Kashi Vishwanath Temple (Uttar pradesh)
Image credit : soepvlees
The Vishwanath temple in Benares in Uttar Pradesh is the destination of thousands of pilgrims that visit this ancient city. Probably the most famous site not just in India, but the world over, the Vishwanath shrine is revered as one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva, The Religious Temples In India. The name Varanasi is derived from the names of two rivers, Varana and As and this holy place is considered home to Shiva – Visweswara. Benares is also known as Kaasi because it is believed that Supreme brilliance shines there, and lights the way to salvation (Kas – to shine). Varanasi – Benares – Kaasi is considered to be the holiest of all pilgrimage sites in India and in fact people from all over the world come here to pay obeisance. This place is supposed to be God’s favourite place and hence the name Anandakanana but it is also known as Mahamasaanam where the five elements lie in this great cremation ground as will all dead bodies at the time of the final deluge.
This temple was desecrated and rebuilt several times. The latest structure dating back to the 18th century (thanks to the efforts of Rani Ahilyabhai Holkar who incidentally was also responsible for the building of the Grishneshwar temple in Aurangabad) is the main centre of attention for the millions of pilgrims who converge here, to perform an abhishekam to the sacred Jyotirlingam, with water from the Ganges. The temple can be approached from a lane called Vishwanatha lane. The temple is surrounded by many subsidiary shrines. A well called Jnana Vapi is also located to the north of the main temple. There are three temples in a row as one enters from the southern side of the first temple. There are many temples with their own set of llingas. So much so that often the confusion arises as to which enshrines the original Jyotirlinga.
Image credit : leela
The Kashi Vishwanath Temple in which is enshrined the Jyotirlinga of Shiva, Vishweshwara or Vishwanatha.
In 1839, Two domes of the Temple were covered by gold donated by Punjab Kesari Maharaja Ranjeet Singh.
Benares is also considered to be one of the Shakti Peethas of India. It is believed that the left hand of Sati fell at Varanasi, and that Annapurna or Visalakshi represent the Shakti Peetham here.
Nirvikar cahitanya and Sanatan Brahma have assumed the form of Saguna Vishwarupa from the initial Nirgun Roopa or form. The Shiva Shakti roopa became the Purusha (man) and Stree (the woman) again. Prakriti and Purusha (Nature and man) (Shiva-Shakti) were once ordained by Shiva to do tapas in the universe in order to create the best being. He specified the best place for this purpose. When a prayer was held, Nirgun Shiva, with His own powers and aura, created a wonderful city called Panchakoshi. Vishnu, who resided there, spent a lot of time praying to Shiva after which several watersprings originated there. Vishnu was amazed at this wonderous event, and even as he tilled his head, a gemstone fell from his ear. Because of this place, it was also called Manikarnika. The entire Panch Koshi area of Manikarnika waters were then gathered into the Trident by Shiva. Then from the navel of Vishnu was born a lotus flower with Brahma in it.
Brahma was ordained by Shiva to create a world, at which Brahma created this wonderful world. It had fifty crore Yojanas of area and fourteen lokas. In order to save the lives of these who are bound by their own actions or karma. Shiva kept panchakoshi city away from the entire universe. In this city, Shiva Himself established the saviour Muktidayak JyotirLinga, which He can never leave. Shiva removed this very Kashi from His Trident and set it in this mortal world. It was not to be destroyed when Brahma’s day ends, but during Pralay i.e., final destruction of the world, Shiva saved it by keeping it safe in his trident. So the kashi is called avimukta kshetra. In Kashi, the Avimukteshwar Linga is there forever. Those who can never hope for salvation, attain Moksha here.
Image cedit : ania
This holiest city of Panchakoshi, with its capacity to destroy every conceivable sin, is the vehicle of a special Moksha by the name “Samyugha”. That is the reason why this city which is ruled by Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesha, is the place, where even divines want to die. Sarwaguna from inside and Tamoguna from outside, are the qualities of Rudra here. When prayed to, Vishwanatha Bahagavan Sri Shankar made this abode and resided there with Parvati.