Shiv Ling - Shiv Puran

Shiv Puran gives a very detailed account of the formation of Shiv Ling and the worship of Shiv Ling. The following article explains with evidence from Shiv Puran the details of origin or Shiv Ling and its worship.

  • How did Shiv Ling originate?
  • What is Shiv Ling?
  • How did the worship of Shiv Ling start?
  • What does Shiv Puran say about Shiv Ling and its worship?

Shiv Ling

Origin of Shiv Ling

Shiv Purana - Account of battle between Brahma and Vishnu

Once Brahma and Vishnu had a war of words about who is supreme amongst them which soon turned into a battle. Equipped with mighty weapons, Brahma and Vishnu started attacking each other. As the war escalated and turned apocalyptical, an endless luminous pillar appeared between them and sucked their weapons. Both Brahma and Vishnu were astonished to witness a sudden appearance of a radiant pillar between them which was beyond their comprehension.

Shiv Ling Shiv Puran

Henceforth Brahma went upwards and Vishnu went downwards to explore the extent of the pillar. None of them could find the beginning and end of the pillar and thus they returned. Brahma however, lied that he had seen the top end of the pillar. At that point in time God Sadashiv (Kaal or Brahm) appeared and punished Brahma by cutting his 5th head.

As both Brahma and Vishnu stood in reverence with folded hands, God Sadashiv narrated the glory of the cosmic radiant pillar stood between them. This pillar was called the Shiv Ling. From that point on Lord Sadashiv asked Brahma and Vishnu to worship the Shiv Ling. This is how the worship of the Shiv Ling started.

Shiv Puran Vidhweshwar Samhita gives a detalied account of this event which is given below. Futher in Shiv Puran God Sadashiv explained what exactly Shiv Ling was. That knowledge can be read in a section further below.

Shiv Puran, Vidhweshwar Samhita Page 11

Shiv Puran Vidhveshvar Samhita Page 11

Shiv Puran Vidhveshwar Samhita

Shiv Puran, Vidhweshwar Samhita, Adhyay 6 onwards


(The journey to Kailasa of the Deuas terrified by the use of the Pasupata weapon in the fight between Brahma and Vishnu who vied with each other maintaining that each of them is the Lord himself)

Nandikeshwara said:-

1. Once, long ago, O foremost among Yogis, Vishnu was having his nap on his serpent-couch. He was surrounded by the goddess of fortune and his attendants.

2. Brahma, the foremost among the Vedic scholars chanced to come there. He asked the lotus-eyed handsome Vishnu who was lying there.

3. Who are you lying here like a haughty person even after seeing me? Get up, O dear, and see me who am your lord. I have come here.

4. Expiatory rites are ordained for that spiteful wretch who behaves like a haughty fool at the visit of an honourable elderly person.

5. On hearing these words VIshnu was angry. But assuming a calm exterior he said-"O dear, Hail thee. Welcome. Please sit on this couch. How is it that your face is agitated and your eyes look curious?

Brahma said:-

6. Dear Vishnu, know me to have come with the speed of the Time. I am to be honoured greatly. O dear one, I am the protector of the world, Grandfather, your protector as well.

Vishnu said:-

 7. O dear one, the whole universe is situated within me but your way of thinking is like that of a thief. You are born of the lotus sprung from my navel-region. You are my son. Your words are futile therefore.

Nandikeshvara said:-

 8-9. Arguing with each other like this, saying that each is better than the other and claiming to be the lord, they got ready to fight, like two foolish goats, desirous of killing each other.

10. The two heroic deities, seated on their respective vehicles-the Swan and the Garuda, fought together. The attendants of Brahma and Vishnu also came into clash.

11. In the meantime the different groups of Devas moving about in aerial chariots came there to witness the wonderful fight.

12-18. Witnessing from the heaven they scattered flowers everywhere. The Garuda-vehicled deity (Vishnu) became infuriated and discharged unbearable arrows and many kinds of weapons on the chest of Brahma. The infuriated Brahma also hurled many arrows of fiery fury and different kinds of weapons on Vishnu. The Devas commented on this wondrous fight and were agitated much, Vishnu in his great fury and mental agitation breathed hard and discharged the Mahesvara weapon over Brahma. Annoyed at this, Brahma aimed the terrible Pasupata weapon at the chest of Vishnu. The weapon rising high in the sky blazing like ten thousand suns, with thousands of terrible pointed spikes roared awfully like a gust of wind. These two weapons of Brahma and Vishnu thus faced each other in a terrible clash



(Shiva manifesting himself as a column of fire in the battlefield)

10-11. The flames emitted by the two weapons of Brahma and Vishnu burned the three worlds. On seeing this imminent untimely dissolution the bodiless form of Shiva assumed the terrific form of a huge column of fire in their midst.

12. The two weapons of fiery flame potential enough to destroy the entire world fell into the huge column of fire that manifested itself there instantaneously.

13. Seeing that auspicious wonderful phenomenon assuaging the weapons they asked each other "What is this wonderful form ?"

 14. "What is this column of fire that has risen up ? It is beyond the range of senses. We have to find out its top and bottom."


26. (Returning to the original place) on seeing Vishnu  there, utterly exhausted and lacking pleasure, Brahma danced with joy. Vishnu, in the manner of a eunuch admitting his inability (to a woman ), told him the truth (that he could not see the bottom). But Brahma told Vishnu like this.

27-28. "O Hari, the top of this column has been seen by me. This Ketaki flower is my witness." The Ketaka flower repeated the falsehood endorsing the words of Brahma in his presence. Hari, taking it to be true, made obeisance to Brahma. He worshipped Brahma with all the sixteen means of service and homage.

29. The Lord taking up a visible form in order to chastise Brahma who practised trickery, came out of the column of fire. On seeing the lord, Vishnu stood up and with his hands shaking with fear caught hold of the lord's feet.



(Shiva's forgiveness of Brahma)

Nandikeshvara said:-

1. Mahadeva then created a wonderful person, Bhairava, from the middle of his brows to quell the pride of Brahma.

2. This Bhairava knelt before the lord in the battle-field and said-"O lord, what shall I do ? Please give me your directives quickly. "

3. "Dear, here is Brahma, the first deity of the universe. Worship him with your sharp-pointed quick-moving sword."

4. With one of his hands he caught hold of the tuft of Brahma's fifth head that was guilty of haughtily uttering a falsehood, and with the hands he furiously shook his sword in order to cut it off.


What is Shiv Ling

Shiv Ling

In Shiv Puran, God Sadashiv explains to both Brahma and Shiv that the whole structure of Shiv Ling represents the phallus adjoined to the pudenda (female genitalia, vagina).

Shiv Puran - Vidhweshwar Samhita, Adhyay 9, Page 18, Verses 41 - 43

Khemdas Shri Krishan Das Publication

Shiv Puran

There is same account given in Shiv Puran from Gita Press Gorakhpur. See below.

Shiv Puran Vidhweshwar Samhita

Shiv Puran, Vidhweshwar Samhita, Adhyay 11, Page 21, Shlok 22-23

Khemdas Shri Krishan Das Publication

Shiv Puran Vidhweshwar Samhita

Shiv Puran, Vidhweshwar Samhita, Chapter 11, Verse 22-23 - English

22. With a love for the happiness of different beings Shiva Puja shall be performed-so say the wise men. The pedestal represents Shiva's consort-Parvati and his phallic emblem represents the sentient being.

23. Just as lord Shiva remains ever in close embrace of the Goddess Parvati, so also the phallic emblem holds on to the pedestal, for ever.

God Sadashiv then explains in detail in Shiv Puran how the Shiv Ling should be worshipped. Kaal basically with an aim to mislead people started this practice which is opposite to scriptures i.e. Vedas and Bhagavad Gita. Therefore it is a cause of decline and should be shunned.