This issue of Heart to Heart carries
a story on Lingodbhava, the emergence of Lingam from Swami
on the sacred day of Shivarathri. The article, which explains
all aspects of the festival of Shivarathri, is by late Dr.
Eruch B Fanibunda, a reputed dentist, and a great devotee
of Bhagavan. It is from his book “Vision of the Divine”.
Lingodbhava : The Symbolic Birth
of God in Time and Space
For the twentieth century Man,
the word God is an inexplicable mystery. It is perhaps a vague,
hazy idea in his mind associated with the scriptures, conditioned
by what has been drummed into his head as a child and modified
in light of experiences gained during his later years. Truly,
he does not know anything about the Divinity which is enshrined
within his body. A mere study of the scriptures will not reveal
God to man or grant an experience of Him even in a small measure.
The scriptures are like the signposts on a road, pointing
to the ultimate destination. They merely point out the ways
and the means to reach the Goal. Simply by pouring over a
map one does not reach the destination. Similarly, God cannot
be known by reading or expounding the sacred scriptures, but
by living them. A child who has been taught scriptures by
adults who do not practise the disciplined path indicated
by the scriptures, will soon discover the hypocrisy of the
elders, and will have scant respect for them and even less
for the scriptures. That child is today's Man, who has been
enveloped by the superficial glitter of science and technology,
possession of transitory wealth and acquisition of fickle
fame. Steeped in arrogance and pride, he drives humanity from
one crisis to another and in the process creates untold misery
for millions of people. He still occasionally hears about
God but he has never seen Him, and he does not care much about
a God who will not co-operate with him by eliminating the
misery and suffering inflicted on others, by his own selfish
behaviour. Mankind is caught in this mighty grip of ignorance,
propagating itself in an endless vicious circle, from one
generation to the next.
Who can vanquish this terrible ignorance and rescue humanity?
It is doubtful if man alone by himself, can ever hope to emerge
victorious with ever-lasting peace and equanimity, enshrined
in his heart. Only God can break this vicious circle by revealing
Himself to humanity and dispelling the darkness of ignorance
enveloping mankind. To achieve this herculean task, God has
perforce to enter the framework of His creation to reveal
Himself as an Avatar, through the agency of a human body.
God by Himself is incomprehensible to man. The gulf is too
wide between man and God. So in the body of an Avatar, God
behaves as an Ideal man and works
the miracle of breaking this vicious circle, by giving illumination
from within the heart of man.
Of all the living creatures only man has the faculty of discrimination
and the ability to exercise a freedom of choice. In
consonance with this freedom, the Avatar brings about an inner
transformation through Divine Love, without any form of external
pressure or compulsion. This is the secret of Divine intervention
in the affairs of men. Further, by a manifestation
of Divine Wisdom and Omnipotence, He gives unassailable proof
that He is not just another saintly personage, but God Himself.
The most erudite scholar can neither explain these proofs
nor understand them;but he can most certainly experience them.
From his experience he can also learn the lessons of humility
and reverence, and wonder at the Glory of God in human form,
walking on this earth today as Shri Sathya Sai Baba. The subject
of this story is one such proof given by Baba to humanity,
of all climes and all religions.
mentioned elsewhere, the different religions of the world
contain only some aspects of the ONE God and no one particular
religion can claim to know God in His totality. A little thought
will convince the reader of the subtle truth that all religions
are contained within God, and
therefore, no one religion can contain the Infinite
God. All scriptures and all religions are earth bound
and time bound, and therefore they can only present to the
people those aspects of the Infinite
which were revealed to that particular religion, within certain
limitations. As soon as these limitations are recognised,
then all obstacles are removed for a broader understanding
of the Supreme Infinite. The purpose of all religions is to
remove the barriers between man and man, and certainly not
to erect them. He who creates such barriers through myopic
vision, commits a grave blunder against the very religion
he professes, and creates strife between man and man. Many
of us also commit this error of limiting God to our own narrow
viewpoint, or confining Him to a particular religion. Baba
as a manifestation of the Supreme Infinite may therefore perform
acts which are not necessarily contained in all the religions,
and if such acts or manifestations are not in one's own religion,
then an effort should be made to understand the real inner
significance of such acts or manifestations. Through such
understanding all differences disappear and all religions
become one. The Lingodbhava is to be viewed and understood
in light of such perspectives.
a symbol, and Udbhava means birth
or creation. So the word Lingodbhava actually means symbol
of creation. As the Lingam manifests in Baba through
His Divine Kala or Sakthi of Srishti,
one can say that the Lingam is a Divine
Symbol of Creation; and it is only when the inner significance
of the Lingam has been understood, that one can grasp the
full significance of the act of Lingodbhava, which is a Symbolic
Birth of God in Time and Space.
Yasoda had seen the Viswaswarup of the Lord, the Cosmic Person,
in the mouth of Krishna, and the Lord had given the same Divine
Vision to a shaukar's wife in His previous body as Babu, the
future Sai Baba of Shirdi. Today, in His present body as Shri
Sathya Sai Baba, He, grants a similar Vision
of the Divine to millions of devotees, through the
act of Lingodbhava. An embryo develops within the womb of
it's mother and takes birth into this world as a baby. Symbolically,
the Cosmic Person develops within His mother SAI (Divine Mother)
and takes birth as the Lingam into this world through the
mouth of SAI.
The second verse of AHUNA-VAIRYA or
the Word of Ahura Mazda declares that Creation is projected
from the Mind of the Lord, and that Mazda or the Sakthi aspect,
is itself the Creation. The Lingam, a symbol of this Creation
is manifest at the time of Lingodbhava. The Ahunvar and the
Lingodbhava together, lay bare the total secret of Creation.
To experience this phenomenon, is to know that the Universe
rests in the palm of SAI.
All the scriptures of the major religions of the world
declare that God is Omnipresent, that is to say that He is
present everywhere at all times.
Thus God cannot be limited to One particular form and it is
in this context that Baba says, "All forms are Mine and
all Names are Mine". From this one may conclude that
the Essence which is manifest
in all these forms, is Itself without a form. This Essence
of the formless God is symbolised by the Lingam.
Lingam has the form of a mathematically perfect figure: the
ellipsoid. It has neither a front nor a back, and is without
an end or a beginning. It has no protuberances or irregularities
jutting out from its smooth surface, which might give it some
character. Its form is based purely on a geometrical figure,
the ellipsoid, and hence it cannot be identified with any
other known physical form in the universe except another mathematically
perfect ellipsoid, which is another Lingam. It is so much
devoid of character, that the author is almost tempted to
call it a "formless form".
Therefore, Baba has said that it is the fittest
symbol for representing the formless Divine Essence, that
is God. Thus, when the Lingam emanates from Baba's
mouth it is symbolic of the birth in time and space of THAT
which is formless and eternal, within a simple geometrically
perfect entity, the Lingam. This is the real meaning of Lingodbhava.
Baba has revealed yet another deeper spiritual
significance in context of the Lingodbhava. In the Yagna called
Purusha Medha, there is an occasion
when Lingodbhava takes place. It has been said that before
Divinity takes a form for this Lingodbhava, It utters a loud
cry. This cry is addressed to the Devas (Divine Beings) and
is known as Deva-Huti. The word
Deva means Divine and Huti means a Call or a Challenge. The
Manifestation asks a question of the Devas, "Do you know
who I am? Who am I? Ko Hum?" A new born babe also cries
Ko Hum, Ko Hum, Ko Hum. Baba says, "It is only when you
understand the significance of this Divine Cry—the
Deva-Huti—when It takes birth in time and space,
that one can understand the Divine Innocence and simplicity
of a new born child."
Thus it seems that the Deva-Huti
is the key to the mystery of the Lingam. Man emerges from
the formless Divinity and inquires, "Ko Hum ?" He
practises Sadhana,realises "So Hum" (I am That),
and merges back into the formless Divinity. Therefore, it
is said that all things emerge from the Lingam and finally
merge into the Lingam. The Angam or the physical body contains
the subtle Lingasarira which houses the Lingam or the Atma.
From the Lingam arises movement and flow of life, that is
Jungam (Universe). The Angam is the Sangam (meeting place)
for the Spirit and Matter, and of association, attachment
and activity. As a result of this Sangam, analysis and inquiry,
one realises the Lingam. Thus the circle is completed. This
is the lesson that is taught by Lingodbhava.
The Lingam which emanates from
Baba's mouth is made of metal (like gold, in the recent years)
or of some semi-precious stone, like agate, for instance. On
rare occasions it is made of a pure transparent crystal like
substance. Baba has said that the four Vedic Mahavakyas have
their aspects portrayed in the Lingam as well. The four Vedic
Mahavakyas are said to represent the essence of the four Vedas
and they are to be understood as follows:
1. Pragnyanam Brahma.
2. Tat Thwam Asi.
3. Ayam Atma Brahma.
4. Aham Brahma Asmi.
word Pragnyan means eternal, limitless wisdom. So the first
Mahavakya declares that Divine Wisdom is itself Brahman. Here,
the Atma is equated with Divine Wisdom, because this Wisdom
is born out of the Atma. It is not something acquired from
outside of one's own Self. This aspect is symbolised by the
Sadasivam Lingam. Sada means eternal and Sivam is equated
with auspi-ciousness, purity and bliss. Thus the Eternal Brahman
which is pure auspiciousness and bliss is revealed through
The second Mahavakya, Tat Thwam Asi means That Thou Art. It
asserts that distinction is delusion; the Jivatma and the
Paramatma are One. The Gnyanam Lingam
symbolically represents this awareness of Both Being One.
The third Mahavakya, Ayam Atma Brahma means This Atma is Brahman,
and is symbolised by the Anda-Pinda
Lingam. Anda is the shell and Pinda is the core. Man
is also basically an Anda-Pinda, with an outer shell of materialism
and an inner core of the Divine Atma. It points out that the
Inner Self is itself the Brahman.
The fourth Mahavakya, Aham Brahma Asmi means
I am Brahman. The Atma Lingam
or the Jyoti Lingam is the symbol
of the Supreme Light of Atma, and it proves to all that Siva
is in everyone. When this Vision illumines the inner consciousness
of an aspirant, he becomes one with Brahman. Aham Brahma Asmi.
Baba says, "The formless Divinity, the Lingam, is in
the very core of the heart of man as the sole purveyor of
bliss, power and illumination. Cultivate an inward vision,
so that the Lingam may grant you all these three benefits.
The mind will then be illumined by the cool comforting rays
of Love, like the cool comforting rays of the moon. Chandrama
Manaso Jaathah (the moon is born from the mind). Unless
you cleanse the mind with Love, the full moon of spiritual
Wisdom will not shine in the mind. The recital of the Name,
Japa and Dhyan, or the observance of fasts and vigils, will
merely scintillate like stars studded in the sky, in the inner
sky of your mind. But the darkness (ignorance) will not vanish
until the lamp of love is lit."
Sivaratri is observed on the fourteenth night of the dark
half of every month. It is a well established fact of Yogic
discipline, that it is easier to control the mind during the
dark half of the month, when the moon is on the wane. The
fourteenth night is particularly suitable for a little more
intensive Sadhana to completely sublimate the last and the
remaining fifteenth fraction of the mind, corresponding to
the last fraction of the moon. It is
possible to achieve complete victory over the mind during
this night. When the mind is fully under control, one
becomes an heir to the experiences of bliss, power and illumination.
"How is it possible for the moon to influence the Mind
?" Such a question has been often put to the author,
by various people. The author does not know the exact mechanism,
but he would like to draw the reader's attention to the fact,
that the forces emanating from the moon are responsible for
shifting gigantic masses of water on the surface of this earth
during the tides. Then why should it be difficult to understand
the influence of the moon on a human body which is nearly
80% water? The 'lunatics' are so called, because their behaviour
sometimes can be predicted to some extent, by the waxing and
waning of the moon. The ancient seers and rishis were fully
aware of the influence exercised by the planets on the human
body and they used these influences for their spiritual benefit.
Thus the practise of intensive Sadhana on the fourteenth night
of the waning moon is not just an old wife's tale or superstition,
but it has its roots in the personal experience of the ancient
sages of this land.
In the month of Maagh (Feb.-Mar.), the fourteenth night is
known as Maha-Sivaratri. Maha means great, Siva means auspicious
and Ratri means night; the Great-Auspicious-Night. Auspicious
for what? Not only is the night auspicious' for obtaining
complete control over one's mind, but Siva, the formless Divinity,
is born in the Lingam on that night. Siva in the form of the
Lingam, is adored and revered for the acquisition of Divine
In temples dedicated to Siva, it is said that none should
pass between Nandi the bull and the Lingam. Baba has explained
that the bull or the Pasu (animal), represents the Jiva and
the Lingam is the symbol of Siva. As they both have to merge
into one, no one should pass
between the bull and the Lingam. Also, the installed Lingam
has to be seen through the two horns of the bull; which means
that one has to see Siva in the various Jivas. Pasu or Jiva,
and Pasupati or Siva are one;
Nandi or Jiva and Eeswara or Siva, become Nandeeswara.
Baba says, "When in bondage it is referred to as Nandi
and when free it is Eeswara. When the Pasu is offered fully
to the Pasupati and its separate identity is cast away, then
it is a true Yagna (sacrifice). This significance has been
forgotten by the worshippers today." In this context
of worshipping Siva, Baba has also explained the inner significance
of offering the trifoliate Bilva leaves.
They are symbolic of the three Gunas and the three forms of
Worship. The three Gunas, which are to be surrendered to Him
are Thamas, Rajas and Sathwa, through Devotion, Detachment
and Discrimination; the three forms of worship liked by Siva.
There are certain days in the life of an individual, which
stand apart from the rest. These are worth treasuring in one's
memory, because of their association with some sacred or holy
event which was responsible for initiating the individual
into the higher spiritual mysteries of the SELF.
There have been four such days in the author's life. The first
one was many years ago, when as a child the author was invested
with the sacred Kusti by his parents and was taught to recite
the Ahunvar, the Word of Ahura Mazda. Since then the author
has stood by the Word and in return on countless occasions,
the Word has stood by him. It is possible that some mysterious
forces evoked by the Word, were instrumental in leading the
author to Baba's presence. That was the second day, the day
when the author met Baba in Shri Munshi's residence at Juhu,
and received His "visiting card", the Vibhuthi embodying
His Divine secret. This Vibhuthi initiated the process of
clearing the author's mind of doubts and ignorance accumulated
through academic learning and achievements, over a period
of forty odd years. The process still continues. Maha-Sivaratri
in February 1974 was the third day, when the author witnessed
the birth of the Atma Lingam and saw the Divine Jyoti (Flame)
changing colours within the Lingam. Truly, it was a most auspicious
occasion. It was a day of triumph over the twins of birth
and death; not only for the author but for all those who witnessed
this sacred Flame, this ATAR USHTANA,
the Divine Fire of the formless or Ahura Mazda, burning mysteriously
within this Atma Lingam. In the Gatha
Ahunavaiti or the Gatha of the
Sacred Word (Yasna 34:4), Zara-thushtra declares:
"Thine Inner Fire Ahura, to see
We yearn,—He blazes mightily through Truth;
"He has Thy Strength, our hope
and Goal is He, He lights the faithful clearly through life."
That night, the above four lines of the Gathas came to life
for the author. The prayer contained in the first line of
the stanza, was fulfilled by a Vision of the Divine Jyoti,
and the remaining three lines aptly described Baba as He appeared
that night with the Divine Jyoti Lingam in His hands. The
day Baba performed the marriage ceremony of the author and
his wife, was the fourth day. If the reader turns back the
pages of his life, he will also undoubtedly discover such
days in his own life associated with a Vision of the Divine,
which when recalled are a perennial source of joy and infuse
a calm, limpid peace, into one's being.
On that memorable Maha-Sivaratri night, Baba began with His
usual public discourse. The author was wondering whether there
would be a Lingodbhava that evening, because there had been
no official ceremony in the two previous years and no announcements
to this effect, had been made earlier for this occasion. The
author had not seen a Lingodbhava ever before and did not
know what was going to happen. However, at the end of His
explanations on the significance of the Vibhuthi abhishek
performed earlier in the day, He terminated the discourse,
rather abruptly. Earlier, a couple of coughs had indicated
the rising of the Lingam within Him, and so He terminated
the speech and started with the bhajans. The gathering joined
Him in an exquisite rendering of His popular bhajan:
" Prem-a-mudhite mana-se kaho
Later, during the singing He coughed a few times, drank some
water and sat down at the table on the stage. The bhajan singers
carried on with extra gusto, and the author noticed that the
bhajan leaders were now exclusively singing bhajans dedicated
to extolling Siva. Baba spread a large handkerchief in front
of Him and held another one in His hands. The frequency of
retching had increased and the bhajan singers sensing the
impending delivery, had stepped up the tempo of their singing.
The whole atmosphere was charged with Divine vibrations. After
repeated attempts at delivery on the part of Baba, the Lingam
was finally ejaculated from His mouth into His waiting hands.
Immediately, He held it up, so that all could see this manifestation
of Divine Glory. Then He walked along the stage and amongst
the thousands, who were sitting at some distance at the back
of the auditorium.
The author witnessed this memorable event and photographed
this rare, unique crystal Lingam, which contained within itself
an orange, cup-shaped flame in the form of a Trishul
(a trident). The colour of this Trishul changed every ten
minutes, from orange to yellow to blue, and sometimes changed
to almost colourless. Ecstasy was writ on the faces of all
those who had witnessed this Divine Birth. The author felt
very happy, for he had actually seen a small aspect of the
Inner Fire of Ahura Mazda.
Baba placed the Lingam on a mound of flowers within a circular
tray and retired for the night. The bhajan singers continued
singing throughout the night, until the early hours of the
Just after dawn, Baba came back to the auditorium and gave
a short discourse on the inner significance of the Lingam.
During this discourse, He made a historic declaration accompanied
by an incomparable shower of Divine Grace, which has no parallel
in the whole recorded history of human existence. Baba declared,
"You have had the good fortune of looking at the Divine
Vision. You have also seen the Divine significance of the
Lingam and that will grant you complete salvation. So
far as you are concerned you have attained complete salvation
and there are no more rebirths for you. Why is it that
of all the crores of people in the world only you have seen
this manifestation of Divinity? It is a piece of great good
fortune for you. Some of you have seen this manifestation
as a specific form, some as a light and some only as a streak
or a flash of light; but it does not matter in what form you
have seen the generation and manifestation of this Lingam.
What you have really seen is the secret
"There are two kinds of Mantras, the Siva mantra and
the Madhava mantra. The Siva mantra has the important letter
MA in it, and the Madhava mantra has the important letter
RA in it. Together they make RAMA. Rama is the manifestation
of Eeswara or the Atma. Rama and Eeswara are inter-changeable
and both are represented in this symbol of creation, the Lingam.
Having witnessed this secret of Creation, do not spend your
time in an unsacred manner; do not do work that will be called
unsacred; do not promote ideas that will be called unsacred
and do not look at things which will be called unsacred vision.
Remember, what you have witnessed today is an unprecedented
secret of Creation, and use it to promote the best thoughts,
words, and deeds in your life. Whatever good which one can
acquire after Tapas for many years, or by involving oneself
in Meditation for many centuries, or by performing several
Yagnas and Yagas, that good which is acquired by such practices
cannot even be compared to the good acquired by witnessing
this Lingodbhava. This is something which is unprecedented.
It is only you, who have been privileged to see this vision
of the Lord, in the form of a Lingam having the dimensions
of Dashan-gula (ten inches)."
"Whatever is contained in Time, that is past, present
and future, and whatever is contained in the three Gunas and
the three Worlds, is all contained in this Lingam. The Lingam
also contains the symbol of Trishula and every ten minutes
the colour of this Trishula goes on changing. The Trishula
signifies the responsibility accepted by Divinity, for the
past, the present and the future of all Creation. When the
circumference of this Lingam is added and put together, it
will be Dashangula. Only such a Lingam as this one, can be
said to contain the important number ten and contain all the
manifestations of Divinity."
"If our heart contains Truth and our conduct is conditioned
by Love, then Peace which is within, is available to us. While
all these things are within us, why is it that we are not
acquiring them? Peace lies within the depths of one's heart,
just as water lies in the earth. To get at the water one has
to remove the overlying earth. Similarly, one has to remove
the sensuous desires to get at the Peace in one's heart. We
must make an attempt to follow the ideas and thinking of the
Lord. Such sadhana will enable you to reach the destination.
Smarana and Chinta (reciting the Name and Contemplation),
is the easiest way for reaching this destination in this Kali
Yuga. You have been singing bhajans for some hours and you
call it Akhand Bhajan, but that is not correct. Akhand
Bhajan is that which has to be carried out continuously throughout
your life. (Akhand means uninterrupted.) Perform the
Akhand Bhajan of Hamsa-Gayatri, and there will be no ups and
downs in your life."
"By understanding the inner significance of the
Lingam which was manifested, your life has been liberated.
You have reached the ordained salvation. Develop this thought,
keep it in your mind all the time throughout your life, and
then you will have made good use of this rare opportunity,
granted to you yesterday."