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The Linga Purana is one of the major eighteen Puranas, a Hindu religious text. The extant text is divided into two parts, comprising 108 and 55 chapters respectively. These parts contain the description regarding the origin of universe, origin of the linga, and emergence of Brahma and Vishnu, and all the Vedas from the Linga. In this Purana, Shiva directly tells sometimes the importance of worship of Linga and the correct rituals to be followed during the puja of the linga. The Padma Purana categorizes Linga Purana as a Tamas Purana (Purana of darkness or ignorance).1
- First part of this Purana describes the origin of the Linga, and details the process of its worship. It has also sections on the creation of the cosmos; immolation of Kama; marriage of Shiva; description of Surya and Soma; and description of Varaha and Narshimha avatars of Vishnu.
- Next part describes the prominence of Lord Vishnu, and the emergence of Brahma as the creator of the cosmos. It has several other accounts, including various aspects of Shiva
- Part three of the Linga Purana contains the description of the seven islands, Mount Meru and other prominent mountains. It also has an account of Brahma assigning divinities to various deities, including the radiance of the Surya.
- The next part has several accounts, including the account of Dhruva as the supreme devotee; origin of different deities; details of dynasties of Aaditya and Yadu; Andhak’s ascendancy to the position the lord of Ganas; annihilation of the demon Jalandhar; and the origin of Ganesh.
- The contents of the last part include the story of Upamanyu; significance of certain mantras; importance of gurus; different types of yoga; and procedure for installation of linga.
"The distinctive sign through which it is possible to recognize the nature of someone is called a linga." (Shiva Purana)
"Shiva is signless , without color, taste or smell, beyond word and touch, without quality, changeless, motionless." (Linga Purana)
This unmanifest being can be perceived only through his creation, which is his sign or linga. The existence of the unqualified substratum is known and worshiped only through this sign. The linga, the giver of life is one of the shapes which represents the nature of the shapeless.
"Shiva as the undivided causal principle is worshiped in the linga. His more manifest aspects are represented in anthropomorphic images. All other deities are part of a multiplicity and are thus worshiped as images." (Karapatri, "Shri Shiva Tattva", Siddhanta).
"The symbol of the Supreme Man (purusha), the formless, the changeless, the all-seeing eye, the linga. The symbol of the power that is Nature, generatrix of all that exists is the yoni." (Karapatri, "Lingopasana-rahasya", Siddhanta)
"Because she is the source of development, Nature (prakriti) is compared to a womb. The womb is Nature, basis of all. He is the giver of enjoyment. There is no other giver." (Shiva Purana)
The linga is the universal fecundator and as such is fundamentally one. But for each form of existence there is a different womb to be fecundated. Thus the different species are spoken of as yonis. The Puranas speak of 8,400,000 different kinds of beings or yonis.
There can be no creation without the relationship of the opposites. There could be no creation from Shiva alone, or from Nature alone. The union of a perceiver and a perceived, an enjoyer and the enjoyed, of a passive and active principle, is essential for creation to take place.
Transcendent manhood is the immanent cause of creation; transcendent womanhood is the efficient cause. There cannot be procreation without such union and there cannot be divine manifestation without their cosmic equivalent. It is only through understanding the symbolism of the linga and yoni that we can begin to apprehend the mysteries of creation.
- Mani, Vettam. Puranic Encyclopedia. 1st English ed. New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1975.
- Wilson, H. H. (1840). The Vishnu Purana: A system of Hindu mythology and tradition. Oriental Translation Fund. p. 12.
- Sources: Linga Purana by Motilal Banarasidass