Symbol of Shiva traditionally used in worship.
▵ The Form
The word linga means “the form.” We are calling it “the form” because when the un-manifest began to manifest itself, or in other words when creation began to happen, the first form that it took was that of an ellipsoid.
▵ The First and Final Form
The word linga means “the form.” We are calling it “the form” because when the un-manifest began to manifest itself, or in other words when creation began to happen, the first form that it took was that of an ellipsoid. A perfect ellipsoid is what we call as a linga. Creation always started as an ellipsoid or a linga, and then became many things. And we know from our experience that if you go into deep states of meditativeness, before a point of absolute dissolution comes, once again the energy takes the form of an ellipsoid or a linga. So, the first form is linga and the final form is linga.
“With the necessary technology, simple space, even a piece of stone can be made into divine exuberance. This is the phenomenon of consecration.” – Sadhguru
▵ Consecrating a Linga
If you give me any object, a piece of paper for example, I can make it highly energetic and give it to you. If you hold it before and after I touch it, you will feel the difference, but the paper will not be able to sustain this energy. But, if you create a perfect linga form, it becomes a perennial storehouse of energy. Once you charge it, it will always stay that way.
▵ Prana Pratishtha
Pratishtha means consecration. The most common form of consecration is by using mantras, rituals and other kinds of processes. If you consecrate a form through mantras, it needs constant maintenance and rituals to keep the deity alive.
Prana Pratishtha is not like that. Once a form is consecrated through life energies, not with mantras or rituals, it is forever and needs no maintenance. That is the reason why there are no poojas in Dhyanalinga ; it does not need that maintenance. It is consecrated through prana pratishtha. It will always be like that. Even if you take away the stone part of the linga, it will still be like that. If the whole world comes to an end, that form will still remain.
▵ Linga-Making – A Subjective Science
The science of linga-making is a huge experiential possibility, and has been there for thousands of years. But in the last eight or nine hundred years, especially when the bhakti movement swept the country, the science of building a temple got washed away. For a devotee, nothing is important except his emotion. His path is emotion. It is only from the strength of his emotion that he does everything. So they just kept the science aside and started building temples whichever way they liked. It is a love affair, you know? A bhakta can do whatever he wants. Anything is fair with him because the only thing he has is the strength of his emotion. Because of this, the science of making lingas receded. Otherwise, it was a very deep science. This is a very subjective science, and it was never written down because if you write it down, it will be completely misunderstood. Many lingas have been created like this, without any knowledge of the science.
▵ Lingas Represent Chakras
Sadhguru: Chakras are a meeting point for the energy system, where the pranic nadis meet to create an energy vortex. There are one hundred and fourteen chakras, but generally, when we say “chakras” we are referring to the seven important chakras, which represent seven dimensions of life. They are like seven major traffic junctions.
Right now, most of the Lingas in India represent one or two chakras at the most. The uniqueness of the Dhyanalinga at the Isha Yoga Center is that all the seven chakras are energized and established at their peak. It is the highest possible manifestation, in the sense that if you take energy and push it up to very high levels of intensity, it can hold form only to a certain point. Beyond that, it becomes formless. If it becomes formless, people are incapable of experiencing it. Pushing the energy to the highest point beyond which there will be no form, and crystallizing it at that point – this is how Dhyanalinga has been consecrated.
▵ Lingas of the Pancha Bhutas Sthalas
The most fundamental sadhana in yoga is bhuta shuddhi. The pancha bhutas are the five elements in nature. If you look at yourself, your physical body is made up of five elements. These are earth, fire, wind, water, and space. They come together in a certain way to become the body. The spiritual process is about going beyond the physical and five elements. These elements have a huge grip on everything that you experience. To transcend them, the fundamental practice of yoga involves what is called bhuta shuddhi. For every element that is involved, there is a certain practice you can do to become free from it.
In South India, five magnificent temples were built, each with a linga representing one of the pancha bhutas. If you want to do sadhana for the element of water, you go to Thiruvanaikaval. For space, you go to Chidambaram; Air, Kalahashasti; Earth, Kanchipuram and Fire, Thiruvannamalai.
These temples were created as places for sadhana, not for worship.
Indian culture has been among the few cultures on this planet where for thousands of years, the whole population was focused only on the ultimate wellbeing of the human being. The moment you were born in India, your life was not about your business, your wife, your husband or your family; your life was only about mukti. The whole society was structured like this.
In this context, many kinds of powerful devices were created in this culture. Jyotirlingas were created as very powerful tools in this direction. It is a powerful experience to be in the presence of such forms.
Jyotirlingas have tremendous power because they were consecrated and created in a certain way, not just using human capabilities, but the forces of nature. There are only twelve Jyotirlingas. They are located at certain geographically and astronomically significant points. These points are subject to certain forces in the existence. A long time ago, people with a certain level of perception very carefully calibrated these spaces and fixed those points according to the celestial movement.
Some of the Jyotirlingas are no longer “alive”, but many of them are still very powerful tools.
▵ Mahakala – The Ultimate Time Machine
Shi-va literally means “that which is not” or no-thing. The hyphen is important. It is in the lap of vast no-thingness that creation happened. Over 99% of the atom and the cosmos is, in fact, emptiness – simply no-thing. The one word, Kala, is used for time and space and one of the personifications of Shiva is Kala Bhairava. Kala Bhairava is a vibrant state of darkness, but when he becomes absolutely still, he turns into Mahakala, the ultimate time machine.
The Mahakala temple in Ujjain is an incredibly consecrated space, this powerful manifestation is definitely not for the faint-hearted. Raw and forceful, it is available for all those seeking ultimate dissolution – the annihilation of time as we know it.
The spiritual process anywhere in the world is always about transcending the physical, because form is subject to cycles. Kala Bhairava is seen, therefore, as the Destroyer of Ignorance: he who shatters the compulsive cycles of birth and death, being and non-being.
▵ Lingas Worldwide
There was no enlightened being who did not talk about Shiva, in the sense of a boundless dimension, or something beyond physical nature. The only difference is they may have expressed it in the language and symbolism of their region.
However, because of very aggressive ways of spreading religion around the world in the last 1500 years, most of the great cultures of the past, like the ancient Mesopotamian civilization, the Central Asian civilizations, and the North African civilizations, have disappeared. So it is not very visible anymore, but if you look deeper into history, it was everywhere. So, in some way, mystical sciences used to be present in every culture. But in the last 1500 years, they were largely lost in other parts of the world.
▵ Lingas Are Made of Different Materials
Lingas that have formed naturally are called the self-created or svayambhu-lingas. There is a cave in Amarnath, in the northern state of Jammu. Inside the cave, a Shiva linga of ice is formed every year. The linga is formed naturally by the stalagmite that drips from the roof of the cave. It is almost magical to see water droplets trickling slowly from the top of the cave and freezing into ice when they fall.
Some lingas are carved out of rock, wood, or gems; others are molded out of clay, sand or metal. These are pratishtith-lingas. Many lingas are covered by a metal sheath and given a face so that the devotee can relate better. These are mukhalingas. Some even have the entire image of Shiva carved on the surface.
Lingas represent the union of the masculine and the feminine. The feminine base is referred to as Gowripeetam or Avudaiyar. The linga and the base together signify the union of Shiva and Shakti, the masculine and feminine energies.
▵ The Linga – A Guru
As the energy states addressed by yoga are not within the purview of the five senses, the guidance of a Guru is usually needed to experience these inner states. Many relationships rely on mental, emotional and physical bonding, but the master-disciple relationship is unique in that it is energy based.
Modern science, due to its total dependence on the five senses, has privileged an empirical or rational approach to the process of research or seeking, limiting itself to the more pedestrian powers of the human mind. Modern education has echoed this approach, ignoring and neglecting the receptive potential of the individual. In this climate, there is great skepticism about the ability of a Guru to possess insight that goes beyond rationality. Yet, throughout history, the seeker has time and again been intuitively drawn to a Guru. To fulfill this urge for spiritual guidance, some visionary Gurus have created energy centers that replicate the Guru’s presence and energy.
The Dhyanalinga is the prime manifestation of the Guru. It is the instilled essence of the yogic sciences, a manifestation of inner energies at their peak.
▵ Shiva Linga as the Cosmic Pillar
The story goes, Brahma and Vishnu once came across a great pillar of fire. From this unending column of effulgence emanated the sound, Aum. Awed, they decided to investigate. Taking the form of a swan, Brahma rose high into the blue skies in pursuit of its summit. Taking the form of a boar, Vishnu bored his way deep into the universe in pursuit of its base.
Both failed. For this cosmic pillar was none other than Shiva himself. How can one measure the immeasurable? When Vishnu returned, he conceded defeat. However, not wanting to admit failure, Brahma boasted that he had scaled the summit. As proof, he presented a white ketaki flower that he claimed to find on top.
No sooner was the lie uttered, Shiva appeared as Adiyogi (the first yogi). The two gods fell at his feet. For this lie, Shiva declared, Brahma would henceforth be deprived of the privilege of worship. The flower, by becoming accomplice to this subterfuge, fell from grace. Adiyogi refused henceforth to accept it as an offering. However, an exception was made for the holy night of Mahashivratri. To this day, the white ketaki flower is offered for worship only on this darkest night in the year, considered to be the night of profoundest spiritual possibility.
“Just sitting silently for a few minutes within the sphere of Dhyanalinga is enough to make even those unaware of meditation experience a state of deep meditativeness.”
▵ The Dhyanalinga
“Dhyana” in Sanskrit means “meditation” and “linga” means “form.” Sadhguru used his own life energies through a mystical process called prana-pratishtha to consecrate the linga to its highest peak. In this process, all seven chakras (main energy centers in the body) have been energized to the very peak and locked, making it like the energy body of the highest or most evolved being.
Demanding no worship or prayer, this meditation shrine recognizes all religions as expressions of one common source.
▵ 12 Things You May Not Know About Shiva Lingas (Isha)
▵ The Science and History of Creating Lingas (Isha)