Shiva Lingam – The Legend of Mahashivaratri – By Maria Stylianaki3 min read

According to Puran, at the beginning of Creation the gods Brahma and Vishnu began to disagree about who is the most prolific. God Brahma said: “I created the five elements (earth, water, fire, air and ether) and all living beings with their endless differences in form and sound. That is why I am the ultimate God! “God Vishnu said:” The entire universe is only a look of mine, what will your Creation use if I do not protect it, it is my thinking power that creates, preserves and destroys the whole Universe and so I am the Absolute God ”
Frightened by the intensity of the disagreement, the rest of the gods asked Shiva to intervene. Then, in order to understand the futility of their struggle, he appeared among them transformed into a huge flaming column (Shiva Lingam). A thundering voice was heard through the flaming lingam that caused them to count the beginning and the end. The one who would manage to count it would be the predominant!
Umbilical in front of the giant size of the flaming column, Brahma and Vishnu decided to find its beginning and end. Brahma took the form of a swan and flew high into the sky looking for its top, while Vishnu took the form of Varaha and went deep into the earth looking for its base. Both searched for thousands of miles on earth and sky, but no one could find the beginning and the end.
Thousands of years passed as Vishnu exploded more and more deeply into the underworld and the journey seemed endless. With all its might he could not discover the base of the column and entered deep meditation where he experienced the Supreme Light that dwells in the heart of all beings. He soon realized and acknowledged that his true power came from the god Shiva. He prayed to him and then returned to earth.
Brahma, who flew as a swan in the sky as he climbed up, was growing so much the column of light in front of him. He was about to return when he saw an aromatic flower called Ketaki that falls to the ground. She asked where she had come from and the flower revealed that it had come from the top of the light column that was none other than the Shiva itself and that it had been falling from its peak for thousands of years. Brahma asked the flower to lie that they both went down after seeing the top and so the flower swore to Vishnu that Brahma had reached the top of the flaming lingam.
At this point, the central part of the flaming column was divided into two, and Shiva revealed gloriously in front of them. Brahma and Vishnu bowed and accepted the sovereignty of Shiva.
The god Shiva, however, was very angry with Vishnu’s false statement and cursed him so that no one would pray anymore to him. (This myth explains why there is hardly any major Brahma temple in India.) The god Shiva also punished the ketaki flower for his false testimony and forbade his use as an offer for any worship.

The legend says that the huge flaming Shiva lingam was transformed into Mount Arunachala in southern India. In addition, it is said that as Shiva disappeared in front of Brahma and Vishnu, he left behind a Shiva lingam at the foot of the mountain, around which was built the Arunachaleswarar Temple.
The day that Shiva first appeared in the form of the flaming Lingam is considered auspicious and is celebrated as Mahashivaratri – the great night of Shiva.


Maria Stylianaki

Leave a Reply