Legends of Lingodbhava Murthy: The Origin Story of the Lingam

Adi Jyotirlingas are the shrines of Lord Mahadev, the abode of Shiva, where he visited and remains in 12 linga forms in India’s different locations. Lingodbhava Murthy means column or pillar of light. The twelve Jyotirlingas are the “stambha” symbol of Lord Shiva, representing that there is no beginning and end of creation and destruction. However, how the linga, or stambha, came into existence has yet to be discovered.

The Story of Lingodbhava Murthy or Shiva Lingam

We get a glimpse of the story of Lingodbhava Murthy in the Kurma Purana, Shiva Purana, and Vayu Purana, where Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu argue about who is supreme between them.

Lord Shiva appeared in the form of Lingodbhava murthy between them as a pillar of light and asked Brahma and Vishnu to find the end of the column. He said whoever discovers the beginning or end of it will be the supreme god of all divine beings.

Lord Vishnu and Brahma Took the Varaha and Swan Avatar to Find the End and Beginning of Lingodbhava Murthy

Lord Vishnu and Brahma were amazed by the size and height of the Lingodbhava Murthy and decided to take part in the challenge and establish supremacy over others.

In the process, Lord Brahma took the form of a swan, and Lord Vishnu took the form of Varaha, a boar.

Thus, the race to find the end and beginning of the pillar, or Lingodbhava Murthy, began.

Lord Vishnu went towards the nether world, crossing the earth, and after some years of discovery, he concluded that there was no end to it.

However, on the other hand, Lord Brahma, as a swan, flew upwards. He was exhausted and bewildered by the magnitude of the Lingodbhava Murthy, or Shiva Lingam. After reaching a point, he came up with an idea and found a “Ketaki” flower coming downwards, and he requested to say what he said.

On returning, Lord Vishnu simply said that the Lingam, or Lingodbhava murthy, has no end. It represents that the linga was the “Adi,” or oldest of all when Lord Shiva asked him if he had found the end of the stambha.

Lord Shiva Banned Ketaki Flower to Be Used in Worship

When Lord Shiva asked Brahma if he had found the beginning of the pillar of fire, he requested Ketaki Flower to respond.

Ketaki Flower said that Lord Brahma had seen the beginning of the pillar, or Lingodbhava Murthy, and she saw him as the flower herself resided there.

Lord Vishnu was so shocked by such a lie that he asked the Ketaki flower to say it in front of Lord Shiva. However, he said that Lord Brahma must have discovered the origin of Lingodbhava Murthy or the beginning of the pillar.

Lingodbhava: The Cosmic Column or Pillar of Light

At this very point, the central part of the column split, and a light came out, making the Lord Brahma and Vishnu nearly stunned, and they saw Lord Shiva in Lingodbhava avatar as the father of all living beings and the source of all beginnings and endings.

He is the Adi Lingam, from which Lord Brahma and Vishnu were born. They bowed down before him and accepted Lord Shiva’s supremacy. He even explained how he himself separated into three aspects that are known as the creator, the preserver, and the destroyer.

Lord Shiva Cursed Brahma

Lord Shiva was so angry with Brahma and thought how dare he lie and asked the Ketaki flower to say what he desired to be supreme.

As a result, Lord Shiva punished and banned the Ketaki flower from being used for worship. Mahadev also cursed Lord Brahma, saying that no one would worship him as he represented the falsehood in his character to be worshipped.

Lord Shiva emerged from the pillar of light as Lingodbhava Murthy on the dark fortnight in the month of Phalguna on the 14th; this day is celebrated as Mahashivratri, the grand and auspicious night of Shiva, every year in India.

Significance of Lingodbhava Murthy

As we all know, Shiva Lingam is found in cylindrical and quadrangular shapes, and the pedestal is shrewdly shaped so that whenever a devotee performs puja, the water drains off.

However, let’s find out what Shiva Lingam, or Lingodbhava murthy, signifies.

The bottle portion of the pedestal signifies “Brahma Swaroopam,” the middle portion signifies “Vishnu,” and the cylindrical or upper portion of the Lingodbhava murthy signifies “Lord Shiva.”

Different Types of Shiva Lingam or Lingodbhava Murthy

Lingodbhava Murthy is worshiped from ancient times in India, from the time when there were no Yugas: Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dwapara Yuga, and Kali Yuga.

We find many Indian saints have made the Lingodbhava Murthy using different materials, such as iron, silver, gold, copper, clay, mud, wood, stone, ice, and precious gems.

They offered their prayers and offerings, such as Datura, Vel Patra, raw milk, water, and flowers, and invited the Lord to accept their worship and devotion.

Here are the different types of Lingodbhava Murthy, or Shiva Lingam:

  • Ashtaloha Lingam
  • Vaidurya Lingam
  • Spatika Lingam
  • Padara Lingam
  • Trapu Lingam
  • Ahasa Lingam
  • Seesa Lingam
  • Ashtadhtu Lingam
  • Navaneetha Lingam
  • Durvakadaja Lingam or Garika Lingam
  • Karpura Lingam
  • Ayaskanta Lingam
  • Mouktika Lingam
  • Suvarna Lingam
  • Rajita Lingam
  • Pittala Lingam or Kamsya Lingam
  • Bhamsa Lingam
  • Guda Lingam or Sita Lingam
  • Vamsankura Lingam
  • Pishta Lingam
  • Dahdhidhughda Lingam
  • Dhandya Lingam
  • Phala Lingam
  • Dhatri Lingam
  • Gandha Lingam
  • Pushpa Lingam
  • Gosakru Lingam
  • Valuka Lingam
  • Sitakhand Lingam
  • Yavagodhumasali Lingam
  • Lavana Lingam
  • Tilapista Lingam

Lingodbhava Murthy Worship by Goddess Parvati

The ancient mythology about the Shiva Lingam or Lingodbhava Murthy worship says that Goddess Parvati began the prayer Lingodbhava Murthy in Kanchipuram, while Lord Rama, the 7th avatar of Lord Vishnu, was waiting for Hanuman to bring a Shiva Lingam from the Himalayas. However, he got late for some reason.

On the other hand, Goddess Parvati came to check if he loved Sita beyond any limit or if it was just rumours.

She took the form of Sita and appeared before Rama in Rameshwaram to check if he could identify that she was Sita or Parvati.

However, Sri Rama identified goddess Parvati at first glance and bowed in respect. In one instance, Lord Shiva appeared so that Parvati could believe what she did was wrong. Lord Rama in Treta Yuga might have been born as a human, but he had all the knowledge about his divine powers and duties as a deity and as a husband.

Thereafter, Lord Shiva established a Linga in respect of Lord Rama and named it Rameshwaram Jyotirlinga.

Shiva Lingam Worship by Lord Kartikey

According to the Shiva Purana, once Lord Kartikey was filled with guilt and negligence for not accepting Lord Ganesha as the “Pratham Pujya” deity among all the gods and thus wanted to perform penance, he left Kailash.

Kartikey made Shiva Lingam with a rock at first, but Lord Shiva, in an old Brahmin incarnation, requested him to donate the Linga so that he would worship and earn Punya, or merit.

The second time, Kartikey again made a Shiva Lingam, but this time too, the same Brahmin required the Linga as the old one broke because of the old age helplessness and weakness.

The third time, the same Brahmin asked Kartikey if he could donate all the merit that he earned by penancing and worshiping Lord Shiva. Kartikey agreed, but he didn’t know that the Brahmin was the Lord Shiva himself. Lord Shiva appeared in his form, blessed Kartikey, and established his three Lingodbhava Murthy: Shri Stambheshwar Mahadev, or Pratigyeshwar, Kapaleshwar, and Kumareshwar. Thus, we came to know how Lingodbhava Murthy Puja began.

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