Linga

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Linga (devanāgarī: लिङ्गं liṅgam) (also, Lingam, Ling, Shiva linga, Shiv ling) is a Sanskrit word that means "mark", "sign", "gender", "phallus", "inference" or "eternal procreative germ".[1][2]

In Hindu temples the Lingam is worshipped as a representation of the Hindu deity Shiva. It has been interpreted as a symbol of male creative energy or of the phallus. It is often represented with the Yoni, a symbol of the goddess or of Shakti, the female creative energy. The union of lingam and yoni represents the "indivisible two-in-oneness of male and female, the passive space and active time from which all life originates".[3] The lingam and the yoni have been interpreted as the male and female sexual organs since the end of the 19th century by some scholars, while to practising Hindus they stand for the inseparability of the male and female principles and the totality of creation.[4]

H. P. Blavatsky defined it as follows:

Linga or Lingam (Sk.). A sign or a symbol of abstract creation. Force becomes the organ of procreation only on this earth. In India there are 12 great Lingams of Siva, some of which are on mountains and rocks, and also in temples. Such is the Kedâresa in the Himalaya, a huge and shapeless mass of rock. In its origin the Lingam had never the gross meaning connected with the phallus, an idea which is altogether of a later date. The symbol in India has the same meaning which it had in Egypt, which is simply that the creative or procreative Force is divine. It also denotes who was the dual Creator—male and female, Siva and his Sakti. The gross and immodest idea connected with the phallus is not Indian but Greek and pre-eminently Jewish. The Biblical Bethels were real priapic stones, the “ Beth-el” (phallus) wherein God dwells. The same symbol was concealed within the ark of the Covenant, the “Holy of Holies”. Therefore the “Lingam” even as a phallus is not “a symbol of Siva” only, but that of every “Creator” or creative god in every nation, including the Israelites and their “God of Abraham and Jacob”.[5]

Notes

  1. Spoken Sanskrit Dictionary [1]
  2. A Practical Sanskrit Dictionary [2]
  3. Eva Jansen, The book of Hindu imagery: gods, manifestations and their meaning (Holland: Binkey Kok Publications, 2003), 46, 119
  4. Encyclopædia Britannica (2011). Lingam.
  5. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Theosophical Glossary (Los Angeles, CA: The Theosophy Company, 1973), 189