108 Lingas along the Tungabhadra
Along the stony granite landscape of a once heavenly city now in ruins, lie remnants of a tradition silently living among us. What remains today is a stark granite rock outcrop heated by the daylight carrying the potent symbols of the Lord numbering upto 108 and in some cases 1008.
Back in 10th century AD, there flourished in Indian tradition a cult that worshiped Lord Shiva out in the open. In the great land of Vijayanagar, now known as Hampi there are examples of this scattered all along the Tungabhadra river.
Out in the open...is what it might appear to be, but the very symbolism of Lord Shiva was carved into rock to reside within a home, a temple, the roof of which faces north. Interestingly the entry into this house is from the east, with a path of flat stone leading right upto the main Linga in the center, a central garbha griha so to speak.
This home could probably have also symbolized the Panchakshara mantra of Lord Shiva, the 5 sacred syllables(Na Ma Shi Va Ya) of Lord Shiva representing each side of this diagrammatic temple. Like any other architectural marvel for the Lord, this diagrammatic temple also worshiped 108 Lingas within itself, with Abhishekam done from the east and path for the libation fluids given towards the north, also heading towards the conical roof of the temple.
In the early hours of Brahma Muhurta one can imagine, the cool breeze sweeping along the Tungabhadra. Silent waves almost sound like the gentle anklets of damsel taking a holy dip before she starts her prayers. Among the rocky boulders drenched in the moonlight, is the shimmering flames of a fire, and in the silent breeze one can hear the sweet notes...
OM SHIVAYA NAMAHA
OM MAHESHVARAYA NAMAHA
OM SHAMBHAVE NAMAHA
OM PINAKINE NAMAHA
OM SHASHISHEKHARAYA NAMAHA...
Sacred names of the Lord fill the air, 108 names of the divine bress the air as a voice sings them out in deep worship.
...OM SARVAYA NAMAHA
OM TRILOKESHAYA NAMAHA
OM SHITAKANTHAYA NAMAHA
OM SHIVAPRIYAYA NAMAHA
OM UGRAYA NAMAHA
OM KAPALINE NAMAHA...
Few spectators watch on as the water flows over 108 heads forming a channel and leading gently out of the temple, exiting at the roof. A symbolism that the soul merges with the supreme as one performs this ritual of Abhishekam. The flame slowly rises and casts shadows of the various Lingas elaborately carved into the rock, dancing in the flame light.
Its a different world, of music and love, of peace and tranquility, of life and happiness, of detachment from all the temptations life has to offer. The bells ring and the priest raises his hand and pours milk over the Lord, singing his verses again
...OM CHARUVIKRAMAYA NAMAHA
OM RUDRAYA NAMAHA
OM BHUTAPATAYE NAMAHA
OM STHANAVE NAMAHA
OM AHIRBUDHNYAYA NAMAHA...
The fire rises again, and the voices echo as the mantras deafen the ears and the surrounding whistling breeze carries the fragrance of flowers of offering. The birds begin to chirp and the darkness gives way to light, a new day and a new beginning as the voice carries on.
...OM SAHASRAPADE NAMAHA
OM APAVARGAPRADAYA NAMAHA
OM ANANTAYA NAMAHA
OM TARAKAYA NAMAHA
OM PARAMESHVARAYA NAMAHA.
OM ATMAYA NAMA ATMA LINGAYA NAMAH OM
I am the Lord, one with Him, merged into His being. I worship you O Lord, who enlightens me into this new world with a new mind.
In the case of the 1008 Lingas, there were arrangements for a make shift roof, an idea of which remains in rock along the four corners of the diagrammatic temple.
Happy Diwali to everyone! :)
Photo courtesy: Pratheep.com