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Encyclopedia > Linga
Linga worship
(Estate of Cynthia and Harlen Welsh)

Lingam or Linga is the Sanskrit word for mark. Linga is also the word for gender, as in pursha-linga, sexual organs, and penis.

It is used as a symbol for the worship of the Hindu God Shiva. A stone lingam is a naturally occurring ovular stone, also associated with Hinduism. The term is not used in the Vedas but used frequently in the Mahabharata.

The linga (sign) is a symbol of Shiva. The linga is a phallic symbol, and represents the fertility of Nature.

Many Hindus consider it to be liturgically incorrect to worship images of Shiva himself, thus they substitute the lingam stone.



Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami explains in the lexicon section of his book, Dancing with Siva, that "Sivalinga is the most prevalent icon of Siva, found in virtually all Siva temples. It is a rounded, elliptical, aniconic image, usually set on a circular base, or pitha. The Sivalinga is the simplest and most ancient symbol of Siva, especially of Parasiva, God beyond all forms and qualities. The pitha represents Parashakti, the manifesting power of God. Lingas are usually of stone (either carved or naturally existing, svayambhu, such as shaped by a swift-flowing river), but may also be of metal, precious gems, crystal, wood, earth or transitory materials such as ice. According to the Karana Agama, a transitory Sivalinga may be made of 12 different materials: sand, rice, cooked food, river clay, cow dung, butter, rudraksha seeds, ashes, sandalwood, dharba grass, a flower garland or molasses."

As Shri K. Thirugna Sambantha, in his excellent web site of Saivism, [1] (http://www.geocities.com/shivaperuman/main.html), explains it, the Siva linga is the ruparupa aspect because it is not any manifested form of Siva, nor is it formless, because the linga is a concrete piece of stone... it is [an] intermediate between the formless Absolute, Parasiva, which is beyond the sensory perception of man and manifest forms of Siva.

In popular culture

Something that resembled a Siva linga was called the Sankara Stone in the movie, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.


  • Schumacher, Stephan and Woerner, Gert The encyclopedia of Eastern Philosophy and religion, Buddhism, Taoism, Zen, Hinduism Shambala, Boston, (1994) ISBN 0-87773-980-3

See also

External links

Swami Sivananda's explanation about Linga being a Symbol of Shiva:

  • The Siva-Linga: A Symbol Which Points To An Inference. (http://www.dlshq.org/download/hinduismbk.htm#_VPID_110)
  • Linga, symbol of Shiva, God who is formless, attributeless and omnipresent. (http://www.shaivam.org/shplinga.htm)
  • [2] (http://www.exoticindiaart.com/article/shivalinga)Shiva Linga

  Results from FactBites:
The Shiva Linga - Images of Cosmic Manhood in Art and Mythology (6828 words)
Primarily, the glowing, flaming linga was a pillar of fire, connecting heaven and earth.
The Linga as Phallus: This is depicted in the tale of the curse of sage Bhrigu, and Shiva's violation of the chaste wives of the ascetics in the forest.
The linga is not just the organ of generation, but a sign of the progenitor and the essence of cosmic manhood manifested in the microcosm.
The Three Goddesses (2271 words)
The five main types of lingas are: the svayambhu-linga, which shows itself in a natural way; the bindulinga, which is as one contemplates it; the pratishta linga, which is installed through proper mantras; the cara, which is also termed abhyatmika', and the gurulinga, which is the idol of Shiva.
Dange mentions that the rasa-linga is meant for the Brahmins; the bana (arrow) linga for Ksatriyas; svama (golden) linga for the Vaishyas; sailaja (stone) lingafor the Sudras; while the sphatika (crystal) linga is for all the varnas.
Pandey wrote that 'these lingas had the portrait of the teachers earned in them, seems to find support from the fact that there are two lingas with portraits of Lakuli sculpted in front One of these is in the temple of Naklesvara and the other is that of Rajarajesvara, both at Karvan in Baroda state.
  More results at FactBites »



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