The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words

This page describes Worship of the Linga which is chapter 7 of the English translation of the Skanda Purana, the largest of the eighteen Mahapuranas, preserving the ancient Indian society and Hindu traditions in an encyclopedic format, detailling on topics such as dharma (virtous lifestyle), cosmogony (creation of the universe), mythology (itihasa), genealogy (vamsha) etc. This is the seventh chapter of the Kedara-khanda of the Maheshvara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 7 - Worship of the Liṅga

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Lomaśa said:

1. Then all those Suras and even the sages became frightened. Brahmā and others who became perturbed and distressed on account of their knowledge (of their mistake) eulogized the Liṅga of Lord Siva.

Brahmā said:

2. You who have assumed the Liṅga form, are of great miraculous power. You who are of the form of the Supreme Soul, are knowable (only) through Vedānta (Upaniṣads). It is by you who is ever engrossed in Bliss that the universe which is rooted in you, has been created.

3. You are the witness unto all the worlds. You are the annihilator of all. You are the protector, O Mahādeva. You are Bhairava, O lord of universe.

4. This unit of the three worlds has been pervaded by you in the form of Liṅga. O lord, we are insignificant creatures whose minds are deluded by Māyā.

5. We, viz. I, Suras, Asuras, all the Yakṣas, Ganḍharvas and Rākṣasas, serpents, Piśācas and these Vidyādharas, are all deluded.

6-7. You are the creator of the creators of the universe. You are indeed the lord and ruler of the universe. You, the Supreme Person, are (both) the creator and annihilator of the universe.

Protect everything belonging to us. O Mahādeva. Obeisance to you, O god of Devas.

Thus the great lord in the form of Liṅga was eulogized by Brahma.

8. The sages who were desirous of eulogizing Maheśvara, the sinless one, eulogized with very great eagerness and respect by means of excellent words recorded in the Vedas.

The sages said:

9. We are all ignorant. On account of lust, we do not recognise your status. Indeed you are the Soul, the Supreme Soul. You are the Prakṛti, the evolver (of everything).

10. You are our mother. You alone are our father. You are our kinsman. You alone are our friend. You alone are īśvara. You are conversant with the Vedas. You are always meditated upon by persons of great magnanimity.

11. You are the immanent Soul of all living beings, like flame of all fuel. Since everything takes its origin from you, you are forever Sarva.

12. The lord is called Śaṃbhu because Śaṃ (happiness) takes its origin from him.

13. All of us, Devas and others (such as) sages, celestial Ganḍharvas, Vidyādharas, great serpents have resorted to your lotus-like feet.

14. Hence, with mercifulness, O Śaṃbhu, O lord of the universe, protect us.

Mahādeva said:

15. Listen to my word now. Let it be carried out immediately. May all of you pray to Viṣṇu,[1] O ascetics, with immediate effect.

16. On hearing the word of the noble-souled Śaṅkara, all those Suras bowed down to Viṣṇu and eulogized him.

Devas said:

17. Vidyādharas, groups of Suras, all the sages, everyone has been saved by you today, O sole kinsman of the universe. In that manner, O merciful one, O lord of the three worlds, O lord of the universe, O abode of the universe, protect all the people.

18-19. \Lord Viṣṇu laughed loudly and spoke these words then: “Formerly you were oppressed by Daityas and protected by me. But today a great danger of everlasting nature has arisen from this Liṅga. It is not possible for me to protect you, O Suras, from the danger from this Liṅga.”

20. On being told thus by Viṣṇu, Devas became worried. Thereupon an ethereal voice spoke thus, consoling all the Suras:

21. “O Janārdana, choose this Liṅga for worship. Becoming a mass of refulgence, O mighty one, protect the mobile and immobile beings.”

Saying “so be it” and honouring itjñord Vīrabhadra worshipped it.[2]

22. At that time, the noble-souled Vīrabhadra, having the moon for his crest and engaged in carrying out the orders of Śiva, was worshipped by the groups of Suras beginning with Brahmā, collectively. Vīrabhadra was a favourite of Śiva and was on a par with Rudra in the three worlds.

23-24. Then Vīrabhadra was absorbed in worshipping the Liṅga. It (the Liṅga) had the same form wherefrom the entire universe takes it origin, derives sustenance and gets merged with it. The excellent ones among those who are the knowers of the

Reality call it Liṅga, because of its being a place of rest (to the absorbed).

25. The Liṅga became pervaded by the spheres of the Cosmic Eggs. It was embellished with Rudrākṣas. It grew so large that it could not be surpassed by anyone.

26-27. Then all Devas and sages of great lustre eulogized the great Liṅga by means of the Vedic words (Mantras) separately:

“O lord, you are minuter than the atom. So also you are greater than the greatest. Hence, O lord Śiva, you must make such arrangements as to make the worship of the Liṅga easy for everyone.”

28-35. At that time itself, many types of Liṅgas were evolved by Sarva (Śiva)[3], viz. the Brahmeśvara Liṅga in the world called Satya (god Brahmā’s region), Sadāśiva Liṅga in Vaikuṇṭha, a well-established Liṅga named Amareśvara in Amarāvatī (Indra’s capital), Varuṇeśvara Liṅga in the city of Varuṇa, Lord Kāleśvara in the city of Yama, Nairṛteśvara Liṅga in the city of Nirṛti, Pavaneśvara Liṅga in the city of Vāyu, in the Mṛtyuloka[4] Kedāra Liṅga as well as Amareśvara, Oṃkāra Liṅga as well as Mahākāla in the Narmadā (region), Lord Viśveśvara in Kāśī, Laliteśvara in Prayāga, Triyaṃbaka in Brahmagiri (Nasik District) as well as Bhadreśvara in Kali, Drākṣārāmeśvara Liṅga in the place of the Union of Gaṅgā with ocean, the Liṅga remembered as Someśvara in Saurāṣṭra, Sarveśvara Liṅga on the Vindhya, Śikhareśvara Liṅga on Śrīśaila, Mallālanātha[5] (?) in Kānti, Siṃhanātha in Siṅgala (Sīṃhala), so also many Liṅgas such as Virūpākṣa Liṅga, Koṭiśaṅkara, Tripurāntaka, Bhīmeśa, Amareśvara, Bhogeśvara and Hāṭakeśvara in Pātāla. These and many other Liṅgas of this sort were installed in all the three worlds by Devas for helping the entire universe.

36. And thus all the three worlds became full of great Liṅgas. Similarly, gods created Vīrabhadrāṃśas (portions of Vīrabhadra) for worship.

37. There were twenty-eight Saṃskāras (consecratory rites) there in the process of worship of Liṅga. They were mentioned by Śaṅkara himself.

38-41. There are eternal Śivadharmas mentioned by Rudra where Vīrabhadra, Rudra and other Gurus (preceptors) are remembered. The sons of Gurus also have become famous in the three worlds as Gurus. Only Nandī knows factually the greatness of Liṅga. So also lord Skanda and those others who bear his names.

All the Śivadharmas have been glorified as mentioned by Nandī, the son of Śilāda. Many wonderful persons of exalted nature have been glorified as bearers of Liṅgas.[6]

Liṅga is held above a dead body by the ancient people.

42. Living with Liṅga and dying with Liṅga—these virtuous rites have been established by Śailāda (Nandin).

43-45. The religion of the Pāśupata established by Skanda is the most excellent one. The five-syllabled Mantra (Na-maḥ-Śi-vā-ya) is the purest. Then comes the Prāsādī (Oṃkāra) Mantra. The six-syllabled Mantra (Oṃ, na-maḥ-Śi-vā-ya) is the illuminator of the Praṇava.[7]

From Skanda it was acquired by the noble-souled Agastya. Afterwards due to the difference in the preceptors, many Āgamas were composed.

46. Of what avail is much talk? Those who utter the two syllables Śi-va everyday are Rudras themselves.[8] There is no doubt in this matter.

47. Those who follow the path of good people are all Purāntakas (Śiva). They should be known as heroes of Maheśvara.[9] They destroy the sins of men.

48. Those who perform rites of devotion incidentally, as a consequence of something else, by chance or as an act of faith, attain the goal of the good.

49. Listen. I shall narrate an old legend in this connection. Sweeping was performed formerly by a female bird in a temple of Śiva.

50. It had come (into the temple) for the sake of food. The Naivedya was offered by someone. When it fluttered its wings, the dust particles happened to be swept away.

51. As a result of that meritorious deed, she went to the excellent heaven. After enjoying the heavenly pleasures, she came back to the fierce world once again.

52. She was born as the daughter of the king of Kāśī. She became famous by the name Sundarī. Thanks to the previous experience, that girl of auspicious features became a great chaste lady.

53. Early in the morning, the lady of slender limbs was always present at the doorway of the temple of Śiva. With great devotion she used to sweep the premises.

54. The gentle princess, Sundarī, did everything herself. On seeing her in that activity, Uddālaka, the sage, enquired:

55-56. “O girl of splendid features, you are delicate in body. Why do you sweep yourself, O girl of bright smiles? O gentle lady, you have in front of you many men and women servants. At your bidding they will do all the sweeping work etc.”

57. On hearing those words of the sage, she laughingly said thus:

58-60a. “The men and women who render service to Śiva, those who are prompted by devotion to Śiva, do go to the world of Śiva. The sweeping must be done by one’s own hands. One should go to the temple on one’s own foot. Hence, sweeping is done by me unweariedly. I do not know anything else, excepting the single act of sweeping.”[10]

60b-62. On hearing her words, the sage pondered: ‘Who is she? What has been done by her previously? By whose favour (did she get all these)?’ Then everything was understood by the sage through the eye of (the power of his) spiritual knowledge.

63. Struck with wonder, he became silent. After knowing it, he became surprised. Thinking about the power of Śiva, Uddālaka, the most excellent among the learned ones, attained the greatest enlightenment. He became calm and quiescent.

Footnotes and references:


This is how Purāṇas tried to bring together followers of Śaivism and Vaiṣṇavism.


Or, was Vīrabhadra worshipped by them? The next verse shows that Vīrabhadra was worshipped by Suras.


The list of Liṅgas and their locations shows that the Liṅga is worshipped in the three worlds and by great gods like Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Indra and others.


This list covers most of the Jyotirliṅgas in India.


G.M. (Guru Maṇḍala edition of SkP) reads instead: kāmadaṃ mallinātham ‘Mallinātha who confers desired objects’.


This is not a reference to the Liṅgāyata cult. Inscriptions from North Karnatak and (western) Āndhra testify to the existence of a Śaiva cult (Siṃha Pariṣad) of Kashmira Brahmins who followed Lakulāgama. They worshipped Śiva in the Liṅga-form and wore Liṅga on their persons. They received royal grants for conducting Pāṭhaśālās to teach Veda, Vedānta, Yoga. Their temples and Maṭhas along with educational institutes were taken over by Liṅgāyatas in the 13th century. (Vide S.C. Nandimath, A Hand Book of Vīraśaivism, Dharwar 1942.) I have dealt with this problem in my work Śaiva Philosophy which is being published by MEP (Marathi Encyclopaedia of Philosophy) Council, Pune. (Translator)


In Mantra Śāstra, Oṃkāra Bīja is called Prāsāda.


The importance of uttering God’s name has been emphasized all over India by Saints and Ācāryas even today.


Vīrā Māheśvarāḥ. Is the term (name of a sect) ‘Vīra-Śaiva’ derived from this?


The fruit of rendering slightest service to Śiva, even unknowingly, is highly efficacious. The Purāṇa abounds in such legends.

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