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Learn Why Lord Shiva is Worshipped as a Lingam?
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Learn Why Lord Shiva is Worshipped as a Lingam?

Why is Lord Shiva Worshiped in Linga Form?

Have you ever wondered why Lord Shiva, one of the most revered deities in Hinduism, is often worshipped in the form of a lingam? This practice might seem a bit mysterious or even confusing, but it’s deeply rooted in symbolism and tradition.

In this blog, we will learn about the fascinating story behind the lingam. We’ll look at where this form of worship comes from, and what it symbolizes while peering at ancient texts and archaeological findings that highlight why the lingam is so sacred.

What is a Lingam?

What is a Lingam
A lingam (or linga) is an abstract representation of Lord Shiva, a primary deity in Hinduism. Unlike typical statues, a lingam is usually a simple cylindrical form, often placed on a round base called a yoni. The lingam represents Shiva, while the yoni symbolizes the goddess Shakti, representing feminine energy. Together, they signify the union of the masculine and the feminine, the balance of energies, and the cosmic creation and regeneration process.

Symbolism of the Lingam

Symbolism of the Lingam

The word "lingam" itself means "sign" or "symbol" in Sanskrit. It's an emblem of the formless reality, the unseen divine force. According to the Shvetashvatara Upanishad, Shiva has no specific form or characteristics, transcending physical attributes, including gender. The lingam, therefore, is a mark of Shiva's transcendental nature, symbolizing pure consciousness (Purusha) merging with primordial matter (Prakriti).

The lingam and yoni together also depict the cosmic principles of creation. This concept is echoed in other cultures, such as the Chinese philosophy of Yin and Yang, where Yin (feminine) and Yang (masculine) together represent the unity and balance of the universe.

Misconceptions and Spiritual Interpretations

Misconceptions and Spiritual Interpretations

Many people mistakenly believe that the lingam is a phallic symbol. This is a grave misunderstanding. While some might see it that way, Shaivite texts and spiritual interpretations clarify that the lingam symbolizes much deeper, esoteric truths. Swami Sivananda, a respected Hindu spiritual leader, emphasized that the lingam represents the infinite and formless nature of Shiva, rather than any physical attribute.

According to Shaivite philosophy, the lingam embodies both generative and destructive powers, representing the endless cycle of creation and dissolution in the universe.

Historical and Archaeological Evidence

The lingam has a long history, with roots possibly tracing back to the Indus Valley Civilization. Archaeologists have found cylindrical stone objects in ancient sites like Mohenjodaro and Harappa that resemble lingams. However, the precise origins and meanings of these artifacts remain a topic of debate among scholars.


One of the oldest known lingams still in worship today is the Gudimallam Lingam in Andhra Pradesh, India. Dating back to the 3rd century BCE, it features an intricate carving of Shiva as Lakulisha, an ascetic form of the deity, highlighting the lingam's spiritual and energetic symbolism rather than any erotic meaning.

Lingam in Religious Texts

Lingam in Religious Texts

In Hindu scriptures like the Linga Purana, the lingam is described as a symbol of the imperishable and formless Brahman, the ultimate reality. This text and others emphasize that the lingam is not just a physical object but a representation of the divine principle that pervades all existence.

In the Vedic period, worshipping the lingam was not a common practice. It evolved over time, influenced by various cultural and religious developments, including the Yupa-Stambha (sacrificial post) worship mentioned in the Atharva Veda.

The Lingam in Modern Worship

The Lingam in Modern Worship

Today, the lingam remains a central icon in Shaivism, found in temples and shrines worldwide. Devotees often pour water, milk, and other offerings over the lingam, symbolizing the flow of divine energy and seeking Shiva's blessings for prosperity, health, and spiritual growth.

Takeaway

The worship of the lingam is a profound expression of the unity of the divine masculine and feminine principles, the eternal cycle of life and death, and the mystic nature of Shiva. It's a beautiful reminder of the deeper truths of existence and the interconnectedness of all life.

So, the next time you see a lingam, remember its rich symbolism and spiritual significance. It’s not just a stone or an idol; it's a powerful representation of the divine mysteries of creation and the essence of the universe.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Q. Why is Shivling worshipped with milk?

A. Lord Shiva is often associated with a fierce, fiery energy, especially when he is depicted as the destroyer of evil. Offering milk, which has a cooling effect, is a way for devotees to soothe and cool this fiery aspect of Shiva, symbolizing their desire for peace and calmness in their lives.

Q. What not to do with Shivling?
A. Never touch the Shivling with unclean hands and avoid placing it in your bedrooms or kitchen. More so, when performing pradakshina (circumambulation) around the Shivling, do not make a full circle. Instead, walk halfway around and then return to the starting point.

Q. What happens if Shivling breaks?
A. If the Shivling that you own breaks, make sure to immerse it in a river, pond, or well after worshipping it at the edge of the water body. This act is believed to compensate for the fault of breaking the Shivling.

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