10 July 2006


The origin of the worship of Siva as Linga is to be found in Arunachala Mahatmyam. The legend is that there was a dispute between Brahma, the creator of the Universe, and Vishnu, the sustainer of the Universe regarding the superiority of the one over the other.

Siva decided to restore order to the Universe by putting an end to their dispute by appearing as an infinite column of Light. He instructed that whosoever found the top or bottom of the pillar of Light was the greater. Taking up His challenge Brahma and Vishnu stopped fighting and accordingly Brahma took the form of a swan and flew up to find the top of the pillar, whereas Vishnu dug down the earth as a boar to the find the bottom of the column of Light.

After aeons of futile search, both returned to Shiva accepted defeat and prayed to Him to take a more benevolent and accessible Form so that they could worship him. Siva accordingly took the form of a Hill, known as Arunachala. Brahman and Vishnu worshipped the Hill Linga thus making Arunachala the first and foremost of Lingas.

A granite representation of the Pillar of Light with Sivas form within and Brahma flying up as a swan and Vishnu digging down as a boar can be seen on the wall just behind the sanctum in every temple of Siva, in commemoration of this event. This representation is known as the Lingodbhava.

Brahma flying up to find the top of the Column of Light

Vishnu burrowing downwards to find the bottom of the Column of Light

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