sahyadrishirshe vimale vasantam godavaritirapavitradeshe |
yaddharshanatpatakamashu nasham prayati tam tryambakamIshamide ||
Of the twelve JyotirLingas of Lord Shankara, the tenth one is known
as Tryambakeshwara. Tryambak is near Nasik in Maharashtra. This great
JyotirLinga on the banks of Gautami has a unique form. The Lord in this
temple’s Grabhagriha is not worshipped with Abhisheka with water
(Jalahari) unlike others. There is just a bottom part of the pounding
stone (Ukhali), instead, like a hole.
In that hole there are three Lingas shaped like the Thumbs. Hence
Tryambakeshwara. Of these three Lingas, the Linga of Mahesha has a
constant shower of water from an orifice above. It is a natural source
of water coming down as Abhisheka for the Lord.
Purana of Tryambakeshwar Temple
Ahalya’s husband, Gautama was doing Tapas or penance on the Dakshina
Mountain. It did not rain there for a hundred years and the land was
drying up and life forms disappearing. Seeing these conditions of
drought, the residents, the saints, and all the birds and animals fled
from there. Saint Gautam did a great Mangalik tapas through Pranayama
for six long months. Varuna, the deva of rains, was pleased and appeared
before Gautama, who inturn asked for water. At the behest of Varuna,
Gautam dug a hole on his hand. With the help of Varuna’s miraculous
power, it filled with water. Varuna said, "Due to the power of your
penance, this hole would be an unending source of water "Akshya”. It
will become famous by your name. It will augment all holy rituals like
Yagna, Dana, Tapa, Homa Shraadha, and worship of Gods. After this water
was thus acquired, the saints started making preparations for the Yagna
and the production of "Breehika”.
Once when the disciples of Gautama went to fetch some water, from
that waterhole, just then some of the saints wives were also there for
the same purpose. They insisted on taking water first. The disciples of
Gautama called Gautama’s wife. She intervened and allowed her husband’s
disciples to fetch water. The wives of the Rishis felt insulted at this
and complained to their husbands and while doing so added a few lies
here and there. The great saints at once started the worship of Ganesha
as an intial Puja in sheer scheme of vendetta. When Ganesha appeared
before them and granted some boons, they asked for the power of being
able to insult and chase away Gautama, as an indesirable person from
there. Ganesha understood that Gautama was very helpful by nature, tried
to persuade the saints from getting their way. He knew that, but for
Gautama’s efforts, the saints would be craving for even a drop of water.
But the saints would have none of it. Reluctantly, Ganesha had to
accode to the request of the adamant Rishis, but warned them to be ready
to face the consequences of angering a great saint like Gautama.
One day, when Gautama went to get some "Breehi”, he saw a thin,
starving cow there. Just when he lifted a little twig to show away the
cow, the cow fell dead. The other Rishis caught the opportunity and
accused Gautama of slaying a cow "Gohatya”. They insulted him and said
that he must leave that palce immediately in order to save it from the
aftermath of Gohaty. Gautama became very sad and left feeling greatly
Gautama wanted to absolve himself of the sin of Gohatya "Cow
slaughter”. He thus resorted to the method of Tapas recommended by great
saints. He began the difficult task of bringing Ganga water with the
power of his Tapas, take bath with that water and chant Shiva mantras a
crore times and worship the Parthiva Linga. Shiva was pleased and told
him that he is indeed a pure soul and a great Mahatma. A great injustice
was done to him, Shiva told him that he could ask for some boons.
Gautama asked for Ganga, which would be of great help to the humanity.
Shiva gave Ganga to Gautama, in the form of Tatwarupa Avishishta Jal.
After taking the water, Gautama requested Shiva to absolve him of the
sin of cow slaughter. Shiva purified Gautama and wanted to go back to
His abode after that. But he told the Lord to remain on the earth till
the end of Kaliyuga. Ganga prayed to him and requested him to stay on
the earth, along with his consort Parvati. For the welfare of the world,
Lord Shiva granted Ganga her wish.
Ganga wanted to know from Lord Shiva, how people will know about
her greatness. The Rishis said that until Brihaspati stays on the Simha
Rashi (Leo), we will stay here on your banks and will take a holy dip in
your waters thrice a day before taking the Darshan of Shiva. Only by
doing so, would we able to war our sins. On hearing this Lord Shiva and
Ganga stayed there. Ganga has also come to be known as Gautami and the
Linga came to be known as Tryambaka.
The river which gave away cows as Go-Daan became Godavari. Ganga
who came on the request of Gautama became Gautam Ganga. That was the
auspicious time of Brahmagiri, the time in between, when the Kurmavatar
was over and before the assumption of Varahavatar, the Sanghiparva. The
planet Guru (Jupiter) was in the sign of Simha (Leo), Magha Shuddha
Dashami, Thursday after noon, when Gautami Ganga was born. The area of
Brahmagiri too looks like the Lingamurthyy. From the tip, the water of
Gautami Ganga flows.