Last Updated on April 16, 2022 by asoulwindow
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What is Atma Linga?
There is an interesting story behind Atma Linga. As per some stories, it was the mother of Ravana who expressed her wish to worship the Atma Linga and after a long penance, Ravana was successful in getting the Atma linga from Lord Shiva.
Other versions say that Ravana believed that worshiping Atma-Lingam will make him immortal. This is the most comprehensive article on Atma Linga. This information packed and exhaustive guide explains all the aspects of Atmalinga.
Also known as Atma Lingam, the mere darshan of Atma Linga blesses the devotee manifolds.
Nomenclature of Atmalinga
Atmalinga is also known as Atma Linga or Atma Lingam. Atma Lingam is the soul of Shiv Bhagwan.
The legend of Atma Linga, Murudeshwar and Ravan
As per the Hindu beliefs, Murudeshwar has links to Ramayana, the Hindu epic. In ancient days, the Hindu Gods worshipped the Atma Linga or the soul of Shiv Bhagwan in order to achieve invincibility and immortality. Ravan, the king of Lanka, pleased Shiv ji with his dedicated worship so that he could lay his hands on the Atma Linga and ensure immortality for himself.
Click to see my video on Murudeshwar
Story about Parvati Ji and Narad Muni
Impressed by the devotion of Ravan, Shiv Bhagwan appeared in front of Ravan and asked him what he desires. Narad Muni, the God Sage convinced Vishnu ji to alter the mind of Ravan. Ravan, instead of asking for Atma Linga, thus asks for Parvati ji, wife of Shiva bhagwan. Shiv ji offers Parvati ji to Ravan.
However, as Ravan proceeds towards Lanka, Narad Muni informs him that who he thinks is Parvati ji is not the real Goddess Parvati. Narad Muni further informed him that real Parvati ji is in Pathala. Ravan, in his desperation, heads to Pathala and marries the daughter of the emperor of Pathala. He mistook the daughter as Parvati ji.
It is only upon his return to Lanka, when the mother of Ravan enquires him of the Atma Linga, does he realize how Vishnu ji fooled him with his tricks. Realising the blunder he committed, Ravan again starts worshipping Shankar Bhagwan and begs him for his forgiveness.
Shiv ji appears again and this time he allowed Ravan the possession of Atma Linga on the condition that during his journey to Lanka, the Atma Linga should never touch the ground, failing which the Linga will never be able to move away from the place.
Role of Vishnu Bhagwan
As Ravan proceeded to Lanka, Vishnu Bhagwan understood the evil intentions of Ravan. Fearing destruction on Earth, Lord Vishnu requested Ganesh ji, the son of Shiv ji to intervene.
When the demon King Ravan was bringing the Atma Lingam from Kailash Parbat, now in Tibet, Ganesh Bhagwan tricked him while he was on his way to Lanka by making him into put the Atma Linga in Gokarna.
Ganesh ji knew about the daily routine of Ravan which included evening prayers or sandhya vandana every evening.
While Ravan approached, what now is Gokarna, Vishnu ji blackened out the sun, making it look like it is dusk. Ravan was now in a situation where he had to perform the pooja but was unable to figure out how to do the same without keeping the sacred Linga on the ground.
Ganesh Ji tricks Ravan
It was then when Ganesh ji appeared in front of Ravan in the form of a regular Brahmin boy. Seizing the opportunity, clever Ravan asked him to keep holding the Atma Linga till Ravan is done with all the rituals and pooja.
Where did Ravana place the Shivling?
Of course, till pooja is over, the Linga should not be kept on ground. Ganesh ji agreed on the condition that he would call out for Ravan’s name 3 times. In the situation where Ravan fails to answer to his calls, he would keep the Atma Linga on the ground.
Needless to say, what followed next. While Ravan was still performing the evening pooja, Ganesh ji strategically called out his name 3 times. Since Ravan was doing rituals, he could not come after which Ganesh ji kept the Atma Linga on the floor. Since the purpose was solved Vishnu ji withdrew the illusion of dusk which he created and it was daylight again.
Uprooting of Shivalinga
Ravan sensed what had just happened. Enraged by this obstacle, Ravan made an attempt to uproot the Shivlinga and destroy it. As a result, the broken pieces of Linga spread in different directions.
Soul Window Thoughts
Despite the 10 heads of Ravana which represented his immense knowledge of 6 shastras and 4 Vedas, he failed in life due to his ego and false pride. Ravan was a Brahmin by caste. It is said that Ravan was the most knowledgeable man of his times. There is a lot modern Hindus can learn from his misconduct and greed.
Rakshas Taal in Kailash Mansarovar Yatra
While visiting the Rakshas Taal (Demon Lake) near holy Mansarovar lake during my Kailash Mansarovar Yatra in what is now Tibet, I heard of many legends which talked of Ravan doing severe penance in Rakshas Taal.
In Tibetan language the lake is known as Lhanag Tso or Lagngar Cho, literal meaning of which is ‘the dark poisonous lake’. I had no idea that both Rakshas Taal and Murudeshwar which I visited within a year of each other had such deep connections.
Atma linga temples in India
Where is real Atma Linga? How many Atma Linga temples are there in India? Do you know that there are many Atma linga temples in India? Luckily, I have visited many of the temples which are associated with Atma Linga. Here is a complete list of Atma Linga temples in India:
The cloth that covered the Atmalinga ultimately fell at the Kanduka Giri in then Mrideshwara. Murudeshwar is thus considered sacred by Hindus. And the Murudeshwar temple was built due to the same reason.
Do you know that Murudeshwara Temple of Kartanaka is one of those rare places where depiction of the story of Atma Linga is shown in statues? Here you can see how Ganesh Bhagwan who appeared in the human form and deceived Ravan.
Just below the tall Shiva Statue in Murudeshwara devasthana, I visited the area because it was lined with many interesting sculptures and statues. One such statue depicted the scene where a gigantic Ravan is handing over the Atma Linga to Ganesh Bhagwan in the form of Brahmin to keep it safe without touching the floor.
Murudeshwar Temple is where real Atma Linga is worshipped by thousands of devotees every day.
Mahabaleshwar Temple of Gokarna
Do you know that Mahabaleshwar Temple of Gokarna is named so because of an interesting story? After the Atmalinga was rooted in Gokarna, Ravan failed to lift it despite several attempts. It was then that Mahabaleshawar was named as Atmalinga which means “all powerful”!
Not many know that the very famous Mahabaleshwar Temple of the temple town of Gokarna in Uttara Kannada or North Karnataka is the second home to the original Atma Linga. It is located in South India near Murudeshwara. Many devotees have felt vibrations while touching Atma Linga here.
This is a very old temple which is located near the famous beaches of Gokarna. When I visited this highly revered Shiva temple, it was bustling with devotees. Shri Maha Ganapati temple is also located nearby.
It was built to honor Ganesh ji who helped keep the Atmalinga safe from Ravan. Gogarbha and Kotiteertha are other temples which are visited in Gokarna. Also known as Gokarna Atma Linga, it is a must-visit place.
Men should wear dhoti or pants and the shirt needs to be removed here before they have a darshan of real Atma Linga.
Soul Window Observations
I observed similar practice in the world-famous Vadakkunnathan Temple of Thrissur in Kerala which is also located in South India. Men were allowed only bare chested in this Shaivite temple as well. It is located near the famous Vaishnavite temple known as Guruvayur Temple. Did you know that the world-famous Shri Krishna Math in Udupi also follows the same practice? Do read my detailed blog on these places of worship.
Also Read: Shri Krishna Janm Bhoomi in Mathura
Located in the hilly state of Himachal Pradesh, there are many stories of Atma Linga which are associated with Baijnath Temple. This famous Shiva temple is highly revered. In fact, there is also an interesting story here behind why the Hindu festival Dussehra is not celebrated here.
This story is also linked with Atma Linga. You can read my detailed guide on Atma Linga of Baijnath Temple for a deeper insight on this subject.
Where is Atma Linga in India?
Where is Atma Linga located? The other places where the pieces of Atma Linga were scattered are listed below. These are some lesser-known facts. Murudeswar, Sajjeswar, Dharaweshar, and Gunuvanteswar are some of the top places to be visited if you want to have a darshan of Atma Linga.
The lid of the case fell in Gunavanthe aka Guneshwara and Dhareshwara. Gunavanthe is located just 20 minutes and 18 kilometers away from Murudeshwar.
The case covering fell at Sajjeshwara. This must-visit place is located 2 hours 20 minutes and 118 kms away from Murudeshwar via NH66. A trip to Sajjeshwara, Gunavanthe, Surathkal, Murudeshwar and Gokarna can be easily clubbed together.
A piece from Linga’s head fell at what is now Surathkal. The Sadashic Mandir which is quiet famous in this region was constructed around the same piece of Linga. Distance between Surathkal to Murudeshwar is 144 kilometers and it takes just 2 hours and 45 minutes via NH66.
Difference between Atma Linga and Jyotirlinga
What is the main difference between Atma Linga and Jyotirlinga? This is a frequently asked question. The main difference between Atma Linga and Jyotirlinga is the story of how they were created.
We have all grown up worshipping Shivlinga in Bharat, also known as India. Shivalinga is the mystic form of Shiva Bhagwan. I personally worship Shivalinga on every Monday by offering milk. Thousands of other people worship Shivalinga as it brings good mental health and well-being.
Jyotirlinga on the other hand is the pillar of light which is highly revered by Hindus. There are 12 sacred Jyotirlingas in India which are worshipped everyday by thousands of people.
The influx of devotees at these Jyotirlinga temple increase manifolds during the Hindu festival of Mahashivratri. Jyotirlinga refers to the endless source of light which Vishnu ji and Brahma ji were unable to locate the end of.
Also read: My blog on the only Brahma Temple of India
Worshipping a Jyotirlinga brings good fortune, blessings and prosperity. The 12 Jyotirlingas also rule the 12 different zodiac signs.
The 12 Jyotirlinga of India include the following
- Somnath in Gujarat
- Nageshwar in Gujarat
- Bhimashankar in Maharashtra
- Trimbakeshwar in Maharashtra
- Grishneshwar in Aurangabad of Maharashtra
- Vaidyanath Dham in Deoghar of Jharkhand
- Mahakaleshwar in Madhya Pradesh
- Omkareshwar in Madhya Pradesh
- Kashi Vishwanath in my home state Uttar Pradesh
- Kedarnath in Uttarakhand
- Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu
- Mallikarjuna in Andhra Pradesh
Atma Linga in Human Body
Adho Nistya Vitastyante Nabhyamupari Tisthati
Jvalamalakulam Bhati Visvasyayatanam mahat
Below is the literal translation of the above verse:
Right below the Adam’s apple, at a distance of a span and above the navel is the heart which is the relative seat of the manifestation of pure consciousness in humas. It effulges the ‘Great Abode of the Universe’ as if adorned with garlands of flames.
Taittiriya Aranyaka 10.13.2.7
In simple words, this means that in human body, it is located below the ‘Vita’ and right above the navel or ‘Nabhi’. I was surprised when I tried it at home with Nishti. Nishti is the shape of palm when you outstretch the little finger and thumb in opposite directions.
Here is a little exercise I did to see what this verse means. This is how I did it. I placed the thumb of Nishti below the Vita or the place right below the Adam’s Apple. This is where the top part of Atmalinga exists in human body.
Now I stretched my little finger towards navel. It must be kept in mind that while stretching the little finger, the thumb must be still placed below the Vita. I noticed that the little finger touched the space between the chest.
Now I placed my thumb where the little finger reached earlier. I realized that while I again used Nishti, the little finger this time touched the navel or the belly button.
Soul Window Observations
I was surprised to know that the distance between Vita and the center of chest is same as the distance between center of chest and the navel. Isn’t human body just amazing?
Why do Hindus pour water over Shivalinga?
This center point is said to be the Mulasthana where the Prana Shakti of humans is concentrated. We must have seen Hindus pouting water over Shivalinga several times when they worship. When Hindus pour water over Shivalinga, it thus reaches the beating heart or the Hridaya. We call this water as Narayana. If you notice you will observe that this is why the edge of Shivalinga always points towards the right side.
Conclusion: Why Hindus worship Atmalinga?
Why Atmalinga is worshipped by lakhs of Hindus daily. Here are my final thoughts. To summarize, Atma Linga is highly revered by Hindus across the world. The engaging stories behind Atma Lingas make it all the more interesting. Most of the Atmalinga are interestingly located close to each other in Karnataka of South India.
Atma Linga in India is worshipped by thousands of people every day. Atma Linga temples such as Murudeshwar, Baijnath Temple and Gokarna Temple, which is also known as Mahabaleshwar Templeare one of the most important Shiva temples of India.
The view from my Soul Window is older than the time!
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