Banalinga, a stone found in nature, in the bed of the
Narmada riverin Madhya Pradeshstate, India, is an aniconic symbol of worship, based on either the scriptures or cultural traditions among the Hindus, particularly of the Shaivaitesand SmarthaBrahmins. Stones are ancient and connote divinity. It is a smooth cylindrical stone.
Banalinga is also called the Svayambhu Linga: (Sanskrit) "Self-existent mark or sign of God", as it is discovered in nature and not carved or crafted by human hands. [ [http://www.experiencefestival.com/a/Svayambhu_Linga/id/62193 Svayambhu Linga: Hindu - Hinduism Dictionary on Svayambhu Linga ] ]
The forms of Linga can vary in detail from a simple roller shape roughly cylindrical Banalinga to the stone carved with a thousand facets (Sahasralinga) or of light relief in several human figures (Mukhalinga). The
Lingain the shrine of a temple is in stone. [ [http://mohileparikhcenter.org/mpcva/past-events/2004/what-is-wrong-with-this-picture-investigating-visual-studies-international-conference/papers/gods-beyond-temples-a-visual-theophanay/ Gods Beyond Temples: A Visual Theophany » Mohile Parikh Center for the Visual Arts ] ]
[ [http://gyandoot.nic.in/dhar_district/geo.html Gyandoot.net - Dhar District - Geography ] ]
Narmada River(also called the Rewa, from its leaping motion (from the root "rev" through its rocky bed) where the Banalinga stones are found, has been mentioned by Ptolemyand the author of the Periplus. The Ramayana, the Mahabharataand Puranasrefer to it frequently. The Rewa Khand of Vayu Puranaand the Rewa Khand of Skanda Puranaare entirely devoted to the story of the birth and the importance of the Narmada River. It is said to have sprung from the body of Lord Shiva. It was created in the form of a lovely damsel who enamoured gods and hence named by the Lord as Narmada - delight giving. It is, therefore, often called Shankari (Parvati), i.e., daughter of Lord Shankar ( Shiva).
All the pebbles rolling on its bed are said to take the shape of His emblem with the saying "Narmada Ke Kanker utte Sanka" (which is a popular saying in the Hindi belt of India) which means that ‘pebble stones of Narmada gets a personified form of Shiva’. Thus, these
lingam(phallus) shaped stones, called Banalinga are sought after for daily worship by the Hindus.
The Bannalinga, as a divine aniconic symbol for worship, is held in reverence by the
Shaivaitesand Smartha Brahmins, to the same extent as the Saligrama Sila (murti)is held in reverence by the Vaisihnavites.
Further, a sighting of the Narmada River is considered equivalent to a bath in the
Ganges. At numerous places along its course there are temples, and fairs are held. Pilgrims perform Pradakshina (circumambulation), i.e, walking along the southern bank from its source to the mouth and going back along the northern bank. The performance is regarded to be of the highest religious efficacy.
Three kinds of lingas are described in the
Brihat Vaivarta Purana(Hindu scripture). These three lingas, are called SvAmbhuva [Self-existing] , Banalinga [got from a certain river] and Sailalinga [made of stone] and these are also respectively called Vyakta, Avyakta, and VyaktAvyakta. It is said that Vyakta,gives salvation, the Avyakta gives [worldly] happiness, and VyaktAvyakta gives both happiness and salvation.
People belonging to various Hindu sects such as Shaiva, Kapalik, Gosavi, Virashaiva, etc., use various lingas - earthen (parthivlinga), lingas in a silver box donned around the neck (kanthasthalinga), lingas of crystal glass (sphatiklinga), banalingas, a five stringed linga (panchasutri), stone lingas (pashanlinga), etc [ [http://www.hindujagruti.org/hinduism/knowledge/article/why-are-trifoliate-bel-leaves-offered-to-lord-shiva-with-their-stalks-facing-oneself.html Why are trifoliate bel leaves offered to Lord Shiva with their stalks facing oneself? | Lord Shiva ] ] .
[ [http://www.advaita-vedanta.org/articles/panchayatana_puja.htm PanchAyatana Puja ] ] and [ [http://www.mudgala.com/articles/panchayatana.html www.mudgala.com ] ] Banalinga is a part of the five fold family of deities (
Panchayatana). The five Hindu deities ( Shiva, Vishnu, Devi, Suryaand Ganesha) are the embodiment of 5 bhutas/tatwas worshipped in formless stones, which are obtained from the 5 rivers as indicated in the table below. Panchayatanaform of worship is said to have been introduced by Adi Shankara, the 8th century C.E Hindu philosopher, to enable a person to worship his Ishta devata (adored or desired deity), to address each sectarian form of worship and thus bring about tolerance among all sects. Depending on the tradition followed by Smartahouseholds, one of these deities is kept in the centre facing East direction and the other four are arranged in four corners surrounding it, as indicated in the diagram below; all the deities are worshipped with equal fervor and devotion.
A layout for performing the
In an additional form of wosrhip, called the
Shanmata, also founded by Adi Shankara, six deities are worshipped; the sixth deity in addition to the five deities referred in Panchayatanapooja referred above, is Skandaalso known as Kartikeyaand Murugan
Benefits of worship
Rasalinga made of Mercury is considered as the foremost among mobile lingas, belonging to Caralingas, and a bestower of all wishes to the Brahmins. The auspicious Banalinga is considered as a bestower of vast kingdoms to the Kshatriyas. A gold linga bestows the ownership of vast wealth on the Vaisyas. A Silalinga (a linga made of rock) bestows great purity on the Sudras. A crystal linga and a Banalinga bestow all sorts of wishes on all [ [http://guruji.narod.ru/sivaji7.html om namah shivaya ] ]
* Narmada River where the Shiva Lingams originate http://www.mukti4u2.dk/Narmada_river.htm-
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