What is a Shivling or Shiva Lingam?
Shivling is manifestation of Lord Shiva (Supreme Consciousness or Brahman) for Shivaites (Lord Shiva Devotees). It is believed that a Shivling is formless and infinite with no beginning and no ending just like the Brahman which is Nirgun/Nirakar and Sagun/Sakaar at the same time too, thus a Shivling represents Shiva or Brahman or Pure Consciousness (Soul). Shivling is mostly depicted with Yoni which symbolizes Maa Shakti the consort of Lord Shiva. The union of Shiva and Shakti represents the union of the ‘Soul’ (Consciousness) with ‘Mind’ (Citta) which leads to attainment of the ultimate truth or self-realization of Shivoham (Oneness of Duality). Shivling also known as Shiva Lingam, Shiva Ling, Ling or Lingam is worshipped in both homes and temples as Lord Shiva. The magnificence of Shivlingam is explained in many ancient scriptures including Vedas and numerous Puranas (Shiv Purana, Linga Purana, Skanda Purana, Kurma Purana, Vayu Purana and more).
Significance and Meaning of Shivling
Shiv Lingam is believed to encompass all three primary energies of creation, preservation and destruction thus it is home to Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. Shivling is also the cosmic egg which symbolizes the entire universe (Male energy) and the Yoni symbolizes the Divine Female energy that holds the entire universe. Thus this holy union of Shiva and Shakti or mind and soul is what the source of all life and creation is. It is believed that amongst all sacred articles a Shivling resonate at the highest frequency and thus is very powerful and beneficial. Shivling, it’s power, significance and benefits are mentioned in numerous Puranas and Vedic texts. Lord Ram worshipped the Shivling in Ramayana and
in Mahabharata too there are instances where the Shiv Lingam is worshipped
The legend of origin on Shivling is given in the Shiv Mahapurana. Once Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma had an argument on who of the two is superior of all Gods. The argument soon turned into a fight, concerned Gods asked Lord Shiva for help. Just as the two used their powerful weapons on each other a fiery column of light (Shivling) emerged in between in which the weapons dissolved.
Astonished Lord Vishnu and Brahma decided to explore and find the ends of the Shivling to determine who the Supreme God is. Lord Brahma took the form of a swan and went upwards and Lord Vishnu too the form of a boar and went downwards. Both of them failed, but when They returned back Lord Vishnu admitted that he couldn’t find the base whereas Lord Brahma lied and said that He has found the top and used Ketki flower to concur.
Just then Lord Shiva emerged from the Shivling. Both the Gods understood the futility of their fight. Lord Shiva blessed Lord Vishnu and cursed Lord Brahma and Ketki flower. Lord Shiva then explained that He is Linga, ‘Ling’ means to dissolve and ‘Ga’ means to emerge. Thus He is from which and in which everything emerges and dissolves into.
The said day is celebrated as Shivratri every year. The 12 Jyotirling are twelve Shivlings which are considered as most sacred by Shiva devotees. Other than the 12 Jyotirlingas ice lingam of Amarnath, Pashupatinath of Kathmandu and Kailash Parvat (as Shivling) are also considered most sacred.
Types of Shivling
Shivlings are primary classified on the basis of material of which they are made. The most popular Shivlings are made from varied materials such as Gold, Silver, Gemstones, Sphatik, Parad, Stone, Mud, Narmada and more. In the Linga Purana benefits of these different types of Shivlings are given. Then there are Swayambhu Shivlings meaning self-manifested Shivlings which are considered very powerful. In the Skanda Purana, there is mention of 100 types of Shivling which are worshiped by different sages, Gods and Planets for various benefits.