As we recite a most common shloka “Om Namah Shivay” we automatically get connected with the pious Lord Shiva and get exposed to his blessings. Lord Shiva is the ultimate destination of every individual who seeks moksha, peace and spiritual liberation from this materialistic world.
Lord Shiva is the one whose appearance is extremely distinctive from the rest of the Hindu gods as he accepts all that is left out by the universe. He decorates himself with the things that are mostly rejected or disliked by the world. He puts on a snake as a necklace, his body is smeared up with ashes of corpses, he puts on the flesh of a tiger as a body cloth, his throat holds poison making it look blue.
Spread across the sea, the vibrations produced by the damru of Shiva, the radiance thrown out by the third eye when open, the moon light beaming on the head of Shiva all contribute to the universe in making it mysterious and full of adventure.
Other than the deity or normal form of Shiva as a person there is another unique form of Shiva which is "Shivling".
This is a very popular and widely worshipped form of Shiva by devotees throughout different corners of the world.
Meaning of Shivling
Shivling as known from the Hindu texts is the symbol of Lord Shiva. In Hindu religion other gods are worshipped in their traditional idol forms whereas Lord Shiva is worshipped as Shivling throughout the world.
Shivling as the name suggests "Linga" means symbol in Sanskrit. So, Shivling means the symbol of Shiv.
Shivling also symbolises the unity of Maa Parvati and Lord Shiva. It also represents the equality between man and woman.
Story of Shivling
According to the known sources once there was a dispute between Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu over who is more powerful and big in strength. The argument continued for many years which was not arriving at any conclusion. After sometime all of a sudden there appeared a Ling burning with flames of fire from all sides.
Looking at it they decided to compete and find the end or the beginning of this Ling. Whoever finds the end or beginning of the Ling first will be considered more powerful and influential.
The hunt continued for many thousands of years but no one could find the terminals. Both came back and accepted failure. Then they went to the place where they first saw the "Linga".
They understood the power of "Linga" and began to speak the word "OM". Listening to which Lord Shiva came out of the "Linga".
Pleased by the prayers offered to "Shivling" Lord Shiva decided to stay at that place in Linga form. Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma worshiped this "Linga". From that time onwards worship of Shivling has started.
Worship of "Shivling"
Shiva is the manifestation of present, past and future in his indigineous form who is worshipped as Hindu deity. He appears in various peculiar forms as seen in pictures, idols and deities in different temples around the country.
The most popular and worshipped form of Lord Shiva is the "Shivling" due to various reasons as expressed by numerous puranas, Hindu mythological texts and epics. People of all categories, males, females and children perform sacred rituals on a regular basis to please Lord Shiva and get his blessings from the worship of Shivling.
This celestial figure is the boon for even the wicked souls due to Lord Shiva’s generous nature. He grants his blessings even on the devils and bestows them with powers and strength. Due to this Lord Shiva is worshipped by everyone whether a devotee, devil, evil spirits and sages.
There is no start of the "Shivling" and no end of it at the same time. Devotees offer water, sacred Gangajal, honey, milk, sweet, rice and roli to Shivling on a regular basis.
Then aarti of Shivling is performed and then bhog prasadam is prepared and distributed.
Importance of Shivling
Shivling worship in India is considered extremely important due to many reasons.
- The sacred rituals performed during Shivling puja are highly beneficial for the devotees.
- As sacred rituals water, Gangaljal, honey, ghee, sweet and milk are offered to Shivling.
- Regular service and offerings to Shivling brings immense good fortune and positive vibes
Major Shivlings in India
There are twelve main Shiva Lingas in India worshipped by devotees around the world.
- Somnath, Gir Somnath In Gujarat
- Nageshwar, Daarukavanam In Gujarat
- Bhimashankar, Pune In Maharashtra
- Trimbakeshwar, Nashik In Maharashtra
- Grishneshwar in Aurangabad In Maharashtra
- Vaidyanath, Deoghar In Jharkhand
- Mahakaleshwar, Ujjain In Madhya Pradesh
- Omkareshwar, Khandwa In Madhya Pradesh
- Kashi Vishwanath, Varanasi In Uttar Pradesh
- Kedarnath, Kedarnath In Uttarakhand
- Mallikarjuna, Srisailam In Andhra Pradesh
- Rameshwaram, Rameswaram Island In Tamil Nadu