Shiva Lingam is the divine and most highly revered symbolic representation of Lord Shiva in Hinduism. Lord Shiva is often worshipped across the globe in the form of Shiva Lingam and this form of Lord Shiva has a very interesting origin. Let us take a look at it.
Shiva Lingam Story
Once so happened that Lord Brahma was taking a tour around the universe while moving around He reached Lord Vishnu’s abode where He witnessed that Lord Vishnu as always was peacefully resting on the Sheshnaag. Near to Lord Vishnu were Garuda and other workers. Even after seeing Lord Brahma approaching Him, Lord Vishnu did not move an inch. He did not get up to greet Lord Brahma and continued to rest. This behaviour of Lord Vishnu got Lord Brahma furious and soon they both indulged into a verbal argument with each one of the two claiming that He was superior to the other. In no time, the argument heated up and turned into an extremely loud verbal fight which caught the attention of other deities. Soon all the deities gathered around the two to watch the two Supreme deities (Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu) fight.
After a long time too, neither Lord Vishnu nor Lord Brahma withdrew and continued arguing. This got all the deities worried and hence in order to find a solution to end this battle all the deities rushed to Lord Shiva and approached Him to resolve the fight. Lord Shiva was in His meditative state but He knew everything yet when the deities arrived at His abode He inquired about the well-being of the world. This is when the deities narrated the entire episode of the quarrel between Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu and pleaded Lord Shiva to come and to resolve the conflict. Lord Shiva sent forward His 100 Ganas to resolve the fight but they too were unable to resolve it.
This is when Lord Shiva took the form of an endless huge Stambha (pillar) which was covered with fire and appeared in between Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu. Both the deities were surprised looking at this humongous structure. This pillar was so huge that it pierced through the skies and all the heavens and likewise was deep inside the earth. Lord Shiva then spoke to Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu wherein they could only hear His voice. This voice said that whoever would be able to find the starting point or the bottom of this pillar would be the superior.
On hearing this Lord Vishnu took the form of boar and started digging the ground to reach to the bottom of the pillar. Similarly, Lord Brahma took the form of a Swan and flew up to find the starting point or the tip of this pillar. After digging for a long time Lord Vishnu even reached Patal Lok but the pillar was still deep and He was not able to find the base of the pillar. He gave up and came above the ground and took His original form. Likewise, Lord Brahma too was unable to find the tip of the pillar but during His flight, He came across a Ketaki flower which was still alive and had some fragrance left in it. The flower informed Brahma that it existed even before the creation was made and that He should not even attempt to find the tip of this pillar as it was impossible to find it. The witty Lord Brahma in order to win made a plan and told Ketki flower to be a fake witness in front of Lord Vishnu agreeing to the fake news that Lord Brahma had seen the tip of the pillar.
As Lord Brahma approached Lord Vishnu with the Ketki flower, Ketki flower gave a false witness that Lord Brahma had seen the tip of the pillar. Lord Vishnu accepted His defeat and acknowledged Lord Brahma to be superior then Him. On witnessing the fake scheme Lord Brahma and Ketki flower had placed, Lord Shiva got very furious and appeared in front of Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma in His normal avatar. He then appreciated Lord Vishnu for His honesty and commanded Lord Bhairav to kill Lord Brahma. Bhairav beheaded one of the five Brahma’s heads. Brahma was frightened and looking at His state Lord Vishnu pleaded to Lord Shiva to forgive Lord Brahma.
Lord Shiva stopped Bhairav from killing Brahma and gave Him life. Although Lord Shiva did not kill Lord Brahma He cursed Him that no one would ever worship Him. He also cursed the ketki flower that it would never be used as an offering to the deities and would never be involved in any puja ceremonies. Lord Brahma asked for Lord Shiva’s forgiveness on which Lord Shiva forgave Him and said that He would be the prime deity while performing a Yagna. Similarly, the Ketki flower asked the Supreme Lord Shiva to forgive her. Lord Shiva feeling pity about her forgave her and told her that she would be offered to Lord Vishnu. This is the beautiful history of the Shiv Lingam. There are many other legends associated with the origin of Shivling.
The Significance of Shiv Lingam and why is it Holy?
The Shiva lingam is a divine structure that helps us to concentrate and reach our highest levels of awareness. In ancient times and even today, the Shiva Lingam is installed only in the temple of Lord Shiva or in the Puja altar. The significance of Shiva Lingam is that it is symbolic to the beginning of all the creations.
The Vedas have no documented literature that talks about Shiva Lingam. The word ‘Shiva Lingam’ does not even appear once in the Vedas. However, in the Atharva Veda, one can find a hymn which praises the ‘Stambha or the pillar’. This Stambha or Pillar was believed to be one of the most iconic forms of Lord Shiva. Vivek Anand once stated that the ‘Stambha’ in due course of time was regarded as the ‘Eternal Brahmin’ who had no beginning and no end. In Sanskrit, Linga implies a “mark” or an image, which focuses on a surmise. In this manner, the Shiva Linga is an image of Lord Shiva: an imprint that helps to remember the Omnipotent Lord, which is indistinct.
The Shiva Lingam is a divine energy source which has the dual energies of Lord Shiva and Mata Parvati. It is a divine togetherness of Purush and Prakriti. It also symbolizes consciousness. When an individual worships Shiva Lingam with complete devotion the powerful positive energies are said to fill the atmosphere and create a shield of protection around the devotee. Your highest consciousness is the Supreme. The Linga can also be described as an ellipsoid which has no beginning or end and has emerged out of shunya ‘zero’ and we too are born out of shunya and after our death, we go back to ‘shunya’.
The old Hindu sacred writing “Linga Purana” says that the principal Linga is without smell, shading, taste, and so forth, and is discussed as Prakriti, or Nature itself. In the post-Vedic period, the Linga got symbolic of the generative intensity of Lord Shiva.
The Linga resembles an egg and speaks to the Brahmanda (the grandiose egg). Linga connotes that the creation is influenced by the association of Prakriti and Purusha, the male and the female forces of Nature. It additionally means Satya, Jnana, and Ananta—Truth, Knowledge, and Infinity.
Portions of a Shiva lingam
Shiva Linga comprises three sections. The lower portion of the structure is known as the Brahma-Pitha; the center one, the Vishnu-Pitha; the highest one, the Shiva-Pitha. These are related with the Hindu pantheon of divine beings: Brahma (the Creator), Vishnu (the Preserver), and Shiva (the Destroyer).
The normally round base or peetham (Brahma-Pitha) holds a lengthened bowl-like structure (Vishnu-Pitha) suggestive of a level tea kettle with a spout that has had the top cut off. Inside the bowl rests a tall chamber with an adjusted head (Shiva-Pitha). It is in this part of the Shiva Lingam that numerous individuals see or relate to a phallus.
The Shiva Lingam is often sculpted from a stone. In Shiva Temples, they can be very enormous, overshadowing worshippers and devotees. In certain temples, the Shiva Lingam is installed at a very low level where a devotee needs to go on his knees in order to offer prayers and to worship it. Some ancient temples have the Shiva lingam inside a pond.
Lingam is the ultimate truth. It can be related as the identification which helps one to recognize what truth is and what are the actual facts. For instance, when a child is conceived, one does not know whether the infant is male or female? It is only through the private organs would you be able to distinguish whether the child is a male or a female. That is why the reproductive organs which are the genitals are likewise called lingam.
The ardent worshippers of Lord Shiva believe that worshipping Shiva Lingam enhances focus and makes one attentive. According to them praying over a Shiva Lingam makes one see beyond what appears to be and awakens the Kundalini of an individual if prayed ardently over it.
The Shiva Lingam is considered as holy as it resonates with the divine energies of the Supreme Lord Shiva and has the power to offer you a range of benefits and to uplift your life completely. The Jyotirlingas are known to be the most divine, holy and ‘Jagrit’ Lingams.
What does Jyotirlingas mean?
Jyotirlingas are the celestial representation of the Supreme Lord Shiva. The literal meaning of the word ‘Jyoti’ is ‘light’ whereas, the word ‘Lingam’ denotes ‘mark’. So jyotirlinga means the ‘Sacred Light of Lord Shiva’. In total there are 12 Jyotirlingas which are situated in different parts of India. These Jyotirlingas are as follows
1. Somnath – Gujarat
2. Mallikarjuna – Andhra Pradesh
3. Mahakaleshwar – Madhya Pradesh
4. Omkareshwar – Madhya Pradesh
5. Kedarnath – Himalayas
6. Bhimashankar – Maharashtra
7. Vishveshwar/Vishwanath – Uttar Pradesh
8. Trimbakeshwar – Maharashtra
9. Vaidyanath – Maharashtra
10. Nageshwar – Gujarat
11. Rameshwaram – Tamil Nadu
12. Ghrishneshwar – Maharashtra
Some Rare Facts about Shiva Lingam and Jyotirlingas
- The Kashi Vishwanath Temple located at Uttar Pradesh is known to be the most sacred Jyotirlingas. It is situated in Kashi and is one of the famous tourist attractions
- The Maheshwaram Sri Shiva Parvati Temple which is situated in Thiruvananthapuram is known to be the tallest Shiva Lingam in India. This Shiva Lingam stands tall as 111.2 ft.
- According to the belief of Shiva devotees if an individual happens to touch a Shiva Lingam made of Parad (mercury) the individual is blessed by the Lord Himself and fills his/her life with a range of benefits. The Harihar Ashram which is near to Haridwar has a Shiva Lingam made of Parad.
The Shiva Lingam is a Holy and powerful manifestation of Lord Shiva Himself and is widely worshipped all over the globe. People often perform Abhishekham on the Shiva Lingam let us understand why water and milk are offered to the Shiva Lingam.
There are two main reasons out of many on why we offer milk or water to Shiva Lingam. One is meaningful and the other is mental. Symbolically in Hinduism, water and milk are believed to be pure and they are seen as liquids which have the ability to purify impurities and nullify the bad vibrations and evil thoughts. Thus, the act of offering water or milk to the Shiva Lingam symbolizes and denotes cleansing of our mind and wavering thoughts along with our soul. Cleaning of the soul suggests that we will have authority over our thoughts and interests and we will be freed from temptations and like.
Also, during Shravan Maas, the acidity levels of the body are said to rise. Since ancient times consuming milk during Shravana is prohibited as it is said to turn into poison and increase the pitta and kapha in the body. And as per the worship of Lord Shiva nirmalya and anything that is hazardous for the health of mankind is offered to Him hence milk Abhishekam is performed on the Shiva Lingam. On the spiritual front when we are in a relationship with Shiva we are therefore in relationship with Shakti. So pouring of water on the Shiva Lingam cleanses our soul both from a genuine perspective and metaphorically. That is the explanation we pour water on the Shiva Lingam.
Shiva Lingam is one of the highly worshipped structures around the world. It uplifts the overall life of the devotee and offers peace, success in professional and personal life, abundance, prosperity and good health. It possesses divine vibrations that resonate with the Supreme.