Shiva/ Mahadev or Mahakal is one of India’s most worshiped deities and has many temples dedicated to him. Most prominent among these temples are the 12 jyotirlingas of Shiva which are considered to be the auspicious pilgrim destinations for Shiva devotees.
According to an old religious text called the Shiva Mahapuran, there was once an argument between Vishnu and Brahma with each claiming to be the supreme power. In order to put them to test, Shiva pierced the three worlds (namely heaven, earth, and atmosphere) into an enormous pillar of light. He asked Vishnu and Brahma to reach the extreme of the pillar, saying whoever finds it first will be victorious. Brahma rocketed in the upward direction while Vishnu went downward chasing the pillar which they did not know was actually infinite. Brahma returned claiming that he had found the end while Vishnu honestly accepted his defeat. Enraged by Brahma’s lies, Shiva cursed Brahma that he would have no place in any of the religious ceremonies, while Vishnu will be worshiped for eternity.
The enormous pillars of light were later called ‘Jyotirlinga’ where the word ‘Jyoti’ means light and ‘linga’ means sign. Originally there were 64 Jyotirlingas out of which 12 are considered to be highly auspicious and holy. They symbolize the utmost reality and the supreme power and infinity of Shiva.
The 12 Jyotirlingas
- Somnath Jyotirlinga in Gir, Gujarat
- Mallikarjuna Jyotirlinga in Srisailam, Andhra Pradesh
- Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh
- Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga in Khanda, Madhya Pradesh
- Baidyanath Jyotirlinga in Deoghar, Jharkhand
- Bhimashankar Jyotirlinga in Maharashtra
- Ramanathaswamy Jyotirlinga in Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu
- Nageshwar Jyotirlinga in Dwarka, Gujarat
- Kashi Vishwanath Jyotirlinga in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
- Trimbakeshwar Jyotirlinga in Nasik, Maharashtra
- Kedarnath Jyotirlinga in Rudraprayag, Uttarakhand
- Ghrishneshwar Jyotirlinga in Aurangabad, Maharashtra
Mallikarjun jyotirlinga in Srisailam, Andhra Pradesh
History of the temple
The presiding deities at this temple are Mallikarjuna (Shiva) and Bhramaramba (Devi).
Parvat, the son of Soma Muni and a great devotee of Lord Shiva, once performed a Tapasya and pleased the with his devotion, as a result of which, Lord Shiva granted him his wish to be a mountain filled with gods who reside there as one family with Lord Shiva on top 9 holy rivers, holy water bodies, many peaks, animals, birds, all eight Bhairavas, munis and rishis, fruit-bearing and medicinal plants and trees. He declared that the mountain that shall be known as Sriparvatam, Srinagam, Srisailam, Shrigiri, and all his devotees shall walk across ‘Parvat’ while reciting their prayers and you shall mark your place in history. This is how Lord Shiva took the form of Jyotirlinga in Srisailam.
Sri Bhramaramba Devi:
Once a demon called Arunasura performed an Upasana in the name of Gayatri Devi. He wished for immortality to which Gayatri Devi said she would not be able to grant such a wish and only Lord Brahma would be able to do it. Arunasura started his intense Tapasya in the name of Lord Brahma, upon Brahma’s denial to grant immortality, he said he shall never face death because of 2 legged or 4 legged living beings. Brahma granted him this wish. Arunasura who considered himself immortal and unbeatable caused a lot of trouble to people as well as the gods. The gods who were fed up with his antics shared their concerns with Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Parvathi Devi took the incarnation of a thousand bees(Bhramara) and killed the cruel Arunasura. The happy gods requested her to take the form of Bhramaramba in her favourite place so that they can worship her for eternity. Parvati Devi chose to reside in Srisailam. Since then, Bhramaramba Devi resides here to bless all her devotees.
The MallikaArjuna Temple is situated on the Shri Shaila Mountain, in the town of Srisailam. Srisailam, the abode of Siva and Sakthi, is located in a beautiful surrounding of Nallamalai Hills on the right side of Krishna River, in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh. It is geographically marked at an altitude of 476 meters above sea level, at 16.12ºN latitude and 78.5ºE longitude. It is also known as “Kailash of the South”, referring to Mount Kailash of China, and is one of the greatest Shaivite shrines in India.
The temple complex is old but seems to be renovated in modern days. One can visit other temples in the complex and afterwards, one is given a coupon for free Prasad while exiting the temple complex. Mobile phones and cameras, bags are not allowed at the temple and one has to submit them at the designated counters for a nominal fee.
The presiding Deities of this temple are God Mallikarjuna Swamy and Goddess Bhramaramba Devi. Mallikarjuna Swamy is regarded as one of the twelve Jyothirlingas and Bhramaramba Devi is revered as one of the eighteen Mahasakthis. Both are believed to be self-manifested deities. The existence of Jyothirlingam and Mahasakthi in one Temple complex is a very rare feature and that is the uniqueness of this temple.
Beginning from the rule of Satavahanas, the earliest rulers of Andhradesa, the surrounding region of Srisailam was a prominent religious center and it still continued to be so. There are several interesting inscriptions available at Srisailam, which belong to 12th century A.D and later. Nevertheless, the inscriptions found in various parts of the Deccan and Andhra Pradesh regarding various early historical places confirm its historical significance commencing from the first century A.D. The Srisailam temple complex is analyzed considering the chronological events, art, architecture, sculpture, and iconography.
Also, here, Krishna River flows through a deep narrow valley, having a width of about 100 meters and at about 1000 meters below the hilltop. The Krishna River flows in the valley covering a distance of 70 Km to the upper part of Srisailam and a distance of 80 Km to the down, till it reaches Nagarjunasagar. It is awe-inspiring to watch the narrow flow of the river through the deep valley, which looks very attractive near Srisailam, and here it is called Pathalaganga.
Here, the river takes two repeated bends within a short distance and in each bend, it makes a large stretch of a high plateau. We have Srisailam on its right side, and on the left side, there are remains of the ruined Chandraguptanagara, which was mentioned in the Skanda Purana as well as in some famous writings of the 12th to 16th centuries.
The Mallikarjuna Linga is accessible to each and every devotee and anybody can go into the sanctum sanctorum of Mallikarjuna, touch him, and perform Abhishekam and Archana himself to the recitation of Mantras by Archakas without caste or creed or religion. This clearly reveals that the socialistic pattern society started from this place and it is still in existence.