वाराणस्यां तु विश्वेशं त्र्यम्बकं गौतमीतटे।
The Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh is home to the Vishwanath Jyotirlinga shrine, which is perhaps the most sacred of Hindu shrines. It is also one of the Padal Petra Stalam of Vada Naadu mentioned in Thevaaram.
The Kashi Vishwanath Temple is situated in Varanasi, the holiest city for Hindus, where a Hindu is expected to make a pilgrimage at least once in his life, and if possible, also pour the remains of cremated ancestors on the River Ganges. The temple stands on the western bank of the holy river Ganges, and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas.
In fact, it is a place where Shakti peeta and Jyotirlingam are together. It is the holiest of all Shiva temples. The main deity is known by the name Vishwanath or Vishweshwara meaning Ruler of the universe.
The temple town, is considered the oldest living city in the world, with 3500 years of documented history, is also called Kashi.
It is believed that Banaras is the site at which the first Jyotirlinga manifested its supremacy over other gods, broke through the earth’s crust and flared towards heaven. This temple is said to be the dearest to Lord Shiva, and the people believe that those who die here achieve liberation.
Many believe that Shiva himself resided here and is the giver of liberation and happiness. This temple has been rebuilt several times but always continued to hold its ultimate significance.
History of Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple
The Kashi Vishwanath temple has stood the test of time and politics. It’s tough to date it, but the temple finds a mention in the Hindu “puranas”. The Kashi temple was first razed to the ground by the army of Qutb-ud-din Aibak in 1194 AD when he defeated the Raja of Kannauj.
It was rebuilt again during Iltutmish’s reign but was brought down again. It was rebuilt again by Raja Mann Singh under Akbar’s patronage. But local Hindus boycotted the temple because the Raja had allowed Mughals to marry with his family. Nevertheless, the temple was further restored by Raja Torad Mal.
A few decades later, the temple would be razed again, this time by Aurangzeb, who built the Gyanvapi Mosque in its place. Located within the temple is a small well called the Jnana Vapi (or Gyanvapi). It is said that the priest of the temple jumped in the well with the shivling to protect it from invaders. What can be confirmed though is that at least part of the premises of the original temple were incorporated into the mosque. Some claim that the former temple can still be seen in the foundation, columns and rear parts of the mosque.
The temple, as it stands today, was finally built by Maharani Ahilyabai Holkar a Maratha ruler who constructed the present temple adjacent to the mosque circa 1780.
Legend of Shri Kashi Vishwanath temple
The story goes that once Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu got into an argument over the superiority of their powers. Lord Shiva stepped in as a mediator and transformed himself into an endless pillar of light, or the jyotirlinga, and asked them to find the end of this shaft of brilliance.
While Lord Vishnu conceded defeat, Lord Brahma cunningly lied and said he had found the end. Lord Shiva was furious and cursed that Bramha would henceforth have no place in Hindu religious ceremony. Meanwhile, the places where Shiva’s light pierced through the Earth came to be known as the 12 jyotirlingas and Kashi Vishwanath is one of them.
While the shivling is housed in a silver altar within the main temple, there are also smaller shrines located within the complex of the temples devoted to other Gods.
Importance of Shri Kashi Vishwanath temple
The Kashi Vishwanath temple is one of the holiest places of worship in the Hindu religion and gets anything from a few thousand to a few lakh devotees every day.
Some scriptures claim that several saints and religious leaders such as Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Sathya Sai Baba and Guru Nanak have also visited this temple.
It is believed that a visit to the Kashi Vishwananth temple and bath in the Ganga is the path to moksha or salvation. And if one dies a natural death within the temple, then Lord Shiva himself will speak the mantra of salvation in the ears of that person.
The main Kashi Vishwanath temple among Dwadash Jyotirlingas is in Kashi from Anadikal.
This place is the initial place of Shiva and Parvati, hence Avimukteshwar is considered as the first gender in the form of Adiling.
It is also mentioned in the Mahabharata and the Upanishads. The Vishwanath temple, which was renovated by King Harishchandra in the 11th century BC, was renovated by Emperor Vikramaditya.
You may also like : The 12 Jyotirlingas
Shri Kashi Vishwanath Live Darshan
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Shri Kashi Vishwanath Mandir Trust
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