Jyotirlinga Nageshwara – Shiva Purana
Nageshwar Temple is one of the 12 jyotirlinga of Lord Shiva, the holiest of holy shrines of Lord Shiva. The Jyotirlinga enshrined in the Temple of Nagnath is known as Nageshwar Mahadev and attracts thousands of pilgrims all-round the year.
Nageshwar Nagnath Temple is located on the route between Gomati Dwarka and the Bait Dwarka Island on the coast of Saurashtra in Gujarat.
Anyone who ever with devotion reads the birth and greatness of this Jyotirlinga shall beget all material happiness and divine status in the end.
This powerful Jyotirlinga symbolizes protection from all poisons. It is said that those who pray to the Nageshwar Linga become free of poison. The Rudra Samhita sloka refers to Nageshwar with the phrase 'Daarukaavane Naagesham'.
Legend as per Shiva Purana:
On the western shores of the ocean, Daruka, a very powerful Rakshasa tormented the good along with many other Rakshasas. He destroyed their sacrifices and spoiled their rites. Parvati goddess had entrusted him the supervision of that forest. Staying there, the Rakshasa Daruka and his wife terrorised the people. The harassed people sought refuge in Aurva, a great sage. Aurva said: — “If the Rakshasas torture living beings on the earth, they will die themselves although they are very powerful. Whenever the people are killed, let the Rakshasas too die.” After promising them, Aurva continued different types of penance, conferring happiness on the people. Realising the cause for the curse, the gods made attempts to fight with the demons. Rakshasas began to ponder. A difficult situation has come up. They were fighting and dying. Gods are fighting but they are not killed. On knowing that a great calamity had arrived, the demoness, wife of Daruka spoke of the boon granted by Parvati. She said, “Shiva had granted me a boon. You can go to the forest along with your people if you desire to go. How is this misery to be borne? Taking your people to the island you can stay with the Rakshasas happily.” Rakshasas took their belongings to the city in the ocean. She then stayed fearlessly in the middle; of the ocean. Staying in the city inside the ocean, the sportive Rakshasas became happy and fearless. For fear of the sage’s curse, Rakshasas did not come on the earth. They abducted travellers in the boats and imprisoned them in the city. They killed some of them. In the meantime, several beautiful boats arrived there all full of people. Rakshasas fettered them and put them in prisons. Their leader was a certain Vaishya named Supriya. His conduct was auspicious and pleasing to Shiva. The Vaishya performed the worship of Shiva there in the prison also. He taught the mantra of Shiva and the mode of worshipping the earthen phallic image to several of his fellow-prisoners. They performed there the worship of Shiva. Those who did not know the great rite remained meditating on Śiva with the five-syllabled mantra “Namaḥ Shivaya”. The Vaishya continued to perform the worship of Shiva; six months passed by without hindrance.
Once an attendant of the wicked Rakshasa saw the beautiful form of Shiva in front of him. That wonderful incident was truthfully intimated to the king of Rakshasas. The king of the Rakshasas, Daruka, though very powerful was excited much. He hastened to the Vaishya and asked him, “O Vaishya, what is it that you meditate upon? Tell me the truth. Then you will not die.” He replied “I do not know.” On hearing it the Rākṣasa was angry. He incited the Rakshasas — “O Rakshasas, let him be killed.” Urged by him, they seized various weapons and rushed at the leading Vaishya whose mind was attached to Shiva, with desire to kill him. On seeing them come, the Vaishya remembered Shiva with devotion and repeated his names though his eyes indicated that he was extremely frightened. Shiva appeared out of the crevice with an excellent temple with four doors. Seeing in its midst the wonderfully brilliant form of Shiva along with his attendants he worshipped him. On being worshipped, Shiva became delighted. He gave him the Pasupata missile. He immediately slew all the Rakshasas with all their attendants and adjuncts. He saved thus his devotee. Indeed, Shiva is the slayer of the wicked. After killing all of them, Shiva the creator of his Oracles and who assumes bodies in the course of sports granted a boon to the forest. May the rites and activities of the four castes, Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Sudras flourish in this forest always. Let there never be people of the Tamasic qualities. Let there be excellent sages, the propounders and the followers of the Shaiva cult.
In the meantime, the Rakshasi wife of Daruka dejected in her mind, eulogised Parvati. The goddess being pleased said “What shall I do?” She replied— “Let my race be protected by you”. “I shall protect your race. I say this truth to you.” Saying this the Goddess quarrelled with Shiva. On seeing the goddess furious, the lord, bound by the boon granted by him, replied with pleasure. “Do as you please”. On hearing the words of her husband Shiva, the delighted Parvati laughed and spoke these words. Parvati said:— “Your words will be true at the end of this Yuga. Till then, I think, there can be the Tamasic creations as well. This Rakshasi is my own Sakti. She is the most powerful among the Rakshasis. Let her rule over the kingdom of the Rakshasas. These wives of the Rakshasas will give birth to sons. I have permitted all of them to live jointly in the forest. On hearing these words of Parvati, lord Shiva was delighted in his mind and spoke these words. Shiva said; — “O beloved, if you say so, please listen to my words. I will stay in this forest with pleasure for protecting the devotees. He who maintains the discipline of rites and activities prescribed for different castes and has a sight of me with pleasure here will become an emperor. Or, at the end of the recurring cycle of Kali or in the beginning of Treta Age, the leading king equipped with a vast army, famous in the name of Virasena son of Mahasena, will have a sight of me. He will be a very valorous devotee of mine. After viewing me he will become an emperor.”
The Jyotirlinga form of Shiva came to be known as Nageswara. Goddess Parvati became Nageswari. Both of them are favourites of the devotees. Virasena, son of Mahashena, was a great favourite of Shiva. He was born of a Kshatriya family in the beautiful land of Niṣadha. Worshipping the earthen image of the lord, Virasena performed a severe penance, lasting for twelve years. Then Shiva, the delighted lord of the gods, became visible to him and said: — Make a fish-like canoe of wood. Coat it with tin and other metals. O Virasena, I shall create Yogamaya and give it to you. Enter the canoe accompanied by Yogamaya and your men. Proceed to the island in the Western Ocean. Enter the crevice made by me. Perform the worship of Nageshvara. Thereafter secure the missile Pauhupata and slay the Rakṣasi and others. When I appear before you; you will not remain deficient in anything. Parvati’s strength will grow to be complete. The Mlecchas of the forest will become pious and auspicious. After saying this to Virasena and bestowing his mercy on everyone lord Shiva, the destroyer of miseries, vanished there itself. Having received the boon form Shiva the supreme soul, Virasena became competent to do everything, of course. Thus is the manifestation of Nageshvara, the lord in the form of a Jyotirlinga conferring the attainment of desires to the three worlds.
Reference: Shiva Purana, Koṭirudra Saṃhita, Chapters – 29, 30