The Legend of Ghusmeshwar : The Jyotirlinga near Ellora in Maharashtra
Jyortirlingas are shrines of Shiva, worshipped all across India. As the name suggests, they are treated like, pillars of light & are said to embody the spirit of Shiva. There are a total of twelve Jyotirlingas and it is said that, he who visits them or hears about them, is not sullied by sin.
An interesting tale that gave one of these shrines its name- Ghusmeshwar is the subject of this article. This particular Jyotirlinga is located near the Ellora temples, in Aurangabad, a district in Maharashtra.
As the story goes, there lived a pious Brahmin of reasonable means called Sudharma. He had a wife called Sudeha & no children. Sudharma had no regrets, about his childlessness as he realised the imperfection in earthly happiness.
One day, after a bitter quarrel with a neighbor his wife began pleading with him, that they must have a child. She had been hurt bitterly by the neighbor’s comment on her childlessness & barren condition. Inconsolable she begged her husband to find a way. He in turn worshipped Shiva but to no avail. Worried that there will be no heir to their property, Sudeha finally forced her husband to marry her sister & beget a son off her. She was instrumental in executing the entire plan & she cared for & served her sister till the delivery of a baby boy.
Her sister in turn, worshipped Shiva with all her might. Each day she would create Lingas of clay, purify them with mantras & immerse them in the nearby lake. All apparently was going happily & well for the family, whose wishes had peacefully come true. Infact, the boy grew up calling Sudeha his mother & referred to his real mother as an aunt.
What nobody realised was that Sudeha was seething with envy inside, at the thought that it was not really her child. Alas, when the boy grew up & got married she could no longer control herself. One night in a fit of fury, she murdered the boy. When the boy’s wife saw, a dismembered corpse, of her beloved the next morning she went straight to Sudeha, who she thought was her loving mother in law. Sudeha played along & moaned & pretended to grieve the loss. Ghushma, the real mother on the other hand, displayed no emotion. Her only comment was that “Shiva who bestows life can take it too.” Thereafter she went about her daily ritual of making Lingas & immersing them in the waters of the nearby lake. Just as she was doing this sullenly after the death of her son, she was shocked to see him (her son) emerge from the lake in a luminous body of life. Delighted she welcomed her son back among the living.
At this point Siva, made and appearance & promised to avenge her son, by killing his murderer Sudeha with his Trishul. On hearing this, the alarmed & fine Ghushma, begged him to forgive her & forget the incident.
Thus, pleased with her compassionate behavior, Shiva blessed the saintly woman & her family. He further went on & made her immortal by saying, “This lake shall always be a home for my Lingas & I will remain here in your name for all time.”
Ever since then, Siva’s spirit is said to be embodied in the Jyotirlingam near Ellora which goes by her name as “Ghushmeshwara.