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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Svayambhu Shiva Lingam

Shiva in the Shenandoah Valley?

Last weekend, someone I know and I went to Luray Caverns in Virginia's beautiful Shenandoah Valley, and were surprised to discover tour groups of Buddhist monks in saffron robes, as well as what looked like a large number of tourists from the subcontinent, among the middle-American types. "What would bring Buddhist monks on a pilgrimmage to a tourist trap on the outskirts of Washington, DC?", we wondered on the drive home.

A few minutes googling the internet provided the answer--stalactites, stalagmites, and the columns they form are sometimes considered to be naturally occuring lingams, representations of Shiva's power and the male principle (in some formations, the male + female principle). It seemed that the monks and visitors from the subcontinent were looking at an American variant of the Amaranth temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, located in Jammu and Kashmir, India.

Instead of garlands and milk, the only religious symbolism in Luray was the "Stalacpipe Organ" (really sort of a xylophone) that played "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" with its hammers tinkling the hanging stalactites. (You can listen to "Red River Valley" here. Or another tune here...)

The whole experience was somewhat supernatural--Luray Caverns are well worth a visit, for both the natural wonders and the human beings who experience them. There's also a car museum, which has a nice collection of sleighs, carriages, and vintage Hudsons, DeSotos, Model Ts, Stanley Steamers, as well as Rolls-Royces that belonged to Pola Negri and Rudolf Valentino--of all things, in all places...

360 degree views, here. And here.

Original is here

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This blog is an offshoot of a website that I had conceived as a result of the spiritual grace and resultant inspiration during Shivaratri Y2K (http://www.jyotirlinga.com) on the joy of Shiva Bhakti and my quest for spiritual progress. Not finding the time (yep, bad excuse!), this blog suits me fine in quickly adding content... my spiritual forays and thoughts - helps log them too. My spiritual journey started with Hinduism and it's simple stories/ teachings as far back as when I was a 2nd grader, with Lord Shiva and has now found convergence with Advaitism / Duality. The Advaitism gurus like Bhagwan Ramana Maharishi, Nisargadatta Maharaj; they have provided that spiritual boost of energy in many lagging moments and have tremendously influenced me ... little baby steps at a time... that will hopefully all lead upto a final crescendo. The merits of satsangh are many!

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