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Story of Vishvanatha and Varanasi

The seventh of the jyotirlingas is named Vishvanatha and it is located in the cityof Varanasi or Kashi.

Varanasi is a very sacred place. Brahma himself performed difficult tapasya there. So difficult was the tapasya that Vishnu shook his head in disbelief. When Vishnu shook his head, a jewel (mani) fell down from Vishnu' ear (karna). The place where the jewel fall is known as Manikarnika and it is a famous tirtha.

Varanasi is not destroyed when the rest of the world is destroyed. Shiva himself raises it on the point of his trident and protects it while destruction rages all around. When the world is re-created. Shiva replaces Varanasi to its appointed place.

Shiva and Parvati once went to visit Brahma. Brahma began to chant hymns in Shiva's praise with all of his five mouths. One of the mouths however made mistakes in the pronunciation of the hymns. This angered Shiva and Shiva severed the offending head with a gaze of his third eye.

But this effectively amounted to the killing of a brahmana and Shiva committed a crime. The severed head therefore got stuck to Shiva's back would would not come off, no matter where Siva went. But when Shiva arrived in Varanasi, the head fell off his back. Shiva realized that Varanasi was a special place and he resolved that he would always be present there.







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