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Shiva Lingam

Post by: 10/07/2017 0 comments 1059 views

Contents:

  • Introduction
  • Definition
  • Origin
  • Historical Period
  • Types
  • Debate
  • natural lingam
  • Significance of word shiva lingam
  • The Philosophical concept of Shivalingam
  • The Scientific concept of Shivalingam
  • Shivalingam in Puranas and Its Science and Mythology
  • Shivalingam and Atom- The Play Of Electron, Proton, and Neutron
  • Yoga as a form of Lingam

Introduction

The lingam is an abstract or aniconic representation of the Hindu deity, Shiva, used for worship in temples, smaller shrines, or as self-manifested natural objects. In traditional Indian society, the linga is seen as a symbol of the energy and potential of Shiva himself.

The lingam is often represented alongside the yoni, a symbol of the goddess or of Shakti, female creative energy. The union of linga and yoni represents the “indivisible two-in-oneness of male and female, the passive space and active time from which all life originates”.

Definition

The lingam is a column-like or oval (egg-shaped) symbol of Shiva, the Formless All-pervasive Reality, made of stone, metal, or clay. The Shiva Linga is a symbol of Lord Shiva – a mark that reminds of the Omnipotent Lord, which is formless. In Shaivite Hindu temples, the linga is a smooth cylindrical mass symbolizing Shiva. It is found at the center of the temple, often resting in the middle of a rimmed, disc-shaped structure, a representation of Shakti in Hindu terminology or energy orbitals in scientific terminology.

Origin

Anthropologist Christopher John Fuller wrote that although most sculpted images (murtis) are anthropomorphic, the aniconic Shiva Linga is an important exception. Some believe that linga-worship was a feature of indigenous Indian religion.

There is a hymn in the Atharvaveda that praises a pillar (stambha), and this is one possible origin of linga worship. Some associate Shiva-Linga with this Yupa-Stambha, the sacrificial post. In the hymn, a description is found of the beginningless and endless Stambha or Skambha, and it is shown that the said Skambha is put in place of the eternal Brahman. The sacrificial fire of the Yajna, its smoke, ashes and flames, the soma plant, and the ox that used to carry the wood for the Vedic sacrifice, gave rise to the conceptions of the brightness of Shiva’s body, his tawny matted hair, his blue throat, and the riding on the bull of the Shiva. The Yupa-Skambha gave place in time to the Shiva-Linga. In the Linga Purana, the same hymn is expanded in the shape of stories meant to establish the glory of the great Stambha and the supreme nature of Mahâdeva.

The Hindu scripture Shiva Purana describes the origin of the lingam, known as Shiva-linga, as the beginning-less and endless cosmic pillar of fire, the cause of all causes. Lord Shiva is pictured as emerging from the Lingam – the cosmic pillar of fire – proving his superiority over the gods Brahma and Vishnu. This is known as Lingodbhava. The Linga Purana also supports this interpretation of lingam as a cosmic pillar, symbolizing the infinite nature of Shiva. According to the Linga Purana, the lingam is a complete symbolic representation of the formless Universe Bearer – the oval-shaped stone is the symbol of the Universe, and the bottom base represents the Supreme Power that holds the entire Universe in it. A similar interpretation is also found in the Skanda Purana: “The endless sky (that great void which contains the entire universe) is the Linga, the Earth is its base. At the end of time, the entire universe and all the Gods finally merge in the Linga itself.” In yogic lore, the linga is considered the first form to arise when creation occurs, and also the last form before the dissolution of creation. It is therefore seen as an access to Shiva or that which lies beyond physical creation.[ In the Mahabharata, at the end of Dwaraka Yuga, Lord Shiva says to his disciples that in the coming Kali Yuga, He shall not appear in any particular form, but shall be formless and yet omnipresent. Seek him within the self and you will soon find him, meditate on His omnipresence and gain His boons.

Historical period

According to Shaiva Siddhanta, which was for many centuries the dominant school of Shaiva theology and liturgy across the Indian subcontinent (and beyond it in Cambodia), the linga is the ideal substrate in which the worshipper should install and worship the five-faced and ten-armed Sadāśiva, the form of Shiva who is the focal divinity of that school of Shaivism.
1008 Lingas carved on a rock surface at the shore of the Tungabhadra River, Hampi, India
The oldest example of a lingam that is still used for worship is in Gudimallam. It dates to the 2nd century BC. A figure of Shiva is carved into the front of the lingam.

Types

Shiva lingams are divided into many types according to the materials used to make them, materials such as sandalwood paste, river clay, wood, stones, white marble, gemstones, metal, mercury, gold, and silver. There is an exact set of proportions for the height, width, and curvature of the Shiva linga. Some types of Shiva linga are mukhalinga (one face from five carved on sides and top), lingo bhava murti (a linga emerging out from fiery linga), a linga with a cobra on top, svayambhuva (meaning self-originated linga) directly made from light, Sphatika-linga (made of quartz), etc. Around 70 lingas are worshiped throughout the world and have become places of pilgrimage.

The Rasa linga or Parad Shiva linga is made of mercury. It is of great importance for Hindu devotees and is worshiped with complete process, belief, and devotion. It is worshiped to be strong physically, mentally, spiritually, and psychologically as well as to obtain protection from the natural calamities, evil power, disaster, and other bad effects. It is worshiped to get prosperity and positive strength as well as the occurrence of Lakshmi.

The white marble Shiva linga is beneficial for people with a suicidal tendency. Worshipping this lingam changes the mind positively and prevents a suicidal attempt by removing negative thoughts. It is of great importance for devotees and is used for meditation purposes, avoiding suicidal thoughts, removing negative thoughts, and improving concentration levels.

Debates around Lingam as phallic symbol

In 1825 Horace Hayman Wilson’s work on the lingayat sect of South India attempted to refute British notions[specify] that the lingam graphically represented a human organ and that it aroused erotic emotions in its devotees.

Monier-Williams wrote in Brahmanism and Hinduism that the symbol of linga is “never in the mind of a Shaiva (or Shiva-worshipper) connected with indecent ideas, nor with sexual love”. In contrast, Jeaneane Fowler believes the linga is “a phallic symbol which represents the potent energy which is manifest in the cosmos”.[2] Some scholars, including David James Smith, believe that throughout its history the lingam has represented the phallus; others, including N. Ramachandra Bhatt, believe the phallic interpretation to be a later addition. M.K.V. Narayan distinguishes the Siva-linga from anthropomorphic representations of Shiva and notes its absence from Vedic literature and its interpretation as a phallus in Tantric sources.

At the Paris Congress of the History of Religions in 1900, Ramakrishna’s follower Swami Vivekananda argued that the Shiva-Linga had its origin in the idea of the Yupa-Stambha or Skambha, the sacrificial post, idealized in Vedic ritual as the symbol of the Eternal Brahman. This interpretation was in response to a paper read by Gustav Oppert, a German Orientalist, who traced the origin of the Shalagrama-Shila and the Shiva-Linga to phallicism. According to Vivekananda, the explanation of the Shalagrama-Shila as a phallic emblem was an imaginary invention. Vivekananda argued that this explanation of the Shiva-Linga as a phallic emblem was brought forward by the most thoughtless, and was forthcoming in India in her most degraded times, those of the downfall of Buddhism.

According to Swami Sivananda, the view that the Shiva lingam represents the phallus is a mistake. The same sentiments were also expressed by H. H. Wilson in 1840. Diana Eck believes that translators of Shiva Purana erroneously translated linga as “phallic emblem”. She compares the mistranslation “as inadequate as it would be an interpretation of the Christian Eucharist that saw the right first and foremost as ritual cannibalism, eating the body and drinking its blood”.

According to Hélène Brunner, the lines traced on the front side of the linga, which are prescribed in medieval manuals about temple foundation and are a feature even of modern sculptures, appear to be intended to suggest a stylized glans, and some features of the installation process seem intended to echo sexual congress. Scholars such as S. N. Balagangadhara have disputed the sexual meaning of lingam.

Naturally occurring lingams

An ice lingam at Amarnath in the western Himalayas forms every winter from ice dripping on the floor of a cave and freezing like a stalagmite. It is very popular with pilgrims.

Shivling, 6,543 meters (21,467 ft), is a mountain in Uttarakhand (the Garhwal region of Himalayas). It arises as a sheer pyramid above the snout of the Gangotri Glacier. The mountain resembles a Shiva linga when viewed from certain angles, especially when traveling or trekking from Gangotri to Gomukh as part of a traditional Hindu pilgrimage.

A lingam is also the basis for the formation legend (and name) of the Borra Caves in Andhra Pradesh.

The significance of the word “Shivling”

In the Nirgun-Sagun stat, Shiva is worshiped as the Shivalingam (Contrary to the rumors spread by our Islamic brothers that Shivalingam is the male genital the fact is that Shivalingam has a deep and scientific theory and philosophy).
A glance at the rounded, elliptical, an iconic image of Shivalingam placed on a circular base (known as Peedam), which is found in the Sanctum Sanctorum (Garbhagraha) in all Shiva temples, has given rise to various interpretations, without realizing the scientific truths discovered by the ancient Hindu sages. The practice of worshipping Shiva Lingam as the holy symbol of Lord Shiva has been from time immemorial.
The worship of Shiva Lingam was not confined to India and Srilanka only. Lingam was referred to ‘Prayapas’ by the Romans who introduced the worship of Shiva Lingam to European countries. The statutes of Shiva Lingams were found in the archeological findings in Babylon, a city of ancient Mesopotamia. Further, the archeological findings in Harappa-Mohanjo-Daro, which yielded numerous Shiva Lingam statutes, have disclosed the existence of a highly evolved culture long before the Aryan’s immigration.

The Philosophical concept of Shivalingam

The word Shivalingam has been derived from Sanskrit roots Shiva (Lord) + Lingam (Mark/Chinha/Symbol). Hence, Shivalingam is the mark of lord within its creation. Everything in the world arises out of a dome/a ball/ a pindi……be it a tree which comes from a seed which is round, a child which comes from a cell which is round, all heavenly bodies are round, the minutes of cells are round and our very earth is round. Everything being round is a mark of the Lord/Shiva. Since Shiva can’t be comprehended, we worship his mark or us worship the whole Brahman in a Shivalingam. Philosophically, Shiva Lingam consists of three parts. The bottom part which is four-sided remains underground, the middle part which is eight-sided remains on a pedestal. The top part, which is actually worshiped, is round. The height of the round part is one-third of its circumference. The three parts symbolize Brahma at the bottom, Vishnu in the middle and Shiva on the top. The pedestal is provided with a passage for draining away the water that is poured on the top. The Lingam symbolizes both the creative and destructive power of Lord Shiva and great sanctity is attached to it by the devotees. This does not mean others should give a false meaning to the image of Shiva Lingam.
It is unfortunate for some critics to have an imaginary invention on the image of Shiva Lingam as a male organ and viewed with obscenity, but had conveniently forgotten how a phallus could have appeared from the base. Moreover, since Lord Shiva is described as having no form, it is ridiculous to maintain that Lingam represents a phallus. This is the reason why Swami Vivekananda described Shiva Lingam as the symbol of the Eternal Brahman, when a German Orientalist, Gusta Oppert traced it to phallicism. Swami Vivekanand cited Atharva Veda that the worship of Shiva Lingam was sung in praise of sacrificial post – a description of the beginningless and endless of the Eternal Brahman and refuted it as an imaginary invention.

The Scientific concept of Shivalingam

Hinduism does not oppose Science. It does not even oppose other religions. Science is a continuing effort to discover and increase human knowledge of the physical or material world through experiment and observation. But Hinduism has the force of providing answers to certain issues that Science could not.
The Lingam is shaped like an egg and represents the ‘Brahmanda’ or the cosmic egg. There are two types of Shiva Lingam. One is a black meteorite egg-shaped stone. It is said that such a stone is installed at Kabba in Mecca. The other one is man-made and is solidified mercury. Solidifying mercury is an ancient Vedic science.
Shiva Lingam represents the totality of the Cosmos and the Cosmos, in turn, is represented as a Cosmic Egg. Again an egg is an ellipsoid depicting with no beginning, nor end.
A glance at the image of Shiva Lingam shows there is a pillar with three marks and a Disc beneath it and sometimes with a coiling cobra snake around the Pillar and shows its fangs above the pillar. The truth behind the scientific research by the Danish scientist, Neils Bohr, demonstrates that Molecules (the smallest part of everything) made up of Atoms which consists of Proton, Neutron, and Electron, all of which play a vital part in the composition of Shiva Lingam. In those days instead of using these English words such as Proton, Neutron, Electron, Molecules and Energy, the ancient sages employed the usage of the words like Lingam, Vishnu, Brahma, Sakthi (which in turn is divided into Renuka and Rudrani), Sarppa, etc. as Sanskrit was the dominant language in those periods.
According to Hinduism, the Pillar is described as the column of fire which represents the three Gods – Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwara while the Disc or Peedam represents Sakthi. The Disc is shown with three ridges, encarved at its periphery.

Shivalingam in Puranas and Its Science and Mythology

Sage Vyasa, the author of Mahabharata, mentions that Lord Shiva is smaller than the sub-atomic particle like Proton, Neutron, and Electron. At the same time, he also mentions Lord Shiva is greater than anything greatest. He is the cause of vitality in all living things. Everything, whether living or non-living, originates from Shiva. He has engulfed the whole world. He is Timeless. He has no birth, no death. He is invisible, unmanifest. He is the Soul of the Soul. He has no emotion, sentiment or passion at all. There is a mysterious or indescribable power in the Shiva Lingam to induce concentration of the mind and helps focus one’s attention. The contents of sage Vyasa is corroborated with the instance of that Arjuna fashioned a Lingam out of clay when worshipping Lord Shiva. Similarly, in Ramayana that before crossing to Sri Lanka, Rama, Lakshmana, and Sita fashioned a Shiva Lingam at Rameswaram for worshipping Lord Shiva and also that Ravana could not lift the Lingam after it was placed on the ground by the small boy. These instances show that God may be conceptualized and worshiped in any convenient form. It is the divine power that it represents, is all that matters and here we see that both Arjuna in Maha Bharatha and Rama and Sita worshipping Lord Shiva as Nirguna Brahman or the formless Supreme Being.

Shivalingam and Atom- The Play Of Electron, Proton, and Neutron

The outcome of the scientific research is that the world came into existence with the formation of Molecules. According to Science, two atoms make one Molecule. The valency of molecules indicates the combination of the atoms.
It is essential to have a clear idea of the structure of an atom according to the findings of the Danish scientist, Neils Bohr., the nature of which is given below.
An atom is made up of Proton, Neutron, and Electron.
Neutrons do not have a charge and so would continue on in a straight line.
The nucleus of an atom is composed of positively charged Protons and neutrally charged Neutrons. Almost all the mass of an atom is in its nucleus. The nucleus is the very dense region consisting of Protons and Neutrons at the center of an atom.
Electrons are negatively charged and so would be deflected on a curving path towards the positive plate.
But the whole atom is electrically neutral on account of the presence of an equal number of negative electrons and positive protons.
The electrons revolve rapidly around the nucleus in circular paths called energy level. The energy levels are counted from the center outwards.
Each energy level is associated with a fixed amount of energy.
There is no change in energy of Electrons as long as they help to revolve in the same energy level and the atoms remain stable.
The Bohr model shows that the electrons in atoms are in orbits of differing energy around the nucleus. It is like planets orbiting the Sun.
An examination of the image of Shiva Lingam in the context of Bohr model would demonstrate the puzzling truth that Brahma has created the world. The behavior of Proton, Electron, Neutron and Energy are well demonstrated by Shiva Lingam.
Vishnu signifies Proton with positive electrical charge.
Mahesha signifies Neutron with no electrical charge.
Brahma signifies Electron with negative electrical charge.
Sakthi is Energy. Sakthi is a type of energy field represented by a Disc.
Shiva Lingam represents the atomic structure. According to the Rishis, Shiva and Vishnu are present in the Lingam. In Sanskrit, the three lines signify multiple. In the atomic structure, there are Protons and Neutrons which are surrounded by fast spinning Electrons.


Sakthi is represented by a Disc in an oval shape with three ridges carved at its periphery. She is Energy and plays a vital role in the Universe.
If one look at the portrait of Vishnu, a lotus is depicted as arising from the navel of Vishnu and Brahma is shown as seated on the lotus. Lotus signifies Energy which has the force of attraction. The stem of the lotus can bend because of its flexibility signaling that Brahma moves around Vishnu. This is a message that Electron is attracted to Proton because of the opposite electric charge.
Moreover, Neutron is depicted as Shiva which has no charge at all. The nucleus of the atom also contains neutrons. Neutrons are about the same size as Protons but have no electric charge. Neutrons are bound very tightly in the atom’s nucleus with the Protons. When the atom’s nucleus contains as many Neutrons as Protons, the atom is stable.
Similarly, the ancient sages provided the idea that when Shiva is not disturbed and separated, he remains calm. Shiva remains calm because Sakthi takes the form of Renuka. The energy which forms the molecules is denoted by its valency, which in Sanskrit is Renuka. Renuka is one produces Renu or molecule. Two atoms make one molecule. Hence ancient Hindu sages brought the idea of Sakthi as Shiva’s wife and as part of Shiva and dances around Shiva throughout. However, when Neutron is disturbed and separated natural disaster occur, which signify that Shakthi turns out to be a terror known as Rudrani (Kali) performing destructive dance, signaling natural disaster.
The actual producer of molecules is Electron which signifies Brahma. Modern physics shows that Electrons are shared between the atoms to form a molecule. Therefore the Hindu concept that Brahma created the earth is in conformity with Science.

Yoga as a form of Lingam

Hinduism is deep rooted in the practice of Yoga and meditation. According to Hinduism, Yoga refers to the integration or union of a person’s own consciousness with the Supreme Reality or in other words Cosmic Consciousness.
Yoga was one of the greatest gifts provided by the worship of Lord Shiva to the world and received by people from all walks of life amidst diversity. The concept of Yoga began to surface with the excavations of stone seals from the archeological findings of the Indus Valley civilization and the Mohenjadero-Harappa civilization. The Vedas were the revelations of the ancient sages, received through yogic meditation during the period of the Indus Valley civilization.
The initial form in the existence is a geometric surface, known as an ellipsoid. According to Yogic tradition, Lingam is a perfect ellipsoid. The first form of creation is an ellipsoid. Apparently, the final form before dissolution is also a Lingam. Modern cosmologists are of the view that the core of every galaxy is in the form of an ellipsoid. Yoga always maintains that the first and final form is a Lingam. If a person meditates, his/her energies will naturally take the form of Lingam. As the first and final form before dissolution is also a Lingam, Lingam is considered as a gateway to the beyond. In Hinduism, Lord Shiva is considered as the Supreme Truth.
There is another scientific truth that water poured down on the Lingam is not considered as holy water or Theertham as it is called. Shiva Lingam is considered to be an atom model. There is radiation from Lingam as it is made out of a type of granite stone. Granite is a source of radiation and reported to have higher radioactivity thereby raising some concerns about their safety. Granite is said to have formed as lava or molten rock cooled and solidified over thousands or even millions of years, contain naturally occurring radioactive elements like radium, uranium, and thorium. Perhaps this is the reason that ancient Hindu sages advised their disciples not to touch water that is poured down on the Lingam. The sages were aware that there will be radiation fall-out if some accidents occur and that is the reason that Shiva Temples were built close to the vicinity of sea, ponds, rivers, tanks or wells. Perhaps this may be the reason why these five Ishwaram temples were built around the coast of Sri Lanka, though Thondeeshwaram was submerged in the sea on account of the movement of the tectonic plates. Even lake Mansarovar is situated at the base of Mt.Kailash.
It is unfortunate that the Truth of the great work done by the ancient Hindu sages is misinterpreted by citing some verses in the Vedas, but we are fortunate to witness that the practices and literature were left as a legacy. It is a consolation that recent scientific discoveries have shown that the findings of the ancient Hindu sages were meaningful.

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