Nagesha The tenth of the jyotirlingas is named Nagesha.There used to be a rakshasa name Daruka. His wife was named Daruki. They lived in a forest on the banks of the western sea. Parvati had granted Daruki the boon that wherever Daruki went, the forest would follow.Using this forest as a base, Daruka and Daruki began to oppress the world. They destroyed the yajnas and killed all the righteous people. In desperation, the survivors went to a powerful sage named Ourva. They told Ourva that he alone could save the world from the depredations of these rakshasas. Ourva cursed the rakshasas that if they committed any violence on earth, they would immediately die.As soon as the gods got to know about this curse, they attacked the rakshasas. The demons were in a fix. If they did not fight with the gods, they would be slaughtered. But if they fought with the gods, they would die because of Ourva's curse. They decided that they would go and live in the ocean. Thanks to the boon that Daruki had received from Parvati, the entire forest was also submerged in the ocean and became the home of the rakshasas.There the rakshasa lived. They did not return to earth. But they imprisoned and killed any people who travelled in boats across the ocean. In this fashion, they once captured a vaishya (the third of the four classes) who was devoted to Shiva. The vaishya set up a linga in the prison and began to pray to Shiva. When the rakshasas saw this, they attacked him with weapons so as to kill him. This vaishya was named Supriya. Shiva gave Supriya a pashupata, a divine weapon associated with Shiva. With this the vaishya killed many demons. The remaining rakshasas were saved by Parvati's intervention. The linga that Supriya worshipped is Nagesha. Rama and Rameshvara The eleventh of the jyotirlingas is named Rameshvara. Ravana had kidnapped Sita and Rama looked for her everywhere. He was aided in his search by the monkeys. The search brought them to the shores of the ocean.While Rama was trying to decided how to cross the ocean, he felt very thirsty. He therefore asked the monkeys to fetch him some water. But when the water was brought, Rama realized that he should not drink the water without first praying to Shiva.Rama constructed a linga and worshipped it with many fragrant flowers. Such were the powers of Rama's prayers that Shiva, Parvati and their companions appeared before Rama. Shiva blessed Rama and Rama requested him to stay in that place forever. It is this linga, on the shores of the ocean, that is known as Rameshvara. Ghushna and Ghushnesha The twelfth and last of the jyotirlingas is named Ghushnesha. To the south, there is a mountain named Deva. A brahmana named Sudharma used to live there. His wife was called Sudeha. Husband and wife were righteous and regularly prayed to the gods. They had only one reason for complaint: they had no son. Sudeha was especially disturbed at this. Other women tended to insult her because she had no son. Sudharma decided to conduct an experiment. He plucked two flowers and offered them in front of a sacred fire. He mentally associated one of the flowers with having a son and asked his wife to choose a flower. Unfortunately, his wife chose the flower that was not associated wtih having a son. From this Sudharma concluded that they were not going to have a son and he did his best to console Sudeha. But Sudeha refused to be consoled, she was miserable. Why don't you marry again? asked Sudeha. Perhaps you will then have a son. Marry my niece Gushna. No, replied Sudharma. You love her now because she is your niece. But if she does indeed have a son, you will become jealous and will come to hate her.Sudeha convinced her husband that this would never happen. So Sudharma married Ghushna.Every day, Ghushna made a hundred and one lingas out of clay and worshipped them. When the day's prayers were over, she immersed the lingas in a pond. When one lakh lingas had thus been worshipped, Ghushna gave birth to a handsome boy. Shiva had taken pity on Sudharma and Ghushna.But when the son was born, Sudeha's nature changed. As her husband had warned her, she felt jealous. She thought that Gushna got more important and she was treated like a maid. In the middle of the night, Sudeha slew the boy with a knife and threw the dead body into the pond. This was the pond where the lingas had been immersed.As was her wont, Ghushna got up in the morning and began to worship a linga. Blood was discovered on the bed, the boy could not be found and everyone raised the alarm. But Ghushna was not distracted by this racket and did not leave her prayers. Shiva was so impressed with Ghushna's devotion that he restored her son back to life. He also wished to kill the evil Sudeha with his trident, but Gushna begged for her aunt's life and Shiva spared Sudeha. Shushna's act of forgiveness so impressed Shiva that he wished to grant Ghushna another boon, apart from restoring her son.Ghushna desired that Shiva might always be present in a linga near the pond. This is known as Ghushnesha. Arjuna and Shiva Duryodhana robbed the Pandavas of their rightful share of the kingdom in a game of dice. As a result of this, the Pandavas had to spend many years in the forest. While they were in the forest, Vedavyasa came to visit the Pandavas. Vedavyasa told them that they should pray to Shiva. But since Arjuna was the best suited amongst the Pandavas for worshipping Shiva, Vedvyasa taught Arjuna a special mantra (incantation). Then he asked Arjuna to go to Mount Indrakila and pray to Shiva there. Mount Indrakila was on the banks of the river Bhagirathi. Arjuna went to Mount Indrakila. He made a linga out of clay and started to pray to Shiva. The news of Arjuna's wonderful tapasya spread everywhere. Arjuna stood on one leg and continualy chanted the mantra that Vedavyasa had taught him.Suddenly, Arjuna saw a boar. Arjuna thought that this fierce boar might have come to distract him from his tapasya. Alternatively, it might be a relative of the several demons that he had killed and therefore might wish him harm. Thinking this, Arjuna picked up his bow and arrow and let fly an arrow at the boar. Meanwhile, Shiva had decided to subject Arjuna to a test and he had also arrived at the spot disgusted as a hunter. When Arjuna shot an arrow at the boar, so did Shiva. Shiva's arrow struck the boar in its hindquarters and Arjuna's arrow struck the boar in its mouth. The boar fell down dead.A dispute started between Arjuna and the hunter about who had killed the boar. Each claimed it for his own. They began to fight. But whatever weapons were hurled by Shiva were easily repelled all of Arjuna's weapons. When all the weapons were exhausted, the two started to wrestle. After the fight had gone on for a while, Shiva gave up his disguise of a hunter and displayed his true form to Arjuna. Arjuna wa ashamed that he had been fighting with the very person to whom he had been praying. Please forgive me, said Arjuna.It is all right, replied Shiva. I was just trying to test you. Your weapons have been like offerings to me, you are my devotee. Tell me, what boon do you desire?Arjuna wanted the boon that he might obtain glory on earth. Shiva gave Arjuna his pashupata weapon. This was such a divine weapon that its possession made Arjuna invincible. Sudarshana Chakra Sudarshana chakra (a bladed discus) was Vishnu's weapon. Vishnu received this wonderful weapon as a result of Shiva's grace.Many years ago, the demons oppressed the gods and the gods went to Vishnu for deliverance. Vishnu said that the demons were so powerful, that he would first have to worship Shiva if something was to be done about the asuras. Vishnu went to Mount Kailasa and bean to pray to Shiva. He chanted many mantras, but there was no sign of Shiva. Shiva has a thousand names and Vishnu next started to chant these names. Each day he chanted the thousand names and offered a thousand lotus flowers to Shiva.Shiva decided to test Vishnu. One day, he stole a lotus flower from the thousand that were to be offered. When Vishnu realized that there was one lotus flower less, he gouged out his own eye and offered it in place of the missing lotus flower. Shiva was now pleased and appeared before Vishnu. He offered to grant Vishnu a boon.You know that the powerful demons have been oppressing the gods, said Vishnu. I need a weapon to fight the demons with. Please give me a weapon.Shiva then gave Vishnu the sudarshana chakra. And with this weapon, Vishnu killed the demons.