The Puranas in the Indian Religious context are considered to be the important set of the religious literature, after the Vedic literature totally became beyond the reach of the common man. The void thus created in the Indian religious thought was filled by the epics of the Ramayai3a of Valmiki as well as the Mahabharata. But besides these, the Puranas which were composed by the sage Vyasa and other sages gained the importance of their own. Some of them were devoted to Visnu, while others were devoted to Siva, Sakti as well as the other deities. Of these, Siva Purana and the Linga Purana are mainly the Saiva Puranas. In these Puranas, lord Siva is eulogised in different ways and both of them have their own importance.
The distinctive aspect of the Linga Purana is that thousand and eight names of Siva have been repeated twice in this Purana. In Chapter-65, the thousand and eight names have been spoken out by the sage Tandin, while in chapter-98 of the same Purana, the thousand and eight names of Siva were recited by lord Visnu himself in order to get cakra from lord Siva, at the behest of the gods. Besides these, there are many other topics in this Purai3a, which will be of great interest to the readers. This Purana is divided into two parts. The first part has a hundred and eight chapters, while the second part has fifty five chapters.
This is for the first time that an English translation of Linga Purana is being published along with complete Sanskrit text. The importance of the book is enhanced with an exhaustive introduction on the subject and an index of verses is provided at the end of the second volume for the benefit of the readers.
Lord Siva is being worshipped in the country and abroad from time immemorial. Genesis of Siva worship can be traced in the Harappan culture as well, where he is believed to have been adored in the human as well as symbolic form. Nandin, his bull, too had immense importance at that stage of the Indian culture, where the bull is depicted over a large number of seals discovered from the Harappan sites of the stage of history. In fact, Siva is the great god, Mahadeva. He is the immortal Divine Principle who has entered the mortal beings. He is known as the Death-conquering Deity, Mrtyunjaya. The Great God is the eternal life-principle. He incarnates in matter and comes within the orbit of individual experience. He is unmanifest in his universal form, but manifest in each individual body whether of men, animals or plants. At each level of manifestation, the immortal and divine nature of the Great God is evident. He represents the predominant effect of existence and the mysterious force called Life or Prana.
Mahadeva is named as Rudra and Siva in Indian tradition. He is identified with Agni or vice versa. Agni is stated to be of a double aspect, viz., Rudra in his terrible form and Siva in his auspicious form. Agni is called the immortal god. The Vedic thinkers expressed their concept of the Great God in a threefold formulation firstly, the Agni is Rudra; secondly, that Agni is the immortal principle among mortals; thirdly, that Agni is the life-principle called Praia within the mortal bodies. For example, it is stated in the Rgveda; “O Agni, you are Rudra.” In the Satapatha Brahmana, it is said “Who is Rudra, is the same as Agni.” In the Tandye Brahmana, we read “Rudra is Agni”, and in the Taittiriya Brahmana, “That which is Agni is Rudra.”
Siva Mahadeva has been worshipped for thousands of years as the Great God of India. His cult extended from the homeland of the Sakas in Central Asia to Kanya Kumari or Cape Comorin on the seashore. There are numerous myths and legends associated with him. He was conceived as the God of the Mountain, married to the Daughter of the Mountain. He is the Lord of Yogins and the foremost teacher of Yoga. He expounds all the mystic doctrines and the occult religious cults of Tantras, Agamas and Samhitas. His great exploits are the vanquishing of the Andhakasura or the Demon of Darkness, and Tripurasura, the Demon of the three cities of Gold, Silver and Copper. He is also the controller of the Ten-Headed king of Lanka named Ravana who casts a challenge to all gods and men.
Siva is identified in the Vedas as the Immortal God, who has entered the mortal beings, who is the .same as Agni or the mysterious Vital Fire manifest in matter or the five gross elements, who as Yogi consumed the God of Love, Kamadeva and re-created him in the subconscious world of the human mind and the conscious spheres of the human body or the central nervous system. It has been a matter of extreme happiness for us to gain an insight into the mysteries of Siva philosophy as limited not to cosmic lucubration but Yoga and spiritual Sac/bang for the control of the Pranic energy. It is this aspect of the symbolism of Siva which received the greatest emphasis from the Vedic times and in the Puranas and Saiva Agamas.
The great Kailasa is the symbol of the highest mind on which god Siva has his eternal abode as the Universal Divine Principle wrapped in samadhi or mental illumination where Universal Consciousness throws open its innermost sheaths for the vision of man. The working and powers of the cortex or higher brain are still a mystery to modem science. The ancient Yoga- Vidya has explained them in an orthodox symbolism or terminology which deserves to be studied and interpreted for the modem man who wishes to understand the fully chartered map of his personality as expressed on the level of mind, vital airs and material elements. These three are the basic elements described as the three cities of Gold, Silver and Copper and symbolised as the demon Tripura, who could be pierced by a single shaft released from the bow of Siva which is none other than the central nervous system, named as Sumeru or Pinaka that is the Golden Rod or Axis of the human body.
In this symbolism, Kundalini or the metabolic energy symbolised as Parvati is destined to play an important role and that was made the subject of Yogic and Agamic descriptions of the most pleasing kind. The vital energy of Prana is the fiery principle of metabolism or basal vitality in which all the Yogins of the east and the west have believed from the ancient most times. She was conceived as the Serpent Power which lies coiled in the lowest caves or chambers of the human body but when properly quickened unfolds her vibrating and buoyant hoods in upward sweeps and lighting up the five plexi or centres within the spinal cord into multi-coloured flames ultimately enters the brain through the Kraunca Dvara by taking a crooked bend. Its entry into the three regions of the lower, middle and higher ends is a celestial event occasioning her wedding with Lord Siva. Its beatitude and blissful chain-action is said to be beyond the region of words. Just as human wedding releases the highest ecstasies of the flesh, similarly the wedding of kundalini with Siva in the snowy atmosphere of Kailasa or the Higher Mind is the best symbol of the Universal Bliss attainable by the individual. In mythology these regions of the hypothalamus and the cortex are conceived as the snowy atmosphere of Kailasa where the Voice of Silence or the Eternal Speech rests in layers upon layers with infinite meanings which the yogins decode as Knowledge by means of Vedic symbols or images.
The half-male and the half-female aspects of Siva symbolise the two Universal Parents also named as the Father and the Mother or Heaven and Earth throughout Indian literature and also other great religions of the world. In ancient Egypt and Greece, these definitions recur with truthful sobriety. In actual cult, most beautiful prayers were sung as homage to the joint form — the Male and the Female (Nara-Nari-maya-vapuh) and it appears that the symphonies of Nature are demonstrating this truth in every flower or life-cell.
The five faces of Siva described mythically as Panca-Brahma are the five material elements constituting the physical, vital and physical man. This was the basis of the triple structure underlying Vedic cosmogony and also the cosmology of the three Lokas by reckoning the material elements as five and the vital airs as two, this was worked into a scheme of the eight forms of Siva, Astamurtis. The material manifestation of life in matter depends entirely on the integrated constitution of these triple aspects or energies. These were the eight Vasus of the Vedas, the eight Murtis of Siva in the Puranas or the eight handfuls of flowers prescribed in the religious cult of Siva. The Gun mentions them as the eightfold forms of; Lower Nature (astadha apara prakrti), the physical body being its lower base and the vital airs and the mind its two super-imposed summits. The more we think of the mystery of Siva and his mythology, the greater become the orbits of our understanding their meaning.
The Ganga is the river of Life, the great flood descending from immortal heaven to mortal earth. Siva’s matted locks represent the world or creation in all its modalities and endless forms. The matted locks are as vast and complicated as the affairs of the world. The River of Life permeates every nook and corner of the worldly creation. There the flood of pranic energy remains concealed until it is released by the grace of Siva and as the outcome of the principle of tapas invoked by human beings. The river is named Ganga owing to her quality of movement, or the ceaseless flow from the beginning to the end of Time as a mighty stream which makes all bodies or material forms sanctified by its waters. The great dance of Rudra is demonstrated best in the rhythmic movements of the sun. Surya is an exemplar of Nataraja Siva. The balance and rhythm underlying both in their dance poses, bespeak of the over-riding rhythm which is the basis of cosmic creation. In each solar system, there is an axis around which all the movements and regulations are arranged as proceeding from a fixed centre and vertical line. God Siva arranges his dance steps inside a mandala of fire-flames and so does Surya; the sun-god has his being inside the periphery of his thousand rays. It should be noted that Surya is not the dead matter orb of 92 or more elements but according to the Indian conception, it is the visible form of the supreme divine or transcendent reality called Brahman.
The sun, moon and fire are said to be the triple eyes of the great god. Fire symbolises the central energy whereas sun and moon, its twofold extension as heat and cold, as light and darkness, or as the twin principles of Prana and Apara, the in-breath and out-breath, the introvert and extrovert forces that ceaselessly impact against the centre that remains stable and unmoved. That centre is called Sthanu, the axis mundi of the universe which is the same as the Great Arrow, Bana piercing the axial centre of the earth, the atmospheric region and Surya so that the three stand in integration for all time to come. Time is threefold but eternity is one; it cannot be parcelled out, howsoever, one may wish to do so. So does the eternal aspect of the Great god remain undifferentiated and one without a second. But in nature or manifestation it is threefold.
The author of the Yajurveda has clearly said that Surya is the symbol of Brahman, the light of Brahman is reflected in Surya. If we wish to have an idea of the effulgent lustre of Brahman let us look at Surya the sun god whose radiation is measureless and who is filling all space by his shining rays of light and heat up to the ends of the four directions. The full glory of Surya is beyond description. We may remember that in each orderly system of the world, there is a central sun representing the charge of energy and power in that system, we have millions and billions of such dazzling solar units, all placed in one axial alignment; and their totality would give some indication of the light and energy of Brahman. The same Brahman is the great god Siva.
The energy of his Tandava dance is beyond the power of words. Constellations are splashed as particles of dust in space by the movements of his feet. The impact and stirrings of energy released by his movements are beyond description both for science and philosophy. His matted locks are dangled this side and that deriving their energised tendencies and dimensions from the depths of his spiritual being.
Siva is the lord of all creatures and therefore called Pasupati. The word Pasu is significant denoting a pranic centre. Each pain or living creature is an exemplar of the life-principle. In their differentiated aspects the pains are numberless and Siva as the archetypal divine principle of life is the Lord of them all. The bonds that keep them together are known as pasa. Unless these bonds are loosened both by the grace of the Lord and the endeavour of the devotee, no one can get rid of them and the soul that is soiled by matter remains bound in the snares of death. The five elements of gross matter are such a snare from which it is difficult to extricate oneself without the supreme laws of Salvation or Deliverance becoming operative in the life with which we are all bound. This is known as Sakrajala (same as Indrajata that is the mesh woven around the soul which is Indra.
Siva is surrounded by his ganas or hosts and pramathas or deformed beings. They are just caricatures of the human spirit or cartoons of normal personality, deformed and ugly beings, in whom the grotesqueness of mind and matter becomes concretised. The world is full of such specimens and aberrations of the life-principle or prana. They are all subordinated to Siva as the Lord of Fire or pranic energy; Siva is therefore called Ganapati. The fiery pranic principle when wedded to its counterpart the Soma or Parvati represents perfection and beauty but the deformities of the gana hosts are specimens of ugliness that are the hungry spirits yearning for their share of Soma, the immortal principle of beauty and spiritual satiation. The ganas are controlled by their leader, Nandisvara, the principle of bliss or Ananda.
On the body of Siva is besmeared dust or the ashes (bhasma). It signifies that fire is always accompanied by its ashes refused or dross. When fire burns some dross is left over as its surplus. When food is eaten and processed through the energy of digestive fire (jatharagni), some kind of surplus is thrown out and then only the process of assimilation remains balanced with that of elimination. Brahman eats his food called Brahmaudana the boiled rice of Brahman, and when his bowl of food is consumed and properly assimilated the surplus refuse that follows is the cosmos.
In fact, lord Siva had been dominating the Indian religious scene from the time immemorial. His presence has been witnessed in the ancient sites of Harappa and Mohenjodaro. He is also eulogised in the Vedic literature as Rudra and occasionally as Siva as well, besides by many other forms. While travelling from the Vedic to the Puranic times there had been a tremendous boost in his personality and he came to be known in many forms both, benevolent as well as the terrific. Out of these, the terrific forms were relegated to the background, and his benevolent forms became more popular.
Brahma Sutras (77)
Yoga Vasistha (81)
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