Pancha Bhoota Lingas – Manifestation of 5 elements of nature

Pancha Bhoota Sthalam refers to the locations of five temples dedicated to Bhagwan Shiva, each representing a manifestation of the five prime elements of nature: land, water, air, sky, and fire. Four of these Pancha Bhoota Linga temples are located in Tamil Nadu and one in Andhra Pradesh.

Bhoota in Sanskrit means compound. According to Ayurveda, the equilibrium of the body with the pancha bhoota is governed by the principles of  – kaph (phlegm/water and earth), pitta (bile/fire), vayu (gas/air and either), dhātu ( associated with the tissues of the body) and malas (waste products).

Details of Pancha Bhoota Lingas

Category

Lingam Temple

Location

 
Earth Prithvi Lingam Ekambareswara Temple Kanchipuram  
Water Appu Lingam (Jambu Lingam) Jambukeshwara Temple, Thiruvanaikaval Thiruvanaikaval, near Trichy  
Fire Agni Lingam (Jyothi Lingam) Arunachaleswara Temple Thiruvannamalai  
Air Vayu Lingam Kalahasti temple KalahasthiAndhra Pradesh  
Space Aagaya Lingam (Akasha Lingam) Thillai Nataraja Temple Chidambaram  

Three of the five Pancha Bhoota Sthalam temples stand on a geographic straight line around 79° E 41’54” Longitude (Chidambaram Nataraja Temple, Kanchipuram Ekambareswara Temple, Srikalahasti Temples are aligned in a straight line Positions).

Of the other two temples, Thiruvanaikkaval is located at around 3 degrees to the south and exactly 1 degree to the west of the northern tip of the divine axis, while Thiruvannamalai is around midway (1.5 degree to the south and 0.5 degree to the west).

Flickering lamps in the Srikalahasti temple shows the play of wind (respiration of Vayu Linga), Water spring in the innermost sanctum of the Tiruvanaikkaval temple shows the temple’s relationship to the element water, Annual Kartika Deepam (giant lamp is lighted atop the Annamalai hill) shows the Arunachaleswar’s manifestation as fire, Swayambhu lingam of sand at Kanchipuram signifies the Siva’s association with the earth while the formless space (Akasa) at Chidambaram shows the association of lord with formlessness or nothingness.

Shiva
Source

Geographic Speciality

The five temples were built according to the yogic sciences, and are placed in a certain geographic alignment with each other, so that the entire region reverberates with the positive vibrations they offered. Kedarnath temple in Himalayas is also almost on same longitude as of these temples. Kaleshwaram temple in Telangana (where Lord Siva and Yama are placed on same platform), and Ramanathaswamy temple at Rameswaram at Tamilnadu are also almost on same line.

Latitude and longitude of these three temples-

  • Kedarnath – Kedarnath Temple (30.7352° N, 79.0669)
  • Kaleshwaram – Kaleshwara Mukteshwara swamy Temple (18.8110, 79.9067)
  • Rameswaram – Ramanathaswamy Temple (9.2881, 79.3174)

Divine Axis

The universe is a circle of mountains, oceans and continents arranged in a particular way around a mythical mountain at the very center. This mythical mountain, Kailash also known as Meru, plays a pivotal role in Hindu Dharma and Buddhism as the divine axis of the cosmos. The name Kailash could have been derived from the word “kelāsa” (केलास), which also means “crystal”. Mount Kailash is central to Buddhist cosmology, and a major pilgrimage site for some Buddhist traditions. It is known as axis mundi or the centre of the world.

Mount Kailash is considered to be sacred in four religions: Bon (religion of Tibetians)BuddhismHindu Dharma and Jainism.

Lalitha Sahasranamam 22nd sloka says-

“Sumeru Madhya srungasdha sreemannagara naayika

Chintaamani gruhantastha pancha brahmaa sanasthita”

The goddess who resides on the mid most peak of Mount Meru, who is the Bindu, the central circle of bliss in the Shree Chakra, whose abode is Manidweepa, the island of wish yielding gem, who rests on a seat formed of the five divinities or Brahmans. The primary Pancha Brahmas are- Sadyojata, Vamadeva, Aghora, Tatpurusha, Ishana. The secondary Pancha Brahmas who in turn manifested from the above primary Pancha Brahmas are-  Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, Maheswara, SadaShiva.

The universe is created by Shiva (Consciousness) and Shakti (Energy). Once all the material things get dissolved (Laya), only consciousness and energy will remain as formless, the symbol of Shiva and Shakti.

While destruction represents negativity, laya or dissolution is a natural process. It is ironical that man worships God who is represented by nature but he (man) destroys the nature by his indiscriminate exploitation of the nature due to his greed. In the process the man puts his very survival into question because when he destroys the nature in turn he himself gets destroyed.

When man lives in harmony with the nature only then there will be peace in the universe. From a religious dimension though, the Pancha Bhoota Lingas denote worshiping the God through the five elements. From the spiritual point, it indicates living in harmony with the nature.


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About the Author

B.N.V. Parthasarathi
Ex Senior Banker, Management and Financial Consultant, Visiting faculty at premier B Schools and Universities. E mail- [email protected]