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If Brahma is the creator, Vishnu the preserver, Shiva is the quintessential destroyer. His duty is to destroy all the worlds at the end of creation and dissolve them into nothingness. Modern theories of space do suggest the possible ending of the physical universe after some billions of years through the expansion of a gigantic black hole devouring the matter from endless galaxies. Perhaps Shiva would be the black hole or its creator performing that task.
However it does not mean that Shiva would remain idle until the arrival of that time. Before the worlds really come to an end, Shiva has many things to do to keep the worlds going. His first and foremost task is to destroy many things in order to ensure the Rta or the order of the universe. Shiva's destruction is not negative. It is a positive, nourishing and constructive destruction which builds and transforms life and energy for the welfare of the world and the beings that inhabit it. He destroys in order to renew and regenerate life forms and facilitate the transformation, evolution or modifications of Nature. His destruction is the destruction of an artist, a surgeon or a cook. Through destruction he facilitates the smooth transitions of things and events from one stage to another.
Shivaling literally means the body of Shiva. Next to the symbol of AUM, it is perhaps the most potent, powerful and popular sacred symbol in Hinduism, which is worshipped, meditated upon and worn on the body by many devotees. In almost all the Shiva temples, worship is generally made to Shivalingas only. Very rarely we come across his images in the sanctum sanctorum of any Shiva temple. A Shivaling is usually a round or cylindrical and protruding object. The cylindrical part is held firmly by a circular base.
On the physical plane, the object resembles the male sexual organ, suggestive of the creative power of Shiva. The circular base resembles that of the female, suggestive of his consort Parvathi. Physically a Shivaling is a phallic symbol, representing the male and female sexual organs in a state of conjugal bliss. Mentally it symbolizes the union of mind and body. Spiritually it represents the union between Purusha and Prakriti, the highest principles of the manifest universe. Universally, it stands for life and existence, the coming together of matter and consciousness, of gross bodies and subtle bodies to create the miracle called life.
The Shivaling is also symbolic of the Supreme Self. It is verily Maheswara Himself, the Highest Self and the Lord of the universe. In this aspect it has three parts. The lower part represents Brahma. The middle part, which is octagonal in shape, represents Vishnu. The upper part, which is cylindrical in shape, represents Rudra. It is also called Pujabhaga, since it receives the actual offerings of milk and other substances.
The Shivalingas are normally found installed in the temples. Many devotees of Shiva also keep them in their houses and offer them regular worship. However, people are cautioned not to keep Shivalingas in their houses if they do not offer regular worship, since they are believed to be powerful sources of divine energy and should not be neglected or disrespected. Shivalingas are either naturally found or artificially made. Different materials are used in their making, such as clay, gold, crystal, glass, diamonds, precious stones and wood.
The round and smooth stones which are found in the river beds of many rivers such as the Narmada or the Godavari are also considered ideal for worship. Sometimes Shivalingas are made temporarily with clay or sandal paste and dissolved after worship. Some devotees wear Shiva lingas on their bodies or around their necks for protection, proximity or to keep their vows. When Shivalingas are found fortuitously in the river beds, forests, mountains and desolate places, it is considered a great omen and the will of Shiva. Hence, they are considered sacred and housed in temples or houses for worship.
Description of Shiva
Shiva personifies beauty, serenity, spirituality and stability. He is also earthy and very much human like in his attitude. Unlike Vishnu who is depicted as dark blue, Shiva is white in color, except for his neck which is dark blue because of the poison which he deposited there to save the worlds from destruction. Images of Shiva in dark blue color are however the norm. Again, unlike Vishnu he is an ascetic god, who leads a life of austerities and penance. However, in the images we find him tall, sinewy and well-built.
Because of his frequent visits to the cremation ground and proximity to the burning pyres, his body remains covered with ashes, which denotes his indifference to worldly life and social conformity. He has three eyes. The third eye rests between his eye brows. It is the eye of wisdom, by opening which he destroys not only fierce demons but also our false selves and our myriad illusions. In contrast to Brahma who is mostly depicted as an elderly god and a wise old sage, Shiva is usually shown as a fatherly god in his middle ages.
Jay Bhavani Jay Shivaji
Jay ShivShankar : Shivaji
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