भगवान शिव सभी देव से निराले है, उनका भेष, स्वरूप आर श्रृंगार सबसे अलग है! और यही सब बाते उन्हें सबसे अलग बनाते है! वे सम्पूर्ण जगत के निर्माता है!
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O Carved Shiva-linga River stone Shiva-linga Natural rock formation Shiva-linga ne day a sculptor was given a rock and asked to carve an image of God. He tried to imagine a form that would best encapsulate God. If he carved a plant, he would exclude animals and humans. If he carved an animal, he would exclude humans and plants. If he carved a human, he would exclude plants and animals. If he carved a male, he would exclude the female. If he carved a female, he would exclude all males. God, he believed, was the container of all forms. And the only way to create this container was by creating no form. Or maybe God is beyond all forms, but a form is needed to access even this idea.
Overwhelmed by these thoughts, the sculptor left the stone as it was and bowed before it. This was the linga, the container of infinity, the form of the formless, the tangible that provokes insight into the intangible. The name given to God was Shiva, which means the pure one, purified of all forms. Shiva means that which is transcendent. Shiva means God who cannot be contained by space or time, God who needs no form. Shiva has been visualised as an icicle in a cave in Amarnath, Jammu; as a natural rock formation rising up from the earth, as in Buda Kedar at Tehri, Uttarakhand or Lingaraja, Bhubaneswar, Orissa; as a smooth oval stone from the river bed of Narmada placed in a metal trough as in Kashi-Vishwanath, Varanasi; or a sculpture of a smooth cylindrical free standing pillar rising up from a leaf-shaped base as in Brihadeshwara, Tanjore or the Chandramouleshwara temple at Unkal, Karnataka. In the 12th century, in the land which is now called the state of Karnataka, lived a man called Basava who encouraged everyone to worship the formless, limitless divine in the form of a personal image, the ishta-linga, placed in an amulet and tied around the neck. The ishta-linga had no particular form and reminded Basava of the formless divine. He believed that by adoration of this idea through the formless form of the linga, humans would be able to break free from all divisions created by man on the basis of lineage, gender, profession or wealth. He inspired the Lingayat and Virashaiva movements. Ishta-linga of the Lingayats Hand gesture of a dancer showing Linga-mudra Only humans can conceptualise the idea of infinity.
Only humans can communicate such an abstract idea using various forms such as words and symbols. This is because humans are blessed with imagination. It is the one thing that separates us humans from animals. Humans can imagine because we have a highly developed brain, the cerebrum, with an especially large frontal lobe. This anatomical difference separates us from the rest of nature. So much so that in Samkhya, the Indian school of metaphysics, humanity or Purusha is seen as being separate from nature or Prakriti. This difference is seen as fundamental in the study of metaphysics. Because humans can imagine, the notion of a reality beyond the senses, a reality beyond nature, has come into being. Without the cerebrum there would be no imagination, and hence no notion of God! In nature, all things have form.
Each of these forms is limited by space and time. To sustain these forms one has to feed and one has to procreate. Eventually all forms are destroyed and replaced by new forms. Nature is thus a self-sustaining, predictable wheel of events where forms come and go. Only humans can imagine a world where all these rules are subverted: a world without forms, a world without limitations, a world without the need for action, or the obligation to experience a reaction, a transcendental world beyond feeding and procreating, creating and destroying, a still world, with no restlessness, only serenity, only bliss. In other words, humans can imagine a world beyond nature.
This idea is contained in the linga. A stone Mukha-linga from Ellora Brass masks placed over Shivalinga In many temples of India, a head or multiple heads are carved on the linga stone, or a brass mask representing a head covers the linga-stone. This head is identified with Shiva. It is a reminder of the human head that is unique from all other heads in the animal kingdom. It houses the highly developed brain that can imagine and hence forge a path to the divine. This is the very same reason that sacred marks are placed on the forehead of devotees: to remind them of the critical role our brain, hence our imagination, plays in defining our humanity. From imagination comes our vision of the world, our vision of our future, and most importantly our vision of ourselves, who we are and what we want to be.
These visions may have nothing to do with the reality of the natural world around us. They may be improvements on what we remember or have been told. It is imagination that makes us realise that we are distinct from nature. In other words, imagination makes us self-aware. It is also imagination that makes us feel unique because no two humans can imagine the same thing. Imagination therefore makes us wonder about who we are, compelling us to analyse, synthesise, create and communicate. It is our imagination that will not allow us to stagnate. It propels us to improve. It propels us to grow. The 12 major Jyotir-lingas or self-illuminous, self-created lingas of India, mentioned in a hymn composed by Shankaracharya in the 8th century In Sanskrit, the sound ‘Brh’ means to grow, to swell, to expand and enlarge. From this sound come two very critical ideas: brahman and Brahma.
The former is a concept found in the Vedas and the latter is a character found in the Puranas. Vedas are the earliest sacred scriptures of Hinduism and are full of abstract hymns containing esoteric concepts. The Puranas were written later and use stories and characters to make those esoteric concepts more accessible. The Vedic brahman is a neuter noun, which means the vast, the boundless, and the infinite. Puranic Brahma is a proper noun referring to a form of God that is, very peculiarly and significantly, not worshipped. The Hindu idea of God is rather complex. It cannot be explained without referring to Goddess. Most people, using the notion of God in the Bible as template, do not appreciate this and hence get confused. Goddess is nature and God is how nature is perceived by the human imagination. When the perception is incomplete and inaccurate, God is not worshipped, as in the case of Brahma. When the perception is complete and accurate, God is worshipped, as in the case of Shiva and Vishnu. In fact, when perception is complete and accurate, the divide between God and Goddess collapses. There is only one. That one is brahman.
Brahma is God yearning for perfection that is the brahman. Hence the Vedic maxim, ‘Aham Brahmasmi’ which means both ‘I am Brahma’ — meaning ‘I am finite’, as well as ‘I am brahman’ — meaning ‘I am infinite’. Every human being is the process of moving from the finite to the infinite, from Brahma to brahman, on the path forged by the imagination. Poster art showing three forms of God The neuter brahman is also called the nirguna brahman or the formless divinity. To be worshipped it needs to become saguna, or possess a form. Brahma is God who creates all forms, hence is called the creator; but he has not yet found the perfect form and is still yearning and searching, making him unworthy of worship.
Vishnu is God who has realised that no form is perfect and so works with the limited forms. This is why he is called the preserver and is worshipped in various forms. Shiva is God who breaks free from all forms, having found all of them limited, hence he is the destroyer who is worshipped as the linga.
Devotees need form to understand and seek the formless; through saguna is realised the nirguna. Hence they turn to stories, symbols, and rituals of Shiva and Vishnu. Shiva is Hara, who is indifferent to form, while Vishnu is Hari, who is appreciative of form. In medieval times, there was much rivalry between devotees of Shiva and Vishnu as they showed preference for either Hara or Hari
Wisdom lies in breaking free from all differences, divisions and limitations so that infinity may be realised. One day, Brahma and Vishnu were quarrelling. Brahma claimed, ‘I created the world. I must be God.’ Vishnu retorted, ‘That you seek validation means you cannot be God.’ ‘Then who is God?’ Brahma demanded to know. In response, a pillar of fire appeared between them.
It stretched up beyond the dome of the sky and down below the foundations of the earth. And the fire seemed to be burning without any fuel. Both Brahma and Vishnu decided to look for the ends of this pillar of fire. Brahma took the form of a swan and flew up to find its top. Vishnu took the form of a boar and dug his way down, determined to find its base. Brahma flew for months and years but there was no sign of the tip of the fiery pillar. Vishnu dug for months and years but there was no sign of the base of the fiery pillar. Finally, exhausted, the two returned to share their findings. ‘This pillar of fire has no base,’ admitted Vishnu.
‘It is endless and infinite.’ Brahma, however, lied. ‘I found the tip. I even found Ketaki flowers on it. I have done what you could not do. I am greater than you. I must therefore be God.’ North Indian miniature showing Shiva emerging from a pillar of fire As soon as Brahma said this, the pillar of fire burst open and out came another god, who looked like a mendicant, smeared with ash and wrapped in animal skins. ‘Liar,’ he shouted pointing to Brahma. ‘You lie so that you can delude the world with your lies so as to dominate everyone around you and feel powerful. You are not God.’
He then turned to Vishnu and smiled, ‘You admit the truth. You are humble enough to accept limitations. You are curious to know what lies beyond the horizon. You are not intimidated by uncertainty or afraid of ignorance. You are in the process of becoming God.’ Brahma trembled and bowed to this self-assured being. Vishnu watched him in awe. The mendicant identified himself, ‘If the formless can be given a form then I am he. I am God, I am Shiva.’
Since that day the stone pillar or linga is worshipped by all, a reminder of the pillar of flames that appeared between Brahma and Vishnu. Those who look at this stone image as merely a stone image are like Brahma, people who lack imagination and who do not yearn for wisdom. Those who look at this stone image as a symbolic container of an idea are like Vishnu, people with imagination who yearn for the truth that exists beyond the tangible. Stone carving of Lingo-bhava, the first appearance of Shiva Temple wall sculpture showing Shiva as teacher In nature, everything has a beginning and an end. In nature, fire needs fuel.
The idea of a pillar without beginning nor end, made of fire that needs no fuel, can exist only in the imagination and is hence worthy of representing reality that is transcendental, existing beyond the senses. In order to communicate the idea of spiritual reality, one needs symbols. One depends on nature to provide these symbols. But all things in nature are bound by natural laws, hence inherently unsuitable to express the idea of spiritual reality. So one selects those symbols that are less fettered by natural laws, at least in perception. The Pole Star, for example, is the only celestial body in the sky that does not move at all. It appears fixed.
All the stars and the planets move around it. The Pole Star serves as the symbol of a world where nothing changes, nothing ages or dies. The direction marked by the Pole Star becomes the direction of aspiration, the direction of spiritual reality. In the north, lives Shiva, said the wise. No one has seen the birth of a mountain or the death of a mountain. No one has seen a mountain move. Mountains thus represent the stability and stillness of spiritual reality. Shiva is imagined as living on a mountain. This mountain is located under the Pole Star, in the north.
This mountain is called Kailasa. It is covered by snow, water that does not move. Shiva is visualised seated under the banyan tree. Roots of this tree emerge from branches and anchor themselves in the ground and eventually become so thick that it becomes difficult to differentiate the trunk from the roots. One does not know where the tree starts and where the tree ends, like the limitless pillar of fire. It also has an unusually long life, making it appear almost indestructible, defying the laws of nature.
That makes it a symbol for Shiva. Stone wall carving showing Lakulesh Shiva, who emerged from the limitless pillar of fuel-less fire, is therefore visualised sitting under the Pole Star, on a snow-capped mountain, in the shade of a banyan tree. Through this form, the idea of spiritual reality is communicated.