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The Complete Story of Mallikarjuna Jyotirling, Also known as the Kailash of South

Updated: Jul 6, 2023

Mallikarjuna Jyotirlinga in Andhra Pradesh is one of the twelve main Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. The site is also one of the eighteen Shakti Peethas of India. Read about the legend of how this Jyotirlinga came into being.

Lord Shiva Jyotirlingas
Lord Shiva Jyotirlingas

This is the story of Mallikarjuna Jyotirlinga as narrated in Koti Rudra Samhita of Shiva Purana. Lord Shiva and Parvati were once discussing the marriage of their sons, Kartikeya (also known as Skanda) and Ganesha. The sons had reached marriageable age, and Shiva and Parvati both agreed that it was time for their marriage. However, they could not decide which son to marry first. Finally, they came up with a plan and called both the sons to discuss it with them.

When their parents told Kartikeya and Ganesha that they were going to get married, they were elated and excited. Then Lord Shiva and Mother Parvati told them that whosoever succeeds in circumambulating (going around) the entire universe seven times and returns first, his marriage will be conducted first.

As soon as his parents announced the quest, Kartikeya set off on his vahana (mount or vehicle), the peacock, to go around the universe. There was a long journey ahead, and he did not want to waste any time.

Ganesha, however, started thinking, "My vehicle is a mouse. It will take me many years to go around the world on my mouse. I will never be able to return first!" Ganesha is known for his intelligence. He came up with a clever idea. He requested Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati to sit together at one place. They did as he asked. Then Ganesha went around them seven times, bowing with devotion to them after each round. Seeing this, Mother Parvati asked, "Dear child, what is this that you did?" Ganesha replied with folded hands, "O Mother, to me my parents are the world. So, I went around you to fulfil the quest. The Vedas say, ‘He who worships his parents and circumambulates them, circumambulates the whole world’. I have, thus, gone around the whole universe seven times and fulfilled my quest."

Ganesha’s explanation and intelligence pleased Lord Shiva and Parvati. Since it would take a long for Kartikeya to return, Shiva and Parvati started organising Ganesha’s wedding. They married Ganesha to Siddhi and Buddhi, the daughters of Prajapati Viswarupa. The grand wedding ceremony was celebrated with joy and splendour.

After some years, Kartikeya returned home, having fulfilled his mission of going round the universe seven times. On his arrival, he came to know that Ganesha has won the quest and already married. Kartikeya was very disappointed and angry. He felt that Ganesha had cheated, while he had fulfilled the quest honestly. He felt very hurt by the actions of his parents in supporting Ganesha and marrying him first.

Kartikeya was inconsolable and enraged at the unfairness and left Kailash, his parents’ abode, to reach Kronch Parvat (hill) which is presently in Uttarakhand. He vowed to never get married.

The gods tried to reason with Kartikeya, but he could not be pacified. Lord Shiva and Mother Parvati went to Kronch Parvat to plead with Kartikeya, but to no avail. Instead, Kartikeya moved even further away from Kronch Parvat to the place that was later called Shrishailam. Lord Shiva and Parvati then assumed the luminous form of a Jyotirlinga and started residing on the mountain to be close to Kartikeya. This Jyotirlinga is named Mallikarjuna - Mallika denotes Parvati, while Arjuna stands for Lord Shiva. From that day, the name Mallikarjuna of Lord Shiva became famous in all the three worlds.

It is said that on the night of a new moon (amavasya), Lord Shiva, and on the night of a full moon (poornima), Goddess Parvati come to this place to meet their son Kartikeya.

The Mallikarjuna Jyotirlinga is enshrined in the Sri Bhramaramba Mallikarjuna Temple, which in the present day, is located in Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh. The temple is dedicated to both Shiva and Parvati and is one of the eighteen Shakti Peethas of India. Known as "Kailash of the South", the Mallikarjuna Temple is one of the most important Shiva temples in the world

Read origin stories of all 12 jyotirlings


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