As I Know: The Lord of the Mountains — Shiv Purana: 08
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Significance of worship of lingam – an image of lord Shiva…even one can worship Shiva in phallic or embodied form…once Brahma visits Vishnu, who does not get up to greet. So, Brahma is angry and it causes battle between the two…a fiery pillar stupefies both and so to know the origin of a fiery pillar, an image of lord Shiva, a search begins where finally, Vishnu wins
Suta tells that a man, a devotee who is unable to listen to the glory of lord or sing hymns in praise and fails to deliberate deeply, should establish lingam – an image of lord Shiva and begin to pray and worship the image, and he would soon traverse the entanglements of worldly attachments. A devotee should offer wealth earned honestly to the phallic image of Shiva, worship the image regularly, and fulfill conditions of performance of rituals. When monk Suta tells about the rituals, he wants that the devotee should strictly adhere to the directions of guru in making exhaustive preparation before beginning of the prayer or worship for the attainment of right results. Worship of phallic image even without listening brings good reward.
A devotee is free to worship Shiva in the image and lingam, the phallic (akala – a single limb) and the embodied form (sakala – full form) of Shiva and the prayer lavishes enjoyment of life and ultimate deliverance. Because of this reason, he is Brahma – the great parmatma and so people worship the lord in that image and in true form – the nirakara or sakara.
It is tale of years ago when Vishnu takes rest even as goddess and attendants encircle the lord and at that time, Brahma arrives and asks who he is. When he does not get up to greet, Brahma is angry but Vishnu is calm, requests Brahma to take seat and asks reasons of his annoyance. Brahma asks Vishnu to give respect, as he is the guardian, the protector and the origin of the entire universe, and is his father. Arguments take ugly turn and later, it leads to a great fight while the gods of heavens witness the great clash. It leads to the release of Maheshwara and Pasupata weapons, which Vishnu and Brahma possess and thus, the battle assumes deadly scenario. Gods foresee unfortunate consequences so they go to Kailasa Mountain to pray before Shiva also and observe, learn and narrate the entire scenario how devotees and the Vedas shower prolific eulogies on the great lord.
However, the lord tells gods that their worries are futile and later, expresses the desire to visit the battlefield and so, along with consort Ambika, Indra and gods, ganas and a huge army he begins the journey amidst play of musical instruments. It looks a grand journey of the great lord with goddess, gods of heavens, ganas and the whole army to the battle scene and the moment he notices the battlefield he disappears even while the two lords watch the outcome of clashing weapons – Meheshwara and Pasupata, which emit terrific fire ready to burn the universe. Now, formless Shiva transforms himself into a massive pillar of fire.
Fiery flames of divine weapons fall into the enormous blazing pillar, and it astonishes Brahma and Vishnu vastly and therefore, they ask each other about the strange phenomenon and so jointly want to know its limits. Vishnu and Brahma assume the form of Boar and Swan and consequently, Boar goes down to find the roots of pillar and Swan flies above to find its top. Brahma notices a bunch of flowers – Ketaki falling down, which continues the journey. Its fragrance and sparkle stay for years and it wants to bless the lords. Brahma asks about its journey downward and tells that he wishes to find out the top and so this form of swan. Ketaki tells that he even failed to reach the middle of the primeval column after journey of many ages but never reached the top. Brahma bows before Ketaki and requests repeatedly Ketaki to tell Vishnu that I (Brahma) had seen the top of mysterious column.
Vishnu is tired when he returns and tells the truth to Brahma about the failure. However, Brahma tells he has seen the top and Ketaki is the witness and so, Vishnu pays obeisance and worships Brahma. Shiva is angry at the untruthful act of Brahma, and so he comes out of column to reprimand Brahma. At his moment, Vishnu falls at his feet with fear. Delusion and ignorance work and so the two lords fail to understand the great lord’s delusory power and divine exercise. Shiva, the great lord is happy with Shri Hari and thus, Vishnu wins the heart of great lord as he adheres to truth and therefore, the lord confers on Vishnu a great honour and makes Vishnu equal to him with separate temples etc. while the gods of heavens witness the grand blessing.
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