Mahadev is a term that is designated to Shiva. But, what makes this term so appropriate for Shiva?
Mahadev means the God who is above all the Gods and beings. Shiva is the creator, the destroyer, the one who commands time and has immense power to control the vast universe. Moreover, in Hindu Mythology, He had been worshipped by all the avatars of God Vishnu making him the correct beholder for the name Mahadev (Devon-ka-Dev).
Shiva is one of the most worshipped Gods in Hindu Dharma and is one among the Trimurti which constitutes Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh (Shiva).
People worship Shiva in many places, there are several temples in India and abroad devoted to Lord Shiva. However, one thing that is common in most of them, is, that people worship Shiva in a form of a stone known as Shivling.
What is a Shivling?
You must have often seen people worshipping in front of stone over a base. People offer milk, flowers, fruits, and other items over it. So, “what is that stone?” That stone is a depiction of Lord Shiva, the Supreme Lord.
Shivling is composed of two words. The first word is “Shiva”, the Almighty and the other word is “Lingam”. Now the question that arises is that “What does a lingam mean?” In Sanskrit “Lingam” means a “Symbol”, “Sign” or a “Chinh”. Shivling is something just called a Lingam too.
Where did the word “Lingam” come from?
The word Lingam was mentioned in none of the Vedas instead the word Rudra was mentioned everywhere in the Vedas. However, the word Lingam came into consideration through the early Upnishads where it clearly defines that the word Lingam means Sign.
One of the oldest examples of a lingam is still in worship in the Parashurameshvara temple, Gudimallam, midst a hilly forest about 20 kilometres (12 miles) east of Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh.
Form of Shivling/Lingam:
What does the structure of Shivling mean? What name can be given to its shape? Several theories describe the structure of the Lingam. Every theory has its own logic, reasons and obviously Explanations! But the problem that arises is that there are several, and by several, we mean literally SEVERAL theories but among them, there are three of the most major theories that are to be believed across the nation.
This theory states that “Shivling is a formless structure which shows the formless nature of Lord shiva”. This formless Structure of Lingam shows that Lord Shiva has no form, he can exist in any form in nature irrespective of any bounds. Adding more to it, according to the “Linga Purana” Shivling is a complete symbolic representation of the formless universe bearer. The Round, Oval shaped structure of the lingam denotes the universe and the bottom base represents the supreme power that holds the entire universe in it.
This theory states that the structure of the Shivling depicts the union of Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati. According to Puranas, shiva lingam explains the context of the Origin of the entire universe, nature, the human cycle and everything that’s into existence. This theory proves that Shiva is the root of everything that is in existence in this growing world.
This theory explains that the Lingam is a depiction of all the three supreme Gods- Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh.
The Base of the lingam denotes Brahma, the stand depicts Vishnu and the Pillar on the top depicts Mahesh(Shiva). Hence, this theory shows the existence of all the three supreme powers in a single structure.
Despite all the theories, one thing, one fact that cannot be changed is that Lord Shiva is one of the most praised and worshipped gods in Hinduism. Even after eons, people’s trust over the almighty has remained unaltered. Moreover, On occasions like Mahashivratri, people gather in crowds just to get a glimpse of the Lingam and to thank the almighty for all the deeds he has done for the existence of this universe. Know more about Mahashivratri.