siva temples near chennai
MEANING OF SIVA LINGA WORSHIP
shiva lingam is the holy symbol of Lord shiva that is considered quite sacred and worshipped with devotion by the devotees. The sanskrit word li.ngam means symbol, so shiva lingam means symbol of shiva. It is considered the foremost sacred symbol for shaivaites and has been worshiped for ages. The purANas like shiva mahA purANam discuss about the superiority of li.nga worship. (1) (The Indus valley excavation is an example for the presence of this worship in olden times.)
Once the god of creation brahma and the god of protection mahA vishNu entered in an argument on deciding who is greater. When those two great gods were fighting between themselves, the Greatest of all Lord shiva who is formless and transcends everything appeared as a pillar of flame. God told brahma and vishNu that whoever finds the head or the foot of His flame form would be considered greater. brahmA took the form of swan ( ha.msam ) and set out to reach the top of the Fire. vishNu became a wild pig to see the foot of the Fire. Where are the limits for the infinite God ? They could not succeed in spite of their heavy effort. They realized their mistake and the peerless greatness of Lord shiva. The God who can never be reached by ego appears as the form of love to those who surrender to Him. Lord shiva appeared in the form of shiva li.ngam (which is the shape of flame) for their benefit. They worshiped that oldest form of Him and got blessed. The God who came to bless them from the Flame, from the li.ngam is known as li.ngodbhava (2). This incident is depicted in shiva mahA purANam (1) and many other scriptures.
As the God stood as pillar of flame, the natural adornment for the Lord is Holy Ash. (As ash would be found on the surface of the fire). As the God stood as the Luminat Flame that stood up the shiva sahasranAma hails God as Urdva retas and the shiva aShtottara as hiraNya retas. The hymn that starts nidhana pataye namaH, refers to many similarities of Flame and shivalinga.
God is formless, attributeless and omnipresent. This state is called arUpa (formless). For the benefit of the pashus, He took the form of shiva li.ngam which is neither form nor formless but is a symbol. This symbol of Him is called arUparUpam (formless form). He took many forms out of His mercy to bless all, which are called rUpams. (2). shaivam worships the God in all these three states. The oldest form that the formless God took namely the shiva li.ngam is called sadAshiva mUrtam and is worshipped in the altar of His abodes (temples). The forms that He later took which are called mAhEshwara mUrtam are worshipped in the outer circles in a temple.
This shiva li.nga worship is superior because it makes the worship simple because of the form while maintaining the truth that God is not having any definite form. There are a lot more marvelous principles behind the shiva li.nga worship which could be found in detail in standard scriptur
Shiva - The Meaning
shiva the name of the Lord is a mantra. It is a part of the very holy mantra of shaivam The Holy Five Letters. mantra means powerful word. The mantras are revealed to and through the sages in their matured spiritual state to the entire world. These mantras may or may not be associated directly to one particular language. At times they get interpreted in the languages. The name shiva and The Holy Five Letters are accepted as they are in different languages.
In saMskR^itam the word shiva means auspicious, prosperous (maN^gaLam). The Lord who is called pashupati, Asutosha being the Supreme that can not be measured by the thoughts, appears to the one who worships as the God graceful, blissful and nurturing. Its auspicious and graceful forms and names are invoked by the worshiper for the upliftment of oneself.In thamiz it refers to shiva - civappu - chemporuL meaning the Perfect Being. The God staying in a state blissful, enjoying in Its Own Self eternally, without any flaws is the Supreme Lord shiva. The Perfection is the completeness - there is nothing external that is required to make the Self blissful. In this context it would be worthwhile to contemplate on the mantra shivatarAya
Many of the asurAs worship Lord shiva and get boons as observed in the purANAs. Whereas very few of them worship the other divines. Why is it so ? Why should the God show grace to asurAs ?
Lord shiva is the Supreme, Which does not have any parents Which never takes birth Which is all alone without association with any of the creatures or creations enjoying in the Self. God is the only one Who is dependable for anybody / anything to surrender to as It is the only perennial Being. Hence God is the Lord of all creatures (lives/souls). For this reason the Lord is hailed as pashupati (Lord of living beings). Whether it is devas or asuras or humans or other creatures all are pashus. That being the case how could the Lord be partial to one section of pashus and withdrawing the Grace for the other ? So anybody who worships the Lord sincerely could get blessed with Its Grace irrespective of the caste, creed, race, power, status and qualities.
It is in fact to be noted that Lord shiva is worshipped by the devas like viShNu, braHma, indra, by asuras like bANa, rAvaNa, tripura, sUrapadma, by humans like sha~Nkara bhagavatpAda, samban^dhar, appar, by other creatures like jaTAyu, sampAdi (eagles), vAli (monkey) and the list goes on and on. One finds in the purANas the variety of people of different backgrounds and qualities worship the Lord shiva. There are many histories of temples which talk of the cranes, bees, elephants, spiders, snakes worshipping the Lord and getting blessed. So the Lord as the Supreme blesses anyone who worships in sincere devotion. There is no discrimination on who the seeker is. The Lord is so merciful that He showers the boons one look for when there is a determination to seek Him. It is evident from the history of asura bANa who attained a great fame of his valor and got the place in the abode of Lord shiva all due to his determined worship of the Lord.
But..., if the receiver of the boons does not use them in proper way and misuses to disturb others, in the Lord defined system of this universe they get punished for the misdeeds. A closer analysis would show that the devas are the divine elements of nature that are essential for all of us to survive (like air, sun, fire etc). Very often asuras are the one who disturb the nature as evident from purANas. So when the asuras misuse the boons got to disturb the other lives they get punished as evident from the histories of hiraNya, rAvaNa and others. When the misuse goes beyond a point by the powerful forces so as to question the existence of the whole system, the Lord the One Who is essential for all the essentials, Who has devised this whole Universe, takes the action to restore normalcy for example like tripura dahana.Lord shiva is the God of all. Like the mother He showers the grace for all the children, but the misusing children get punished. This Supreme Lord better than a mother does not withhold the grace, He is our beloved pashupati
FORMS OF LORD SHIVA
Why is this Lord Shiva, leaving away gems decorated crown, wears the moon as the crown, instead of various perfumes smears in ash, in place of golden ornaments puts skull garland, instead of nice silk clothings appears naked or wear skin of tiger ? Why should the Supreme God appear in such a cheap decoration ?
While the other divines appear with many cosmetics and materials that decorate them, with glaring crowns and silk, golden robes, Lord shiva appear in a form which is too simple with moon, river, snakes and skulls. This makes one wonder, why should the Supreme that commands the whole universe and has none above Him, appear in such a form ! To find an answer let us look at the ornaments of the Lord. A river, skull, feather, various leaves, crescent, snake earring, skull garlands, snakes as sacred thread, waist thread and ornaments - roughly these are the adornments of the Lord. Isn't there one thing in common across all these ? Yes, all these are non made items - they are naturally existing ones !! Neither is the moon nor the river made by someone; Nor are the skulls and feathers made by a sculptor.
Who is there to make crowns and ornaments for the Supreme That existed when none else were present and Which would exist even when all others cease to exist. The ash smeared on the Lord's form in fact indicates this ever-being of the God. Who can make clothing for the Lord standing limitless, hence He is naked. There are beautiful purANic stories about each of the Lord's ornament worn by the Lord. For example refer (1).
All these natural ornaments indicate the God's uniqueness which controls the whole nature. The moons, rivers and creatures are all ornaments to the Supreme. These are not cheap, but invaluable ornaments in deed ! To that Lord, Who made the beauties of the world, Who Itself is nothing but beauty, what decorations of us would add value other than His own creations !! Salutations to that Lord of nature, salutations to that Lord of creature.