Om. I bow with folded hands to Lord Siva, Who is the lord of the universe (Jagat-Pati), world’s teacher (Jagad-Guru), Who is the destroyer of Tripuras (3 cities – egoism, lust and anger), Who is the Lord of Uma (Uma Sankar), Gauri (Gauri Sankar), Ganga (Ganga Sankar), who is full of light (Jyotirmaya), knowledge and bliss (Chidananda Maya), Who is the Lord of Yogins (Yogeesvara), Who is the storehouse of knowledge and Who is known by the various names as Mahadeva, Sankara, Hara, Sambhu, Sadasiva, Rudra, Soolapani, Bhairava, Uma- Mahesvara, Neelakantha, Trilochana or Tryambaka (the three-eyed), Visvanatha, Chandrasekhara, Ardhanareesvara, Mahesvara, Neelalohita, Parama Siva, Digambara, Dakshinamurti, etc.
How merciful He is! How loving and kind He is! He even wears the skulls of His devotees as a garland around His neck. He is an embodiment of renunciation, mercy, love and wisdom. It is a mistake to say that He is the destroyer. Lord Siva in reality is the regenerator. Whenever one’s physical body becomes unfit for further evolution in this birth either by disease, old age or other causes, He at once removes this rotten physical sheath and gives a new, healthy, vigorous body for further quick evolution. He wants to take all His children to His Lotus Feet quickly. He desires to give them His glorious “Siva-Pada”. It is easier to please Siva than Hari. A little Prem and devotion, a little chanting of His Panchakshra is quite sufficient to infuse delight in Siva.
Hatha Yogins awaken the Kundalini Sakti that is lying dormant in the Muladhara Chakra by Asana, Pranayama, Kumbhaka, Mudra and Bandha, take it above through different Chakras (centres of spiritual energy) Svadhishthna, Manipura, Anahata, Visuddha and Ajna and join it with Lord Siva at the Sahasrara, the thousand-petalled lotus at the crown of the head. They drink the nectar of Immortality (Siva-Jnana-Amritam). This is termed Amrita-srava. When the Sakti is united with Siva, full illumination comes for the Yogi. Lord Siva represents the destructive aspect of Brahman. That portion of Brahman that is enveloped by Tamo-Guna-Pradhana-Maya is Lord Siva who is the all-pervading Isvara and who also dwells in Mount Kailas. He is the Bhandar or store-house for wisdom.
Siva minus Parvati or Kaali or Durga is pure Nirguna Brahman. With Maya (Parvati) He becomes the Saguna Brahman for the purpose of pious devotion of His devotees. Devotees of Rama must worship Lord Siva also. Rama Himself worshiped Lord Siva at the famous Ramesvaram. Lord Siva is the Lord of ascetics and Lord of Yogins robed in space (Digambara).
His Trisul (trident) that is held in His right hand represents the three Gunas-Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. That is the emblem of sovereignty. He wields the world through these three Gunas. The Damaru in His left hand represents the Sabda Brahman. It represents OM from which all languages are formed. It is He who formed the Sanskrit language out of the Damaru sound. The wearing of the crescent moon on His head indicates that He has controlled the mind perfectly. The flow of the Ganga represents the nectar of immortality. Elephant represents symbolically the Vritti, pride. Wearing the skin of the elephant denotes that He has controlled pride. Tiger represents lust. His sitting on the tiger’s skin indicates that he has conquered lust. His holding a deer in one hand indicates that He has removed the Chanchalata (tossing) of the mind. Deer jumps from one place to another swiftly. The mind also jumps from one object to another. His wearing of serpents on the neck denotes wisdom and eternity. Serpents live for a large number of years. He is Trilochana, the three-eyed One, in the centre of whose forehead is the third eye, the eye of wisdom. Nandi, the bull that sits in front of Sivalingam represents Pranava (Omkara). The Lingam represents Advaita. It points out “I am one without a second. Ekam eva Advaiteeyam” just as a man raises his right hand above his head pointing out his right index finger only.
The following are the twelve Jyotirlingas of Lord Siva:
1. Somanath in Gujarat.
2. Mallikarjuna in Srisaila Parvat in Andhra Pradesh.
3. Mahakala in Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh.
4. Oinkaresvar on the banks of Narmada in Amalesvarm.
5. Baijnath near Gaya (Paralya).
6. Naganath in Southern India.
7. Kedarnath in Himalayas, Uttar Pradesh.
8. Tryambak, near the source of the Godavari in the Nasik District, Maharashtra.
9. Ramesvaram, in Ramnad district, Tamil Nadu.
10. Bhima Sankar, near Poona’
11. Visvanath in Benares.
12. Grishnesvar (Gokarna) in Karwar district,
Even if people remember these 12 places both morning and evening, the sins of seven births will be destroyed.
In Southern India, there are five famous Siva Lingas which represent the five elements.
1. In Shiyali, Tanjore district, there is Prithvi Lingam.
2. ln Tiruvana Koil, Trichinopoly district, there is Appu Lingam. The Lingam is always in water. Tiruvana Koil is otherwise known as Jambukesvaram.
3. In Kalahasti, Andhra Pradesh, there is a Vayu Lingam.
4. In Tiruvannamalai, via Villupuram Junction, North Arcot District, there is the Tejolingam (Arunachalesvar).
5. In Chidambaram, there is the Akasa Lingam.
1. Sivaya Nama Om Sivaya Namah; Sivaya Nama Om Namah Sivaya.
2. Siva Sambho Sadasiva, Sambho Sadasiva, Sambho Sadasiva Bhum Bhum Bhum.
3. Hara Hara Siva Siva Sambho, Hara Hara Siva Siva, Hara Hara Sambho, Siva Siva Sambho.
Excerpts from “Practice of Bhakti Yoga” by Swami Sivananda