Shivling with Nandi and Shiv Parivar
Lord Shiva Ji is recorded in the Shiva Purana as appearing between Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu when fighting at the beginning of time as an unending pillar of light. After the fight was resolved, Lord Shiva emerged from the pillar of light and there was a black stone Lingam, oval shaped. Lord Shiva announced there that this was his eternal form and should be worshipped by all his devotees.
Indeed, the earliest civilization in the world at Mohenjodaro and Harappa sites in India contain the Shiva Lingam, and it was worshipped by our Hindu ancestors there. The Shivling, the black stone is said to be 'Svayam-Pragat' - self manifested in the river Narmada in India. The Shivlings taken from that river need no formal Pratishtha rituals as we are promised by Lord Shiva that he resides in them specifically, just as Lord Krishna resides in the Shaligram of the Gandaki river.
That stone is then placed in a 'Jalahari' pedestal. The pedestal allows a controlled run-off of the water used in Pujas. It represents Parvati Maa, and together the Shivling and Jalahari represents the union of the doer and the energy which is responsible for action in creation.
Hindus bathe the ShivaLing with water in a process called 'Abhishek' as when Lord Shiva drank the poison produced at the time of creation, he started to get overly hot. So Ganga Maa showered her waters on his head, and the demigods all offered water from the sacred rivers to cool him. This is immensely pleasing to Lord Shiva as revealed in the Puranas. When installed in a Mandir, the Shivling is worshipped together with:
- Lord Shiva's most devoted disciple, the bull Nandi is the trusted vehicle and counsel of Lord Shiva, and protector of the adobe of Kailash. He sits directly opposite the opening of the Jalahari.
- Lord Shiva's eternal consort. Parvati Maa, sits with hands clasped worshipping Lord Shiva as she did when she was a young girl in order to get Lord Shiva to be her husband. She is the mother of the world and is worshipped together with Lord Shiva for peace and prosperity in families.
- Also known as 'Skanda','Murugan' and 'Ayyappa', Lord Kartikeya is the eldest son of Lord Shiva and Mother Parvati. He is the general of the armies of the demigods and leads them in battle against all the demons. Hindus pray to him for myriad reasons, however the main reason is may he lead the army of good-nature to conquer the bad elements of our own character.