Excerpts from the book Mystic's Musings
Question: Sadhguru, in India there are Lingas everywhere. In what way is the Dhyanalinga different from other Lingas worshipped in the Hindu tradition?
Sadhguru: The science of Linga making is a huge experiential possibility, and has been there for thousands of years, but in the last eight or nine hundred years, especially when the bhakthi movement swept the country, the science of building a temple got washed away. For a bhaktha, for a devotee, nothing is important except his emotion. His path is emotion. It is only from the strength of his emotion that he does everything. So they just kept the science aside and started building temples whichever way they liked. It's a love affair, you know? A bhaktha can do whatever he wants. Anything is fair with him. He can do anything he wishes because the only thing he has is the strength of his emotion. That's the way of the bhaktha; because of this, the science of making Lingas receded. Otherwise, it was a very deep science. This is a very subjective science and it was never written down, because if you write it down, it will be completely misunderstood. Many Lingas have been created like this, without any knowledge of the science.
Temples created by bhakthas are places for people to create emotion. Very few people are true bhakthas; the rest are just using devotion as a currency to get what they want. Ninety-eight percent of the world's prayers are about: "Give me this, give me that, or protect me." This is just survival. There is no transcendence in that. There is nothing prayerful about it. This is just seeking survival, shifting your currency from one to the other, that's all. Generally, the only Lingas that have a scientific basis to them are those created by siddhas and yogis looking at liberation as a scientific process. They are eternal vibrations. Usually, they were consecrated with the use of mantras, for specific purposes and specific qualities. If you're not aware of this, in South India, there are five Lingas for the five elements in nature. These five Lingas are created for sadhana, not for worship; this must be understood. And the most fundamental sadhana in yoga is bhuta shuddhi.
The pancha bhoothas are the five elements in nature. If you look at yourself, your physical body is made up of five elements. These are earth, fire, wind, water, and space. They come together in a certain way to become the body. So the whole spiritual process is about going beyond the physical, beyond the five elements. These elements have a huge grip on everything that you experience. To transcend them, the fundamental practice of yoga involves what's called bhootha shuddhi. For every element that is involved, there's a certain practice you can do to become free from it. That is why, to practice the bhootha shuddhi, they created five different Lingas: one for earth, one for fire, one for wind, one for water, and one for space. Huge magnificent temples were built where you can go and do sadhana. If you want to do sadhana for the element of water, you go to Thiruvanaikaval. For space, you go to Chidambaram. To do different sadhana, different types of temples were built. This is how a temple is supposed to be, a place where energy is created in a particular way for the specific purpose of sadhana. They created these temples as places for sadhana, not for worship. Indian temples have never been places of prayer; nobody ever leads prayers there. Nobody tells you that you must go there, give five rupees and appeal to God to do this or that. The tradition always told you that if you go to the temple, you must sit there for a while, because these temples are energy centers. It's like a public charging place. Everyday in the morning, before you go out into the world, you have a bath, go sit in the temple and imbibe this, energize yourself. Then go out into the world with the right kind of vibe.