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The complete story of Grishneshwar, a jyotirling located right next to famous Ellora caves

Updated: Jul 6, 2023

Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga, the twelfth Shiva Jyotirling, is located in Maharashtra, near Ellora Caves. Destroyed and rebuilt many times, the sacred temple is a revered site of pilgrimage for the devotees of Shiva. This is the legend about the origin of this Jyotirlinga.

Jyotirling Somnath Stories
Jyotirling Somnath Stories

What is the history of Grishneshwar jyotirling ?

Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga Temple, also known by the names of Ghrneshwar or Ghushmeshwar Temple, is located in Ellora, in Maharashtra, near the famous Ellora Caves. The temple was demolished many times during the last millennium by various rulers. The current structure of the temple was built by the great Maratha ruler Ahilya Bai Holkar of Indore, who restored hundreds of temples in India in the 18th century. The small temple, made of red rocks, is said to be the smallest Jyotirlinga temple, but its glory remains unsurpassed.

What is the origin story of Grishneshwar jyotirling ?

According to Shiva Purana, a virtuous brahman named Sudharma lived near the Devagiri mountains. He worshipped Shiva with devotion and carried out all rituals with discipline. His wife, Sudeha, was a dutiful lady, who took great care of him. They were married for a long time but did not have a child. One day Sudharma found out from astrological calculations that his wife could never bear a child. Sudharma did not feel saddened by this because he overcame the worldly desires through his devotion to Shiva. He tried to console Sudeha, but she was very disheartened to know that she could never have a child. She was humiliated by other people for being childless and could not bear the sorrow.

Sudeha insisted Sudharma marry her younger sister. Sudharma was not keen to do so, but on her repeated insistence, he agreed. He married Sudeha’s younger sister, Ghushmesha, and brought her home. Ghushmesha was a pious lady who prayed to Lord Shiva with great devotion. She would make 101 earthen shivalingas every day and worship them. By Lord Shiva’s grace, after some time, she gave birth to a beautiful boy. Sudharma and Ghushmesha were elated to have a child. Although Sudeha had always loved her sister, the arrival of the son made her have wicked thoughts. Sudeha felt that nothing in the house belonged to her. Everything belonged to Ghushmesha or her son. She started spending her days in jealous thoughts that made her miserable.

Soon the boy grew up and Ghushmesha married her son to a brahman’s daughter. The household was filled with joy and happiness, but Sudeha's jealousy grew stronger every day. One day, Sudeha killed Ghushmesha’s son when he was asleep. She disposed of the body by throwing it into the same pond where Ghushmesha used to immerse her earthen shivalingas every day after her worship. In the morning, everyone came to know that Sudeha had killed the son. The daughter-in-law wept in grief, while heartbroken Sudharma cried for losing his son. Ghushmesha seemed unperturbed by the tragic event and carried on her daily worship as if nothing had happened. She said, “The great Lord will protect all his devotees.”

After worship, Ghushmesha went to the pond to immerse the shivalingas in the water. While returning, she saw her beloved son appear there. He came and touched her feet, as always. Right then, Lord Shiva appeared in front of her in all his splendour, and asked, “O Ghushmesha, my true devotee, what do you want as a boon?” Shiva was angered with Sudeha’s despicable act, and he moved forward with his trident to cut her head off. Ghushmesha folded her hands and implored, “O Lord, if you are pleased with me, forgive my unfortunate sister. No doubt, she has committed a grave sin, but with your grace, I got my son back. Now please forgive her.”

Lord Shiva, who is full of mercy, spared Sudeha and forgave her sins. He was moved by the kindness and grace of Ghushmesha. He asked her to wish for another boon. Ghushmesha replied, “O Lord, if you wish to grant me a boon, then I request you to stay here forever for the benefit of mankind.” Shiva agreed and turned into a Jyotirlinga and started residing there. Because of the pious and devoted nature of Ghushmesha, Lord Shiva became known as Ghushmeshwar here.

What are some interesting facts about Grishneshwar jyotirling ?

An interesting aspect of this temple is that this is the only Jyotirlinga shrine where men must take off their upper body clothes, like shirts and jackets, before entering the inner sanctum (garbha-griha).

Read the origin stories of all 12 Jyotirlings


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