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Story of Ghushna and Ghushnesha

The twelfth and last of the jyotirlingas is named Ghushnesha.

To the south, there is a mountain named Deva. A brahmana named Sudharma used to live there. His wife was called Sudeha. Husband and wife were righteous and regularly prayed to the gods. They had only one reason for complaint: they had no son. Sudeha was especially disturbed at this. Other women tended to insult her because she had no son.

Sudharma decided to conduct an experiment. He plucked two flowers and offered them in front of a sacred fire. He mentally associated one of the flowers with having a son and asked his wife to choose a flower. Unfortunately, his wife chose the flower that was not associated wtih having a son. From this Sudharma concluded that they were not going to have a son and he did his best to console Sudeha.

But Sudeha refused to be consoled, she was miserable.

Why don't you marry again? asked Sudeha. Perhaps you will then have a son. Marry my niece Gushna.

No, replied Sudharma. You love her now because she is your niece. But if she does indeed have a son, you will become jealous and will come to hate her.

Sudeha convinced her husband that this would never happen. So Sudharma married Ghushna.

Every day, Ghushna made a hundred and one lingas out of clay and worshipped them. When the day's prayers were over, she immersed the lingas in a pond. When one lakh lingas had thus been worshipped, Ghushna gave birth to a handsome boy. Shiva had taken pity on Sudharma and Ghushna.

But when the son was born, Sudeha's nature changed. As her husband had warned her, she felt jealous. She thought that Gushna got more important and she was treated like a maid. In the middle of the night, Sudeha slew the boy with a knife and threw the dead body into the pond. This was the pond where the lingas had been immersed.

As was her wont, Ghushna got up in the morning and began to worship a linga. Blood was discovered on the bed, the boy could not be found and everyone raised the alarm. But Ghushna was not distracted by this racket and did not leave her prayers. Shiva was so impressed with Ghushna's devotion that he restored her son back to life. He also wished to kill the evil Sudeha with his trident, but Gushna begged for her aunt's life and Shiva spared Sudeha. Shushna's act of forgiveness so impressed Shiva that he wished to grant Ghushna another boon, apart from restoring her son.

Ghushna desired that Shiva might alwaysbe present in a linga near the pond. This is known as Ghushnesha.



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