Apt for a Monday – the ShivLing at Somnath , one of the Twelve (although by some counts thirteen) Jyotirlingam [‘Starlight Lingam’] sites; ‘Somnath’ meaning ‘Lord of the Soma’ – a prominent Shaivite epithet, theonym, and role. Which it would be interesting to connect to Odin’s role in the bringing of the Mead of Poetry.
A ShivLing, as we have discussed at greater length elsewhere, is analogous to other Indo-European ritualine structures utilized for the worship of the Sky Father deific, and correlate with the Axis Mundi of this world. The Irminsuls of the Germanic peoples are a good comparative example, and we have reasonably direct statements in both the Nordic and Hellenic canons around offerings of milk (and honey) in the mythology.
The ShivLing itself is stated in our scriptural sources to be a continuation of the Sthambha – sacral post – of the Vedic age; and we likewise have attestation for the Sky Father deific appearing as a Sthambha as Axis Mundi of the world(s).
The Jyotirlingam concept carries this understanding forwards as well – although in rather ‘higher’ format. The Jyotis- element referring to the ‘Celestial’ characterization of the pillar, but also to the fact that it is co-occurrent in each of the Three Layers / Three Worlds of the Universe. We may therefore think of these as ‘linchpins’ of the cosmos [and ‘Cosmos’ in its archaic Greek sense meaning ‘Regime’, ‘Order’, is quite relevant here likewise – the Axis Mundi is a salient of this Supernal Order , Orlog , within our worlds .. hence why these are attacked by demonic forces; the dragon-demons that gnaw upon the limbs of Yggdrasil in the Nordic texts, for example; hence the ‘repairing’ taking place via these libations aforementioned].
Somnath itself is a particularly interesting Jyotirlinga site, for reasons I have partially elucidated in my tribute (A)Arti-cle for Indian Independence Day 2019 – “On The Gates of Somnath Temple”
It was raided, ransacked, and razed by Mahmud of Ghazni almost a thousand years ago, and then again when it had been reconstructed … several times over. Multiple Muslim warlords sought to enrich themselves, or carry out acts of ‘iconoclasm’ and religious suppression against it and the Hindusphere over a period of almost seven hundred years.
In one of those curious turns of fate, one of the more noted efforts at actually reconstructing the Temple took place in the 1800s under the British – with the then Governor-General of India, Edward Law (also known as Ellenborough after his aristocratic title as Earl thereof) carrying back from Afghanistan elements he thought had been looted from the site by Mahmud of Ghazni, so as to see them reinstalled at Somnath. He got into considerable trouble with others in the British establishment, such as the much-maligned (and deservedly so) Lord Macaulay – who spoke in Parliament against him for this act, and declared that the official policy of the British in India ought to be to favour the ‘Mahometan’ over the adherent of the ‘Brahminical’ faith. And further expressed his horror at what appeared to be a Hindufication of both the Governor General and various of the British personnel under his command which had been allegedly taking place at this time.
I have found it somewhat amusing that Macaulay, in the relevant speech in Parliament, did not just declare Ellenborough to be a Shaivite as a term of insult (in part precisely due to what he insisted the Jyotirlingam had to represent) … but also said that if he had to choose, Macaulay would much prefer to be a Vaishnava.
In any case – the Somnath Jyotirlinga temple was finally properly reconstructed in 1951, as one of the early acts of the Congress government (initiated in 1947 by Deputy Prime Minister ‘Sardar’ Patel).
And it is this modern place of worship which the below image comes to us from.
A living expression of not only the ancient Hindu faith, standing where it has stood for centuries upon centuries even in spite of all manner of attempted mortal intervention , invasion, and intercession against same …
… but also of the similar forms, with the same essence, that we had once known in Europe, as well.
As we have said – the reason that these elements, the Jyotirlingam, and the Lingodbhava , are ‘infinite’ is that they are unending. The expressions of these elements found amidst this more sidereal world of ours are more mutable in some ways … they can be hacked down, perhaps, by men threatened by the manifestations:
But the essences are transcendental, supernal – and the ‘roots’, to reference both the Nordic and Vedic conceptry quite directly, are beyond what men may know.
And so these are able to be reconstructed, resurrected , and rebuilt – they cannot be snuffed out by mortal hands, not truly, as they were not produced by mortal hands to begin with.
Even though it is over to us, humans, to make active and tangible that vital re-incarnation as necessary and as appropriate, and thence to engage with these in proper worshipful conduct.
One day, we may have such sites as these in vital, active use in Europe again, too.
But for now, it is enough to know that they still exist with our close cousins in India.
ॐ नमः शिवाय