Sadhguru tells us the significance and science behind the form of the linga and the creation of ancient temples in India.
Sadhguru: The word linga means “the form.” We are calling it “the form” because when the un-manifest began to manifest itself, or in other words when creation began to happen, the first form that it took was that of an ellipsoid. A perfect ellipsoid is what we call as a linga. Creation always started as an ellipsoid or a linga, and then became many things. And we know from our experience that if you go into deep states of meditativeness, before a point of absolute dissolution comes, once again the energy takes the form of an ellipsoid or a linga. So, the first form is linga and the final form is linga. The in-between space is creation and what is beyond is Shiva.
The word “Shiva” literally means “that which is not.” That means nothing. Nothing is a very negative word. You would understand it better if you put a hyphen in between: no-thing. That which is, is physical manifestation. “That which is not” is that which is beyond the physical. In India, there are thousands of temples which are built for “that which is not.” Most of these Shiva temples don’t have a particular deity of any form. They just have a representative form and generally it is a linga. The form of a linga is a hole in the fabric of creation. So, the temple is a hole through which you enter into a space which is not. It is a hole through which you can fall beyond.
Today, most temples are built like shopping complexes with steel and concrete, and probably for the same purpose because everything has become commerce. When I talk about temples, I am talking about the way ancient temples were created. In this country, in ancient times, temples were built only for Shiva and nobody else. It was only later that the other temples came up because people started focusing on immediate wellbeing.
The very nature of human perception is such that whatever a human being is involved with right now, will be the only truth for him in his experience. Right now, most people are involved with the five sense organs and that seems to be the only truth, nothing else. Sense organs can only perceive that which is physical, and because your perception is limited to the five sense organs, everything that you know as life is only physicality: your body, your mind, your emotion and your life energies are physical. Let’s say, if you see the physical existence as a piece of cloth and you are walking on this cloth. What you are walking on is all that’s real. But when you look up, there seems to be a vast emptiness above, and even there, you only recognize the physical; you look at a star or a sun or a moon – they are all physical. You don’t perceive what is not physical.
What you call a temple is like putting a hole in the fabric, creating a space where the physical becomes thin, and something beyond becomes visible to you. This science of making the physical less manifest is the science of consecration, so that that dimension beyond the physical becomes apparent or visible to you if you are willing.
Editor’s Note: Download Sadhguru’s ebook, Shiva – Ultimate Outlaw, along with Vairagya, an album of sacred chants (also available as an Android App). They’re free!