Chapter II

Hindu evidence respecting the origin of Phallic worship—Legend of the wounded Hara—The four sects of worshippers instituted by Brahma—Resumption of the Lingam by Siva—Siva and Parvati propitiated—Visit of Bhrigu to Siva—The Lainga Puran on the origin of Lingam worship—Abolition of worship of Brahma—Moral character of Hindu worship—Profligate sects—Egyptian Phallus—Bacchus—Testimony of Tertullian and Clement of Alexandria—Dionysus—Directions for worship—Unsatisfactory legends—Legend of Bhima—The fourth avatar of Vishnu—Visit of Captain Mackenzie to the Pagoda at Perwuttum.

So far as Hindu mythology is concerned, we find ample and interesting evidence respecting the origin of Phallic worship in the East, in the form of the adoration of the lingam. Thus in the Vamana Purana we are enlightened as follows:—“Then Hara, wounded by the arrows of Kama, wandered into a deep forest, named Daruvanam, where holy sages and their wives resided. The sages on beholding Shiva, saluted him with bended heads, and he, wearied, said to them,—‘Give me alms.’ Thus he went begging round the different hermitages; and, wherever he came, the minds of the sages’ wives, on seeing him, became disturbed and agitated with the pain of love, and all commenced to follow him. But when the sages saw their holy dwellings thus deserted, they exclaimed,—‘May the lingam of this man fall to the ground!’ That instant the lingam of Shiva fell to the ground; and the god immediately disappeared. The lingam, then, as it fell, penetrated through the lower worlds, and increased in height until its top towered above the heavens; the earth quaked, and all things movable and immovable were agitated. On perceiving which Brahma hastened to the sea of milk, and said to Vishnu,—‘Say, why does the universe thus tremble?’ Hara replied,—‘On account of the falling of Shiva’s lingam, in consequence of the curse of the holy and divine sages.’ On hearing of this most wonderful event, Brahma said,—‘Let us go and behold this lingam.’ The two gods then repaired to Daruvanam; and on beholding it without beginning or end, Vishnu mounted the king of birds and descended into the lower regions in order to ascertain its base; and for the purpose of discovering its top, Brahma in a lotos car ascended the heavens: but they returned from their search wearied and disappointed, and together approaching the lingam, with due reverence and praises, entreated Shiva to resume his lingam. Thus propitiated, that god appeared in his own form and said,—‘If gods and men will worship my lingam, I will resume it; but not otherwise. (In the Nagar Khand of the Skanda Puran, it is said that Shiva, afflicted for the loss of Sati, thus replied:—‘O gods! it was in consequence of the grief which I suffer in being separated from Sati that I cast away this lingam, apparently fallen through the curse of the sages; but, had I not willed it, who is there in the three worlds that could have deprived me of it? why then should I resume it?’)

“To this proposal Vishnu, Brahma, and the gods assented; and Brahma divided its worshippers into four sects, the principal one of those, that which simply worships Shiva under the symbol of the lingam; the second, that of Pashupati; the third, of Mahakala; and the fourth, the Kapali; and revealed from his own mouth the ordinances by which this worship was to be regulated. Brahma and the gods then departed, and Shiva, having resumed the lingam, was also leaving the spot, when he beheld Kama at a distance; and, incensed with anger on remembering the pains which he had endured, looked at him with his world-consuming eye and reduced him to ashes.” Chapter 6.

“The resumption of the lingam by Shiva,” remarks Vans Kennedy in his researches into Hindu Mythology, “is related differently in the Shiva Puran, which account explains the reason of the particular form, under which that symbol is represented.”

The Shiva Puran account says:—‘On falling in consequence of the sages’ curse, the lingam became like fire, and caused a conflagration wherever it penetrated; the three worlds were distressed, and as neither gods nor sages could find rest, they hastened for protection to Brahma. Having heard them relate all that had happened, Brahma replied:—‘After having committed knowingly a reprehensible act, why say that it was done unknowingly? For who that is adverse to Shiva shall enjoy happiness, and yet when he came as a guest at noon-day you received him not with due honours. But every one shall reap the fruit of his good or bad actions, and the lingam therefore shall not cease to distress the three worlds until it is resumed by that god. Do ye, therefore, adopt such means as you think best for restoring tranquility to the universe.’ The gods said,—‘But, O Lord! what means ought we to adopt?’ Brahma replied,—‘Propitiate by adoration the mountain-born goddess, and she will then assume the form of the yoni and receive this lingam, by which means alone it can be rendered innocuous. Should you thus obtain her favourable assistance, then form a vessel of the eight kinds of leaves, place in it boiled rice and sacred plants; and having filled it with holy water, consecrate the whole with the proper prayers and invocations, and with this water, repeating at the same time suitable prayers, sprinkle the lingam. After, also, Parvati shall have under the form of the yoni received the lingam, do you erect and consecrate the form of a lingam in the yoni; and, by worshipping it with offerings of flowers, perfumes, and such things, by kindling lamps before it, and by singing and music, propitiate Maheshwara, and thus will the forgiveness and favour of that god be undoubtedly obtained.’ Having heard these words, the gods and sages hastened to implore the protection of Shiva and the assistance of Parvati, as directed by Brahma; and these deities having been propitiated, Parvati, under the form of the yoni, received the lingam and thus appeased its consuming fire; and in commemoration of this event was instituted the worship of the lingam.”

The Padma Puran ascribes the origin of the particular form under which this symbol is represented, to the effects of a curse imprecated on Shiva by Bhrigu. It is there said that, when, Bhrigu was sent to ascertain the preeminence of the three gods, on arriving at Kailasa he thus addressed Shiva’s door-keeper:—“Quickly inform Shankara that I, the Brahman Bhrigu, am come to see him.” But the door-keeper said,—‘Stop, stop, if thou wishest to preserve thy life; for my lord cannot be approached at present, as he is engaged in amorous dalliance with Devi.’ The divine sage being thus denied access, waited some time at the gate of Shiva’s abode, and at length incensed with anger imprecated this curse:—‘Since thou, O Shankara! hast thus treated me with contempt, in consequence of thy preferring the embraces of Parvati, your forms shall on that account become the lingam in the yoni.’ It is generally understood that it was in consequence of this curse, that Shiva was deprived of his lingam in the Daruvanan, and that Parvati assumed the form of the yoni in order to receive and render it innocuous.

The Lainga Puran relates the origin of the worship of the linga, differently.

Brahma, addressing the angels.—‘When I sprang into existence, I beheld the mighty Narayana reposing on the abyss of waters; and, being under the influence of delusion, awakened him with my hand and thus addressed him,—‘Who art thou that thus slumberest on this terrible ocean?’ Hari awoke, and dispelling sleep from his lotos eyes, looked upon me, and then arising said,—‘Welcome, welcome, O Pitamaha! my dear son!’ On hearing the first of gods smiling thus speak, I, confined within the bonds of the quality of impurity, replied,—‘Why dost thou say my dear son? for know me to be the eternal god, the universal spirit, the creator, preserver, and destroyer of the three worlds.’ But he immediately answered,—‘Hear the truth, O four-faced! and learn that it is I who am the creator, the preserver, and the destroyer, how canst thou thus forget Nayarana the self existent and eternal Brahm? but thou committest no fault, for thy error proceeds from the delusion of Maya.’ Hence arose between us a terrible combat amidst the waters of the deluge, when, to appease the contest and recall us to our senses, appeared a lingam blazing like a thousand suns. Bewildered by its radiant beams, Hari thus said to me, lost in amazement,—‘I will proceed downwards in order to ascertain the termination of this wondrous column of fire, do thou, O Lord! proceed upwards and seek for its top.’ Having thus spoken, he assumed the form of a boar, and I that of a swan, and we both prosecuted our search for four thousand years but being unable to ascertain its terminations, we then returned back wearied and disappointed. Thus still under the influence of delusion, we prostrated ourselves before the lingam, and were reflecting on what it could be, when we heard a voice, saying, om, om, om,—and shortly after appeared Shiva in the midst of that column of fire.” In commemoration of this event, therefore, was the worship of the lingam instituted.

The Skande Puran relates that the abolition of the worship of Brahma is at the present day generally attributed to the inevitable consequences resulting from the curse of Shiva.

“The lingam of Shiva, having in Daruvanam fallen on the ground in consequence of the curse of the holy sages, instantly increased in size, until its base went far beyond the lowest profound, and its head towered above the heavens; and Brahma, Vishnu, Indra, and all the gods, having hastened to behold this wonder, thus spoke to one another:—‘What can be its length and breath? Where can be situated its top and base?’ Having thus considered, the gods said,—‘O Vishnu! do thou ascertain the base of this lingam, and O Lotos-born, do thou discover its head, and let this be the place where you shall return to relate what you may have seen.’ Having heard these words, Vishnu proceeded to Tartarus, and Brahma to heaven; but high as he ascended, Pitamaha could not perceive the head of that lingam, and he was therefore returning and had arrived at the top of Meru, when Surabhi, as he reclined under the shade of a ketaki tree, saw him and thus spoke,—‘Where hast thou gone, O Brahma! whence dost thou return? Say, can I do anything for you?’ Brahma smiling, replied,—‘I have been sent by the gods to discover the head of this wonderful lingam which fills the three worlds, but I have not been able to reach it. What, therefore, shall I say to them when I return; for, if I falsely assert that I have seen its top, they will require witnesses to attest the truth of it? Do thou, then, with this ketaki, give testimony to what I shall declare.’ Surabhi and the ketaki tree consented to act as Brahma desired; and he, having made this agreement, proceeded to where the angels had remained, and thus addressed them:—‘O gods! I have seen the top of this lingam, which is spacious, pure, delightful, adorned with the leaves of the ketaki, and wonderful to behold, but without my assistance no one can see it.’ On hearing these words the immortals were astonished, and Vishnu said,—‘This is most surprising; for I have penetrated through all the lower worlds, and have not been able to discover its base; but most assuredly this lingam form of Mahadeva has neither beginning, nor middle, nor end; for it was through his divine will that you, O gods and holy sages! were produced, and also this universe with all that it contains, movable and immovable; and in this lingam of the lord is centred creation, preservation, and destruction.’ Brahma then said,—‘O Vishnu! why art thou surprised that I have seen the top, because thou hast not been able to reach the base of this lingam; but what proof dost thou require to convince thee that I have seen it?’ Vishnu, smiling, replied,—‘Explain, O Brahma! how thou could’st have seen the head in heaven, while I could not discover the base in Tartarus; but if this be really the case, who are the witnesses to your having seen it?’ Brahma quickly replied,—‘The ketaki and Surabhi; these, O ye gods! will attest that I speak the truth.’ The immortals then immediately sent for them; and when they arrived, Surabhi and the ketaki declared that Brahma had actually seen the top of the lingam. At this instant a voice was heard from heaven, saying,—‘Know, O Suras! that Surabhi and the ketaki have spoken falsely, for Brahma has not seen its top.’ The immortals then imprecated this curse on Surabhi,—‘Since thou hast with thy mouth uttered a falsehood, may thy mouth be henceforth deemed impure!’ and on the ketaki,—‘Though thou smellest sweetly, mayest thou be considered unworthy to be offered to Shiva!’ After the gods had ceased speaking, the voice from heaven thus cursed Brahma:—‘Since thou hast childishly and with weak understanding asserted a falsehood, let no one henceforth perform worship to thee.’”

Lieutenant Colonel Vans Kennedy remarks that these are the only accounts of the origin of this worship which occur in the Puranas, but Mr. Ward in his “Account of the Writings, Religion, &c., of the Hindus,” says:—“There are several stories in the Puranas respecting the origin of the lingam worship, three of which I had translated, and actually inserted in this work, leaving out as much as possible of their offensive parts; but in correcting the proofs, they appeared too gross, even when refined as much as possible, to meet the public eye.” Lieutenant Kennedy alluding to this, says:—“Mr. Ward takes every opportunity of objecting indecency and obscenity to the Hindu mythology; but, after a most attentive examination of the subject, I have not been able to discover, unless calling a spade a spade be considered a sufficient ground, the slightest foundation for such an objection in either the Purans, Upa-Purans, Ramayanum, or Mahabharat; and with regard to other Sanscrit works, I agree entirely in the justness of the opinion expressed by Mr. Wilson in a note to his translation of the Magha Duta. He says:—‘I have, indeed, in this place concentrated, and in part omitted, two verses of the original, as offensive to our notions of the decorum of composition. I cannot admit, however, that Hindu literature, speaking generally, is more liable to the reproach of indecency than that of Europe: nothing can be found in their serious works half so licentious as many passages in the writings of Ovid, Catullus, Propertius, and even the elegant Flaccus. To descend to modern times, Ariosto and Boccaccio amongst the Italians, Brantome, Crebillon, Voltaire, La Fontaine, and the writers of many recent philosophical novels amongst the French, furnish us with more than parallels for the most indelicate of the Hindu writers. With respect to ourselves, not to go back to the days in which “obscenity was wit,” we have little reason to reproach the Hindus with want of delicacy, when we find the exceptionable, though elegant, poetry of Little generally circulated and avowedly admired. We should also recollect the circumstances of Indian society, before we condemn their authors for the ungarbled expressions which we conceive to trespass upon the boundaries of decorum. These authors write to men only, they never think of a woman as a reader.'

Moor in his “Hindu Pantheon,” bears general testimony to the perfectly decent character of Hindu worship, on the whole, whatever may take place in exceptional cases. Speaking of the sect of naked gymnosophists, called Lingis, and the Sactas, he says:—“In this last mentioned sect, as in most others, there is a right-handed and decent path, and a left-handed and indecent mode of worship; but the indecent worship of this sect is most grossly so, and consists of unbridled debauchery with wine and women. This profligate sect is supposed to be numerous, though unavowed. In most parts of India, if not in all, they are held in deserved detestation; and even the decent Sactas do not make public profession of their tenets, nor wear on their foreheads the marks of their sect, lest they should be suspected of belonging to the other branch of it…. It is some comparative and negative praise to the Hindus, that the emblems under which they exhibit the elements and operations of nature, are not externally indecorous. Unlike the abominable realities of Egypt and Greece, we see the phallic emblem in the Hindu Pantheon without offence; and know not, until the information be extorted, that we are contemplating a symbol whose prototype is indecent. The plates of my book may be turned and examined, over and over again, and the uninformed observer will not be aware that in several of them he has viewed the typical representation of the generative organs or powers of humanity.” “From the very nature, also, of this symbol,” says Kennedy, “it will be evident that it was never intended to be carried in the processions consecrated to Shiva,” and Abraham Roger, two hundred years ago, has in consequence correctly stated,—“Mais quand on fait la procession par les villes avec l’idole Eswara, ce qui arrive en certains temps, on ne la porte pas sous la figure de lingam, mais sous la figure d’homme: la raison est, comme le Brahmine témoignoit, pour ce que les hommes ont plus de plasir et de contentement en la veuë d’une figure humaine que dans la veuë du lingam, en laquelle figure il est dans son pagode.”1)

Both Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus, as noticed by Gyraldus, though speaking of the phallus, fail to explain its precise nature and form. Mr. Payne Knight in his “Symbolical Language of Ancient Art and Mythology,” says:—“In Egypt and all over Asia, the mystic and symbolical worship appears to have been of immemorial antiquity. The women of the former country carried images of Osiris in their sacred processions, with a movable phallus of disproportionate magnitude, the reason for which Herodotus does not think proper to relate, because it belonged to the mystic religion. Diodorus Siculus, however, who lived in a more communicative age, informs us that it signified the generative attribute; and Plutarch, that the Egyptian statues of Osiris had the phallus to signify his procreative and prolific power, the extension of which through the three elements of air, earth and water, they expressed by another kind of statue, which was occasionally carried in procession, having a triple symbol of the same attribute. The Greeks usually represented the phallus alone, as a distinct symbol, the meaning of which seems to have been among the last discoveries revealed to the initiated. It was the same, in emblematical writing, as the Orphic epithet, Pan-genetor, universal generator, in which sense it is still employed by the Hindus.” Herodotus, in allusion to the above, says:—“To Bacchus, on the eve of his feast, every Egyptian sacrifices a hog before the door of his house, which is then given back to the swineherd by whom it was furnished, and by him carried away. In other respects the festival is celebrated almost exactly as Bacchic festivals are in Greece, excepting that the Egyptians have no choral dances. They also use, instead of phalli, another invention, consisting of images a cubit high, pulled by strings, which the women carry round to the villages. A piper goes in front; and the women follow, singing hymns in honour of Bacchus. They give a religious reason for the peculiarities of the image.” Payne Knight supports his statement relative to the discovery of the meaning of the symbol by a quotation from Tertullian: Concerning the Valentinians (a sect of Ophites or of Gnostics) “After many sighings of the seers, the entire sealing of the tongue (from divulging it) an image of the virile organ is revealed.” This opinion, however, has been pronounced by others as extremely questionable; “but were it admitted,” says Colonel Kennedy, “it seems indisputable that the phallus was always formed in such a manner as to leave no doubt with respect to the object which it represented, and that in religious processions it was always attached to a human figure. It hence appears evident that the phallus bore no similarity to the lingam, and that, though the causes which may originally have produced the worship of these objects may have been the same in Egypt and India, still the symbols adopted for their representation, and the adoration paid to them by the Egyptians and the Hindus, differed most materially.”

Clement of Alexandria was most severe in his condemnation of the abominations connected with certain festivals in which the phallus occupied a conspicuous position, but as the lingam is never carried in procession, and its worship is not celebrated by bacchanalian rites, his castigation could have had no reference, or at any rate, was not applicable to the Hindus. “Extinguish the fire, O hierophant!” he said, “be ashamed of thy own torches, O torch-bearer! the light betrays thy Jacchus: permit, if thou wish them to be reverenced, thy mysteries to be concealed by night, and thy orgies to be covered with darkness; fire does not dissimulate, but exposes and punishes all that is subjected to its power. These, therefore, are the mysteries of atheistical men; atheists I call them justly, because ignorant of the true God, they unblushingly worship an infant who was torn in pieces by the Titans, and a lamenting woman, and those parts of the body which modesty forbids us to name.”

“The games and phalli consecrated to Bacchus, not only corrupt manners, but are considered shameful and disgraceful by all the world.”

Clement then speaks of a certain event, in commemoration of which, “was this mystery instituted, and phalli erected in every city in honour of Dionusos; so that Heraclitus even says that misfortune would ensue, if processions were not made, and hymns sung, and pudenda shamelessly worshipped, in honour of Dionusos. This then is the Hades and the Dionusos, in whose honour men become agitated with bacchanalian madness and fury; not so much, in my opinion, an account of natural inebriation, as in consequence of the reprehensible ceremonies which were first instituted in commemoration of that abominable turpitude.”

The event just referred to is this:—Dionysus was particularly anxious to descend to Hades, but was ignorant of the way; a certain man named Prosymnus offered to shew him the same, provided he would grant him a specified reward. “The reward,” says Clement, “was a disgraceful one, though not so in the opinion of Dionysus: it was an Aphrodisian favour that was asked. The god was not reluctant to grant the request made to him, and promised to fulfil it should he return, conforming his promise with an oath. Having learned the way, he departed and again returned: he did not find Prosymnus for he had died. In order to acquit himself of his promise to his lover, he rushed to his tomb, burning with unnatural lust. Cutting a fig-branch that came to his hand, he shaped the likeness of the membrum virile, and sat over it; thus performing his promise to the dead man. As a mystic memorial of this incident, phalloi are raised aloft in honour of Dionysus through the various cities.”

The character of Lingam worship may be gathered from the ritual prescribed in the Lainga Puran, which we find to be as follows: “Having bathed in the prescribed manner, enter the place of worship; and having performed three suppressions of the breath, meditate on that god who has three eyes, five heads, ten arms, and is of the colour of pure crystal, arrayed in costly garments, and adorned with all kinds of ornaments: and having thus fixed in thy mind the real form of Maheshwara, proceed to worship him with the proper prayers and hymns. First, sprinkle the place and utensils of worship with a bunch of darbha dipped in perfumed water, repeating at the same time the sacred word Om, and arrange all the utensils and other things required in the prescribed order; then in due manner and repeating the proper invocations, prayers and hymns, preceded by the sacred word Om, prepare thy offerings. For the padiam (water for the ablution of the feet), these should consist of ushiram (the root of the Andropogon muricatus), sandal, and sweet-smelling woods: for the achamanam (water for rinsing the mouth), of mace, camphor, bdellium, and agallochum, ground together; and for the arghya (a particular kind of oblation, which, consisted of different articles in the worship of different deities), of the tops of Kusha grass, prepared grains of rice, barley, sesamum, clarified butter, pieces of money, ashes and flowers. At the same time, also, must be worshipped Nandi (the principal attendant of Shiva, and supposed to be a portion of that god, who granted a son as a boon to a holy ascetic named Shilada, and also consented that he would be born as that son), and his wife, the daughter of Marut. Having then, with due rites, prepared a seat, invoke with the prescribed prayers the presence of Parameshwara, and present to him the padiam, achamanam and arghya. Next bathe the lingam with perfumed water, the five products of the cow, clarified butter, honey, the juice of the sugar-cane, and lastly pour over it a pot of pure water, consecrated by the requisite prayers. Having thus purified it, adorn it with clean garments and a sacrificial string, and then offer flowers, perfumes, frankincense, lamps, fruit, and different kinds of prepared eatables, and ornaments. Thus worship the lingam with the prescribed offerings, invocations, prayers and honours, and by circumambulating it, and by prostrating thyself before Shiva, represented under this symbol.”

Colonel Vans Kennedy says that at the present day the whole of this ritual is not observed, nor is this worship performed in that costly manner which is recommended in the Purans. But the worship of all the deities consists of sixteen essential requisites:—1, Asanam, the preparing a seat for the god; 2, Asahanam, the invoking his presence; 3, padiam; 4, achamanam; 5, Arghya; 6, bathing the image; 7, clothing it; 8, investing it with a sacrificial string: offerings of; 9, perfumes; 10, flowers; 11, incense; 12, lamps; 13, naivedya, i.e. offerings consisting of fruits and prepared eatables; 14, betel leaf; 15, prayers, &c.; 16, circumambulation. The more of these acts that are performed the more complete is the worship; but at present it in general consists of nothing more than presenting some of the prescribed offerings, and muttering a short prayer or two while the lingam is circumambulated: the rest of the acts being performed by the officiating priest.

This worship, it seems, need not be performed at a temple, any properly purified place will do; it is most efficacious when performed on the bank of some holy river, before a lingam formed of clay, which, on the termination of the worship, is thrown into the sacred stream.

Colonel Kennedy says:—“The legends respecting the origin of the worship of the lingam, cannot satisfy the philosophical enquirer; and the real cause, therefore, which produced the adoration of so singular an object might appear to be a curious subject of speculation. But, though in the Purans there are copious descriptions of the high importance of this worship, and of the spiritual advantages to be derived from it, still these works contain not the slightest indication from which any just conclusion could be formed, with respect to either the period when it was first introduced, or the motives which may have occasioned the substitution of this symbol for the image of Shiva. Yet it seems probable that this change had not been effected at the time when the Vedas were composed, and that the earliest record of this worship which has been preserved is contained in the Purans. But, as in those sacred books there is not the least appearance of its being either mystical or symbolical, it must be evident that if it originated in such causes they have long ceased to exist; and consequently that the speculations on this subject, in which the literati of Europe have indulged, are totally incompatible with the simple principles, as far as they are known, on which this worship is founded. For, in fact, both in the Purans and by the Hindus of the present day, the lingam is held to be merely a visible type of an invisible deity; and nothing whatever belongs to its worship, or to the terms in which this is mentioned, which has the slightest tendency to lead the thoughts, from the contemplation of the god, to an undue consideration of the object by which he is typified. But it is impossible to understand by what process of reasoning the founders of the Hindu religion were induced to place Shiva among the divine hypostases; for they supposed, at the same time, that dissolution and death proceeded from the fixed laws of nature, and that his power was not called into exertion until after the termination of twelve millions of years. During the whole, therefore, of this inconceivable period, what functions could be ascribed to this god consistent with his character of destroyer? This difficulty, however, seems to have been very soon obviated by investing him with the attributes of the Supreme Being, and even in the Purans it is under this character that he is generally represented. As, therefore, the attributes which are, according to the Hindus, peculiar to the one god are immovability and inaction, Shiva is described as being principally engaged in devout meditation, and as exerting his divine power through the means either of Devi (or his energy personified) or of certain forms which he creates for the occasion, such as Bhairava and Virabhadra. In Hindu mythology, consequently, there are only three legends, the destruction of the Tripura Asuras, and of the Asuras Audhaka, and Jalandhara, in which Shiva appears as the actor, unconnected with any reference to the worship of the lingam. But on the introduction of this worship, not a lingam seems to have been erected without its foundation having been ascribed to some miraculous appearance of Shiva; and hence have originated a multiplicity of legends in the highest degree puerile, and everyone erring against the just principle,—

Nec deus intersit, nisi dignus vindice nodus

For in the Shiva Puran, Suta thus speaks: “Innumerable are the lingams which are adorned, as the type of Shiva, in heaven, earth, and Tartarus; but where some of these are erected, there Shiva for the good of the three worlds appeared, and consequently whoever visits and worships them, acquires more complete remission of sins and a greater degree of holiness. Even of these, however, the number is unascertainable, but the twelve Jyolisha lingams are considered the most sacred; there are, of course, many others, the worship of which insures the remission of sins and final blessedness.”

Legend from the Shiva Puran.

A Rakshasa, named Bhima, the son of Kumbakarna, having obtained invincible might as a boon from Brahma, commenced exerting his newly acquired power by attacking the king of Kamarupa. Him he conquered, and having seized his riches and kingdom, he placed him in chains in a solitary prison. This king was eminently pious, and, notwithstanding his confinement, continued daily to make clay lingams, and to worship Shiva with all the prescribed rites and ceremonies. Meanwhile the Rakshasa continued his conquests, and everywhere abolished the religious observances and worship enjoined by the Vedas; and the immortals also, were reduced by his power to great distress. At length the gods hastened to implore the protection of Shiva, and to obtain his favour by the worship of clay lingams; and Shambu, being thus propitiated, assured them that he would effect the destruction of the Rakshasa through the medium of the king of Kamarupa, who was his devoted worshipper. At this time the king was engaged in profound meditation before a lingam, when one of the guards went and informed the Rakshasa that the king was performing some improper ceremonies in order to injure him. On hearing this, the Rakshasa, enraged, seized his sword and hastened to the king, whom he thus addressed:—“Speak the truth, and tell me who it is that thou worshippest, and I will not slay thee, but otherwise I will instantly put thee to death.” The king having considered, placed his firm reliance in the protection of Shiva, and replied undauntedly,—“In truth, I worship Shankara: do thou what thou pleasest.” The Rakshasa said,—“What can Shankara do to me? for I know him well, and that he once was obliged to become the servant of my uncle (Ravana); and thou, trusting in his power, did’st endeavour to conquer me, but defeat was the consequence. Until, however, thou showest me thy lord, and convincest me of his might, I shall not believe in his divinity.” The king replied,—“Vile as I am, what power have I over that god? but mighty as he is, I know that he will never forsake me.” Then Rakshasa said,—“How can that delighter in ganja (an intoxicating drug prepared from the hemp plant) and inebriation, that wandering mendicant, protect his worshippers? let but thy lord appear, and I will immediately engage in battle with him!” Having thus spoken, he ordered the attendance of his army, and then, revisiting the king, the mighty Rakshasa, while he smote the lingam with his sword, thus, laughing, said,—“Now behold the power of thy lord.” But scarce had the sword touched the lingam than Hara instantly issued from it, exclaiming,—“Behold! I am Ishwara, who appears for the protection of his worshipper, on whom he always bestows safety and happiness; and now learn to dread my might.” On hearing this spoken, Shiva engaged in combat with the Rakshasa, and after fighting with him for some time, at length with the fire of his third eye reduced him and all his army to ashes; and in commemoration of this event was the spot where it occurred rendered sacred, and the lingam, under the name of Bhimashankara, an object of pilgrimage and worship until all succeeding ages. (From the legend Jyolisha-linga Mahatmyam).

Colonel Kennedy says:—“On perusing this legend, it will immediately occur that it is a mere imitation of the fourth avatar of Vishnu, the concluding part of the account of which is thus given in the Padma Puran:—‘Hiranyakashipu having ordered his son Pralhada to be put to death on account of his devotion to Vishnu, and all means employed for this purpose having proved ineffectual, the king of the Daityas was astonished, and with gentleness addressed his son:—‘Where is that Vishnu whose pre-eminence thou hast declared before me, and who, as thou sayest, was called Vishnu because he pervades all things, and consequently, being omnipresent, he must also be the Supreme Being? Show to me a proof of the divine power and qualities which thou ascribest to him, and I will acknowledge the divinity of Vishnu; or let him conquer in battle me, who have obtained the boon of being unslayable by any existing thing.’ Pralhada, astonished, replied,—‘Narayana, the eternal, omnipotent, omnipresent, and Supreme Spirit dwells in heaven, and man cannot obtain the view of his divine form through anger and hatred, but, though unseen, he is present in all things.’ Having heard these words, Hiranyakashipu was incensed with anger, and, reviling his son, said,—‘Why dost thou thus with endless boasts exalt the power of Vishnu?’ and then striking a pillar of his royal hall, thus continued: ‘If Vishnu pervades all things let him appear in this pillar, or I will this moment put thee to death.’ This said, he struck the pillar with his sword, and instantly from it burst a loud and dreadful sound, while Vishnu issued forth under a fearful form, half man and half lion.’

“But as the avatars of Vishnu are unquestionably an essential part of the Hindu religion, since they are noticed in the Vedas, Upanishads, and Purans, and as the miraculous appearances of Shiva, on which the sanctity of various lingams is founded, are not generally acknowledged by the Hindus, and are mentioned only in the Shanka and Shiva Purans, it must necessarily follow that the fourth avatar of Vishnu is the original from which the above legend of Bhima Shankara has been merely copied. The introduction, however, of a new mode of worship, is always, as experience has shewn, supported by miracles; and it may therefore be concluded that the legends respecting the Jyolisha lingams, at least, are as ancient as the first institution of the worship of the lingam. In which case it will be evident that the transferring by the Shaivas to Shiva of the peculiar attribute of Vishnu, that of preservation, and their founding various miracles on such transfer, are convincing proofs that Vishnuism must have existed before the present form of Shivaism; and that, in inventing these miracles, the Shaivas have wished to ascribe to the god of their particular adoration similar manifestations of divine power to those by which Vishnu was supposed to be peculiarly distinguished.”2)

An account was published, about a hundred years ago, by Captain Colin Mackenzie, of a visit he had lately paid to the Pagoda at Perwuttum, the home of the Linga Mallikarjuna or Sri Saila. He said:—“Having sent notice to the manager of the revenues, that I was desirous of seeing the pagoda, provided there was no objection, I was informed at noon, that I might go in. On entering the fourth gate, we descended by steps, and through a small door, to the inner court, where the temples are: in the centre was the pagoda of Mallecarjee, the principal deity worshipped here. From hence I was conducted to the smaller and more ancient temple of Mallecarjee, where he is adored, in the figure of a rude stone, which I could just distinguish, through the dark vista of the front building on pillars. Behind this building, an immense fig tree covers with its shade the devotees and attendants, who repose on seats, placed round its trunk, and carpeted. Among these, was one Byraggy, who had devoted himself to a perpetual residence here; his sole subsistence was the milk of a cow, which I saw him driving before him: an orange coloured rag was tied round his loins, and his naked body was besmeared with ashes.

“The weather being warm, I was desirous of getting over as much of this bad road, as I could, before noon: my tents and baggage had been sent off at four A.M., and I only remained near the pagoda with the intention of making some remarks on the sculptures of its wall, as soon as daylight appeared.

“But the Brahmins, with the Rajpoot amuldar (who had hitherto shewn a shyness that I had not experienced in any other part of the journey), came to request, that as I was the first European who had ever come so far to visit Mallecarjee, and had been prevented from seeing the object of their worship, by yesterday not being a lucky day, I would remain with them that day, assuring me that the doors would be opened at ten o’clock. I agreed to wait to that hour, being particularly desirous of seeing by what means the light was reflected into the temple, which the unskilfulness of my interpreter could not explain intelligibly to my comprehension. Notice being at last given, at about half-past eight, that the sun was high enough, the doors on the east side, the gilt pagoda were thrown open, and a mirror or reflecting speculum was brought from the Rajpoot amuldar’s house. It was round, about two feet in diameter, and fixed to a brass handle, ornamented with figures of cows; the polished side was convex, but so foul, that it could not reflect the sunbeams; another was therefore brought, rather smaller, and concave, surrounded by a narrow rim, and without a handle. Directly opposite to the gate of the pagoda is a stone building, raised on pillars, enclosing a well, and ending in a point; and being at the distance of twelve or fourteen feet, darkens the gateway by its shadow, until the sun rises above it: this no doubt has been contrived on purpose to raise the expectation of the people, and by rendering the sight of the idol more rare, to favour the imposition of the Brahmins. The moment being come, I was permitted to stand on the steps in front of the threshold without (having put off my shoes, to please the directors of the ceremony, though it would not have been insisted on), while a crowd surrounded me, impatient to obtain a glimpse of the awful figure within. A boy being placed near the doorway, waved and played the concave mirror in such a manner, as to throw gleams of light into the pagoda, in the deepest recess whereof was discovered by means of these coruscations, a small, oblong, roundish white stone with dark rings, fixed in a silver case. I was permitted to go no further, but my curiosity was now sufficiently satisfied. It appears, that this god Mallecarjee, is no other than the Lingam, to which such reverence is paid by certain castes of the Gentoos; and the reason why he is here represented by stones unwrought, may be understood from the Brahmin’s account of the origin of this place of worship. My interpreter had been admitted the day before into the sanctum sanctorum, and allowed to touch the stone, which he says is smooth and shining, and that the dark rings or streaks, are painted on it; probably it is an agate, or some other stone of a similar kind, found near some parts of the Kistna, and of an uncommon size.

“The Brahmins gave me the following account of the origin of the pagoda. At Chundra-gumpty-patnum, twelve parvus down the river, on the north side, formerly ruled a Raja, of great power; who being absent several years from his house, in consequence of his important pursuits abroad; on his return, fell in love with his own daughter, who had grown up during his long absence. In vain the mother represented the impiety of his passion; proceeding to force, his daughter fled to these deserts of Perwuttum, first uttering curses and imprecations against her father; in consequence of which, his power and wealth declined, his city, now a deserted ruin, remains a monument of divine wrath, and himself, struck by the vengeance of heaven, lies deep beneath the waters of Puttela-gunga, which are tinged green by the string of emeralds that adorned his neck.

“The princess was called Mallicadivi, and lived in this wilderness. Among her cattle, was a remarkably fine black cow, which, she complained to her herdsman, never gave her milk. He watched behind the trees, and saw the cow daily milked by an unknown person; Mallicadivi informed of this, placed herself in a convenient situation, and beholding the same unknown person milking the cow, ran to strike him with the iron rod, or mace, which she held in her hand; but, the figure suddenly disappeared, and to her astonishment, nothing remained but a rude shapeless stone. At night, the god appeared to her in a dream, and informed her, he was the person that milked the cow; she therefore, on this spot, built the first temple that was consecrated to the worship of this deity, represented by a rude stone. This is the second temple that was shewn yesterday, where he is exhibited in the rude state of the first discovery, and is called Mudi-Nulla-carjee or Mallacarjee; the other temples were afterwards built, in later times, by Rajahs and other opulent persons. The Lingam shewn by reflected light in the gilded temple, has also its history, and stories, still more absurd and wonderful, attached to it. It was brought from the city of Chundra-goompty-patnam. The princess, now worshipped as a goddess, is also called Brama-Rumbo or Strichillumrumbo, from which the pagoda is sometimes called Strichillum.

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La Porte Ouverte, p. 157.
Vaus Kennedy, Hindu Mythology.