Worship of shivalinga is considered the prime worship for the devotees of Lord shiva. Worship of all other forms is considered secondary. The significance of the shivalinga is that It is the resplendent light (flame) form of the Supreme - solidified to make the worship of It easier. It represents the real nature of God - formless essentially and taking various forms as It wills. More details on the shiva linga significance could be found atShaivam A Perspective.
This jyoti swarUpa of God exist in all the shivalinga forms, there are prominent abodes across Indian subcontinent, where It is in a splendid form. These are renowned asdvAdasa jyotir lingas or 12 jyotirlingas. These are held at much great esteem since the ancient pre-historic times. purANas talk in many sections as well as in detail about the glory of these abodes. Devotees have been getting pulled towards these kshetras due to the highly benevolent divine presence in these abodes, since ancient times.
There is an sanskrit shloka that lists the twelve jyotirlinga temples. (This and the complete dvAdasa jyotirlinga stotra could be found at Scripture Page)
“Saurashtre Somanathamcha Srisaile Mallikarjunam|
Ujjayinya Mahakalam Omkaramamaleswaram ||
Paralyam Vaidyanathancha Dakinyam Bheema Shankaram |
Setu Bandhethu Ramesam, Nagesam Darukavane||
Varanasyantu Vishwesam Tryambakam Gautameethate|
Himalayetu Kedaaram, Ghrishnesamcha shivaalaye||
Etani jyotirlingani, Saayam Praatah Patennarah|
Sapta Janma Kritam pApam, Smaranena Vinashyati||”
Mahadev, the Lord incorporates in Himself, the aura and the holiness of all the twelve JyotirLingas. The grandeur of these places is unique. Devotees line up in great numbers to take a look and get a Darshan of all the JyotirLingas.
View Jyothirlinga Temples in a larger map
Two on the sea shore, three on river banks, four in the heights of the mountains and three in villages located in meadows; the twelve Jyotirlingas are spread out like this. Every place has been described in glorious words by many detailing the surroundings etc.
Those of us who go to these temples of Shubhankar Shankar- Jyoti-Sivasthan, receive the holy blessings of the Lord, and come back happy, peaceful and blessed. This in indeed depends on one’s devotion and experience too.
Those who chant the Dwadasa JyotirLinga Stotram or prayer will attain salvation and enlightenment and be released from this cycle of human existence with all its travails. By worshipping the Lingas, people of all castes, creeds and colour would be freed from all difficulties. By eating the holy offering made to these Lingas (Naivedyam) one would be rid of all the sins instantly.
As a matter of fact, we do the Darshan of the JyotirLingas as a part of our daily life. Sun, Fire and Light etc., are indeed a part of that great Light. “Om tatsavituvarenye” these magical words of the Gayatri mantra or chant invoke this Supreme light only. By chanting this powerful Mantra, humans can obtain divine power to their life-light or Atmajyothi.
The aura of the Sun rays and the various benefits that can be derived there from is indeed a difficult task to describe. This gorgeous life-light is the only thing that is responsible for the activity in the universe. We salute this life force.
“Agni” or fire is a great light. For all the activities on the earth, “Fire” is the pivot.
Deepajyoti or light and its greatness, is known to all of us, and we offer our prayers. Let us celebrate the glory of light. Light is offered a place of pride at welcome celebrations and on all auspicious occasions.
“Shubham karoti kalyanam Arogyam Dhanasampada|
Shatru buddhi vinashaya Deepa Jyoti namostute||”
This light removes the darkness from the lives of one and all. Darkness means ignorance and it is destroyed by this light. The natured light of God makes all our wishes come true, when we take a Darshan of it.
Thus, by taking a Darshan of these twelve JyotirLingas, the auspicious air surrounding them and the holy pilgrimage, will bring happiness, peace and satisfaction to all.