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Three Svayambhü stone linga

Eastern India, age unknown
Height: 19 3/4, 14 1/4 and 7 1/8 inches,
50, 36 and 18 cm

Three Svayambhü stone linga © BJOA 2005

Three stone linga of natural egg shape, each with a smoothly polished surface. The stone is of predominantly grey colour with natural darker, flame-like inclusions.

Stone linga, also known as ‘Eggs of Brahman’, were created naturally by the erosive effect of the river. Their forms vary in size and shape, but all three are perfect in their general ovoid shape and smoothness. The natural colours are of importance to their use. In Hindu cosmology time and existence are conceived of as a system of interconnected cycles, with the emphasis on regeneration rather than the Biblical system of linear creation. Within Hinduism, certain natural forms such as these egg-shaped stones found along the riverbeds of the Narmada and its tributaries, are seen as reflecting and confirming this continuum. Water has enormous significance in Hindu mythology. It is said in one Sanskrit account that the eternal, unborn, the Self Existant (Svayambhü), wishing to create, meditated intensely; from his sweat and semen there appeared an egg floating upon the waters. Within this Golden Egg (Hiranya-garbha) the unborn was born. Depending on how these egg forms are placed, they have different meanings; hence if stood upright they represent the linga or phallus of the god Shiva. If placed in a horizontal position they assume the egg shape, and hence represent the Cosmic egg. The natural coloured markings are taken to represent the energizing female energy, which stimulates the erection of the masculine urge to create, or the three strata of the universe, depending on their shape. Comparable examples where included in the important Tantra exhibition held in London in 19711.

1 - Rawson, P. Tantra, Hayward Gallery, London 1971, nos. 523 – 529, pp. 104 - 5

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