Triveni Journal

1927 | 11,233,916 words

Triveni is a journal dedicated to ancient Indian culture, history, philosophy, art, spirituality, music and all sorts of literature. Triveni was founded at Madras in 1927 and since that time various authors have donated their creativity in the form of articles, covering many aspects of public life....

The Siva Linga: Conceptual, Iconographical and

Dr. I. K. Sharma


Dr. I.K. Sharma

The essentials of Siva worship are the symbolic Linga and Pitha and the structure housing the above. Each of them had disparate beginnings but came to be associated with the worship of Siva at various stages and periods. Linga like objects and ring stones were found at Mohen jodaro and Harappa in 3rd millenium B.C. Ithyphallic Siva-­Pasupati worship appears to be popular at the Sarasvati-Sindhu sites as numerous seals indicate Linga worship appears long before the image in human form began to be conceptualised.

Terracotta miniature Linga, besides humped bull, Naga figures with painted pottery, trisula representations from the Chalcolithic levels (1500 B.C.) at Chirand Dt. Saran), Bihar, point to the origins of the cult in the remote North Eastern India.

The earliest documented Sivasthala was unearthed within the late historic Parasuramesvara temple complex at Gudimallam (Chittoor Dist. of A.P.). The form of the God was carved in three-fourth relief over a standing Linga, of almost life-size, It is a figure of Rudra on the frontal facet without the Yajnopavita and the third eye. The God has a goat (Yajnapasu) in the right hand and an ajya patra in the left hand with a danda-parasu. This proto­puranic form of Siva over a Linga virtually illustrated Vedic Rudra Yajamana concept. The archaeological data unearthed here makes it a hypaetheral Sila Vedika Linga Sthana in open, datable to 3rd century B.C. Such simple open-air Silapata shrines are well known from the coin depictions from north-west India. Almost coeval to this is the unique Chaturmukha Linga found in the temple, called Pingalesvara Mahadeva at the entry of Panchahroshiyatra, 12 km eastward of Ujjaini. The Rudrabhaga of this Linga is pronouncedly massive and cylindrical with nut separated from the glans, like the top of the Gudimallam Linga. A massive standing Bull, like the one on the Asokan column of Rampurva, attests to the Mauryan date of the Linga and the bull.

Gopinath Rao compared Gudimallam Linga to the manusha Linga of Bhita dated to 2nd century B.C. Mathura Linga with Siva are later manifestations. Siva appears as Mukhalinga or Purushalinga, ful1­bodied, as a two-handed standing deity on a Linga in a Vyaktarupa. Several linga types are known from Bhita and Mathura regions. An Eka Mukhalinga of the Sunga period is found from Mathura. A figure of Siva against a pillar of the pre-Kushana phase is now in the Philadelphia Museum. R. C. Agrawal reported a similar linga from Gamri (Bharatpur, Rajasthan). These attest to the popularity of the Linga worship in Mathura, Ujjaini and Madhyadesa. Lingas on raised brick platforms (arghapithas) with no pranala arrangement indicate that abhishekha ritual has not yet come to vogue. The Linga pithas under (Sthalavriksha or Yaksha Sadam) and in open were found vividly among the sculptural depictions dated to Kushana and post Kushana periods in Mathura, Taxila, and Ujjain. Linga pithas in a row on the Kisaragutta (near Hyderabad) hill clearly point out the early mode of offer only, not abhishekas in 5th century A.D.

Brahmanical temples of brick with Linga-pithas are found in the various Satavahana sites of Deccan (2nd-4th centuries A.D.) Ter in Maharastra, Aihole in Karnataka and more extensively at Nagarjunakonda.

The Kshatrapas were devout worshippers of Siva and Lakulisa pandita. Several Linga shrines at the famous Kayavarohana (Karvan in Gujarat) and Saurashtra mark the growing Suddha Saiva cult. Square temples with Linga-pithas of pre­-Chalukyan period were found at Veerapuram caused by the Maharathi rulers (1st-2nd century A.DJ. The Mukhalinga worship was known as grihya ritua1. A tiny Chaturmukha Linga of lime stone from Amaravati, though a solitary example, is proof of the Sadasiva worship and connected rituals. Amaravati in Guntur district appears as an early Saivitic centre too. Ardhanarisvara depictions on the frontal facet of the Linga from Mathura and far away at the Anandesvara temple at Peddakonduru, Tenali Tq, (Guntur Dt.) provide a new aspect in Siva worship in 2nd-4th century A.D. itself. The spirit of Lakulisa pasupatism in the Kalinga zone is known by the sculpture of a Linga with seated Lakutapani on the frontal facet from Mukhalingam, Dt. Srikakulam dated 5th century A.D.

            Linga shrines of the royal patrons­ Rajasimhesvara, Mahendravarmesvara, Atyantakama-Pallavesvara etc. and even right over the kings mortal remains as seen from the sepulchral temple (Kodandaramesvara) Tondamanadu village, near Kalahasti. Shrines called Guruvayatanas with lingas as Kapilesvara and Upamitesvara were founded commemorating the Pasupata teacher Uditacharya. Andhra is regarded as Trilingadesa because of the Lingakshetras on its boundaries  - ­These are Bhimesvara temple, Draksharama (East), Kaleswara (North), and Srisaila Mallikarjuna (South). The Panchabhuta concept is linked to the Lingas representing the natural elements - Prithvi Linga (Kanchipuram), Apa Linga (Tiruvanaikkaval, Tejo-Linga (Tiruvannamalai), Vayu Linga (Kalahasti) and Akasa Linga (Chidambaram). The Linga representing the formess being was worshipped even by Siva Himself and in later sculptures (Ellora, Aihole, Badami, Pattadakal, Yelleswaram and Kanchi) we find Siva or Parvati carrying Linga on their shoulders. The practice of Bhara Siva Nagas of Padmavati (Pawaya in M.P.) who carried heavy Lingas on the shoulders (amsabhara Sannivesita Siva Lingodvaham Siva Paritushta). Siva resided in the linga in a hidden form as the Adilinga going by the name of Avimuktesvara in Benaras. The Association of the Lingas with plants (Sthala Vrikshas) led to the naming of Lingas as Bilesvara Vatesvara, Kadambesvara, Ekambarisvara, and Mallikarjuna (Srisailam) between 7-12th centuries A.D. and these sacred sthanas are continued to be revered from several centuries.

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