Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Mystery Behind the Siva Lingam

The Mystery Behind the Siva Lingam
July 22, 2011, 6:05 pm

K. S. Sivakumaran

A friend of mine asked me why the Hindus worship the Sivalingam enshrined in Hindu Siva Temples. I couldn’t give her a satisfying answer although the phallic symbol represents Lord Siva. I merely told her this as a response to her poser. Reading on the subject I gathered from the Internet some information which I shall share with you.

While some say "the Sivalingam symbol is not a sex symbol and it is an image of Pineal gland in human head", others say:

"Cosmic form of Fire is God. Shiva is worshipped in egg shaped form (Sath, the eternal) better known as Shiva-lingam, which is having egg-shape of a cosmos or the cosmos itself as Vishvamuthi."

Here are few more gleanings on the subject culled from different links on the web:

Worship of the Phallus

According to some scholars, worship of Shiva Linga in effect means worship of the reproduction function. For, they say that the other meaning of the Sanskrit word ‘Linga’ is gender in general and phallus (the male reproductive organ) in particular. They believe that the base of the Lingam corresponds to the Yoni which mean vagina or the female reproductive organ. Correspondence of Linga and Yoni in a Shiva Linga is therefore interpreted as the representation of the process of copulation. Scholars further opine that the Kalash (container of water) that is suspended over the Shiva Linga from which water drips over the Linga also correspond to the idea of intercourse.

Connecting the origin of Shiva Linga to the early Indus Valley civilization, scholars opine" that tribes of the Indus Valley took to the togetherness of Lingam and Yoni in a Shiva Linga as the point of energy, creation and enlightenment. "

Interpretation in Tantra

"According to Tantra, Lingam is a symbol of Shiva’s phallus in spiritual form. They say, the lingam contains the soul-seed within which lies the essence of the entire cosmos. The lingam arises out of the base (Yoni) which represents Parvati according to some or Vishnu, Brahma in female and neuter form according to others."

"Puranas, especially the Vamana Purana, Shiva Purana, Linga Purana, Skanda Purana, Matsya Purana and Visva-Sara-Prakasha attribute the origin of Shiva Linga to the curse of sages leading to the separation of and installation of the phallus of Lord Shiva on earth. Some also refer to the endlessness of the lingam to be linked to the egos of Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma. "

Interpretation of Shiva Linga as an Abstract Symbol of God

"Some scholars of the Hindu scriptures say that Linga is merely an abstract symbol of the God. They point towards several legends in Hinduism where a sundry rock or even a pile of sand has been used by as a Lingam or the symbol of Shiva. Citing a particular instance they say, Arjuna once fashioned a linga of clay when worshipping Shiva. Scholars of Puranas, thus argue that too much should not be made of the usual shape of the Lingam. Scholars say that the interpretation of Shiva Linga as an abstract form of God is also consonant with philosophies that hold that God may be conceptualized and worshipped in any convenient form. The form itself is irrelevant, as the divine power that it represents is all that matters. Scholars thus say that Sivalinga represent the formless Nirguna Brahman or the formless Supreme Being."

"The Siva Lingam is a sacred symbol of the Hindus whom they revere as the manifestation of the Universal Self in His awakened aspect in union with His dynamic energy Shakti. This prayer is a declaration of faith, obedience, love and devotion to Lord Siva in His aspect as Sivalingam."

Significance of the Shiva Lingam

"The non anthropomorphic Lingam form of Shiva is what is held in reverence in temples all over the sub continent. The Lingam is a symbol. It is a symbol of that which is invisible yet omnipresent. It is hence a visible symbol of the Ultimate Reality which is present in us (and in all objects of creation)."

"The Shivalingam denotes the primeval energy of the Creator. It is believed that at the end of all creation, during the great deluge, all of the different aspects of God find a resting place in the Lingam; Bhrama is absorbed into the right, Vishnu to the left and Gayatri into the heart. The Shivalingam is also a representation of the infinite Cosmic Column of fire, whose origins, Vishnu and Bhrama were unable to trace"

"Legend has it that Parvati fashioned a Shivalingam with a fistful of sand at

Kanchipuram and worshipped Shiva; this lingam is known as the Prithvilingam, denoting the primordial element earth. Shivalingams in several temples are swayambus, or that which appeared on their own, or that which is untouched by a chisel. On the other hand, there are temples where the Shivalingam is carved out of stone and installed. The highly polished Shivalingams of the Pallava period bear several stripes, as in the Kailasanatha temple at Kanchipuram"

"Nandi, the bull is depicted facing the sanctum in all Saivite temples, symbolizing the human soul Jeevatma yearning for realizing its oneness with Paramatma, the ultimate reality."