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6-The Symbolism and Worship of Shiv Ling

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6-The Symbolism and Worship of Shiv Ling

Shiv Ling literally means the body of Shiv. Next to the symbol of Om, it is perhaps the most potent, powerful and popular symbol in the entire Hinduism. In almost all the Shiv temples, worship is generally made to Shiv Ling only. Very rarely we come across his images in the sanctum sanctorum of any Shiv temple. A Shiv Ling is usually a round or cylindrical and protruding object. The cylindrical part is held firmly by a circular base.

On the physical plane, the object resembles the male sexual organ, suggestive of the creative power of Shiv. The circular base resembles that of the female, suggestive of his consort Paarvatee. Physically a Shiv Ling is a phallic symbol, representing the male and female sexual organs in a state of conjugal bliss.

Mentally it symbolizes the union of mind and body. Spiritually it represents the union between Purush and Prakriti, the highest principles of the manifest universe.

The Shiv Ling is also symbolic of the Supreme Self. It is verily Maheshwar himself, the Highest Self and the Lord of the Universe. In this aspect it has three parts. The lower part represents Brahmaa. The middle part, which is octagonal in shape, represents Vishnu. The upper part, which is cylindrical in shape, represents Rudra and is also called Poojaa Bhag since it receives the actual offerings of milk and other substances.

The Shiv Ling are normally found installed in the temples. But many devotees of Shiv keep them in their houses also and offer regular worship. People are however cautioned not to keep Shiv Ling in their houses without offering worship, since they are believed to be powerful sources of divine energy. Shiv Ling are either naturally found or made artificially.

Different materials are used in their making, such as clay, gold, crystal, glass, diamonds, precious stones and wood. (see also Ling and Ling Types) The round and smooth stones found in the river beds of the Narmadaa or the Godaavaree are considered to be the most ideal for worship. Sometimes Shiv Ling are made temporarily with clay or sandal paste and disposed of after worship. Some devotees wear Shiv Ling on their bodies or around their necks. When Shiv Ling are found fortuitously in the river beds and desolate places, it is considered to be a great omen. They are housed in temples or houses and offered regular worship.

The Worship of Shiv Ling
The Mahaa Nirvaan Tantra (chapter 14) describes the importance and method of worshipping Shiv Ling in the following words:
Thirty-five million known and unknown places of pilgrimage and all the holy places abide near Shiv. The land within a radius of a hundred cubits of the Ling is declared to be Shiv-kshetra (9-10).
This land of Eesh is very sacred. It is more excellent than the most excellent of holy places, because there abide all the immortals and there are all the holy places (11).
He who in a devout spirit lives there, be it even for but a little while, becomes purged of all sins, and goes to the heaven of Shankar after death (12).
Anything great or small (meritorious or otherwise) which is done in this land of Shiv becomes multiplied (in its effect) by the majesty of Shiv (13).
All sins committed elsewhere are removed (by going) near Shiv, but sins committed in Shiv-kshetra adhere to a man with the strength of a thunderbolt (14).
The merit acquired by the performance there of Purashcharan, Jap, acts of charity, Shraaddh, Tarpan, or any other pious acts is eternal (15).
The merit acquired by the performance of a hundred Purashcharan at times of lunar or solar eclipse is acquired by merely performing one Jap near Shiv (16).
By the offering of Pind once only in the land of Shiv, a man obtains the same fruit as he who offers ten million Pind at Gayaa, the Ganges, and Prayaag (17).
Even in the case of those who are guilty of many sins or of great sins attain the supreme abode if Shraaddh be performed in their names in the land of Shiv (18).

The fourteen worlds abide there where abides the Lord of the Universe in His Ling form with the auspicious Devee Durgaa (19).
I have spoken a little about the majesty of the immovable Mahaadev in his Ling form. The Mahimaa of the Anaadi-Ling is beyond the power of words to express (20).
O Suvrat! even in thy worship at the Mahaa Peeth the touch of an untouchable is unclean, but this is not so in the worship of Har in his Ling image (21).
O Devi! as there are no prohibitions at the time of Chakra worship, so know this, O Kalikaa, that there are none in the holy shrine in Shiv's land (22).
What is the use of saying more? I am but telling thee the very truth when I say that I am unable to describe the glory, majesty, and sanctity of the Ling image of Shiv (23).
Whether the Ling is placed on a Gauree-patta or not, the worshipper should, for the successful attainment of his desires, worship it devoutly (24).
The excellent worshipper earns the merit of (performing) ten thousand horse-sacrifices if he performs the Adhivaas of the Dev in the evening previous to the day of installation (25).
The twenty articles to be used in the rite of Adhivaas are: Earth, Scent, a Pebble, Paddy, Doorvaa grass, Flower, Fruit, Curds, Ghee, Swaastik, Vermillion, Conch-shell, Kaajal, Rochan, White Mustard Seed, Silver, Gold, Copper, Lights, and a Mirror (26-27).
Taking each of these articles, the Maayaa Beej and the Brahm-Gayatri should be repeated, and then should be said "Anen" (with this) and "Amushya" (of this one's or his or hers) "may the auspicious Adhivaas be" (28).
And then the forehead of the worshipped divinity should be touched with the earth and all other articles aforesaid. Then Adhivaas should be performed with the Prashasti-patra that is, the receptacle should be lifted up, and with it the forehead of the image should be touched three times (29).
The worshipper conversant with the ordinances, having thus performed the Adhivaas of the Dev, should bathe the deity with milk and other liquids, as directed in the ceremony relating to the dedication of a temple (30).

Rubbing the Ling with a piece of cloth and placing it on its seat, Ganesh and other Deities should be worshipped according to the rules prescribed for their worship (31).
Having performed Kar-Nyaas and Ang-Nyaas and Praanaayaam with the Pranav Mantra, the ever-existent Shiv should be meditated upon.

Another Interpretation
Another interpretation of the Ling is to know to get the ultimate faith in the Shiv Ling.
In the astrological sense, the base represents the earth's monthly wobble with the Moon. Since Shiv wears the Moon upon his head, the Ling is verily the center around which the Moon moves every lunar month. This very fact makes the lunar Tithi the basis of all our festivals. Since Shiv wears the Moon upon his head we may also say that, in the physical sense, the Ling represents the thalamus at the center of our brain cortex, within our head.

This fact is mentioned in the sense of Purush and Prakriti. Prakriti is the earth and Purush is the center, around which the earth goes every lunar month. This is the astrological or astronomical meaning of the Shiv Ling. Since there are 12 lunar months in one year, we can say that there are 12 Jyotirling in Bhaarat Varsh. Bhaarat "Varsh" is of course earth's one 'year' travel around the Sun (Bharat).



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Created and Maintained by Sushma Gupta
Created on March 15, 2003 and Updated on February 12, 2013