has no form, is everywhere and is no “where”. Yet Swamiji explained that the
divine presence is anchored in sacred images and places. A linga is a stone,
generally with a round and slightly long shape, that is a form of Shiva, the
God who ultimately is the Soul within each being.
The place where tapas has been done is sacred.
The divine power attained through spiritual penance remains concentrated in
that place, always available to transform the visitor who seeks its
blessings. Within a few months after Shivabalayogi completed tapas, his
devotees asked him to commemorate the place where he sat in tapas by
installing the permanent presence of his divine guru, Lord Shiva and Goddess
Shri Swamiji agreed, and shortly thereafter he
had a vision of a beautiful naturally formed (svayambhu) Shiva linga
in his meditation. It was revealed to him that this was the linga to be
installed in the meditation temple and that it could be found in the Narmada
River near the Omkareshwara temple. This temple is famous because only at
this one area in this one river can a particular type of very dense stone be
found which is revered as naturally formed lingas sacred to Lord Shiva.
A devotee named Narayan Das set off for
Omkareshwara and sat in meditation at the place Swamiji had indicated. He
meditated for twenty days, but no vision came and he became increasingly
dejected. His failure pressed on his mind as he stared at the river
dejectedly. As he stared, his mind became calm and he went into a deep
meditation. Suddenly he had a vision of light coming from within him and
illuminating the area around him. He opened his eyes and saw that the
brilliant light was actually coming from his forehead and was directed to a
point in the middle of the river. There he saw the light glistening on a
beautiful Shiva linga jutting out of the water, reflecting back brilliant
hues of silver and gold. Narayan Das excitedly waded into the river and
retrieved the linga which Shri Swamiji had seen in meditation.
linga was brought to Adivarapupeta and put under Swamiji’s dais. The linga
is of heavy and very dense stone, but a reasonably strong person should have
been able to lift it off the ground. Before it was installed, Swamiji played
games and asked some of the devotees if they could lift it. Several men
would try, confident in their physical strength, and were unable. Then
Swamiji would ask a lady or even a small child who had no difficulty picking
up the great stone. Swamiji said that if there is devotion in the heart,
even a child can move Lord Shiva in this stone form. “This linga is
going to surrender to those who have devotion, not with those who have
power. Not with shakti [force] but bhakti [devotion].”
While the search for the linga was going on, a
specially commissioned statue of Parvati Devi was being sculpted in
Bangalore. The installation of this statue took place immediately after the
consecration of the linga, in early 1963, shortly before Mahashivaratri.
Swamiji named the linga Ardhanarishwara.
Swamiji would tell devotees that
Ardhanarishwara Linga is a linga of light (jyoti linga), among the
most revered lingas in the world. On other occasions, Swamiji indicated that
Ardhanarishwara Linga was the atmalinga, Lord Shiva’s actual soul,
the same Atmalinga that Ravana Asura obtained from Shiva.