Lingodbhava—Lord Shiva being represented as “Linga” and its significance in Hinduism

What is Behind Lord Shiva being represented as a Linga?

Shiva Linga or Lingam is the phallus, the generative power of Nature.

Shiva Linga: The Symbol for Shiva – In Sanskrit Linga means as a mark or symbol, which points to an inference. Thus, the Shiva Linga is a symbol of Lord Shiva — a mark represents omniscient, omnipresent & omnipotent power of Nature, which doesn’t have any shape or rather it is formless. LordShiva who is the undying soul seated in the chambers of your heart, who is your-in dweller, your innermost self or ‘Atman,” and who is identical with the supreme ‘Brahman’. Lingam in traditional Indian society, the linga is seen as a symbol of energy and Shiva himself. The lingam is Sanskrit word ‘Yoni which literally means ‘origin” or” source “or “Womb”, a symbol of the goddess or of Shakti, female creative energy. The oldest Shiva Lingas available to us belong to the Kushana period, and they are unambiguously phallic. The oldest extant shivalingas in the world Gudimallam, Mathura N puncha mukha linga from Bhita (Allahabad).


Sealing near kankali Tila, Mathura. Spotted red sanstone. First Century A.D. Mathura Museum No.83.3 Source:

We find the concept of Lingam began as phallic, alternate, non-anatomical meanings and representations of the lingam are also extant. One such representation is Banalinga in which the wider meaning of Lingam is used. This very popular in the region surrounding the river Narmada, which is said to be the origin of Lingam worship. The River Narmada leaves a deposit of naturally oblong/cylindrical rocks in its wake, which the locals find and polish into shivlingas. The invisible portion underground portion symbolizes Shiva, theunmanliest principle of Godhead. This Shivalinga therefore depicts both shiva and shakthi and their inseparable spiritual bond. The U-shaped base where is simply explained as a way to drain the milk / water offered to the Lingam. Wealso find that the explanation is also well known in the regions of the Narmada basin, where temples frequently house lingams symbolizing not only Shiva/ Shakti but also the nine planets and other deities. The most popular of these lingas  is the idol in Shani Shingnapur, Maharashtra. The Shiva Linga is differentiated here by the presence of Nandi.Shiva Linga has been worshipped in Hinduism since ages. Worship of Shiva Linga is regarded sacred and superior Shiva Mahapurana. This is because the form makes worshipsimple while maintaining the truth that God does not have any definite form. The word ‘Lignum’ in Sanskrit means ‘symbol’ Shiva Lingum, means symbol of Lord Shiva and therefore is considered most sacred by Shaivaites.

Structure of Shiva Linga

Shiva Linga is a round, elliptical, an—iconic image that is usually spread on a circular base or Peetham. The Peetham represents, Parashakthi, the manifestation of God. ShivaLingas may also be made of metal, precious gems, crystal, wood, earth, or transitory materials such as ice. TransitoryShivaLingus may be made of 12 different materials- sand, rice, cooked food, river, clay, cow dung, butter, rudraksha seeds, ashes, sandalwood, darba grass, a flower garland or molasses. There are various interpretations of Lord Shiva—

Religious scholars have given various interpretation of shiva Linga., Lets go through some of the popular theories and interpretations related to Shiva Linga and its origin:

Interpretation in Tantra – According to Tantra, lingam is regarded as a symbol of ‘Shivas Phallus in spiritual form, it contains the soul—seed within which lies the essence of the entire Universe. Yoni which represents Parvati per some Vishnu, Brahma in female and neuter per others.

Interpretation in Puranas—Puranas especially like Vamana Purana, shiva Purana, Linga Purana, Skanda Purana, Matsya Purana, and Visvasara-Prakasha attribute the origin of Shiva Linga to the curse of sages leading to the separation of and installation of phallus of Lord Shiva on earth. The endlessness of Siva is also referred as Egos of Lord Vishnu & Lord Shiva.

Shiva Lingaaas Abstract symbol of God—Many scholars of the Hindu scriptures say that Lingaa is merely an abstract symbol of the God. There is a popular instance cited, where in Arjuna once fashioned a Linga of clay while worshipping Shiva. Scholars thus are of the view that Shiva linga represents the formless Nirguna Brahman or the formless supreme being, this is according to Sanatan Dharma or Hinduism. The God—that is awareness of divine (or the Bliss, Sat-Chit-Ananda, Chaitanya, Moksha, super soul, supreme awareness, or supreme consciousness). True Meaning of Siva linga is a symbol of union of the duality of the shiva (pure one), and Shakthi (sacred force or empowerment or the cosmic energy).

Why Lingam form for Shiva?

“Shiva appeared in Jyotirlingam form to solve dispute of Brahma and Vishnu” so for shiva, Jyothirlingam is not full truth.

Shiva gives introduction to Vishnu & Brahma

Gyan Swaroopam shivohm,Shivohm (Brahma)

Neejanand Swaroopam Shivohm Shivohm (Vishnu)

Prakash Swaroopam Shivohm Shivohm (Mahesh—Shiva’s 3rd eye)

On hearing this both brahma and Vishnu prayed to Shiva to appear so that they can see him.Shiva appeared in Jyotirlingam form, this jyoti was a fire of love. The 12 Jyotirlingam are 12 Jyotirstambha of Shiva. Shiva is the only deity who is accepted as “Neerakar Nirguna Brahm”. The origin of Word “Aadi” came into existence because for anything’s existence we have time based exam. Nobody knows the origin of time because nobody existed to check Shiva’s origin. So, when Vishnu came to know about Shiva’s introduction Vishnu explained that Shiva is a seed, and whatever we see is a tree originated from the Seed. Vishnu himself said “Shiva is eternal origin of “That why Siva Linga is seed and whatever we it is just a tree from a seed. It is origin. Siva is creator, originator so Shiva is worshipped as Jyotirlingam.Sage Bhirgu went to test w2ho was more worthy—Siva, Vishnu, Brahma. When he went to Mount Kailas to test shiva, Nandi (Shiva’s Bull) prevented him from meeting Lord shiva, enraged by this disrespect, Bhirgu put a curse on Shiva that from the onwards he could only be worshipped in the form of Linga.Shiva was engaged in deep meditation when Bhrigu visited him.

Naturally occurring Lingams—

An ice Lingam at Amaranth in the western Himalayas forms every winter from ice dripping on the floor of a cave and freezing like stagalmite. It’s very popular with Pilgrims. Shivling (6543m) is also a mountain 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 travelling to Gangotri to Gomukh as a part of a traditional Hindu pilgrimage. A Lingam is also the base for the legend of formation of the Borra Caves in Andhra Pradesh.

“The endless sky is (that great void which contains the entire universe) is the Linga, the Earth as 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 to be the first form to arise when creation occurs, and the last form before the dissolution of creation. Shiva is beyond creation rather originator or Creator of Universe.

Lord Shiva as Lingodbhava – “Emergence of the Linga”, is an iconic representation of Hindu god Shiva, commonly seen in Hindu temples. The Lingodbhava is found in various Puranas, the synthesis of the old cults of pillar and phallic worship. The earliest representation is found in 7th century works of saiva saints Appar and Thirugnana sambandar. Shiva is the destroyer, the most powerful god of the Hindu Pantheon and one of the god heads in the Hindu Trinity. Known by many names –Mahadeva, Mahayogi, Pashupati, Nataraja, Bhairava, Bholenath, Vishwanath, Bhava, Lord Siva is the most complex of all Hindu dieties. Mantras and Shlokas of Lord Shiva are Powerful and are believed to bring good health, peace, tranquillity and well- being. I hope with my Limited presentation of facts about Siva (Cosmic Energy), hereby offer my wholehearted prayers that Lord Shiva destroy the evil & the demonic qualities present in human beings, Let Pranav Mantra “OM” resonate everywhere, and all the Papa Karma be destroyed. Let Every Baradaris feel proud of our rich tradition & spread the essence of it everywhere benefiting every soul.

Loka Samasta Sukhino Bhavanthu

Jai Rashtra

Jai Hind

— Dr.S. Sukanya iyer