The Brahmanda Purana

by G.V. Tagare | 1958 | 319,243 words | ISBN-10: 8120838246 | ISBN-13: 9788120838246

This page describes the origin of the linga-image of shiva which is Chapter 26 of the English translation of the Brahmanda Purana: one of the oldest puranas including common Puranic elements such as cosmogony, genealogy, ethics, geography and yoga. Traditionally, the Brahmandapurana is said to consist of 12,000 verses metrical Sanskrit verses.

Chapter 26 - The Origin of the Liṅga-Image of Śiva

Note: The story of how the Liṅga of god Śiva appeared is told in different Purāṇas like Liṅga, 17; Kūrma-purāṇa II 38; Vāyu-purāṇa 55. The Liṅga of Śiva is not the phallus but a column of fire, the beginning or the foot and top of which could not be probed by gods Viṣṇu and Brahmā. The Liṅga-worship is a Purāṇic transformation of Vedic fire-worship.

The Sages said:

1. “We wish to hear completely about the greatness of Mahādeva, the lordship of that noble soul and the details of his excellence in supremacy.”

Sūta said:

2. “This has been declared by Viṣṇu formerly in the course of his conquest of the three worlds after binding Bali, the lord of the three worlds, of great prowess.

3-5. The consort of Śacī (Indra) was delighted when the Daityas were destroyed. Thereafter, all the Devas came to see the eternal lord. They came to the place where the lord of cosmic form abides near the milk ocean. The Siddhas, the Brāhmaṇa sages, the Yakṣas, the Gandharvas, the groups of divine damsels, the serpents, the divine sages, the rivers and the mountains approached the great soul and the supreme Being, Hari and began to eulogise him.

6. “You are the supporter and the maker (of the universe) O Lord, you create the worlds. It is due to your grace, that the three worlds attain ever-lasting welfare.

7-8. All the Asuras have been defeated. Bali has been imprisoned by you”.

On being thus addressed hy Devas (gods), Siddhas and the great sages, Viṣṇu, the supreme Man, replied to the Devas.

“O excellent Devas, let this be heard. I shall explain the reason.

9-10a. I have attained Siddhatva (state of a great Siddha) due to the grace of that lord who is the creator of all living beings, who is the personification of the destructive principle and who is the lord and cause of Time, by whom the worlds and I have been created along with Brahmā, by means of his Māyā.

10b-12a. Formerly, when the three worlds had been swallowed (enveloped) and merged in the darkness and all was unmanifest, and while I, with all the living beings within my belly, lay there alone, I had a thousand heads, eyes and feet and had the conch, discus and the club in my hands, I was lying on the pure expanse of water.

12b. In the meantime I espied the lord of unlimited lustre, from afar.

13. He resembled a hundred thousand suns. He shone by means of his own splendour. He was a four-faced person. (Puruṣa) of great Yogic power and golden lustre.

14. He was a lord wearing a skin of black antelope, and he was adorned with a Kamaṇḍalu (waterpot). This excellent person (Brahmā) reached me in a trice.

15-16. Then Brahmā who is (reverently) bowed to by the worlds, spoke to me:—“Who are you? Whence have you come? Why do you stay here? Tell me, O lord. I am the creator of all worlds. I am self-born. I have faces all round,”

On being addressed thus by Brahmā, I spoke to him:—

17-18. “Indeed I am the creator of the worlds and the annihilator as well again and again.”

Conversing thus, we desired to conquer each other. We saw a flame blazing to the north of us. O sinless ones, on seeing that flame then we were surprised.

19-20. At the splendour and power of the lustre of Śiva, we remained with palms joined in reverence. We saw the mass of splendour increasing in size. It was excessively miraculous. Brahmā and I hastily rushed towards that massive flame. That circular mass of flames stood up piercing heaven and earth.

21. In the middle of that massive splendour, we saw the extremely resplendent Liṅga of the size of a mere span. It was unmanifest (?) yet endowed with extensive lustre.[1]

22. That (Liṅga) in the middle was neither of gold nor of silver nor was it made of rock. It could not be specified. Nor could it be contemplated upon. It was visible and invisible again and again.

23. It was richly endowed with thousands of sparks. It was surprisingly mysterious. It was endued with great refulgence and it was increasing in size tremendously.

24. Clusters of flames spread everywhere. It was frightful to all living beings. It was extremely terrible in its features. It appeared to pierce heaven and Earth.

25. Then Brahmā told me,—“You go quickly beneath. Let us find out the end of this noble-souled Liṅga.

26. I shall go upwards until its end is seen.”

After making this stipulation, we went upwards as well as beneath.

27. Thereupon, I went far below for a thousand years, but I could not find its end. I became frightened thereby.

28. Similarly, Brahmā went upwards, but he too did not reach its extremity. He too returned along with me to that vast expanse of water.

29. We were surprised and frightened of that great soul. We were deluded by the Māyā of that great Being. Our consciousness got lost and we stayed there (helplessly).

30. Thereupon, we meditated on the lord with faces on all sides, the imperishable lord who is the source of origin and the cause of dissolution of all the worlds.

31. We made obeisance, with palms joined in reverence, to the trident-bearing Śiva (Śarva), the lord of extremely terrific voice, of terrible features and curved fangs, to that great unmanifest lord.

32. “Obeisance to you, O lord of worlds and Devas. Salutations unto you, O lord of Bhūtas, O highly noble soul.

Obeisance to you, O lord who have achieved permanent Yogic powers. Hail to you, O Lord established over the universe.

33. You are Parameṣṭhin (the highest deity), the supreme Brahman, the imperishable great region; you are the eldest one. You are Vāmadeva, Rudra, Skanda and Lord Śiva.

34. You are Yajña; you are Vaṣaṭkāra; you are Oṃkāra; you are the subduer of enemies; you are Svāhākāra, the obeisance, the consecration of all holy rites.

35. You are Svadhākāra, Yajña, holy rites and observances, the Vedas, the worlds, the Devas—the lord alone is everything all round.

36. You are the quality of sound of the firmament; you are the source of origin and cause of dissolution of all living beings, you are the quality of smell in the earth, the quality of taste in the waters and the colour in Tejas (fiery element), you are the great lord.

37. O lord of the Devas, you are the quality (called) touch in Vāyu (wind); you form the body of the moon.

38. O Lord of the Devas, you are knowledge in the intellect; you are the seed of Prakṛti.

39. You are the annihilator of all the worlds; you are Kāla identical with the god of Death, the cause of destruction. You sustain the three worlds, O Lord, you alone create them.

40. With your eastern face you assume the form of Indra; with your -southern face you withdraw the worlds again.

41. With your western face you are stationed in Varuṇa undoubtedly. O excellent one among the Devas, with your northern face you are Soma.

42-45. In one way or in many ways, O Lord, you are the source of origin and cause of dissolution of the worlds. O Lord, from you are born these viz.: the Ādityas, the Vasus, Rudras, Maruts, the Aśvins, the Sādhyas, the Vidyādharas, the Nāgas, the Cāraṇas, the ascetics, the Vālakhilyas and others who have performed good holy rites and many others.

O lord of Devas, from you are born these viz.: Umā, Sītā, Sinīvālī, Kuhū, Gāyatrī, Lakṣmī, Kīrti, Dhṛti, Medhā, Lajjā, Kānti, Vapus, Svadhā, Tuṣṭi, Puṣṭi, Kriyā, Sarasvatī, the goddess of speech, Sandhyā and Rātri (Night).

46. O Lord endowed with the potential strength and influence of ten thousand sets of ten thousand suns, obeisance be to you, O lord, as white as a thousand moons. Obeisance be to you who hold Vajra (thunderbolt) and Pināka bow. Obeisance be to you, O lord, with arrows and bow in your hands.

47. Obeisance to you, O lord, whose limbs are embellished with Bhasma (sacred ash). Hail to you, O lord, the destroyer of Kama’s body.

Salute unto you, O lord Hiraṇyagarbha; obeisance unto you, O lord of golden raiment.

48. Bow to you, O lord of golden womb. Obeisance to you, O lord of golden navel; Hail to you, O lord of golden semen. Obeisance be to you, O lord, mysterious with a thousand eyes.

49. Obeisance be to you, O lord of golden colour. Salute to you, O lord of golden hair; obeisance be to you, O lord of golden heroism[2] (?); obeisance be to you, the lord who distributes gold.

50. Obeisance be to you, O lord and master of gold; Bow to you, O lord with the sound of gold. Obeisance to you, O lord with the Pināka in your hand; salute to you, O blue-throated Śaṅkara”.

51. On being eulogised thus, the lord of great intellect appeared before us. The lord of Devas, the source of origin, of the Universe, who had the lustre of ten million suns.

52. Mahādeva of great lustre became filled with pity. He spoke to us as if he was about to swallow the sky with a thousand crores of mouths.

53. His neck was like a conch-shell in shape. His belly was well shaped He was bedecked in different kinds of ornaments. His limbs were variegated on account of different jewels. He wore different kinds of garlands and had applied different kinds of unguents.

54. The lord had Pināka in his hand; he held the trident; he was worthy of being worshipped by the Devas; he had serpents as the sacred thread; he was the cause of freedom from fear unto the Devas.

55. At that time, he burst unto a laughter, the sound of which was similar to that of Dundubhi (a big drum) and was comparable to the rumbling sound of the cloud. The sound filled the whole universe.

56-57. We two were frightened at that great sound. Then Mahādeva said,—“O excellent ones among the Devas, I am delighted. Both of you see the great Yogic power. May all fear be eschewed. Both of you are eternal and are formerly born of my limbs.

58. This Brahmā, the grandfather of the worlds is my right hand. Viṣṇu who is never defeated in any battle, is my left hand.

59-60. I am pleased well with both of you. I shall give unto you the boon as you please”.

Then, delighted in our minds we bowed down at the feet of the lord.

We said to Mahādeva who was standing in front of us with grace.

“O lord of the Devas, you are delighted; if a boon has to be bestowed by you, let us be devoted to you for ever.”

The Lord of gods said:

“O highly fortunate ones, let it be so. Create subjects extensively”.

After saying so, the lord vanished there itself.

61. Thus the potentiality of that intelligent lord has been recounted to you. This is (he greatest knowledge. The unmanifest one is termed Śiva (Auspicious).

62-63. Only those with the vision of knowledge see this subtle Being who cannot be contemplated upon. We shall make obeisance to that lord of the Devas. “O Mahādeva, Obeisance be to you, O Maheśvara, Salute be to you.”

Sūta said;

64. “After hearing this, all the Devas went to their respective abodes, paying homage and respects unto Śaṅkara the great soul.

65. He who recites this hymn unto the lord, the great soul, obtains all desires and gets rid of all sins.

66. All this was narrated to them by Viṣṇu, the powerful one, due to the grace of Mahādeva, about the eternal Brahman. Thus everything regarding the power of Maheśvara has been described to you.

Footnotes and references:


The identity of Rudra and Agni (the fire-god) is stated in ṚV. II. 1.7, the Śatapatha Br. III 3.1.10; VI 1.3.10; the Taittarīya Br. I. 1.5. 8-9., The Tāṇḍya Br. XII 4.24.


Vā.P.55. hiraṇya-cīra ‘of golden dress or garments’.

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