GREATNESS OF SHIVALINGA–PILLAR OF FIRE– OMKAR
According to Suta, if a person is incapable of following the above mentioned three activities i.e. Shravana, Kirtan and Manan then he should worship the Shivalinga. Even by doing this he can attain liberation from all the bondages of the world.
Describing about the majesty of Shivalinga, Suta says: “Lord Shiva is the manifestation of Almighty God (Brahma) himself and for this very reason he is known as Nishkal. Because of his divine beauty, Shiva is called Saguna (God with form). The term Saguna is also expressed in another way, that is Sakal. Shivalinga is worshipped since it symbolizes the form of Shiva. Lord Shiva is also considered to be Nirguna (without any qualities.)”
“In the first Kalpa of Swet Varaha, a battle was fought between Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu to prove their superiority. Lord Shiva manifested before arrogance. After that he also showed them his form in the shape of Shivalinga. From that day onwards the Shivalinga became famous.”
Nandikeshwarji narrates the tale of battle between Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu.
“Once while travelling lord Brahma reached the abode of Lord Vishnu. He saw Lord Vishnu. He saw lord Vishnu resting on Shesh-Nag and being attended by Garuda and other attendants. When Brahma saw that Vishnu did not get up to receive him, he became very angry. Very soon, verbal dual erupted between them. It became so severe that a battle was fought between them, which continued for very long time. All the deities arrived from the heaven to watch the battle. They became very worried when they saw no sign of battle coming to an end. They decided to go to lord Shiva, to seek his help.
“Though Lord Shiva knew everything, but still feigning ignorance, he asked about the well beings of the world. The deities told him about the battle, fought between Brahma and Vishnu.”
“Lord Shiva then sent his one hundred Ganas to pacify both of them. He too went there accompanied by mother Parvati, boarded on a chariot. When Lord Shiva reached there, he saw that Brahma and Vishnu were about to use their deadly weapons- Maheshwar and Pashupat respectively. Fearing the destruction, which these deadly weapons might have caused, Lord Shiva manifested himself in the form of ‘Analstamba’ (pillar of fire) between them. Brahma and Vishnu had already released their weapons- Maheshwar and Pashupat. Both the weapons fell into that pillar of fire and got destroyed.
“Brahma and Vishnu were very surprised to see the pillar of fire, which was so enormous in size that it reached the sky and penetrated down the earth. Vishnu transformed himself into a boar and went to the ‘Patal’ (nether world) to find the base of that ‘Pillar of fire’. But he was unsuccessful in his attempt and came back.
Similarly Brahma transformed himself into a swan and flew up in the sky to find its limit. While going through the aerial route he met a withered ‘Ketaki’ flowers, which had still some freshness and fragrance left in it.”
“Lord Shiva smiled at the futile attempts of Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu. As a result of his smile the Ketaki flower fell down from the branch. Ketaki flower told Brahma that he had been present there since the beginning of the creation, but was unable to know about the origin of that ‘Pillar of fine’. The flower also advised Brahma against making any effort in that direction, as it would be of no use.”
“Brahma then sought the help of Ketaki flower to give a false witness before lord Vishnu, that he (Brahma) had been successful in seeing the limit of that pillar of fire. Ketaki flower agreed. Both of them went to Vishnu and Brahma told him that he had seen the limit of that Pillar of fire. Ketaki flower gave a witness. Vishnu accepted the superiority of Brahma.”
“Lord Shiva became very angry with Brahma. He proceeded to punish Brahma for his falsehood. Lord Vishnu requested Lord Shiva to spare the life of Brahma. Lord Shiva became pleased with Vishnu and accorded him the same status as that of his own.”
Nandikeshwar continuing with the tale said:
“After according same status to Vishnu as that of his own, Lord Shiva opened his third eye from it manifested ‘Bhairav’. He ordered Bhairav to kill Brahma. Bhairav severed the fifth head of Lord Brahma with his sword. Brahma became very terrified. He was trembling in fear. Lord Vishnu felt pity on his condition and requested Lord Shiva to forgive him.
Lord Shiva then stopped Bhairav, but told Brahma.
“You spoke untruth with a desire to become worshippable. It is my curse that, you will not be worshipped by anybody. You will posses only four heads.”
Brahma begged his forgiveness. Lord Shiva feeling pity on Brahma gave him a boon of being the presiding deity of all the yagya. Similarly the Ketaki flower also prohibited from being used during worship. But when Ketaki flower tendered his apology Shiva gave blessing that it would be fortunate to be offered to lord Vishnu during the worship.
Lord Vishnu and Brahma made salutations to lord Shiva and offered him a seat. They then worshipped him. This was the first time Brahma and Vishnu had worshipped lord Shiva. Shiva was very pleased. Shivaratri has been continued to be celebrated since that day. This particular day is considered to be the most auspicious day for the worship of Lord Shiva.
A devotee who fasts on Shivaratri remaining only on fruits, attain virtues equivalent to the worship done for the whole year. The idol of Shiva is consecrated on this day.
Lord Shiva has himself told the deities that he had manifested in the form of Pillar of Fire’ in the month of Agahan and during the constellation of Ardra. He also said-
“One who has my darshan on this day (Shivaratri) or worships me in my form of linga is dearer to me than Kartikeya. The place where, I manifested in the form of Pillar of fire will become famous as Lingasthan. Because of its resemblance with the ‘Mountain of Fire’, it will also be known Arunachal.”
Later on Shiva brought back to life all the people who had died in the battle, fought between Brahma and Vishnu.
Lord Shiva then preached Brahma and Vishnu on the five duties (Panchakritya) saying that ‘Srishti’ (creation), ‘Sthithi’ (position), Samhar (annihilation), Tirobhav (concealment) and ‘Anugrah’ (obligation or kindness) are the five duties by which this world functions.
The source of this world in ‘Sarga’ or Nature. The establishment of this world is ‘Stithi’ or position. The tendency of this world to destroy is Samhar or destruction. The feeling of absence of this world is Tirobhav or concealment and Moksha or salvation is obligation or Anugrah.
Lord Shiva then goes on to explain that the first four duties like Sarga (Nature) etc help in the nurturement of the world and the fifth duty Anugrah is a giver of salvation.
Lord Shiva also told them (Brahma and Vishnu) that he (Shiva) had blessed both of them to look after the two duties i.e. Srishti and Sthiti. Rudra and Mahesh have been entrusted with the job of Sanhar and Tiribhav. “The fifth duty ‘Anugrah’ has been kept by me.” Said Shiva.
After describing about the allocation of various duties, Lord Shiva described the meaning of ‘OMKAR’ to them. He said that OMKAR signified the world and contained the power of Shiva and Shakti. This powerful mantra gives all kinds of worldly accomplishment as well as salvation. After that Lord Shiva initiated Brahma and Vishnu with the OMKAR’ mantra and preached them on the importance of the worship of Shivalinga.