By Swami Harshananda
Sometimes transliterated as: Mukhalinga, MukhaliGga, Mukhalinga
Mukhaliṅga literally means ‘linga with face’.
Śiva is worshiped in the form of a liṅga. A liṅga may be aniconic or partially iconic. The mukhaliṅga belongs to the partially iconic group. In a mukhaliṅga, the Śiva-part is one unit more than the Brahmā-part and the Viṣṇu-part.
If the Śiva-part is divided into three equal portions, the mukha or face of Śiva should occupy one and a half portion. There may be one, two, three or four faces on the round shaft of the liṅga. Whereas liṅgas with one face and four faces can be installed in villages and towns, the two-faced ones are generally used in black-magical rites and are established in forests or on mountains. The one-faced liṅga must have the face turned towards the entrance of the sanctum. If it is three faced, the main face should be turned towards the door of the sanctum.
- Aniconic means without any image form.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore