In the Shivapurana it has been told that once Sanatkumara was traveling in an aircraft and happened to see sage Parasara, practicing austerities (tapas ) on the banks of the river Saraswathi. Sanatkumara stopped by and asked the latter the reason for being at such a lonely place. Sage Parasara replied that having done his ordained duties as a teacher and helped lots of students to gain knowledge, he decided to practice austerities for his own salvation. Sanatkumara then revealed to him the knowledge he received earlier from Nandikeswara and suggested him to practice mananam, sravanam and kirtanam instead of austerities as effective means of attaining the grace of Lord Shiva and achieve liberation. These three means are explained below.
1. Mananam: Uttering the Shiv mantras or prayers, contemplating or meditating upon the grandeur and significance of Shiv or the sacred texts of Saivism and performing similar mental activities.
2. Sravanam: Listening from others, or in a gathering of Shiva’s devotees, about Lord Shiv, the concepts of Saivism, the books on Saivism, the life and activities of Nayanars or other devotees of Shiva.
3. Kirtanam. Singing the glory of Lord Shiva either alone or in the company of other devotees. When it is done in groups it is called bhajan. Devotional singing helps the mind become stabilized in God.
The Worship of Shivalinga
According to the Shivapurana, in the age of Kali (kaliyuga) ,worship of Shiva in the form of Shivalinga is the best means of liberation. Worship of Sivalinga can be done either at home or in a Shiva temple or a sacred place such as the banks of a sacred river. The linga has to be worshipped by the traditional means (sadupachara) of
20. namaskara and
As the highest reality Shiva is both Saguna (with form and qualities) and Nirguna (without form and qualities). The Shiva linga is a rendering of Siva in his formless or nirguna aspect. Saguna Shiva is known by his five aspects known as panchanana aspect and there are temples in India where we can see a Shivalinga having five faces representing these five aspects. According to the followers of Saivism, Nirguan Shiva is the highest reality, the absolute principle, the formless unknown Self of all and the one indivisible Supreme Reality. Shivalinga represents this aspect of Shiva and therefore its worship is considered to be the highest form of worship we can perform.