Description: This article provides information about the Shivling also known commonly as Shiva Lingam, Shiva Linga and in Sanskrit लिङ्गं, a symbolic form of Lord Shiva.
God or Deity is a Principle which exists in every era, that is, Satyayuga, Tretayuga, Dwaparyuga and Kaliyuga and manifests as per need in that particular era; for example, the 9 Incarnations of Lord Vishnu came on Earth as they were needed in those respective Eras. As the time passed, people started worshipping God in various forms. In the same way, the Idol of Lord Shiva changed and worship of His different forms started.
Many people associate the symbolic representation of Lord Shiva as phallus in the erotic context; however, Lord Shiva is referred to as the father of the Universe; hence, in the olden days the Idol used to be in the form of a phallus. Lord Shiva is Deity of Dissolution; that is, He eliminates all the bad things and paves way for new creation. In a human context, the phallus is associated with creation; similarly, Lord Shiva is associated with creation of Universe.
One may wonder that as Lord Shiva is a Deity of Dissolution, why is He depicted in the form of genitals, phallus-birth passage form linga, Nandi etc. that are related to Creation? The answer is that, according to the Shaiva sect, the Deity responsible for Creation, Sustenance and Dissolution is Shiva alone. For most people, worship related to Creation and Sustenance is easier than the worship related to Dissolution. Hence, in the Shaiva sect, Lord Shiva is also associated with Creation.
In this article, we will explain about Shiva lingam (Pindi, Shalunka) and Jyotirlinga.
Shiva Lingam (Pindi)
A Shiva lingam (pindi) is made of two symbolic parts – Shalunka (symbol of the passage of birth) and the Phallus (symbol of the male sex organ) or lingam. There is no erotic meaning to the Shiva lingam, in fact, the phallus protrudes out and does not insert as in sexual intercourse. Lord Shiva and Shri Parvati (Shiva’s Divine Energy, also known as Shakti) are considered the parents of the world, and Lord Shiva always functions with the help of Shakti. This does not mean that Lord Shiva is incapable; but to undertake any action, Divine Energy is needed. Hence, both Lord Shiva and Shakti are worshipped together. Lord Shiva’s symbolic lingam in the form of a Shiva lingam or pindi represents the energy of radiance. The containment buildings of nuclear reactors also have a shape similar to the lingam because such a shape is the strongest to contain very high pressures without deforming or breaking open.
This can give us an idea about how strong Shiva’s energy would be !
Types of Shiv Lingam
1. Shiva Lingam situated below the ground level (Swayambhu)
This type of Shivling has tremendous amount of spiritual energy, thus, it is situated inside the ground. Devotees do not have the capacity to tolerate such high energy. The Jyotirlinga Shivlings have the maximum amount of intense Shiva Principle in them; followed by the Swayambhu Shivlings. These types of Shivlings are created due to the resolve (sankalp) of Lord Shiva. The discovery of such a Shiva lingam happens when devotees get a Divine inspiration to look for it, and after the discovery its worship begins.
2. Shiva Lingam situated at the ground level
Shivlings of this type are installed by Sages or Kings. In terms of the intensity of Shiva Principle, these have comparatively lesser energy than the Swayambhu and Jyotirlingas. Average devotees are able to endure the energy emanating from it.
3. Shiva Lingam situated above the ground level
Such types of Shivlings are installed collectively by devotees. The energy in these Shivlings is the least of all the Shivlings; hence people can easily bear it.
A linga is a representation of an object or an emotion; it is a representation of Lord Shiva.
The Shalunka (base of the linga)
Bhumi (Earth) is the eldest daughter of King Daksha Prajapati (son of Lord Brahma). Aditi, Uttanpada, Mahi and Shalunka are Her other forms. The name shalunka has roots in the name Suvarnashankhini, because women’s sexual organs resemble the shape of a conch. When a ritualistic worship of the shalunka is performed, it is akin to the worship of the Matrudevi. The Shalunka has grooves on its inner side which are very important because due to them, the sattva predominant energy generated in the pindi mostly remains in the pindi and the gabhara (sanctum) of the temple; while the destructive, tama predominant energy, flows out from the source of the shalunka.
The importance of Jyotirlingas
The Jyotirlingas and swayambhu Shivlings are situated underground. The nirgun principle in Jyotirlingas is very high as compared to other Shivalings, hence, they constantly emit greater quantum of nirgun chaitanya and sattvikta, and as a result, the atmosphere on Earth gets purified continuously. Also, as these frequencies are constantly emitted towards the region of hell, they are in continuous combat with the negative energies there. Hence, Earth is constantly protected from the attacks of the powerful negative energies from the region of Hell.
There are twelve Jyotirlingas which are the major places of worship of Lord Shiva. The names of twelve Jyotirlingas are as follows –
|1. Somnath||Prabhasapattan, near Veraval, Sourashtra, Gujarat|
|2. Mallikarjun||Shrishailya, Andhra Pradesh|
|3. Mahankal||Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh|
|4. Omkar / Amleshvar||Omkar, Mandhata, Madhya Pradesh|
|6. Bhimashankar||Dakini region, taluka Khed, district Pune, Maharashtra|
|7. Vishveshvar||Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh|
|8. Tryambakeshvar||Near Nashik, Maharashtra|
|9. Vaidyanath (Vaijnath)||Parli, District Bid, Maharashtra or Vaidyanathdham, Bangal.|
|10. Nagesh (Nagnath)||Darukavan, Oundha, district Parbhani, Maharashtra or Almoda, Uttar Pradesh|
|11. Rameshvar||Setubandha, near Kanyakumari, Tamilnadu.|
|12. Ghrushneshvar (Ghrushnesh)||Verul, district Aurangabad, Maharashtra.|
Spiritual significance of Jyotirlingas
To empower a rudraksha with a specific quality and energy related mantra, we should select an appropriate Jyotirlinga and perform abhishek on that Jyotirlinga; for example, Mahankal is empowered with tama predominant energy, Naganath is Harihar form and is sattva-tama predominant, Tryambakeshwar is three components oriented (also known as Avadhut), whereas Somnath is appropriate for overcoming diseases. The rituals of Narayan-Nagbali and Tripindi shraddha are performed at the Jyotirlinga places.
The meaning of a Jyotirlinga
The all-pervading Brahmatmalinga or all-pervading light
In the Taittiriya Upanishad, the twelve Principles of Brahma, Maya, the embodied soul, the mind, intellect, subconscious mind, ego and the five Cosmic Elements have been referred to as the twelve Jyotirlingas.
In the summit of a sacrificial fire the shalunka represents the altar of the fire and the linga the flame of the fire.
A representation of the twelve Adityas (species of Gods who are designated into groups).
The sites of eruption of fire from the dormant state of volcanoes. Since Yama, the master of the southern direction is a subordinate of Lord Shiva, south becomes the direction of Lord Shiva. The Jyotirlingas are south oriented, meaning, the opening of their shalunkas face southwards. Most temples do not face the southern direction. When the opening of the shalunka faces South, its pinda possesses more spiritual energy; while the pinda with the opening of the shalunka facing north possesses lesser energy.