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Panchabootha Lingam - Shiva Worshipped as Five Elements

Panchabootha Lingam is the combined name referring to the Shivlings in five ancient temples in India where Hindu God Shiva is represented in the form of five elements – earth, water, fire, air and ether (akasha or sky or space). In these five temples, linga or lingam which symbolically represents Shiva is in the form of elements.

Panchabootha Lingam is five important Shiva Temples in South India.

Earth – Ekambaranathar Temple or Ekambareswarar Temple in Kanchipuram – Shiva Lingam here is the element earth. The Shiva Lingam here is believed to have been created by Goddess Parvati from sand or earth.

Water – Jambukeshwar Temple or Thiruvanaikaval Shiva Temple in Srirangam – Jambukeshwara represents the element water. The deity is found under a Jambu tree over a small river. The small stream engulfs the idol during the rainy season.

Fire – Arunachaleswara Temple or Annamalaiyar Temple at Thiruvannamalai – Arunachaleswarar or Shiva represents the element fire here. Shiva here is in the form of Lingodbhavamurti, the column of fire, which appeared before Vishnu and Brahma.

Air – Sri Kalahasti Temple at Kalahasti in Andhra Pradesh – Vayu Linga represents the element air or wind here. The element air is evident by a continuous flame which flickers when there is no air source in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple.

Ether – Nataraja Temple at Chidambaram – Shiva is represented as ether or sky in an empty space within the sanctum sanctorum. (In Nataraja Temple, Shiva is represented in three forms Nataraja, Crystal Linga form and as Nishkala (ether) in Chidambara Rahasyam.)