The only Shri Kapaleshwar temple in the universe without Nandi in front of Mahadev

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Greatness of Kumbhanagari Nashik

Nashik is indeed a sacred land. Bhagwan Shiva, Prabhu Shriram and several other Deities have set Their Holy feet here, that is why it is a spiritual city as well. Just as Nashik is famous for the jyotirlinga in Trimbakeshwar, it also is renowned for very ancient Shri Kapaleshwar temple. Let us study the importance and greatness of Shri Kapaleshwar Mahadev.

1. Benefit of worshipping the jyotirlinga can be obtained only after paying obeisance at the Kapaleshwar Mahadev temple

Trimbakeshwar is the Holy place of Deity Shiva. In the vicinity of nine Shivalingas in the form of Brahmagiri mountain, Kapaleshwar is the Shivalinga installed by Bagwan Vishnu Himself. One can locate this temple after climbing the stairs opposite to the Ramkund which is on the banks of river Godavari.

सर्वेभ्योऽप्याधिका काशी तत: पञ्चवटी स्मृता ।
कपालेश्‍वरसंज्ञं तु ततोऽप्याधिकमुच्यते ॥ – श्री कपालेश्‍वरमहादेव स्तोत्र

Meaning : Amongst places of pilgrimage Kashi is superior. Panchavati is even more superior and Kapaleshwar is the superiormost.

The benefit of darshan (Vision) of the 12 jyotirlingas is obtained after taking darshan of Kapaleshwar Mahadev. The merit derived from performing a million yadnyas (Ritual of sacrificial fires) is obtained with a darshan of Kapaleshwar. Such is the greatness of Kapaleshwar shivalinga.


2. The legend in the Padma Puran on the absence of Nandi in front of Mahadev

The Kapaleshwar temple is the only temple of Mahadev in the three worlds which does not have Nandi (His vehicle) in front of it. It is customary to first pay obeisance to Nandi and then take darshan of the shivalinga by viewing it between the two horns of Nandi. But Nandi is absent in the Kapaleshwar temple. The legend regarding this in the Padma Puran is given further.

2A. Shiva acquires the sin of killing a brahman

Deity Brahma had five heads. He used to recite the five Vedas through His four mouths. Once through the 5th mouth He criticised Shrivishnu. This enraged Shiva the devotee of Hari, to the extent that He snatched the Brahmastra (A weapon) from the hand of Deity Brahma and beheaded that head of His which had criticised Shrivishnu. This resulted in the sin of killing a brahman (Priest) that Bhagwan Shiva acquired.

2B. To expiate the acquired sin Shiva pilgrimaged holy places from the North to the South

To expiate the acquired sin, Bhagwan Shiva paid obeisance at all places of pilgrimage in the North, however he could not get rid of the sin. Dejected, He came to the South. At that time brahmans (Priests) were residing in the Gangapur-Gowardhan villages near Nashik. Devsharma was one such brahman. He owned cattle. When Bhagwan Shiva stopped there, around midnight He happened to overhear a conversation between a cow and its calf. The cow was trying to explain to the calf that it should calmly accept the nosering that Devsharma would be inserting. The calf on the other hand was saying it would not get it inserted and if Devsharma inserted it forcefully then it would kill him. The cow then explained to its calf how killing a brahman is a sin of the highest order which cannot be expiated. The calf however resassured its mother that it knew the secret of expiating such a sin.

2C. Shiva learns the secret of nullifying the sin of killing a brahman from the calf

The next day Devsharma came to pierce the nose of the calf with a nosering. As he struggled to do it the calf broke its noose and killed the Brahman with its horn. Then the head of that calf turned black. The calf went straight to the Ramkund and jumped into the Asthivilay kund (The pit in which ashes of the deceased are immersed by relatives) at the confluence of rivers Aruna, Varuna and Godavari. The calf thereafter got the white colour of its head restored.

2D. At the spot where the sin of Bhagwan Shiva was nullified Shrivishnu Himself installed the Kapaleshwar Shivapindi

Bhagwan Shiva observed all this. He too bathed in the kund and His sin of killing got nullified. As Nandi showed him the path to nullifying the sin of killing, in this context, Bhagwan Shiva accepted him as His Guru. That is why in this temple there is no idol of Nandi in front of the Shivapindi. This is the only temple of Shiva in the three worlds without Nandi in front of the Shivapindi.
As soon as Bhagwan Shiva was freed from the sin of killing a brahman, Shrivishnu and other Deities showered flowers upon Him. Shrivishnu Himself installed a Shivapindi at this place and named it Kapaleshwar.


3. The ancient history of the Kapaleshwar temple

The Kapaleshwar Shivalinga is very ancient and was discovered around 1100 B.C. Some people spotted a tunnel on a hillock near the Ramkund with a Shivalinga within it. They discussed this with the local brahmans and with their advice later declared the place as Kapaleshwar temple. Ever since they commenced regular worship at the temple. This temple located at the confluence of rivers Aruna and Godavari had been demolished by the muslim invaders.

With passage of time the Patils appealed to King Gawli to build a temple here. In 1655 the king spent thousands of the currency of that times to construct a temple and appointed guravs (Caretakers) to manage it. Later, Krishnaji Patil spent 275 rupees to construct steps leading to the temple. In 1763 Shri. Jagajivanrao spent 10,000 rupees and constructed the frontside of the temple.


4. The daily rituals in the Shri Kapaleshwar temple

The ritualistic worship of Deity Shiva is performed regularly in this temple. Every Monday the silver crown of Shri Kapaleshwar is bathed ritualistically and Shodashopchar puja (Ritualistic worship involving sixteen specific steps) is performed with a resolve. In the Hindu lunar month of Karthik, Shri Kapaleshwar is dressed in the form of Harihar, Ardhanari Nateshwar, Brahma etc. On every Shravani Somwar, Vaikunth Chaturdashi, Tripurari Pournima and Shivaratri festivities of the Deity are celebrated at the temple. Cowherds and old brahmans are authorised to perform puja. Shri Kapaleshwar is an extremely spiritually awakenend temple.

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