Lingothbhavar

Lingothbhavar
In many Shiva temples, one can see the image of Shiva emerging from a lingam, with images of a swan on the top and a boar at the bottom. Shiva in this form, is called Lingothbhavar. Usually, this image is seen behind (on the Western side) the Garbha Griham.

Lingothbhavar, Airavateeswara Temple, Darasuram, Tamil Nadu. Chola – 12th Century A.D

The story as per Shivapurana:
Shiva emerged from a lingam in his full form – viz, spanning the entire Universe. Brahma and Vishnu wanted to see the extremities of Shiva. Brahma took the form of a swan (Hamsa) and travelled skywards to see His head. Vishnu took the form of a boar and went underneath to see His feet. While Vishnu came back and admitted his defeat, Brahma lied to the assembled Devas that he had seen Shiva’s head. Angered by this lie, Shiva plucked the fifth head of Brahma. This being major sin (Brahma hathi) the skull stuck to his hand. According the Vaishnaviites, Shiva had to pray to Lord Vishnu to get over this curse.

While the Lingothbhavar is normally on the back (West) of the sanctum sanctorum, at Virupaksha Temple, Pattadakkal, (Chalukya – 8th century AD) it is on the front (East) wall. I do not have a picture of this, but in the photo above it is behind the priest’s shoulder (you can see only the crown).
Here is another Lingothbhavar at Kailasanatha Temple, Kanchipuram










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by harisub
Thiruchendur: This image of Lingothbhavar with Brahma and Vishnu on either side is one of the myriad images on the gopuram at Thiruchendur.
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