Nowadays in many of the Lord Shiva temples one finds the shivalinga in the sanctum decorated with kavacha that is having a face, after performing the abhiSheka. In many temples this has become a regular decoration and many new temples are also joining this custom of covering the shivalingam with this type of kavacha resembling face.
First of all one need to understand why shivalinga worship is considered the prime for the Shaivites while there are so many glorious forms the Three eyed Lord has taken out of His Grace. Shaivism maintains that the God is beyond any form or attribute to be comprehended and in this natural state It is calledparashiva. Out of Its Grace on the pashus, It appeared as the Infinite pillar of fire in front of braHma and viShNu. As it can be seen the flame is not having any definite shape at the same time it is not something that cannot be noticed. This formless-from (arUparUpa) is the shivalingam which is a mere symbol which represents the Formless Supreme, while still giving way for us to worship It out of devotion as the Supreme Itself. So shivalingam worship is a magnificent way of worshiping a easily comprehendible form still maintaining the core fact that the Supreme is formless. That is why shivalingam is always installed in the Sanctum whereas the various glorious forms of the Lord are installed in the prakAras (corridors) of the temples. (1)
Given the significance of this arUparUpa worship, it is quite important that this glorious concept of formlessness, which is beyond any boundaries that gets associated when there is a form, is carried forward with the complete spirit of it. So it may not be nice to have the face covering the shivalingam which becomes a form worship.
This is certainly not to say that the form worship is wrong. There are so many forms of the Lord (2) like daxiNamUrhti, ardhanArIshvarar and so on which are worshipped by the shaivites ardently. But the shivalingam worship is intended to be a formless-form worship taking the devotee forward from the forms to the natural worship. Hence it should be necessary to maintain this concept. So it would be our duty to ensure that the kavachas made in our temples for shivalingam are still in the shape of shivalingam and not introduce forms into it.
Posted On : 29.10.2001