The Linga Purana

by J. L. Shastri | 1951 | 9,466 words | ISBN-10: 812080340X | ISBN-13: 9788120803404

This page describes Primary Creation which is chapter 3 of the English translation of the Linga Purana, traditionally authored by Vyasa in roughly 11,000 Sanskrit verses. It deals with Shaiva pilosophy, the Linga (symbol of Shiva), Cosmology, Yugas, Manvantaras, Creation theories, mythology, Astronomy, Yoga, Geography, Sacred pilgrimage guides (i.e., Tirthas) and Ethics. The Lingapurana is an important text in Shaivism but also contains stories on Vishnu and Brahma.

Chapter 3 - Primary Creation

Sūta said:

1. The non-characterized is the root of the characterized. The manifest Prakṛti is the characterized, while Śiva is the non-characterized, but the characterized (Prakṛti) is said to be related to Śiva.

2-4. They call the characterized by the name Pradhāna or Prakṛti. But the non-characterized, devoid of smell, colour, taste, sound, touch and attributes, is Śiva who is stable and everlasting. [On the contrary] the characterized Pradhāna or Prakṛti is endowed with smell, colour, taste, sound and touch; it is the source of origin of the universe; it is elemental both in subtle and gross forms, O excellent brahmins; it is the physical body of the worlds; it has originated from the noncharacterized, of its own accord.

5. [Formerly] it split itself into seven as well as eight and then into eleven.[1] The non-characterized, thus, becomes characterized through māyā.

6-9. From them took shape, the trio of the important deities. From one of the three the universe arose; it is protected by another; by one (i.e. the third) it is destroyed.[2] In this manner, the universe is pervaded by Śiva. Thus the three mūrties have been classified as aliṅga, liṅga and liṅgāliṅga. Brahman itself is the universe. The non-characterized lord is the source of the seed. He, the Supreme lord, is both the seed and the womb as well as the seedless. Being seedless he becomes seed, i.e. the cause of the universe. The term Ātman, applies to the seed (bīja), womb (yoni) and the unmanifest matter (pradhāna).

10. He who is Rudra, Brahmā and Viṣṇu is called Śiva in the Purāṇas by virtue of his eternally and intrinsically enlightened and pure nature.

11. Prakṛti, when observed by Śiva became Śaivī. O brahmins, formerly it was unmanifest, but being intrinsically endowed with the attributes it became manifest at the beginning of the creation.

12. The entire universe beginning with the unmanifest and ending with the gross elements originated from it. That Śaivī Prakṛti, the creator of the universe is known as ajā (the unborn).

13-14. The individual soul is devotedly attached to that ajā (the unborn Prakṛti) of red, white and black colour—the ajā that is single, though the mother of many. He resorts to her in her manifest form, and having enjoyed eschews her when he becomes unattached. This Prakṛti is the creator of worlds when she is presided over by Puruṣa.

15. At the time of the creation, mahat was evolved, at the behest of Puruṣa, out of Pradhāna consisting of the three guṇas and presided over by Puruṣa.

16. Being urged by the desire to create, the mahat when presided over by Puruṣa enters the unchanging, unmanifest Pradhāna and effects the creation of the manifest.

17-18. Out of mahat evolved (1) sāttvika ahaṃkāra characterized by conception and determination, (also) (2) rājasa ahaṃkāra consisting of three guṇas but with rajas as prominent, (also) (3) tāmasa ahaṃkāra with tamas as prominent. The subtle elements evolved out of mahat and became the nucleus for all creation.

19. The subtle element-sound evolved out of ego and from it the unchanging ether. Thereafter the ego, the cause of sound enveloped the ether.

20. O brahmins, the creation of the gross elements from the subtle elements is expounded in this manner. O great sages, the subtle element ‘touch’ evolved from the ether and the air evolved from that.

21. From the air evolved the subtle element colour and therefrom agni (fire), whence evolved the subtle element taste, whence the waters. From these evolved the subtle element smell and from it the earth.

22-23. O excellent brahmins, the ether enveloped the subtle element touch. The air with the activity of blowing enveloped the subtle element colour. The fire enveloped the subtle element taste. The waters having the nature of taste enveloped the subtle element smell.

24-25. Hence the earth has five qualities; the waters have four; the fire has three; the air has two, the ether has one quality. Thus the creation of the elements originated from the subtle elements through their mutual interaction.

26. The Vaikārika as well as Sāttvika creation takes place simultaneously, yet, here, it is explained as evolved gradually in the manner described above.

27. For the purpose of perceiving sound and the rest there are five organs of sense and five organs of action. Mind (which is also a sense) belongs to both categories. (These eleven senses evolve out of ego.)

28. The constituents of creation beginning with mahat (intellect) and ending with Viśeṣa[3] (earth) generate the cosmic

29. He alone is Rudra and Viṣṇu pervading the universe. These worlds are within that cosmic egg and this universe is within it.

30-33. The cosmic egg is externally enveloped by water ten times its magnitude. The water is externally enveloped by fire ten times its mass. The fire is externally enveloped by air ten times its mass. The air is externally enveloped by the ether ten times its magnitude. The ether is enveloped by ego the cause of sound. The ego is enveloped by intellect and intellect is enveloped by Pradhāna. They say that the coverings of the cosmic egg are seven[4]. There within is Brahmā seated on the lotus. There are crores and crores of such eggs in existence.

34. In all these cosmic eggs there are four-faced Brahmās, Viṣṇus and Rudras. They are all created by Pradhāna after coming into contact with Śiva.

35. The dissolution is also mutual but it begins from the end and goes up to the beginning. The great lord is the sole agent for this creation, sustenance and dissolution.

36. In creation he is endowed with rajas, in sustenance with sattva and with tamas in dissolution. He alone possesses this subtle nature in due order.

37-39. He is the first creator of all beings, their protector and annihilator. So lord Maheśvara is the overlord of Brahmā. He is also known as Śiva, Sadāśiva, Bhava, Viṣṇu and Brahmā since he is all. All these worlds are in this egg, so is the creator Brahmā. Thus the elemental creation of Prakṛti has been described by me. It is presided over by Puruṣa; O brahmins, this auspicious creation with intellect (mahat) at top is primordial.

Footnotes and references:


The twenty-six principles emanate from the Saptaviṃśaka tattva: [yaḥ saptaviṃśako nityaḥ padātparataraḥ prabhuḥ (1.71.51)]—In this formulation, Pradhāna (the twenty-fourth), the source of twenty-three principles is insentient; Jīva (the twenty-fifth) is the knower of Pradhāna; Puruṣa (the twenty-sixth) has the perception of the two lower categories—Jīva and Pradhāna, but he cannot bestow grace [ṣaḍviṃśakamanīśvaram (1.17.109)]. Maheśvara (the twenty-seventh) alone is capable of extending grace to his devotees. In this context, Pradhāna or Prakṛti is apratibuddha, Jīva is buddhimān, Puruṣa is buddha and Maheśvara is prabuddha.


Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Rudra—the personified entities of the three guṇas—rajas, sattva and tamas that constitute Pradhāna or Prakṛti, the material cause of the universe—are responsible for the creation, sustenance and destruction of the universe. The three emanate from the transcendent reality Maheśvara. (Cf. Devī Bhāgavata Purāṇa 1.8.4; Brahmāṇda 1.4.6; Viṣṇu 1.2.66) For detail see V.S. Agrawal: Matsyapurāṇa—A Study, pp. 37-41.


The group of seven beginning with mahat (intellect), and ending with viśeṣa (bhūtas) constitutes the Cosmic Egg which is material, though it derives its potency of consciousness (cetanatā) from Puruṣa. egg, whence Brahmā arose like a water-bubble.


The Seven sheaths of the Cosmic Egg consist of intellect (mahat), ego (ahaṃkāra), and five subtle elements (tanmātras). (Vāyu. 4.87. Kūrma 1.4.46).

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