The Shiva Purana

by J. L. Shastri | 1950 | 616,585 words

This page relates “twelve jyotirlinga incarnations” as found in the Shiva-purana, which, in Hinduism, represents one of the eighteen Mahapuranas. This work eulogizes Lord Shiva as the supreme deity, besides topics such as cosmology and philosophy. It is written in Sanskrit and claims to be a redaction of an original text consisting of 100,000 metrical verses.

Disclaimer: These are translations of Sanskrit texts and are not necessarily approved by everyone associated with the traditions connected to these texts. Consult the source and original scripture in case of doubt.

Chapter 42 - The Twelve Jyotirliṅga incarnations

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Nandīśvara said:—

1. O sage, now listen to the twelve incarnations of the lord in the form of jyotirliṅgas, the cause of diverse sports.

2-4. The jyotirliṅgas[1] are—Somanātha in the Saurāṣṭra[2] territory; Mallikārjuna on the mountain Śrīśaila[3]; Mahākāla in Ujjayinī[4]; Amareśvara in Oṃkāra[5] Māndhatā; Kedāra[6] on the Himalaya; Bhīmaśaṅkara in the city of Dākinī;[7] Viśveśvara in the city of Vārāṇasī[8]; Tryambaka on the banks of Gautamī[9]; Vaidyanātha in the cremation ground[10]; Nāgeśa in the forest of Dārukā[11]; Rāmeśvara in the Setubandha[12] Ghuśmeśvara in the Śiva temple.

5. O sage, the twelve incarnations of the supreme soul are wholly delightful to all men for seeing and touching.

6. There, the first one, Somanātha, annihilated the distress of the moon. O sage, by worshipping, it dispels the ailments of consumption, leprosy etc.

7. This incarnation of Śiva, Someśa, is stationed in the auspicious land of Saurāṣṭra, in the form of a phallic image. It was worshipped by the moon formerly.

8. Candarakuṇḍa (the pond of the Moon) is there itself and it destroys all sins. By bathing there a man becomes intelligent and gets rid of his ailments.

9. On seeing Someśvara, the great phallic image of Śīva, people are freed from sin. They attain worldly pleasures and salvation.

10. O dear, the second incarnation of Śiva Mallikārjuna, on the mountain, Śrīśaila, is the bestower of the desires of devotees.

11. O sage, Śiva went there from his mountain, with great pleasure in order to see his son Kārttikeya. It is stationed there in the form of the phallic image.

12. It is the second Jyotirliṅga. O sage, it, is very pleasing. By seeing and worshipping it one derives salvation hereafter. There is no doubt in this.

13. O dear, Śiva incarnated himself as Mahākāla in the city of Ujjayinī for the protection of his devotees.

14-15. The demon Dūṣaṇa, a resident of Ratnamāla,[13] was a defiler of Vedic rites, a hater of brahmins and destroyer of everyone. When he reached Ujjayinī, the lord was meditated upon by the sons of the Vedic brahmins. He reduced the demon to ashes by a mere Huṃkāra.

16. After killing him, on being requested by the gods; lord Mahākāla stayed there in the form of a Jyotirliṅga. He continues to protect his devotees.

17. By seeing and strenuously worshipping the phallic image of Mahākāla, the devotee attains his desires and the greatest goal.

18. The fourth incarnation of Śiva the supreme soul, the great lord in Oṃkāra Māndhātā is a bestower of the desires of his devotees.

19. O sage, lord Śiva manifested himself from his earthen phallic image devoutly installed by Brahmā and he fulfilled the desires of the mountain.

20. On being requested by the gods the lord in the form of his phallic image stayed there two-fold, bestowing worldly pleasures and salvation and being favourably disposed towards his devotees.

21. The excellent phallic image abides in the syllable Oṃkāra. O great sage, it also abides in the earthen phallic image in Oṃkāra Māndhātā.

22. O sage, O great sage, whatever is seen or worshipped ill the extremely divine phallic image described to you is the bestower of the desires of all devotees.

23. The fifth great incarnation of Śiva is the Kedāreśā. He is stationed in Kedāra in the form of Jyotirliṅga.

24. It was at the request of the twofold incarnations of Viṣṇu, named Nara and Nārāyaṇa that Śiva stayed in Kedāra on the mountain Himavat, O sage.

25. Śiva named Kedāreśvara was worshipped everyday by them. He is the bestower of the desires of the devotees, by his sight and worship.

26. Although he is the lord of all, he is the particular reigning deity of this territory. O dear that incarnation of Śiva is the bestower of all desires.

27. The sixth incarnation of Śiva, the great lord named Bhīmaśaṅkara, performed great sports. He destroyed the demon Bhīma.

28. After killing this wonderfully lusty demon who caused misery to the devotees, the lord saved the devotee Sudakṣiṇa who was the king of Kāmarūpa.

29. Requested by him Śiva himself in the name of Bhimaśaṅkara stayed in Ḍākinī in the form of Jyotirliṅga.

30. O sage, the seventh incarnation as Viśveśvara at Kāśī is in the form of the entire cosmic egg. It yields worldly pleasures and salvation.

31. He is always worshipped by Viṣṇu and all other gods as well as Kubera and Bhairava.

32. He is stationed there in the form of Jyotirliṅga. In his own city the lord is in the form of Siddha and he confers salvation.

33. Those who repeat the names of Kāśī and Viśvśa and perform their Japa with devotion become unaffected by actions and reach the state of Kaivalya.

34. The eighth incarnation Tryambaka of the moon-crested lord Śiva made its appearance on the banks of the river Gautamī on being requested by the sage Gautama.

35. At the request of Gautama and with a desire to delight that sage, the lord stood there motionless in the form of Jyotirliṅga.

36. All desires fructify at the sight and touch of the great lord. Thereafter salvation too is attained.

37. With the blessings of Śiva, and pleased with Gautama, the holy river Gaṅgā, the beloved of Śiva, stayed there in the name of Gautamī.

38. The ninth incarnation is glorified as Vaidyanātha. The lord indulging in many sports manifested himself for the sake of Rāvaṇa.

39. Under the pretext of fetching him, lord Śiva was installed in the cremation ground in the form of Jyotirliṅga.

40. The lord in the name of Vaidyanātha became famous in the three worlds. Seeing and worshipping him with devotion yields worldly pleasures and salvation.

41. O sage, this benedictory passage referring to the greatness of Śiva in the name of Vaidyanātheśvara yields worldly pleasures and salvation to those who read and listen.

42. The incarnation of Nāgeśvara is glorified as the tenth one. The lord manifested himself as the chastiser of the wicked for his devotees.

43. He killed the Rākṣasa Dāruka, a violator of virtue. He saved his devotee Supriya who was a merchant king.

44. In order to help all the worlds, Śiva, the great indulgent in sports, remained there assuming the form of Jyotirliṅga, accompanied by Pārvatī.

45. O sage, at the sight of Śiva’s phallic image named Nāgeśvara and thanks to its worship, heaps of great sins perish immediately.

46. O sage, the incarnation of Śiva is the eleventh one. It was pleasing to Rāma and it was installed by him.

47. Duly propitiated by Rāma, Śiva who is favourably disposed towards his devotees manifested himself in the phallic image and granted the boon of victory to him.

48. O sage, the lord, implored ardently by Rāma and propitiated by Rāma stayed at Setubandha in the form of Jyotirliṅga.

49. The grandeur of Rāmeśvara in the world was wonderful and incomparable, yielding worldly pleasures and salvation and bestowing the desires of the devotees ever.

50. The man who performs the ablution of Rāmeśvara is really a living liberated soul.

51. After enjoying all worldly pleasures here, and then getting perfect knowledge, he shall obtain salvation hereafter.

52. The incarnation of Śiva as Ghuśmeśvara is the twelfth wherein the lord indulged in different sports and conferred bliss on Ghuśmā. He is favourably disposed towards his devotees.

53. O sage, the lord manifested himself in a lake near the Devaśaila[14] in the southern quarter acting favourably to Ghuśmā.

54. O sage, Śiva who is favourably disposed towards his devotees entirely revived the son of Ghuśmā who was killed by Sudehya. He was so pleased with her devotion.

55. At her request, Śiva stayed in the lake in the form of Jyotirliṅga Ghuśmeśvara conferring desires to the devotees.

56. The man who secs that phallic image and worships it with devotion enjoys happiness here and attains salvation hereafter.

57. Thus I have explained to you the series of divine Jyotirliṅgas twelve in number yielding both worldly pleasures and salvation.

58. He who reads or listens to this narrative of Jyotirliṅgas becomes freed of all sins and derives worldly pleasures and salvation.

59. Thus I have described the compendium Śatarudra by name which glorifies the hundred incarnations of Śiva and yields the fruits of desires.

60. He who reads this always or listens to it devotedly attains all desires and then becomes liberated, to be sure.

Footnotes and references:


On the basis of the serial order of the Jyotirliṅgas as outlined in the succeeding verses in this chapter and the verses 21-23 of the chapter first in the Koṭirudra-saṃhitā (Śivapurāṇa), the orcirr of the verses 2 and 3 of this chapter in the printed Skt. text has been reversed in the present English translation.


Saurāṣṭra is the southern part of Kathiawar.


Śrīśaila or Śrīparvata is one of the sacred hills of the south overhanging the Kṛṣṇā river. It contains the celebrated shrine of Mallikārjuna, one of the 12 Jyotirliṅgas.


The town, an ancient seat of learning, is identical with Ujjain in M.P.


A sacred place of Śaiva pilgrimage in tha Nimar district in Madhya Pradesh.


It is a sacred Himalayan peak in Garhwal.


A holy place of pilgrimage on the bank of the Bhīmā river, north-west of Poona.


A famous town in the east, it still retains its ancient name.


Gautamī or Godāvarī is situated about 20 milts from Nasik. It issues from Tryambaka.


Whether it is an ordinary cremation ground or a particular locality is not clear.


Dāruvana is placed on the Himalayas near Kedāra in Garhwal on thr Gaṅgā.


A very sacred place in the south, it still retains its ancient name.


Not identified.


According to the present chapter V. it is situated on thr Deva mountain in the south. For the identification of Devagiri see ‘Geographical Encyclopedia of Ancient and Medieval India’ (Bajpai) p. 107.

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