The Vishnu Purana, translated by Horace Hayman Wilson, , at sacred-texts.com
11. The Linga Puráńa
11. Linga Puráńa. "Where Maheśwara, present in the Agni Linga, explained (the objects of life) virtue, wealth, pleasure, and final liberation at the end of the Agni Kalpa, that Puráńa, consisting of eleven thousand stanzas, was called the Lainga by Brahmá himself 66."
The Linga Puráńa conforms accurately enough to this description. The Kalpa is said to be the Íśána, but this is the only difference. It consists of eleven thousand stanzas. It is said to have been originally composed by Brahmá; and the primitive Linga is a pillar of radiance,
in which Maheśwara is present. The work is therefore the same as that referred to by the Matsya.
A short account is given, in the beginning, of elemental and secondary creation, and of the patriarchal families; in which, however, Śiva takes the place of Vishńu, as the indescribable cause of all things. Brief accounts of Śiva's incarnations and proceedings in different Kalpas next occur, offering no interest except as characteristic of sectarial notions. The appearance of the great fiery Linga takes place, in the interval of a creation, to separate Vishńu and Brahmá, who not only dispute the palm of supremacy, but fight for it; when the Linga suddenly springs up, and puts them both to shame; as, after travelling upwards and downwards for a thousand years in each direction, neither can approach to its termination. Upon the Linga the sacred monosyllable Om is visible, and the Vedas proceed from it, by which Brahms and Vishńu become enlightened, and acknowledge and eulogize the superior might and glory of Śiva.
A notice of the creation in the Padma Kalpa then follows, and this leads to praises of Śiva by Vishńu and Brahmá. Śiva repeats the story of his incarnations, twenty-eight in number; intended as a counterpart, no doubt, to the twenty-four Avatáras of Vishńu, as described in the Bhágavata; and both being amplifications of the original ten Avatáras, and of much less merit as fictions. Another instance of rivalry occurs in the legend of Dadhíchi, a Muni and worshipper of Śiva. In the Bhágavata there is a story of Ambarísha being defended against Durvásas by the discus of Vishńu, against which that Śaiva sage is helpless: here Vishńu hurls his discus at Dadhíchi, but it falls blunted to the ground, and a conflict ensues, in which Vishńu and his partisans are all overthrown by the Muni.
A description of the universe, and of the regal dynasties of the Vaivaswata Manwantara to the time of Krishńa, runs through a number of chapters, in substance, and very commonly in words, the same as in other Puráńas. After which, the work resumes its proper character, narrating legends, and enjoining rites, and reciting prayers, intending to do honour to Śiva under various forms. Although, however, the Linga
holds a prominent place amongst them, the spirit of the worship is as little influenced by the character of the type as can well be imagined. There is nothing like the phallic orgies of antiquity: it is all mystical and spiritual. The Linga is twofold, external and internal. The ignorant, who need a visible sign, worship Śiva through a 'mark' or 'type'--which is the proper meaning of the word 'Linga'--of wood or stone; but the wise look upon this outward emblem as nothing, and contemplate in their minds the invisible, inscrutable type, which is Śiva himself. Whatever may have been the origin of this form of worship in India, the notions upon which it was founded, according to the impure fancies of European writers, are not to be traced in even the Śaiva Puráńas.
Data for conjecturing the era of this work are defective, but it is more of a ritual than a Puráńa, and the Pauráńik chapters which it has inserted, in order to keep up something of its character, have been evidently borrowed for the purpose. The incarnations of Śiva, and their 'pupils,' as specified in one place, and the importance attached to the practice of the Yoga, render it possible that under the former are intended those teachers of the Śaiva religion who belong to the Yoga school 67, which seems to have flourished about the eighth or ninth centuries. It is not likely that the work is earlier, it may be considerably later. It has preserved apparently some Śaiva legends of an early date, but the greater part is ritual and mysticism of comparatively recent introduction.
Click to view
xliv:67 See Asiatic Researches, vol. XVII. p. 287.