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Shiva Linga - Significance?

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  #1  
Old 17 January 2009, 10:59 AM
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Shiva Linga - Significance?

Dear friends,
I have a question regarding the significance of the Shiva Linga. I have found this description:
Quote:
Shiva Linga is a wide spread Indian Phallic figure. It consists of a feminine base Yoni or vagina and a rising masculine portion the Phallus or penis. The Linga artifacts, dating from the first century BC to the third century AD, are shaped like realistic Phalli. Thereafter the shape becomes progressively more abstract. By medieval times, its observable portion, rising from the Yoni, forms a round block with domed apex.
http://www.vepachedu.org/linga.htm
With this it seems that both the Yoni and Linga are depicted.

This is perhaps symbolic of the indivisible union of Shiva and Shakti and is reminiscent of the Yab-Yum within Vajrayana.

Beyond being an object of veneration, is there a meditative significance, or instruction, for Shaivite contemplatives?

Namaste
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Old 18 January 2009, 03:12 PM
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Re: Shiva Linga - Significance?

hariḥ oṁ
~~~~~

Namasté

For me I have heard this POV for some time;
Quote:
Shiva Linga is a wide spread Indian Phallic figure

that the liṅgaṃ represents the phallus. I am not fond of this view and never bought in to this idea.

I could see how one may view the liṅgaṃ as the generative power of the Universe, yet I find no comfort in this POV.
Liṅgaṃ लिङ्गं - means 'mark' or 'sign'. It is my POV that śiva-liṅgaṃ is a 'mark' or stambha स्तम्भ ( some write stamba स्तम्ब). Stambha is a post , pillar , column , beam. But what kind of pillar? A yūpa यूप stambha स्तम्भ, or sacrificial piller. This stambha some say, is a cosmic column; that is, it connects heaven or svar with earth or pṛithvī ( pṛithvī = the material level of creation).


I look to svāmī Lakṣman-jū's view on this matter and he suggests too it’s a mistake to consider that the liṅgaṃ represents the phallus. I then remembered what svāmī Śivānanda said on this matter¹:
"The popular belief is that the Siva Lingam represents the phallus or the virile organ, the emblem of the generative power or principle in nature. This is not only a serious mistake, but also a grave blunder. In the post-Vedic period, the Linga became symbolical of the generative power of the Lord Siva. Linga is the differentiating mark. It is certainly not the sex-mark. You will find in the Linga Purana: Pradhanam prakritir yadahur-lingamuttamam; Gandhavarnarasairhinam sabda-sparsadi-varjitam—The foremost Linga which is primary and is devoid of smell, colour, taste, hearing, touch, etc., is spoken of as Prakriti (Nature) ."


praṇām

words and references:
All About Hinduism, Appendix I, svāmī Śivānanda, The Divine Life Society.
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Last edited by yajvan : 02 March 2014 at 05:13 PM.
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Old 18 January 2009, 05:36 PM
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Re: Shiva Linga - Significance?

I concur with Sri Yajvan. Never have been fond of this view. I think it probably comes from western analysts of Europe who love to create anything they can to belittle our religion. Come to think of it, that's a sore point altogether. Here in America we have far too many non-Hindus teaching Hinduism 101 et al at the university level. Now I wonder how well my veshti (versus suit and tie) would go over at Southern Methodist University teaching their bible class.
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Old 18 January 2009, 09:19 PM
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Re: Shiva Linga - Significance?

I understand many people get offended whenever there is public display of certain parts of human body. It becomes even more offensive when these body parts are shown as representing God/s. This thread appears to be about different perceptions when God is seen through an image.
In a little different twist I wonder many times why do we keep these parts of our body covered out of a sense of shame. To me sex is not dirty, but rather sex is holy. Cave men and women walked around nude. Somewhere our ancestors discovered God and saw the presence of God in the ability of a man and a woman to create life out of their love for each other. These body parts we cover are the ones that contain the secret of creating and nurturing life. Creation of life is holy, so we cover them out of an instinctive memory of reverence. With the loss of sense of reverence, nudity becomes casual, no different from the animals. For animals mating and reproduction are purely biologic processes. The holiness of life, love and birth are lost when God is factored out of the equation. It is interesting to find that human beings are the only species who face each other during a sexual act; we are the only species to whom it matters with whom we are sharing the sexual act.

Love.................VC
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Old 18 January 2009, 10:54 PM
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Re: Shiva Linga - Significance?

hariḥ oṁ
~~~~~

Namasté VC,

Quote:
Originally Posted by vcindiana View Post
I understand many people get offended whenever there is public display of certain parts of human body. It becomes even more offensive when these body parts are shown as representing God/s. This thread appears to be about different perceptions when God is seen through an image.
In a little different twist I wonder many times why do we keep these parts of our body covered out of a sense of shame. To me sex is not dirty, but rather sex is holy. Cave men and women walked around nude. Somewhere our ancestors discovered God and saw the presence of God in the ability of a man and a woman to create life out of their love for each other. These body parts we cover are the ones that contain the secret of creating and nurturing life. Creation of life is holy, so we cover them out of an instinctive memory of reverence. With the loss of sense of reverence, nudity becomes casual, no different from the animals. For animals mating and reproduction are purely biologic processes. The holiness of life, love and birth are lost when God is factored out of the equation. It is interesting to find that human beings are the only species who face each other during a sexual act; we are the only species to whom it matters with whom we are sharing the sexual act.
I see what you are saying. Let me offer a few ideas ( ideas, not corrections).

You may visit several temples and quickly see the 'parts' are aptly visible. There is a recognition that the 'parts' are well, part of the whole.

I understand that people my be offended with the public display of another's 'personals'. For me, I would generally be embarrassed for the other person frankly.

you mention
Quote:
Cave men and women walked around nude
Did they have a choice? Not too many shops and boutiques to frequent for shoes and pants (me thinks) during those times .


Yet the idea we have been considering is the proper view of what the liṅgaṃ is. And by association it has been misappropriated (IMHO) for something it is not.

praṇām
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Old 19 January 2009, 03:07 AM
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Re: Shiva Linga - Significance?

While I see nothing against the phallus interpretation, I don't see much practical benefit out it, except for some dogma. The iconography of lingam is very deep as is its effect on the meditative mind. It is an indespensible tool in laya of mind ...

Those who know the anatomy of the brain:- left right and the centre-medulla oblongota (linga), the 6 nerves which criss-cross this centre forming the mysterious 12-petaled lotus (externalised as the 12 jyotir lingas), the well known dwidal chakra(yoni pitha).

Linga is an icon of the seed (of creation). And if we look around in nature any seed formation (look at plant seeds for example) resembles shiva's linga. and these seeds are generally well protected in a twin leaf yoni. Brain is the seed and root of the human body.
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Old 19 January 2009, 07:08 AM
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Re: Shiva Linga - Significance?

We had a discussion on Mark of the Lord earlier. Hope Srivijyaya finds it useful.

http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showthread.php?t=1296

Lingam is One. It is the symbol of the start of space and time, and it is the symbol where space and time disintegrate and meet the Singularity called OM.

Om
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Old 19 January 2009, 07:14 AM
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Re: Shiva Linga - Significance?

Wonder where Agnideva is? May we request him to join us and add value as he only can?
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Old 19 January 2009, 07:21 AM
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Re: Shiva Linga - Significance?

Additionally the following mantras from Mahanarayana Upanishad clarify the concept of indicatory emblem of the Lord.

Mahanarayana Upanishad

XVI-1: [By these twenty-two names ending with salutations they consecrate the Sivalinga for all] the Linga which is representative of soma and Surya, and holding which in the hand holy formulas are repeated and which purifies all:

Nidhanapataye Namah ![Salutations to the Lord of the dissolution of the universe !]

Nidhanapataantikaya Namah ![Salutations to the end-maker (Yama who is responsible for the death of all creatures) !]

Urdhvaya Namah ! Salutations to the Most High standing at the head of the categories which evolve into the universe !]

Urdhva-Lingaya Namah ! [Salutations to the principle of Sadasiva embodying the power of Intelligence !]

Hiranyaya Namah ! [Salutations to Him, He who is beneficial and charming to creatures !]

Hiranya-Lingaya Namah ! Salutations to Him, He who is visualized as the Linga made of gold !]

Suvarnaya Namah ! [Salutations to Him, He who is endowed with attractive splendour !]

Suvarna-Lingaya Namah ! [Salutations to Him, He who is of the form of Linga made of suvarna (silver) !]

Divyaya Namah ! [Salutations to Him, He who is the source of bliss in heaven !]

Divya-Lingaya Namah ! [Salutations to Him, He who is worshipped as the divine emblem !]

Bhavaya Namah ! [Salutations to Him, He who is the source of the cycle of birth and death !]

Bhava-Lingaya Namah ! [Salutations to Him, He who is worshipped as the Linga by human beings !]

Sarvaya Namah ! [Salutations to Him, He who is the suppresser of the universe at the time of final dissolution !]

Sarva-Lingaya Namah ! [Salutations to Him, He who has the shape of the Linga emblem of Sarva, who gives bliss !]

Shivaya Namah ! [Salutations to Him, He who is most auspicious !]

Shiva-Lingaya Namah ![Salutations to Him, He who has the form of Sivalinga !]

Jvalaya Namah ! [Salutations to Him, He who has the form of a flaming splendour !]

Jvala-Lingaya Namah ! [Salutations to Him, He who has the form of the brilliant Linga !]

Atmaya Namah ! [Salutations to Him, He who is the Spirit - Atman - dwelling in all creatures !]

Atma-Lingaya Namah ! [Salutations to Him, He who is concealed in the heart of allcreatures being their inmost Self !]

Paramaya Namah ! [Salutations to Him, He who is unsurpassed !]

Parama Lingaya Namah ! [Salutations to Him, He who is the Supreme Lord of bliss and liberation indicated by the Linga emblem !]
Om Namah Shivaya
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That which is without letters (parts) is the Fourth, beyond apprehension through ordinary means, the cessation of the phenomenal world, the auspicious and the non-dual. Thus Om is certainly the Self. He who knows thus enters the Self by the Self.
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Old 19 January 2009, 10:46 AM
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Re: Shiva Linga - Significance?

Many thanks for all the replies and the link to the previous thread. The mark (in my opinion) is very profound and can doubtlessly be interpreted on many levels. In your place, I would have no interest in engaging with those who wish to equate the linga with some kind of phallus worship (however they may understand that) for their own malicious or misguided reasons. The linga does not even require defending against such ignorant assertions. Their failure to grasp the importance of it is their loss alone.

I liked the explanation that 'Linga is Jiva', as it indicates, to my mind, the inseparability of the depicted elements with our own condition - at all levels. Movement and stillness and the story of our arisen state. The gateway to birth and death and the release from both are all implicit in this symbol.

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