Aṅga and liṅga
By Swami Harshananda
Aṅga and liṅga literally means ‘that which goes towards Brahman’ and ‘that into which everything is dissolved’.
In Vīraśaivism (one of the important schools of Śaivism) Brahman is called ‘Sthala’. ‘Stha’ stands for ‘sthāna’ (place) and ‘la’ for ‘laya’ (dissolution). So ‘Sthala’ is that place or source from which the universe evolves and into which it dissolves ultimately.
This ‘Sthala’ divides itself out of līlā and become a part of liṅga and aṅga, also called as liṅgasthala and aṅgasthala. Aṅga is the individual soul or jīva (so called because he goes back [ga] to Brahman [aril] ) and liṅga (= that into which everything gets dissolved, liyate) is God, Śiva.
Aṅga becomes one with liṅga in course of time as a result of bhakti, upāsanā or worship.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore