This is a very tired old question which the Christians and Muslims use to bash and humiliate Hindus. Many Hindus being ashamed offer fanciful interpretations. Lets just deal with facts and reality.
Linga in Sanskrit means “sign” or “indication” and is used as an indication of gender (pu-ling, stri-ling). In actual fact it is the phallus of Lord Shiva and it is situated in the yoni (vulva/womb) of mother Parvati. (Shiva Mahapurana, Koti Rudra Samhira Chapter 12) It is quite obviously the most appropriate symbol of creation. How else would you picture the origin of beings? An old and bearded God in the sky touching the finger of Adam? Seriously!
Every living being in the world comes from the union of Lingam and Yoni. No, for those devout theists out there! God does not create living beings – we propagate ourselves through SEX!
For all Muslims and Christians on this forum that don’t know the facts of life — Every single human being is generated in his father’s testicles as sperm cells, and when he has intercourse with the mother — the sperm is squirted out through his penis into his mother’s vagina — the sperm then swim up into the uterus and meet up with the ovum. Thus are human beings created. God doesn’t play any part in this cycle!!
Hindus in their natural brilliance took this wonderful and amazing biological fact and used it as the most natural symbol of the projection of the Universe into being by Lord Shiva. So if you want to worship a symbol of creation the most natural and authentic symbol would be the union of phallus and vagina.
Now Muslims and Christians are well known for their cognitive dissonance – regarding sex (which every living creature enjoys) as something dirty and the genitals as something shameful to be hidden and covered. So for them the concept of using genitals or sex to symbolize the Divine is detestable and a complete anathema.
Whereas us Hindus are not at all ashamed of the biological facts of life and embrace and celebrate life as it really is.
Indian society, especially the “educated elites” is afflicted by sexual repression which is not inherent in the civilization which produced the KAMA SUTRA and TANTRA. This sexual repression is a by-product of the Victorian education system and Christian “morality” which is obsessed with the evils of sex.
Perhaps when we Hindus reclaim and celebrate our sacred sexuality, the negative attitude towards women will finally be transmuted into honour, worship and veneration of the feminine as it should be!
Icon of the Divine Vulva — wood carving from South India 19th Century.
Icon of the Goddess displaying her vulva for ritual worship Hyderabad 11th Century, From a temple in Alampur.
We are at the same time thousands of years backward and hundreds of years forward.
I wonder why some educated Hindus in modern India oppose this theory. Sexuality was celebrated in Indus civilization. It was not at all vulgar. It was a divine sign of fertility and prosperity. As the country is advancing this theory is getting more repressed.
We Hindus should go back to board and revive the old values we stood for. Of course, not the negative ones.
Rami Sivan – Hindu Priest and Teacher of Indian Philosophy