WHAT IS LINGADHARANA INITIATION?
A.V.S.R. CHANDRASEKHAR, describes the ancient Lingadharana initiation ceremony, known as Shambhava Diksha:
The same ceremonies that are used to install a Linga in a temple—such as jaladivasam, danyadivasam, homa etc.—are followed here to worship all the small Lingas collectively. Nine grains, four Lingas, five forms of Lord Siva and the water vessels, are all laid out. Twelve acharyas are invited to help with the chanting. Through chanting of the Vedic mantras, all the ten ganas, the guardians who always accompany Lord Siva, are invited one by one. Nandi the bull is also invited. All the family devas are invited. The entire puja and chanting are done as stated in our Agama Shastras. To explain in simple terms: if a king is coming, then all his ministers and family are also invited and arrangements made to receive them. Similarly when we are calling Lord Siva or Ishwaram, He comes with His entourage, and they remain present here in the water vessels.
Saiva publisher: Shri A.V.S.R. Chandrasekhar, along with his brother, Shri A.G. Krishnaprasad, manages the Sivajnanalahari Trust established by his father to propagate Srouta Saivism in English in books and on the Internet.
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Then there will be the prana pratishtha mantra to awaken the spiritual power in the Lingas, just as you would do when installing a new image in a temple. Finally the guru performs the puja. Once the program is complete, the ganas will be asked to leave. The charged and consecrated Lingas will later be presented to the Lingadharana Diksha seekers to install on their bodies. The body of the initiate becomes a temple.
Every day you try to improve concentration on your puja. Srouta Saiva philosophy does not say that you must do a long, vigorous spiritual practice from day one. The laghu puja is only fifteen minutes. Penance is a continuous process. Shambhava Diksha is a lifetime affair. As age advances, the Lingadhari concentrates more and more on sadhana and puja. The maha puja may last three hours, which ultimately leads to salvation.
Siva has two forms: human form and Linga rupam. The entire cosmos is there in the Linga rupam, the divine aniconic form. Lingadharis feel that worship of the Linga rupam is the highest worship, through which you will eventually get the sakshatkaram/vision of Siva in human form and hence salvation. That is the process. In the Vedas, the sakshatkaram of Siva is mentioned as difficult but not impossible to attain.
Taking God’s Emblem, the Ishta Linga, to the Heart for a Lifetime of Worship
(above) Couples doing the sankalpa: declaration of time, place and intention; young boy covered in sacred ash awaits his turn; small Lingas, crystal for men, black stone for women; (below) Candidates are blessed and purified in preparation for initiation; (opposite) Peethadhipati prepares to give diksha; (inset) Eleven-year-old Shreyas receiving his lingam