Fire is the Chief Deity in the Vedas.
Fire is regarded as very sacred in Hinduism.
What Air can not purify Water can, what Water and Air can not, Fire shall.
It is the Ultimate purifier.
The warmth in mother’s womb sustains the child and the same Fire destroys the Human body.
Fire is both the Sutainer and Destroyer.
So is Lord Shiva.
He is the cause of All and the withdrawer of the Universe.
The Distinction between Shiva and Rudra is to be understood.
The meaning of the word Shiva is ‘Auspiciousness’
He is the Chief among the Trinity.
His Amsa,one of His manifestaions, is Rudra.
He is one of the Ganas of Shiva.
He destroys the Universe only to be hidden by Shiva to enable them to manifest them later.
While Shiva has three attributes or functions, Srushti(Creation,) Sthithi( Sustanance),Samhaara(Dissolution), Thirodhaana(Hiding) and Anugraham( Blessings)
Rudra represents one aspect of Shiva, Destruction and this is eveident from the first sentence from the Sri Rudram.
Om Namao Bhagavathe Rudraaya,
My prostrations to Rudra,
My prostraions to His anger”
Implied is the fact that anger leads to desruction.
Now to Shiva.
Being the Ultimate Reality Shiva is with out Attributes.
However attribute is rewuired for Human Beings to connect and worship as concentraing ona vacuum is impossible .
So Fire has been associated with Shiva, both for its sustaning qualities and for destrution.
Twelve Jyotir Lingas , Puranas.
Brahma (the God of creation) and Vishnu (the God of Preservation) had an argument over supremacy of creation. To test them, Shiva pierced the three worlds as a huge endless pillar of light, the jyotirlinga. Vishnu and Brahma split their ways to downwards and upwards respectively to find the end of the light in either directions. Brahma lied that he found out the end, while Vishnu conceded his defeat. Shiva appeared as a second pillar of light and cursed Brahma that he would have no place in ceremonies while Vishnu would be worshipped till the end of eternity. The jyotirlinga is the supreme partless reality, out of which Shiva partly appears. The jyothirlinga shrines thus are places where Shiva appeared as a fiery column of light. Originally there were believed to be 64 jyothirlingas while 12 of them are considered to be very auspicious and holy. Each of the twelve jyothirlinga sites take the name of the presiding deity, each considered a different manifestation of Shiva. At all these sites, the primary image is lingam representing the beginningless and endless Stambha pillar, symbolizing the infinite nature of Shiva. The twelve jyothirlinga are Somnath in Gujarat, Mallikarjuna atSrisailam in Andra Pradesh, Mahakaleswar at Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh, Omkareshwar in Madhya Pradesh, Kedarnath inHimalayas, Bhimashankar in Maharashtra, Viswanath at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Triambakeshwar in Maharashtra, Vaidyanath Jyotirlinga at Deogarh in Jharkhand , Aundha Nagnath at Aundha Nagnath in Maharashtra, Rameshwar at Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu and Grishneshwar at Ellora near Aurangabad, Maharashtra. Kedarnath and Pashupatinath (Nepal) are considered half jyotirlingas counted together as one. -Shiva Purana
Saurashtra Somnatham Cha Shrishaile Mallikarjunam ||
Ujjainyam Mahakalomkare Mammaleshwaram ||
Parlyam Vaijnatham Cha Dakinyam Bheem Shankaram ||
Setu Bandhe Tu Ramesham Nagesham Daruka Vane ||
Varanasya Tu Vishwesham Tribakam Gautamitate ||
Himalaye Tu Kedaram Ghurmesham Cha Shivalaye ||
Aetani Jyotirlingani Sayam Prataha Pathennaraha ||
Sapta Janma Kritam Papam Smaranen Vinashyati ||
One who recites these 12 names regularly in the morning and evening he washes all the sins committed in the previous 7 births and attains all the powers and Siddhis.
Location of the Jyotir Lingas.
|2||Mallikārjuna Swāmi||Andhra Pradesh||Srisailam|
|4||Omkareshwar||Madhya Pradesh||Island in theNarmada River,Omkareshwar|
|7||Kashi Vishwanath Temple||Uttar Pradesh||Varanasi|
|8||Trimbakeshwar Shiva Temple||Maharashtra||Trimbakeshwar, near Nashik|