Worship of Siva Linga

Posted: January 17, 2011 in Hindu Gods, Hindu Symbology, Hinduism, Linga, Lord Siva, Obscene, Siva Linga

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). 

Linga means ‘mark’, in Sanskrit. It is a symbol which points to an inference. When you see a big flood in a river, you infer that there had been heavy rains the previous day. When you see smoke, you infer that there is fire. This vast world of countless forms is a Linga of the Omnipotent Lord. The Siva Linga is a symbol of Lord Siva. When you look at the Linga, your mind is at once elevated and you begin to think of the Lord.

Lord Siva is really formless. He has no form of his own and yet all forms are His forms. All forms are pervaded by Lord Siva. Every form is the form or Linga of Lord Siva.

There is a mysterious power or indescribable Sakti in the Linga, to induce concentration of the mind. Just as the mind is focussed easily in crystal-gazing, so also the mind attains one-pointedness, when it looks at the Linga. That is the reason why the ancient Rishis and the seers of India have prescribed Linga for being installed in the temples of Lord Siva.

Siva Linga speaks to you in the unmistakable language of silence: “I am one without a second, I am formless”. Pure, pious souls only can understand this language. A curious passionate, impure foreigner of little understanding or intelligence says sarcastically: “Oh, the Hindus worship the phallus or sex organ. They are ignorant people. They have no philosophy”. When a foreigner tries to learn Tamil or Hindustani language, he first tries to pick up some vulgar words. This is his curiosity nature. Even so, the curious foreigner tries to find out some defects in the worship of symbol. Linga is only the outward symbol of the formless being, Lord Siva, who is the indivisible, all-pervading, eternal, auspicious, ever-pure, immortal essence of this vast universe, who is the undying Soul seated in the chambers of your heart, who is your Indweller, innermost Self or Atman, and who is identical with the Supreme Brahman.

A Siva Linga consists of three parts, the lowest of which is the Brahma-Pitha, the middle one, the Vishnu-Pitha and the uppermost one, the Siva-Pitha.

Some are Svayambhu-lingas, some are Narmadesvaras. There are twelve Jyotirlingas and five Pancha Bhuta Lingas in India. The twelve Jyotir-lingas are: Kedarnath, Kasi Visvanath, Somanath, Baijnath, Ramesvar, Ghrusnesvar, Bhimasankar, Mahakala, Mallikarjuna, Amalesvar, Nagesvar and Tryambakesvar. The five Pancha Bhuta Lingas are: Kalahastisvar, Jambukesvar, Arunachalesvar, Ekambaresvar of Kanjivaram and Nataraja of Chidambaram. The temple of Lord Mahalinga at Tiruvidaimarudur known also as Madhyarjuna is regarded as the great Siva temple of South India.

Spatikalinga is also a symbol of Lord Siva. This is prescribed for Aradhana or worship of Lord Siva. It is made up of quartz. It has no colour of its own, but takes on the colour of the substances which come in contact with it. It represents the Nirguna Brahman or the attributeless Supreme Self or formless and attributeless Siva.

For a sincere devotee, the Linga is not a block of stone. It is all radiant Tejas or Chaitanya. The Linga talks to him, makes him shed profuse tears, produces horripilation and melting of heart, raises him above body-consciousness and helps to commune with the Lord and attain Nirvikalpa Samadhi. Lord Rama worshipped the Siva Linga at Ramesvar. Ravana, the learned scholar, worshipped the golden Linga. What a lot of mystic Sakti there should be in the Linga!

May you all attain the formless Siva through the worship of the Linga, the symbol of Lord Siva which helps concentration of mind and which serves as a prop for the mind to lean upon in the beginning for the neophytes!

  1. Santosh says:

    This still does not answer my question, Why is Linga cylindrical in shape, why not triangle or cone or some other shape?

    • antaryamin says:

      Sorry for the late reply, Santosh-ji.

      It is exceedingly easy for me to give you the most compelling and cogent answer. But before I do so, would you like to dwell upon the following?

      Swami Kriyananda: “…comprehension, like a flower, must unfold as its own speed. Until a person is ready for a truth, not even the clearest logic will make it acceptable to him.” (pg. 121, The Path)

      • Santosh says:

        Read what you pointed to but it does not answer my question rather your answer discourages me to ask questions. I want the answer but I can wait..

        • antaryamin says:

          If you have dwelt upon the quotation, you would not have been discouraged. E contra, you would have been inspired. Isn’t that what Nachiketa had done when discussing issues with Lord Yama. (I am referring to Kathopanishad).

          If you think that I cannot provide you with the answer, then, continue trawling the net till you alight upon what you (think, you) are searching for.

          May Wisdom be your boon companion.


          “Not by arguments, not by extreme intelligence, not by the voracious and wide study of scriptures, will you reach God. You can reach Him by SINCERE Sadhana or ASCETIC spiritual practices. Avoid wrangling and vain quibbling. Make GENUINE efforts,” Swami Sivananda (13, Yoga in Daily Life by Swami Sivananda)

          Swami Sivananda: “…When the intellect develops a little, people begin to enter into arguments and unnecessary discussions. Intellect is a hindrance on the spiritual path. They who have not developed the heart but who have developed their intellect begin to doubt and question at every step. They are led astray. They want a “why” and a “how” for everything. They want “scientific” explanations for all phenomena…. (pg. 153, Hindu Fasts & festivals)

          • Santosh says:

            I will keep reading your blog though, out of blue something may strike my thoughts, no ego. It is just that your reply does not answer my question.

            • antaryamin says:

              “If you are REALLY in earnest search for God, if there is a DEMAND for God, then, the supply WILL come AT ONCE,” (pg. 20, Sermonettes of Swami Sivananda)

              “God should be the object of your search. He doesn’t want to impose Himself on YOU. But the mysterious working of your body, the intelligence He has given you, and every other wonder in life should be SUFFICIENT stimulus to make you determine to find God. Every human being would be redeemed if he would try,” Paramahansa Yogananda (pg. 87—A Single Thought May Lead to Redemption—Man’s Eternal Quest)

              “…Make an earnest search with faith. Do not be satisfied with a little sightseeing only. Get some spiritual instructions from them and put them into daily practice. Develop right conduct. Then you can cross the ocean of Samsara easily,” Swami Sivananda (pg. 140, Self-Knowledge)

              “It is NOT enough…merely to READ the scriptures. We must hold their teachings up to the WATCHFUL Presence within us…,” (pg. 203, The Promise of Immortality by Swami Kriyananda) [Swami Kriyananda is a direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda, the author of “Autobiography of a Yogi”].

              Arjuna says to the Lord: ‘It is very difficult to grasp the meaning of the scriptures. It is still more difficult to get a spiritual preceptor who can teach scriptures. The vast majority of persons are not at all endowed with pure, subtle, sharp and one-pointed intellect. An ordinary man, though ignorant of and unable to follow this teaching, does charity, perform rituals, worships the Lord with faith and tries to follow the footsteps of sages and saints just as a child copies letters that have been written out for him as a modem, or as a blind man makes his way with the aid of another who possesses sight. What faith is his? How should the state of such a man be described? Would it be Sattwic, Rajasic or Tamasic? What is the fate of those believers who have no knowledge of the scriptures?” pg 444, commentary by Swami Sivananda

              Mata Amirtanandamayi: “Approach the scriptures with that attitude, and you will really learn the scriptures. And even after studying the scriptures, try to maintain the attitude ‘I have not studied anything; I know nothing.’ This will take you to the goal. Try to remain like a child throughout your life and you will really learn. Study the scriptures with this attitude.” (Awaken, Children vol 6 page 53)

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