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.
Shiva Linga is the holy symbol of Lord Shiva that is considered sacred by the devotees of Lord Shiva. The word, ‘Lingum’ in Sanskrit means, ‘symbol’. Shiva Lingum, therefore means symbol of Lord Shiva and is therefore considered most sacred by Shaivaites. Siva Linga has been worshipped in Hinduism since ages. Worship of Shiva Linga is regarded sacred and superior Shiva Mahapurana. This is because the form makes worship simple while maintaining the truth that God does not have any definite form.
Most prevalent icon of Shiva and virtually found in all Shiva temples, Shiva Linga is a rounded, elliptical, an-iconic image that is usually set on a circular base or peetham. According to some scholars the Peetham represents Parashakti, the manifesting power of God.
Shiva Lingas are usually made of stone that may either be carved or naturally existing – svayambhu, such as shaped by a swift-flowing river. Shiva Lingas may also be made of metal, precious gems, crystal, wood, earth or transitory materials such as ice. Some scholars say that transitory Shiva Linga may be made of 12 different materials such as sand, rice, cooked food, river clay, cow dung, butter, rudraksha seeds, ashes, sandalwood, darbha grass, a flower garland or molasses.
Structure of Shiva Lingam:
Shiva Lingam consists of three parts. The bottom part which is four-sided remains underground, the middle part which is eight-sided remains on a pedestal. The top part, which is actually worshipped, is round. The height of the round part is one-third of its circumference. The three parts symbolize Brahma at the bottom, Vishnu in the middle and Shiva on the top. The pedestal is provided with a passage for draining away the water that is poured on the top. The Lingam symbolizes both the creative and destructive power of Lord Shiva and great sanctity is attached to it by the devotees. This does not mean others should give a false meaning to the image of Shiva Lingam.
The Lingam is shaped like an egg and represents the ‘Brahmanda’ or the cosmic egg. There are two types of Shiva Lingam. One is a black meteorite egg-shaped stone. It is said that such a stone is installed at Kabba in Mecca. The other one is man-made and is solidified mercury. Solidifying mercury is an ancient Vedic science.
Shiva Lingam represents the totality of the Cosmos and the Cosmos, in turn, being represented as a Cosmic Egg. Again an egg is an ellipsoid depicting with no beginning, nor end.
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.
Types of Lingas:
Shiva lingas are divided into many types according to the materials used to make it such as sandalwood paste, river clay, wood, stones, white marbles, precious gems, metal, mercury, gold, silver, etc. There is a exact proportions decided to make height, width, and curvature of the Shiva ling. Some type of Shiva lingam are mukhalinga (one face from five carved on sides and top), lingodbhavamurti (a linga emerging out from fiery linga), linga with a cobra on top, svayambhuva (means self-originated linga) directly made from light, Sphatika-linga (made up of quartz), etc.
Black Shiva Linga:
Black Shiva Lingam is considered as holy and sacred form and it contains highly protective energies. Earlier it was limited to the Temples only however recently it is found in the individual home temples by the devotees. It is stone made egg-shaped cryptocrystalline formed lingam (a only stone found in Narmada River, Onkar Mandhata).
This lingam helps in resonating energies of all elements like water, earth, fire, air, and stone. Worshiping this lingam helps in charging the chakra system, activate kundalini energies, boost body vitality, promote inner transformation positively, show path to new life, enhance feeling of unity and even, increase healing properties as well as helps in treating impotence and infertility by strengthening and balancing the whole body.
White Marble Shiva Linga:
This type of lingam is made up of white marbles and very beneficial for the people having suicidal tendency. Worshiping this lingam changes the mind positively and prevents from the suicidal attempt by removing negative thoughts. It is of great importance for the devotees and use for meditation purpose, avoiding suicide thoughts, removing negative thoughts and improving concentration level.
Parad Shiva Linga:
Parad Shiva linga is of great importance for the Hindu devotees and worshiped with complete process, belief and devotion. It is worshiped to be strong physically, mentally, spiritually, and psychologically as well as get protected from the natural calamities, evil power, disaster, and other bad effects. It is worshiped to get prosperity and positive strength as well as occurrence of Lakshmi.
Shiva linga is spoken itself as Nature means Prakriti which marks the presence of formless Omnipotent Lord. It is a form of undying soul who indwells into our innermost self means Atman. According to the ancient scripture of Linga Purana, Linga do not has any form, smell, taste, colour, etc. It is a generative power of the Lord Shiva. It is like a cosmic egg means a “Brahmanda” which symbolise that Prakriti has been created by the power of male and the female. It also symbolises the “Satya”, “Jnana” and “Ananta” which means Truth, knowledge and Infinity.
Shiva Linga has its three parts named as the lowest one is called as Brahma-Pitha, the middle one is called as Vishnu-Pitha while uppermost one is called as Shiva-Pitha. There are 12 Holiest Shiva Lingas (called Jyotir-lingas) and 5 Pancha-bhuta Lingas are found all over the country. 12 Jyotir-lingas are named as Kedarnath, Mahakal, Somnath, Amaleshwar, Baijnath, Kashi Vishwanath, Rameswar, Bhimshankar, Mallikarjun, Nageshwar, Ghrusneswar and Tryambakeshwar whereas 5 Pancha-bhuta Lingas are named as Kalahastishwar, Arunachaleshwar, Ekambareshwar of Kanjivaram, Jambukeshwar and Nataraja of Chidambaram. Lord Mahalinga temple found in Tiruvidaimarudur is famous as the Madhyarjuna.
Why do we do abhishekam to shiva?
Shiva Abhishekam is usually performed to a Lingam representing his manifestation as a creator of good by destroying evil.“Alankaarapriyo Vishnuh, Abhishekpriyah Shivah” Vishnu is very fond of Alankaar (fine dress, beautiful ornaments, etc); Shiva is found of Abhishek.