What is the Shivling/ShivaLingam?
Since time immemorial the Hindu deity Lord Shiva has been worshipped in the form of Shivling/Shiva Lingam by devotees. Lord Shiva is revered as the creator of the Universe, as well as the One who sustains the creation and the destroyer too. No wonder, that He is invoked in multiple names, Mahadev, Shankara, Bholenath, Rudra etc., which encompass His attributes and character, as we humans have understood.
The Shiva Purana, SkandaPurana and other ancient Hindu texts have several meanings and depiction of the Shivling. The Lingam is described as an unending pillar (stambha) of fire. The LingaPurana, explains the Lingam as the Cosmic egg, depicting the infinite Lord Shiva, without any beginning or any end. The Yoni base represents the Divine feminine, the creative force, Shakti or in simple terms Maa Parvati. The holy union of the Lingam and the Yoni forms the Shivling, the indivisible union of the Divine Mother and Father, from where creation emerges, all beings originate and where everything will finally dissolve.
In the Divine Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh (Lord Shiva), Mahesh stands for destruction/dissolution, Lord Brahma is the Creator and Lord Vishnu the Preserver. The Shivling in this concept has a different meaning. The bottom part represents Brahma, the middle part Vishnu and the top, i.e. the elliptic Linga, is Shiva. Therefore, the Shivling epitomizes all powers in one, the Para Brahma.
Mythology shows that Gods, Demi-Gods, Gandharvas, Apsaras, Rishis-Munis have been worshipping the mighty Shivling. One such example is found in the Ramayana, which talks about Lord Shri Ram as a worshipper of the Shivling. Lord Rama is an avatar (incarnation) of Lord Vishnu, as is well known by all.
Worshipping of Shivling and its Benefits
The Shivling being an abstract representation of Lord Shiva, posses His energies and power. It exudes high vibration frequency wherever it is installed. The Divine Shivling is worshipped by performing Abhishekham, the sacred bathing of the Shivling. The ritualistic Abhishekham is done with water, Milk, Curd, Honey, Ghee (clarified butter) accompanied by chanting of the Shiva Mantra, ‘Om Namah Shivaya’. Offering Lord Shiva’s favourite Bel Patra is an integral part of the Shivling worship. The Shivling is worshipped through Abhishekham and the worshipper is blessed by the benevolent Lord Shiva with good health, peace, prosperity, abundance, marital bliss, name, fame, glory and invincible protection at a temple or at home. Positive vibrations of the auspicious Shivling clears negative energies from the space, establishing harmonious relationships among family members. Delays in marriage are cleared, untimely death, accidents are averted by worshipping the Shivling. For spiritual seekers worshipping the Shivling, leads them to the required path and spiritual ascension is rewarded. Regularly worshipping the Shivling with pure intentions can absolve sins, past Karmas and helps to attain Moksha.
Mondays are considered power days of Lord Shiva and devotees perform Abhishekham in temples or at home. Other important days of Shivling worship are the monthly Shivratri, every day or Mondays of Shravan Maas and on Maha Shivratri. It is said that the elaborate version of Abhishekham performed by devotees on Maha Shivratri is liked by the Lord immensely and He rewards by fulfilling the wishes of devotees.
Shiva Lingam Story
The Puranas narrate the interesting Shiva Lingam story. Once Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma got into a battle of supremacy with each other. Both of Them are superpowers and the battle got so intense that the Celestial world feared dire consequences. The Gods approached Lord Shiva for a solution and to establish peace. Understanding the seriousness of the situation, Lord Siva appeared as a pillar of fire between Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma that surprised Them with its sheer magnitude, neither were They aware of it being Lord Shiva Himself. Both Divine Lords set out to find the parameters of the pillar of fire. Lord Vishnu took His Varah form and dived down to seek the end and Lord Brahma, in the form of a Swan flew upwards to search for start/beginning.
The Shiva Lingam story further narrates that Lord Brahma had already searched for miles when He found a Ketki flower floating down on His way up. On asking, the Ketki flower where it was coming from, the flower replied that it had been placed on top of the pillar. Lord Brahma decided that He would carry back the Ketki as proof and ended His search there. Lord Vishnu searched everywhere on Earth, the deepest of oceans beds for the endpoint of the fire pillar, without any results. Coming back to the place where They had left from, Lord Brahma showed the Ketki flower and tried to impress on Lord Vishnu that since He had found the beginning of the pillar, so He is superior in power. This upset Lord Shiva and He decided to reveal Himself by emerging from the pillar. Lord Vishnu bowed down to Him and said that He had failed to find where the fire pillar ended. Because Lord Brahma had made an untrue statement, Lord Shiva is said to have cursed Him that no one will worship Him and declared that the Ketki flower should never be offered to Him. So till today, the Ketki flower is not offered to Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva explained to both the Divine powers that They were born out of Him and were made to separate, in order to depict three different aspects of Divinity.
This fire pillar is considered the Lingam form of Lord Shiva. This first appearance of this pillar had taken place on the Maha Shivratri day and is considered one of the reasons for Maha Shivratri is celebrated.
I have been trying to understand Lord Shiva, and reading up on the internet. The more I delve in, the deeper it becomes. One thing which I realized is that it will be some hard work to understand the infinite Supreme Lord Shiva and the Shiva Lingam story in its true essence. However, I am sharing one of the sites which you might want to look up in your quest of the Shiva Lingam story.