is called as Mallikaarjuna. This Jyotirlingam can now be seen in ShriShailam by the name VruddhaMallikaarjuna. UmaaDevi then performed Tapas for Parameshwara in UmaMaheshwaram and became Ardhanaareeshwari, who is the one of the main ShaktiPeethams in ShriShailam. Even today one can see Ardhanaareeshwari Devion the left of main Mallikaarjuna’s Garbhaalayam.
  2. Shaastras described Shiva as one who is with Shuddha-Sattva Gunam and appears white like a Mallika. Hence a siddha-naamam for Shiva in Shaastras is Mallikaarjuna. Accordingly, there are many other Arjuna-kshetras too in our glorious India.

Indra and Other Devatas

Once there was a Raakshasa by name Arunaasura. His tapasshakti was equal to that of Mahishaasura, ShumbhaNishumbha, MadhuKaitabha, Chanda-Munda, Bhandaasura all put together! Like weapons in hands of the wicked are dangerous, such enormous shakti with Arunaasura turned out to be devastating for all the 14 lokams. Asuras from all corners of all the worlds, joined him and chose him as their leader.

Once the wicked get powerful, they show their power on everyone indiscriminately. Like how the barbaric Mughals and Portugese destroyed the magnificent and majestic Temples of India, Arunaasura destroyed the divine Nandana-Vanam of Indra (for no explicit reason!). Then Devendra and other devatas fought with Arunaasura and his armies. However, at that point of time, the tapasshakti of Devatas was lesser than that of the asuras, and hence were defeated in the war.

All the Devatas then went to Vishnu for protection. Mahaavishnu then gave the following memorable upadesham to Devatas (and indirectly to us): “Previously when Bhandaasura attacked You, My Sister (Vaishnavi) Lalita Devi gave You abhayam, and slayed Bhandaasura. Since then for a long time all of You enjoyed very favourable conditions. However, because everything was being favourable, there was a small slack in Your Devata-aaraadhana and Tapas. You all ended up spending unnecessarily more time on bhogam than on Bhagavat-Yogam. Hence severe Bhagavat-Upaasana is a must not only during difficulties, but also during favourable times.”.

Devatas immediately followed Vishnu‘s Upadesham and went to Pavitra Himavat Parvatams for doing Devi-Upaasana. Some did anthar-yaagam by doing Shodhana of Shadchakrams, while some others did Upaasana of Shri-Chakram. Some did Mantra-Japams, some did Homams, while some performed Shodashopachaara-poojas, and some others did stotra-paaraayana. Some listened to Punya-kathas of Devi while some others listened to Vedanta-pravachanams. Like this, everyone did Upasaana of Devi in one or the other ways as prescribed by the Shaastras, and as per their likings. Their Upaasana continued for many years, however they did not get Devi-Saakshaatkaaram! Finally, they all cried for Devi with nishchala bhakti, then Devi appeared first as a Mahaa-Naadam, which slowly took form as Devi in Sowmya-roopam.

She then gave abhayam to Devatas and slayed the army of Arunaasura taking Ugra-roopam. Then there was a fierce battle between Arunaasura and Devi. Finally, Devi took the form of a Bhramaram making Mahaa-naadam and slayed Arunaasura. Devatas happily performed a Divya-stotram of BhramaraambaDevi, in Sowmya-roopam.

BhramaraambaDevi was deeply moved by the Stotram (and tapas) of Devatas and asked them for their wish. They all said that Devi had already given them abhayam, slayed the asura, and hence they did not wish for anything else. When BhramaraambaDevi insisted they all requested Her to stay back in this Divya-roopam and bless other bhaktas. Devi was impressed with their self-less wish. “Bhramaraamba then decided to stay with “Mallikaarjuna at ShriShailamas Bhramaraamba Shaktipeetham (along with Ardhanaareeshwari Shaktipeethamand 10 crore other Shaktipeethams in ShriShailam).

Since all mantras are made from Aksharas, and all aksharas are in-turn made from (Bhramara) Naadam, Bhramaraamba is described in Shaastras as Sarva-mantratmika. Hence elders say that if one does any mantra japamnear Bhramaraamba Shaktipeetham, then the japaphalitam will be multiplied several times. Also, Praana-Naadam (Anaahatanaadam) is what is inside us as praana-shakti. Hence Bhramaraamba also refers to mukhya-praana-shakti. Because of these two reasons, Bhramaraamba is same as Gaayatri Devi. BhramaraambaDevi is also known as ShrungagraahikaaDevi, as She chose this divya-shrungam to stay back.

Karavira

Once upon a time there was an asura by name Karaveera. Though he was born as an asura, he was a great Shiva Bhakta. With Yama-niyamas, he controlled his natural asuragunas and performed sattvika tapas for Parameshwara at the ShriShaila-Shikharam. As a result of his nishchala-tapas, Karaveera had divya-saakshaatkaaram of Parameshwara and attained Shivaikyam. The lingam worshipped by this great bhakta is known as Karaveereshwara. Even today one can have darshanam of this divya-lingam in Shikhareshwaram at ShriShailam (now people call it ShikhareshwaraLingam).


Comments:

  1. ShriShailam is also referred to as “Krouncha parvatam” and “Mandara paravatam” in Shaastras.
  2. ShriShailam is 30 yojanas wide, 30 yojanas long and 1 yojana high. Has five main shikharams, and totally eight Shikharams:
    1. Main ShriShaila Suvarna Shrungam: decorated with Markata Manis, Kalpa Vrukshams. Here Shiva stays with His parivaaram. Many teerthas flow in this Kshetram. Main 24 are Aananda, Nandini, Shukla, Gomati, Keerthi, Mangala, Bhadra, Vipula, Ramya, Vichitra, Jaahnavi, Taamra, Aaruni, ChaaruGhosha, Bhaarati, Vijaya, Jaya, Jyotis, Archis, Pruthuvu, Vaktra, Shuddha, Kshemotsava, Nitya.
    2. Ahobalam: decorated with Marakata Manis. Here Narasimha Swamy stays with His Parivaaram and worships Shiva. Here three teerthas flow: Bhadra, Vipula, Ramya.
    3. Brahmeshwaram: Decorated with Indra-neela Manis. Here BrahmaDeva stays with His parivaaram and worships Shiva. Here three teerthas flow: Vichitra, Jaahnavi, Taamra.
    4. SkandaSomeshwaram: Decorated with various Ratnas. Here Subrahmanya Swamy stays with His parents and Parivaaram and worships Shiva.  Here three teerthas flow: Aaruni, ChaaruGhosha, Bhaarati.
    5. Tripurantakam:  Decorated with Vaidhuryams. Here Ashta Vasus stay with Parivaarams and worships Shiva.  Here three teerthas flow: Vijaya, Jaya, Jyotis.
      1. Nandeeshwaram: Decorated with Gairika aadi dhaatus. Here Nandi aadi. Pramatha Ganas stay and worship Shiva.  Here three teerthas flow: Pruthuvu, Vaktra, Shuddha, Kshemotsava.
    6. Maheshwaram: Decorated various Manis. Here PaarvatiDevi worships Shiva.  Here one teertham flows: Nitya.
    7. Pushpagiri: Decorated with Pravaalams.  Here Urvashi and other Apsaras stay and worship Shiva. Here three teerthas flow:  Utsava, Kshema, Shlukla.
  3. There are five main ways in which one Has to worship Mallikarjuna Jyotirlingam. One has to do all of them to get poorna-anugraham:
    1. Namaskaaram
    2. Praarthana
    3. Darshana
    4. Sparshana
    5. Bhaavana
  4. If one does darshanam after three Pradakshinas to ShriGiri, then he will get Shuddha Chittam and Shiva Gnyaanam.
  5. Once if Archana of Mallikaarjuna is done with Trikarana-Shuddhi, then he gets same punyam as doing huge daanam in Kurukshetra, Ganga-snaanam 2000 times, Long Tapas in Narmada-teeram, Long stay in Vaaranaasi, together.
  6. If one does keertana or stotram for Mallikaarjuna, then he and his entire parivaaram will reach Shiva.
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