Lingodhbhavamurti (Shiva Manifesting within the Linga of Flames)On Display

According to legend, Vishnu and Brahma were quarrelling in the absence of time between two eons when they were interrupted by the radiance of a pillar of fire that arose from the ocean in the dark flood of the cosmic night. The two gods rushed to see the flame, which was infinite in length. Overwhelmed by the presence of the pillar, the two gods sought its beginning and its end. Brahma, shown as a goose in the upper left, flew upwards but could not see the end of the column. However, he lied to Vishnu saying he saw a garland of flowers at the top of the column. Vishnu, as the boar in the lower right, dived down for 1,000 years but could not discover the foundation of the pillar. Returning to where they started, the two bewildered gods witnessed the pillar split open to reveal Shiva inside in all his glory. The primal sound OHM thundered forth from the pillar, and Vishnu and Brahma bowed in the presence of Shiva, as represented by the fire pillar.

  • Chola dynasty (300 BC-AD 1279), About 1150
  • 45 x 16 x 12 in. (114.3 x 40.6 x 30.5 cm)
  • AFI10.2008
  • Collection of the Art Fund, Inc. at the Birmingham Museum of Art; Purchase with funds provided by the Estate of Eivor and Alston Callahan