Why do Hindus Worship Shiva Linga? Kanchi Paramacharya’s Talk

lord-shiva-linga-big-temple-br (1)

Compiled by London Swaminathan
Post No. 870 dated 26th February 2014

“ God is Omnipresent and All-pervasive. By the very nature of these qualities, He cannot have any form. He is, therefore, formless (Arupa). But in order to bless us, He assumes innumerable forms (Rupa). The Linga form in which we worship Isvara is symbolic of both His formlessness and form. It is symbolic of form because it has a particular shape; It is symbolic of formlessness because it has neither head nor limbs. The very conception of a Linga denotes something which has neither beginning nor end; the literal meaning of Linga is symbol.

Banalinga, part of Panchayatana Puja, is egg shaped. It serves to remind us Isvara(God) has neither beginning nor end. The shape of the sky is another example. Looking at the horizon we feel that the sky and the earth meet at a particular point. We may circle the earth and return to the point from which we started, without coming to the point where the sky and the earth meet. If we go into the significance of the symbol of Linga, we will realise that it is intended to bring the Unknown within our mental comprehension.

Lingodbhava Moorthi

Isvara assumes various forms in pursuance of His Divine Leela. The prime manifestation with a form of the formless Isvara, is known as the Lingodbhava Moorthi, and He made his appearance in that form exactly at midnight on Sivaratri. That is why all devotees keep vigil during the night of Sivaratri, and worship Isvara at midnight. If we go to any important Siva temple, we will find a niche, in the outer wall of the sanctum sanctorum, exactly behind the spot where the deity is installed. In that niche we can find a representation of the Lingodbhava Moorthi—a form emerging out of a linga. We can see neither the top half of the head nor the bottom half of the legs of that form. All the other attributes of Siva, like the axe, the deer etc. will be found sculptured. We will find also depicted a swan in flight at the top of the linga, and a boar burrowing the earth at the bottom.

According to tradition, Brahma took the form of a swan to find the crown of Siva’s head and failed. Similarly Vishnu took the form of a varaha/ boar and burrowed deep into the bowels of the earth to locate the feet of Siva and failed.

Thus in Lingodbhava Moorthi, we find the unique combination of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva, impressing in our minds the Advaitic tatva that God is One, Full and All Pervasive. Both the Arupa and Rupa aspects of Isvara are thus depicted.

(Significance of Sivaratri, Talk delivered by Kanchi Shankaracharya Sri Chandra Sekarendra Sarasvati on 16th February 1958 in Madras.)

Source: Pages 105- 107 of Acharya’s Call, Madras Discourses 1957- 1960, B G Paul & Co., Madras 1, 1968 publication.

Hindu Gods in Japan

Interview between Paramacharya and Hajme Nakamura, Professor of Philosophy, University of Tokyo
His Holiness: Is Shiva Linga found anywhere in Japan
Professor Hajme Nakamura: No. there is neither Shiva Linga nor images of Vishnu. But there is Ganapathi, Saraswathi, Indra, Brahma and even Varuna. But also there is a crocodile, which is regarded as the vehicle (Vahana) of the Ganges. The meaning of the Japanese names of
Ganapathi = Arya deva
Saraswathi = Goddess of eloquence
Indra = Chakra deva
Varuna = God of water

Lingodbhava Murthy - Shiva Inside Linga

Picture of Linodbhava

Shiva 50% + Vishnu 50%

“We Hindus regard both Siva and Vishnu as the same and this is evident from the fact that in the ecstasy of our devotion, when we are alone or in groups, we exclaim Haro-Hara and Govinda Govinda which names come to our lips spontaneously.

The holy days of Sivaratri and Janmashtami, are divided from each other by exactly 180 days, and this seems to indicate that god in his aspect as Siva protects us during one half of the year and his aspect as Vishnu , in the other half.

The traditional practice of boys and girls collecting oil for their vigil on Sivaratri and Janmashtami nights , singing in chorus a song which means Sivaratri and Sri Jayanthi/Janmashtami are the same, is another pointer to the identity of these two manifestations of the divine.”
(Paramacharya has pointed out in another talk that only two stars out of 27 stars has the honorific prefix “Thiru=Sri” in Tamil. They are Arudra and Onam. Both of them are associated with Shiva and Vishnu respectively. Big celebrations are held in Siva and Vishnu temples on those days. (Arudra= Thiruvathirai; Onam= Thiruvonam )

Picture of Ardhanaree

Ignorance of Western Scholars

“Some Western scholars in their ignorance have dubbed Hindu religion as polytheistic. The uniqueness of our religion lies in the fact that under whichever name a devotee worships his Ishtadevata – that manifestation of god which appeals to him most – he considers him as the all pervading Paramatma. In fact, the culmination of all conceptions of the Supreme Being is in monism. That is Advaita Vedanta. Isvara, Narayana and Parasakti are all different aspects of one Supreme Being. This is visibly illustrated in the divine forms of Ardhanareeswara and Sankara – Narayana.

Such manifestations of the divine are installed in many South Indian temples, such as Ardhanareeswara (Half Siva, Half Sakti) in Tiruchengodu, SankaraNarayanan (Half Siva and Half Vishnu) koil in Tirunelveli district and Harihara in Mysore. Siva and Vishnu are also found together in the temple at Tiruparkadal near Kaveripakkam.

Source: Volume 2 of Acharya’s Call, Madras Discourses 1957- 1960, B G Paul & Co., Madras 1, 1968 publication.
2 million Rudraksha seeds in Surat.

Linga made up of two million Rudraksha seeds from Surat,Gujarat.

Contact swami_48@yahoo.com
Pictures are taken from various websites;thanks.

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1 Comment

  1. Very nice article. I can explain the Linga form to my grand children.

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