Updated: Jul 6
The Nageshwar Jyotirlinga in Dwarka, Gujarat, is the tenth of the sacred twelve Jyotirlingas, where Lord Shiva manifested himself to devotees. Here is the story behind this holy place.
According to the Shiva Purana, the Nageshwar Jyotirlinga is located in “Darukavana”, the name of an ancient forest that is mentioned in many old texts. Although there is some confusion about where exactly Darukavana is, it is believed that the Nageshwar Jyotirlinga is situated in the Shiva Temple near the holy lake Gopi Talav Tirth, 17 km from Dwarka, in the state of Gujarat.
The puranic tale narrates the story of a strong and arrogant rakshasi (demoness) named Daruka who was blessed by Goddess Parvati. Devi Parvati made Daruka the caretaker of the forest, Darukavana. Wherever Daruka went, she carried the forest with her. Her husband, a rakshasa named Daruk and other rakshasas lived with her in this forest. Daruk and the other rakshasas would attack sages and disrupt their yajnas and worship. As their atrocities grew, the sages and religious people sought refuge and went to Maharshi Aurva, a fierce and powerful sage. Angered by the plight of the sages, Maharshi Aurva cursed the rakshasas, “Any rakshasa who disrupts yajnas or commits violence will die instantly.”
When the devatas (gods) heard about this curse, they immediately attacked the rakshasas. The rakshasas now faced a plight–if they killed the gods, they would die from the curse and if they didn’t fight back, the gods would kill them. Scared, the rakshasas hid in Darukavana and Daruka took Darukavana under the sea. The rakshasas started living in the sea and tormenting the creatures of the sea. One day, a boat filled with people came there. The rakshasas captured them and put them into prisons.
The head of the prisoners was a man named Supriya, who was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. He prayed to Lord Shiva daily. His worship made Daruka very angry and she screamed at him, trying to stop him. Unable to disturb Supriya’s worship, she ordered the rakshasas to kill him. Supriya, along with the other prisoners, started praying to Lord Shiva, chanting “Om Namaha Shivaya”. Their sincere and intense devotion pleased Shiva and he appeared to them. A temple with four doors materialised there with a luminous Jyotirlinga in the centre. Supriya and the other devotees were filled with devotion and started praying to the Jyotirlinga.
Lord Shiva asked the devotees what they wanted. The people implored Lord Shiva to protect them from the rakshasas. Immediately, the Lord took out his Pashupatastra (the celestial missile of Lord Shiva) and destroyed the main rakshasas, their warriors and their weapons. Lord Shiva further proclaimed that sages and people of all the varnas could live in the forest city but rakshasas could no longer live there. Frightened, Daruka prayed to Devi Parvati, requesting the goddess to protect her race. Her penance and devotion pleased Devi Parvati and she saved the remaining rakshasas. Parvati said to Lord Shiva, “O Lord! May your words be true, but only when this yuga (the age of time) ends. Till then, let the tamasic (evil) exist too. Blessed by me, Daruka is the most powerful rakshasi, may she rule over the rakshasa kingdom. The children of the rakshasas will be born here; I permit them to live here. O Lord, I belong to you, so please make my words come true.”
Shiva was delighted with the words of Parvati. He replied, “I will stay in this forest to protect my devotees. Anyone who follows the discipline of rituals, worships me and has a darshan (view) of me, will become an emperor. At the end of Satyayuga and the start of Kaliyuga, a king called Virsena will be my devotee. He will have my darshan and become a mighty monarch.” With these words, Shiva and Parvati disappeared from their material forms and lived there forever as Lord Nageshwar and Devi Nageshwari.
The Nageshwar Temple is visited by devotees who seek blessings of Lord Shiva and freedom from sins. A newly built 25m tall statue of Lord Shiva in a sitting posture at the entrance of the temple is one of the tallest statues of Lord Shiva.