Shiva Gita (study and summary)

by K. V. Anantharaman | 2010 | 35,332 words

This page is entitled “omni-potence of shiva-linga” contained in the Shiva Gita (Study and English comments by K. V. Anantharaman). The Shiva Gita is a philosophical text from the Padma-purana in the form of a dialogue between Lord Shiva and Shri Rama. It deals with topics such as Advaita metaphysics and Bhakti and consists of 768 verses.

Appendix 7 - Omni-Potence of Śiva-Liṅga

Significance of Liṅga

Śiva Gītā gives predominancy to Liṅga worship when saguṇopāsanā is suggested to achieve single-pointedness in vision and unifying the mind and intellect with the all pervading omnipotent Godhead. This appears in the last chapter of Gītādhikārinirūpaṇam and particular emphasis is placed on Liṅga worship during Pradoṣa with bathing the Liṅga with various unguents and sandal paste, Vibhūti and juices of choicest fruits.[1]

1.0 Liṅga worship

A study of origin, development and importance of Liṅga worship is a worthwhile religious exercise to cleanse one’s outlook and get into Īśāna worship. (Śrīṣṭi-sthiti-laya kārakaḥ).

1.1 The Liṅga has been worshipped, in every Śiva temple over the time immemorial, Abhijñāna Śākuntala a vertical stone, “grown by itself’, from the ground or it is a portable pebble smoothed into shape by waves of a river, or a shape made by hands of man in clay, wood, stone, precious stone or metal. The Liṅga has three significations—Liṅga Abhijñāna Śākuntala a sign, Liṅga Abhijñāna Śākuntala phallus and Liṅga Abhijñāna Śākuntala cosmic substance, which is the subtle body of Śiva.[2]

1.2. It is through the mastery of sex that one becomes powerful in the physical Abhijñāna Śākuntala well Abhijñāna Śākuntala the mental sphere. It is through the union of sexes that new beings, new lives, come into existence. This union is thus the link between two worlds, the point where life manifests itself, where the divine spirit becomes incarnate.

1.3 The shape of the organ which performs this ritual is, verily, a symbol—the visible form of the divine creator. When the believer worships the liṅga, he does not deify a physical feature; he merely recognizes the divine, eternal form manifest in the microcosm. It is the human phallus which is a divine emblem of the eternal causal form, the all-pervading liṅga. The phallus is divinity “projecting [from the body] by the breadth of ten fingers” (Puruṣa Sūkta—“atyatiṣṭhaddaśāṅgulam”). “Those who do not recognize the divine nature of the phallus, who do not measure the importance of the sex ritual, who consider the act of love Abhijñāna Śākuntala low or contemptible or Abhijñāna Śākuntala a mere physical function, are bound to fail in their attempts at physical Abhijñāna Śākuntala well Abhijñāna Śākuntala spiritual achievement. To ignore the sacredness of the liṅga is dangerous, whereas through its worship the joy of life (bhakti) and the joy of liberation (mukti) are obtained.”[3]

2.0 Meaning of Liṅga.

The original meaning of the word Liṅga is ‘sign’, a mark that proves the existence of a thing. In Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad[4] this word is used for the first time in the sacred tradition, says that Śiva has no liṅga or mark, meaning that He is transcendent, beyond any characteristic.

na tasya kacit śpatirasti loke
na ceśitā naiva ca tasya liṅgam |
sa kāraṇaṃ karaṇādhipādhipo
na cāsya kaściccanitā na cādhipaḥ ||

There is no ruler of Him in this world, nor any controller. Nor, indeed, is there any ground of inference with regard to Him. He is the Cause, the Overlord of lords of the organs. And there is none who is His procreator, nor even an overlord.

‘Abhijñāna Śākuntala a distinguishing mark, liṅga also means a characteristic and specially, the sign of gender or sex. Liṅga “sign”, not only signifies the existence of perceptible things, but also denotes the imperceptible essence of a thing even before the thing in its concrete shape has come out to exist.’[5]

3.0 Myths on Liṅga

“In the first myth, the anthropomorphic image harnesses a multiplicity of limbs to a body of superhuman proportions, capable of expressing more than human states and power. In such anthropomorphic shapes, the God addresses himself to the devotee and lifts him into his being. In the second myth, the sudden and complete transition from the god thought of, though not explicitly evoked, in the shape of man to that of an inert pillar has the immediacy of a miracle. The pillar shape remains its constant reminder. It is a symbol of self-containment in every section of its ascending volume. It rises upward, like the phallus of the yogi who draws his seed upward. Sthāṇu, the pillar, is a symbol of its own volumetric shape. More over, it carries the connotation of ūrdhvaliṅga, the liṅga or sign that rises upward Abhijñāna Śākuntala the seed is withdrawn upwards (ūrdhvaretas) (Mahābhārata 1.3.17-45). This symbol abrogates any other meaning. The God has entered it totally. In the third myth, the pillar rises before the gods. It has no precedent, though it has a past. Mysteriously, it flames upward, and from within it the god is manifest. Sthāṇu, the inert post, is a conversion of god into pillar. The flaming liṅga-pillar in which the god appears is the sheath of a theophany.”[6]

4.0 Śiva—the Invisible[7]

Śiva is present in the liṅga Abhijñāna Śākuntala pillar. The pillar is his symbolic equivalent. Śiva turned into a pillar and became sthāṇu. This is one way of realizing his presence in the liṅga. It presupposes an awareness of the sacred in the pillar, whether wooden post or stone. The pillar shape is assimilated to that of the liṅga, the erect phallus. The phallus is his symbol. It contains the seed. Abhijñāna Śākuntala the seed cannot be seen while in the phallus, so Śiva is invisibly present in the liṅga. Abhijñāna Śākuntala Mahābhārata expresses it, he is the yogi; he holds the great (cosmic) seed; he is one with tapas, fire and fervent self-control; he is one with golden seed (Mahābhārata 13.17.39). He effects and is the transition from transitive action to an intransitive state. He is the God of four faces; he is seen in the great liṅga, the beautiful beloved liṅga, the lord of the seed and the maker of the seed (Mahābhārata 13.17.74-75).

5.0 Levels of liṅga[8]

5.1 Śiva’s liṅga has many levels. They are worded in metaphor and supported by symbols. Moreover, while these interpenetrate, they retain their primary significance in mystical coherence. The meaning of the Śiva liṅga is in the phallus, it is in the pillar, motionless or flaming, concrete or imagined, just Abhijñāna Śākuntala the liṅga can be shaped in clay, wood, or stone. Its substance, also, can be space itself. Abhijñāna Śākuntala such, the ākāśa liṅga is set up in the temple of Chidambaram. The walls of the sanctuary enclose the presence of Śiva in the symbol of ākāśa, the first element of manifestation that spreads in all directions and makes space possible. Ākāśa penetrates the other four elements and all that is manifest.

5.2 AUM, the indestructible syllable, is all that exists. The past, the present, the future all are included in the one syllable AUM, and what is beyond the three-fold time is also in the syllable AUM (Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad 1-1). The gods saw the flame pillar and heard the sound that came from it. In these signs the ultimate reality that is Śiva was manifested to them at the time of total dissolution (pralaya), before a new cosmos was to consolidate and emerge in the morning of renewed world. The flame liṅga and the indestructible syllable are the signs by which the presence of transcendental Śiva is directly communicated to demiurges. Śiva is without any sign (liṅga). The Great God, “though devoid of liṅga” (liṅgavarjita), is “stationed in the liṅga” (Liṅga Purāṇa . I.19.5).

6.0 Introduction to Śiva worship

How Śiva manifested himself in the form of a Liṅga is described in the Liṅga Purāṇa .[9] Once conversation between Viṣṇu and Brahmā developed into a dispute about their superiority. At that time an effulgent pillar of fire arose before their eyes. Brahmā tried to to find its top, while Viṣṇu searched its bottom. But neither of them succeeded. Abhijñāna Śākuntala mystical sound OM emanated from the pillar, they realized that it was the manifestation of Śiva. Manifestation of the powers of creation, liberation and annihilation dwell in the Liṅga.

7.0 Levels of Worship

The two highest ontological levels, here called Sadāśiva and Īśāna, in the discent from Śiva, are represented in the ultimate Śiva Liṅga.[10]

8.0 Śiva Liṅga is everything.

Generally, representing the phallus of Lord Śiva, the Liṅga can apply to several objects. The absolute form of Śiva is Aliṅga, while visible form or manifestation is the Liṅga. While Brahmā is meant to represent the seed, Viṣṇu represents Yoni, and Rudra is the cause of creation, all three attributes mentioned above are combined in the Liṅga, which is nothing else but Śiva. Abhijñāna Śākuntala such, everything in the cosmos is Śiva Liṅga.[11]

9.0. Derivation

Liṅga is said to be derived from ‘layana / laya’—dissolution,[12] ecause everything is absorbed into it. (L.P. 1-19-16) Aflame, its light is the focus of all creative–procreative potentialities. The liṅga is also the locus of their yogic redirection Abhijñāna Śākuntala powers of reintegration or of dissolution. The powers of creation, liberation and annihilation dwell in the liṅga.

10.0 The Five Levels

‘The highest ontological levels, here called Sadāśiva and Īśāna, in the discent from Śiva, the ultimate, the totally transcendent reality, are without form (niṣkala). The quiddity of the third level, proceeding from the powers of willing, also exists Abhijñāna Śākuntala a celestial liṅga. It has the brightness of fire with flames of fire flaring around it. This quiddity is no longer without form. It is more concrete (mūrta) and is considered sakala. On the fourth level or fourth stage, the celestial pillar is crystal clear and immense. The fifth and last quiddity exists Abhijñāna Śākuntala liṅga set up on its plinth in the innermost sanctuary of the temple.’[13]

11.0 Grace—the main factor

Grace is movement in getting the right desires in accordance with our own Karma.[14] Grace of God is a cosmic operation which helps all things and persons to develop in accordance with their respective desires. It is carrying out the cosmic process for good of all. Grace may be compared in the light of Yoga Philosophy which admits of a universal will of God operating in the evolutionary creation (Pariṇāma Karma Niyama) for the protection of the world and supplying it Abhijñāna Śākuntala the basis of human experience in accordance with the individual karma.

12.0 More Derivations

12.1 Niṣṭūra Nanjanācārya[15] Abhijñāna Śākuntala well Abhijñāna Śākuntala Śivayogi Śivācārya derive the word Liṅga from two roots, Gam—to go (out), to issue out, from which, idea of production is developed and Li-to absorb, from which the idea of absorption is developed.


līyante yatra bhūtāni nirgacchanti punaḥ punaḥ |
nena liṃgaṃ paraṃ vyoma niṣkalaḥ paramaḥ śivaḥ || [16]

“The supreme Śiva, partless like the ākāśa is liṅga because into Him the creatures merge (in dissolution) and re-emerge again (on creation).

13.0 The three Liṅgas.

The Liṅga, which is only one, becomes three, namely Iṣṭaliṅga connected with gross body. Prāṇaliṅga connected with the subtle and Bhavaliṅga connected with the causal body.[17] Mantras, which are more recondite than sound, are employed in Liṅga worship.

14.0 Śiva and Śakti

14.1 The union of supreme man and nature is represented in the copulation (Maithuna) of the Lord of sleep (Śiva) and Faithfulness (Sati) that is, Energy (Śakti).

14.2 Transcendent manhood is the immanent cause of creation; transcendent womanhood, the efficient cause.[18]

15.0 The anatomy of Liṅga.

15.1 ‘The Śivaliṅga is represented erect and divided into three parts. The lowest part is square and is hidden in the pedestal. This is called the Brahmā part. The second part, which is octagonal and is grasped by the Yoni, is called the Viṣṇu part. The third part, which is cylindrical and rises above the yoni, is the Rudra part.’[19]

“At the root is Brahmā; in the middle, Viṣṇu, the lord of the three worlds; above is the fierce Rudra, the Great God, the eternal giver of peace, whose name is the sacred syllable AUM. The altar of the liṅga is the Great Goddess; the Liṅga is the true divinity.” (Liṅga Purāṇa 1-73-19-20).

15.2 The length of liṅga outside the yoni is said to be ten finger breadth. The hidden part of the liṅga is divinity veiled by ignorance (avidyā), the part exposed beyond yoni is divinity unveiled.[20] The Yoni when represented alone is spoken of Abhijñāna Śākuntala the chalice or water vessel (argha, Jalahari). Its shape is sometimes that of a conch. Nothing can be surrounded by less than three lines. The tantras call this the root-triangle (mūla-trikoṇa). The liṅga stands for liberation in all the triangles of nature, be it the triangle of the individuality, physical-mental, intellectual (viśva-taijasa-prājña), or that of the total cosmic body, physical-mental-intellectual (virāt-hiraṇyagarbha-Īśvara). The liṅga is the Fourth unmanifest stage in the triangle of wakefulness-dream-ship. It is the monosyllable AUM in the three Vedās. It is the first undifferentiated notion (parā-vāc) in the triangle of the ideationworking-utterance (paśyantī-madhyamā-vaikharī).

16.0 Rudra and Śiva

It is only Abhijñāna Śākuntala Rudra that he is the lord of death and the active agent of dissolution; and it is only Abhijñāna Śākuntala Śiva ‘auspicious’ that he reconstructs after distinction.[21]

“rodayanti sarvaṃ antakāla iti rudraḥ,
rujaṃ saṃsāraduḥkhaṃ drāvayati vā rudraḥ,
rorīyamāṇo drāvati praviśati martyāniti vā rudraḥ”[22]

17.0 Grace and Devotion.

The grace is produced out of devotion and the devotion is produced out of grace, just Abhijñāna Śākuntala the tree grows out of a seed and a seed grows out of a tree.

18.0 Types of knowledge

Knowledge means limitation by objectivity. Knowledge is of two kinds mediate (parokṣa) and immediate (aparokṣa). That which is known by reason or by instruction is called mediate knowledge. Immediate knowledge, however, can only dawn through practice of higher order, and without such immediate knowledge there cannot be any liberation.[23]

19.0 Śiva by different names

In different forms and functions and superintendence, Lord Śiva is called by different names. Thus, when He enjoys the prakṛti and puruṣa He is called Īśāna. This Īśāna appears in its eight fold forms, technically called Aṣṭamūrti[24] [also see next appendix]—these are earth, water, fire, air, ākāśa, the soul, the sun and the moon. So these are the forms of Śiva Abhijñāna Śākuntala performing different functions and called by different names such Abhijñāna Śākuntala Śarvī, raudrī etc. Raudrī is the form in which the whole world is vibrating. The soul itself, Abhijñāna Śākuntala witnessed, is a form of Śiva. Those who would meditate and go northward obtain immortality; those who turn south to cremation grounds, understanding the eight qualities of Śiva, become immortal. Embodied Abhijñāna Śākuntala Nakuliśa in Kayāvatāra, Śiva taught Pāśupata doctrine on earth. Kayāvatāra is the present day village of Karvān, where Śiva became incarnate Abhijñāna Śākuntala a brahmacārin Nakuliśa by entering a corpse in a cremation ground. Nakuliśa is the founder or systematizer of Pāśupata sect (1st half of 2nd century AD). Pāśupata sūtra has bhāṣya of Kauṇḍinya published in 1940 by Oriental Manuscript Library of the University of Travancore, Trivandrum. Kaudinya in the beginning of his bhāṣya offers adoration to Paśupati who had created the whole world, beginning from the Brahman for the good of all. He says that the five subjects of discussion in the Pāśupata system are effect (kārya), cause (kāraṇa), meditation (yoga), behavior (vidhi) and dissolution of sorrow (duḥkhānta). Kaundinya definitely says that liberation from sorrow cannot be attained by knowledge (jñāna), disinclination (vairāgya), virtue (dhāraṇā) and giving up of one’s miraculous powers (aiśvarya tyāga) but by grace (Prasāda) alone. It is worthwhile to remember at this juncture the definition of death Abhijñāna Śākuntala given in Bhāgavata Purāṇa Abhijñāna Śākuntala being absolute forgetfulness (mṛtyur atyanta-vismṛti)

The Liṅga worship is very highly recommended in Śiva Gītā in Saguṇopāsanā which ultimately leads one to realize Nirguṇa Brahman.

Footnotes and references:


Vide Śiva Gītā chapXVI-verse -29

Making my image or the Liṅga (symbolising me) out of the materials stated, let one worship me in them attaining benefits millions fold.

Śiva Gītā chap XV.30

One who comes to my place (temple) and worships me, at the pradoṣa or the most auspicious evening, attains the greatest prosperity and there after merges in me.

Śiva Gītā chap XV.33

One, who bathes me with pañcāmṛta or with pañcagavya, or water poured through flowers or sacred kuśa grass, is dear to me Abhijñāna Śākuntala no other is.


Vide Śiva Liṅga by N.K Singh—Preface -p-verse


Ibid p-137-138. (Karapātri, “Liṅgopāsanā-rahasya)


Vide Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad —chapter VI verse -9


Vide Śiva Liṅga—p-verse








Vide Liṅga Purāṇa -Part 1 chapter 17 Origin of the Liṅga-verse -36-49


Vide Śiva Liṅga-chap I-p-20


Ibid-chap I-p-1


Ibid chap I -p-17.


Ibid chap I -p -20


Ibid Chap in-p-65.


Ibid-chap IV-p 101


Vide Śiva Gītā -English Commentary-Centenarian Trust-Appendix Notes-p-268.


Ibid chap IV-p-106


Ibid chapter verse -p-133


Ibid chapter verse -p-141


Ibid chapter verse -P-142


Vide. A short introduction to Śaivism Introduction-p-2


Vide. Śrī Śiva Gītā bhāṣyam -p -60 by Śrimad Abhinava Nṛsiṃha Bhārati Svāmi.


Vide. A short introduction to Śaivism Introduction-p-28


Vide Google: mahaśivarātri [org].

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