Linga Purana

A page from a Linga Purana manuscript (Sanskrit, Devanagari)

The Linga Purana (लिङ्ग पुराण, IAST: Liṅga Purāṇa) is one of the eighteen Mahapuranas, and a Shaivism text of Hinduism.[1][2] The text's title Linga refers to the iconography for Shiva.[1][3]

The author(s) and date of the Linga Purana is unknown, and the estimates place the original text to have been composed between the 5th- to 10th-century CE. The text exists in many inconsistent versions, and was likely revised over time and expanded.[2][4] The extant text is structured into two parts, with a cumulative total of 163 chapters.[5]

The text presents cosmology, mythology, seasons, festivals, geography, a tour guide for pilgrimage (Tirtha), a manual for the design and consecration of the Linga and Nandi, stotras, the importance of these icons, a description of Yoga with claims of its various benefits.[1][2][6]

Date and structure

The estimate composition dates for the oldest core of Linga Purana vary between scholars, ranging from the 5th-century CE to 10th-century.[2][7]

Like all the Puranas, the Linga Purana has a complicated chronology. Cornelia Dimmitt and J. A. B. van Buitenen state that each of the Puranas is encyclopedic in style, and it is difficult to ascertain when, where, why and by whom these were written:[4]

As they exist today, the Puranas are a stratified literature. Each titled work consists of material that has grown by numerous accretions in successive historical eras. Thus no Purana has a single date of composition. (...) It is as if they were libraries to which new volumes have been continuously added, not necessarily at the end of the shelf, but randomly.

— Cornelia Dimmitt and J. A. B. van Buitenen, Classical Hindu Mythology: A Reader in the Sanskrit Puranas[4]

The Linga Purana survives in many versions, consisting of two parts – the Purva-bhaga (older part, sometimes called Purvardha) with 108 chapters and Uttara-bhaga (later part, sometimes called Uttarardha) with 55 chapters.[1][5] However, the manuscripts of the text assert in verse 2.55.37 that the Uttara-bhaga only has 46 chapters, suggesting that the text was expanded over time.[5] Some scholars suggest that the entire Uttara-bhaga may be a later insertion or attachment to the older part.[5]

The text is titled after its theme, that is the worship of Linga, and the text is primarily focussed on Shiva as Supreme.[1][8] However, along with Shiva-related themes, the Linga Purana includes chapters dedicated to Vedic themes, as well as includes reverence for Vishnu and Brahma.[5][9]