When the sages at Naimisharanya desired to hear about the origin of the worship of the shiva-linga, Suta Gosvami narrated the following story. Some time, long ago, Lord Shiva assumed the form of a mendicant and wandered about, naked, in the forest known as Daruvana, begging alms. At noon, the sages in the forest would bathe in the river, so that their wives were left at home.At such a time, the wives of the sages happened to see Lord Shiva pass by. They said amongst themselves, "Who is this strange-looking person, appearing as a mendicant? Let's give him alms.The wives of the sages went to their cottages, brought various kinds of food, and gave it to the mendicant. One of the ladies, who was enamored by Lord Shiva, inquired, "Who are you, O intelligent one? Why have you come to the hermitages of the sages in the guise of a mendicant? Come, sit down here for some time.Lord Shiva laughingly replied, "I am Ishvara, Lord Shiva.The lady said, "You say that you are the lord of Mount Kailasa but how is it that you are begging alms without any companion?Lord Shiva replied, "I am bereaved because of the loss of my wife, Dakshayani. It is for this reason that I wander about naked, begging alms, O lady of excellent hips. Actually, I do not have any expectation of gaining anything from anyone. Without Sati, none of the women in the world appeal to me. I am telling you the truth, O lady of large eyes.That lotus-eyed lady said, "There is no doubt that women give great pleasure to a man when they touch him. I am surprised that such women have been renounced by you!Lord Shiva, whose begging bowl was now filled with nice food, was surrounded by many beautiful, young women. Thereafter, when Mahadeva began to return to Mount Kailasa, all of these women followed him, forsaking their household duties/With their minds attached to him, they followed Lord Shiva.
For this reason, when the sages returned home after bathing, they found their cottages empty. They said to one another, "Where have our wives gone? By which rascal have they been kidnapped?"
While thinking in this way, the sages searched, here and there, until they came upon their wives, following Lord Shiva. In a rush, they went and stood before Mahadeva, saying with great agitation,
"What are you doing, Shambhu? You claim to be detached and self-realized but here you are, kidnapping our wives!"
Although rebuked in this way, Lord Shiva simply continued walking. Being neglected in this way, the sages angrily cursed him, saying, "Because you have abducted our wiveslet you immediately become a eunuch."As soon as this was said, Lord Shiva's penis fell to the ground and upon touching the earth, it enormously increased in size. In fact, it pervaded the seven lower planets within an instant. After that, it pervaded the earth and thereafter, the higher planetary systems. Indeed, the entire cosmic manifestation ceased to exist as a separate entity, being merged in that shiva-linga.
As the penis of Lord Shiva was covering all directions, Lord Brahma, the great sages, and the loka-palas became astonished, saying to one another, "What is the actual size of this linga? Upon what does it rest?"The demigods said to Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma, "You must tell us clearly about the nature of this linga. Then You can rightly be called the protectors of the universe.After hearing this, Lord Vishnu departed for the bottom of the universe and Lord Brahma went to the top.