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Linga Lakshana – Types – Shapes - Shivling

Shiva is commonly represented as linga (generally, a form with a conical base and a cylindrical top referred as Shivling). The lingas belonging to different periods and regions, vary in size and shape.

Lingas can be termed as Shaiva, Pashupata, Kalamukha, Mahavrata, Vama and Bhairava and can be typified as samakarana (worshipped by Brahmins), varthmana (by kshatriyas), sivanga (by vaishyas) and swastika (by others).

Lingas may be chala (moveable) or achala (immovable). The chala lingas are of many types – mrinmaya or clay lingas; lonaja or metal lingas; ratnaja or made of precious or semiprecious gems; daruja or wooden lingas.

Among the Tamils of the Sangam age, the linga was worshiped in the form of stump of wood, known as kandu; sailaja or stone lingas; kshanika made of rice, cow-dung, rudraksha seeds, grass, flowers or jaggery. These lingas are made for a particular occasion and are disposed of after the event.

Among the achala lingas, the svayambhu (the one which occurs naturally) is the most sacred. If the swayambhu linga is cracked, it is mended by tying gold or copper wires around it.

The other achala lingas are daivika lingas, which are of the shape of a candle flame and have a rough surface dotted with trident-shaped scars; ganpatya lingas resembling the cucumber or wood-apple; and spherical arsa linga are set up and worshiped by sages. The common achala lingas are the manusa lingas, made as per religious texts. The height of the linga is determined by the breadth of the sanctum, the breadth of the door, the breadth of the prasada, the height of the adhastana, the height of pada, the length of the hand, the inch-length, the height of the yajamana, and the tunga of the linga. Based on this, the linga can be uttama, madhyama, or adhama )or combinations of these three number nine).