A lingam (Sanskrit: लिङ्गम IAST: liGga, lit. "sign, symbol or mark"), sometimes referred to as linga or Shiva linga, is an abstract or aniconic representation of the Hindu deity Shiva in Shaivism.[1] It is a votary symbol revered in temples, smaller shrines, or as self-manifested natural objects.[2][3] The lingam is often represented within a disc-shaped platform.[1][4] Lingayats wear a lingam inside a necklace, called Ishtalinga.[5][6]

Lingam is additionally found in Sanskrit texts with the meaning of "evidence, proof" of God and God's existence.[1][7][8] Lingam iconography found at archaeological sites of the Indian subcontinent and southeast Asia includes simple cylinders set inside a yoni, rounded pillars with carvings such as of one or more mukha (faces), and anatomically realistic representations of a phallus such as at Gudimallam.[9][10][11] In the Shaiva traditions, the lingam is regarded as a form of spiritual iconography.[12][13][14]

Shiv lingam Tripundra
A Shiva lingam with tripundra

Nomenclature and significance

ShivaLingam new
Lingam as interpreted in Shaiva Siddhanta tradition which is a major school of Shaivism. Upper and lower part represents Parashiva and Parashakti perfections of Lord Shiva.

Lingam, states Monier Monier-Williams, appears in the Upanishads and epic literature, where it means a "mark, sign, emblem, characteristic".[7][13] Other contextual meanings of the term include "evidence, proof, symptom" of God and God's power. [7][7][8] The term also appears in early Indian texts on logic, where an inference is based on a sign (linga), such as "if there is smoke, there is fire" where the linga is the smoke.[7] According to James Lochtefeld, it is sometimes "simplistically called a phallic symbol".[13][15][16] It is a religious symbol in Hinduism representing Shiva as the generative power,[13] all of existence, all creativity and fertility at every cosmic level.[16][15]

The lingam of the Shaivism tradition is a short cylindrical pillar-like symbol of Shiva, made of stone, metal, gem, wood, clay or disposable material.[1][17] According to Encyclopædia Britannica, the lingam is a votary aniconic object found in the sanctum of Shiva temples and private shrines that symbolizes Shiva and is "revered as an emblem of generative power".[1] It often is found within a lipped, disked structure that is an emblem of goddess Shakti and this is called the yoni. Together they symbolize the union of the feminine and the masculine principles, and "the totality of all existence", states Encyclopædia Britannica.[1]

According to Rohit Dasgupta, the lingam symbolizes Shiva in Hinduism, and it is also a phallic symbol.[16] Since the 19th-century, states Dasgupta, the popular literature has represented the lingam as the male sex organ. This view contrasts with the traditional abstract values they represent in Shaivism wherein the lingam-yoni connote the masculine and feminine principles in the entirety of creation and all existence.[16] According to Wendy Doniger, for many Hindus, the lingam is not a "male sexual organ" but of a spiritual icon and their faith, just like for the Christians the cross is not an "instrument of execution" but a symbol of Christ and the Christian faith.[14][note 1]

According to Alex Wayman, given the Shaiva philosophical texts and spiritual interpretations, various works on Shaivism by some Indian authors "deny that the linga is a phallus".[12] To the Shaivites, a linga is neither a phallus nor do they practice the worship of erotic penis-vulva, rather the linga-yoni is a symbol of cosmic mysteries, the creative powers and the metaphor for the spiritual truths of their faith.[19]

According to Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, the lingam signifies three perfections of Shiva.[20] The upper oval part of the Shivalingam represent Parashiva and lower part of the Shivalingam called the pitha represents Parashakti.[21] In Parashiva perfection, Shiva is the absolute reality, the timeless, formless and spaceless. In Parashakti perfection, Shiva is all-pervasive, pure consciousness, power and primal substance of all that exists and it has form unlike Parashiva which is formless.[22]


According to Nagendra Singh, some believe linga-worship was a feature of indigenous Indian religion.[23]

Archaeology and Indus valley

According to Chakrabarti, "some of the stones found in Mohenjodaro are unmistakably phallic stones". These are dated to some time before 2300 BCE. Similarly, states Chakrabarti, the Kalibangan site of Harappa has a small terracotta representation that "would undoubtedly be considered the replica of a modern Shivlinga [a tubular stone]."[24] According to Encyclopædia Britannica, while Harappan discoveries include "short cylindrical pillars with rounded tops", there is no evidence that the people of Indus Valley Civilization worshipped these artifacts as lingams.[1]

Dhamekh Stupa, where the Buddha gave the first sermon on the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path to his five disciples, Sarnath
A Buddhist Stupa (above) may have influenced the later iconography of the Hindu Shiva-linga, according to Swami Vivekananda.[25][note 2]

The colonial era archaeologists John Marshall and Ernest Mackay proposed that certain artifacts found at Harappan sites may be evidence of yoni-linga worship in Indus Valley Civilization.[27] Scholars such as Arthur Llewellyn Basham dispute whether such artifacts discovered at the archaeological sites of Indus Valley sites are yoni.[27][28] For example, Jones and Ryan state that lingam/yoni shapes have been recovered from the archaeological sites at Harappa and Mohenjo-daro, part of the Indus Valley Civilisation.[29][30] In contrast, Indologist Wendy Doniger states that this relatively rare artifact can be interpreted in many ways and has unduly been used for wild speculations such as being a linga. Another postage stamp sized item found and called the Pashupati seal, states Doniger, has an image with a general resemblance with Shiva and "the Indus people may well have created the symbolism of the divine phallus", but given the available evidence we cannot be certain, nor do we know that it had the same meaning as some currently project them to might have meant.[31]

According to the Indologist Asko Parpola, "it is true that Marshall's and Mackay's hypotheses of linga and yoni worship by the Harappans has rested on rather slender grounds, and that for instance the interpretation of the so-called ring-stones as yonis seems untenable".[27] He quotes Dales 1984 paper, which states "with the single exception of the unidentified photography of a realistic phallic object in Marshall's report, there is no archaeological evidence to support claims of special sexually-oriented aspects of Harappan religion".[27] However, adds Parpola, a re-examination at Indus Valley sites suggest that the Mackay's hypothesis cannot be ruled out because erotic and sexual scenes such as ithyphallic males, naked females, a human couple having intercourse and trefoil imprints have now been identified at the Harappan sites.[27] The "finely polished circular stand" found by Mackay may be yoni although it was found without the linga. The absence of linga, states Parpola, maybe because it was made from wood which did not survive.[27]

Vedic literature

Shiva Ling
Lingam from Angkor period. Discovered in Battambang Province (Cambodia) and is made of Bronze, Quartz and Silver. On display at the National Museum of Cambodia.

The word lingam is not found in the Rigveda,[32] or the other Vedas.[33] However, Rudra (proto-Shiva) is found in the Vedic literature.[8][32][34] The word lingam appears in early Upanishads, but the context suggests that it simply means "sign" such as "smoke is a sign of fire", states Doniger.[32]

There is a hymn in the Atharvaveda that praises a pillar (Sanskrit: stambha), and this is one possible origin of linga worship.[23] According to Swami Vivekananda, the Shiva-linga had origins in the idea of Yupa-Stambha or Skambha of the Vedic rituals, where the term meant the sacrificial post which was then idealized as the eternal Brahman. The Yupa-Skambha gave place in time to the Shiva-Linga, quite possibly with influence from Buddhism's stupa shaped like the top of a stone linga, according to Vivekananda.[25][35]

Early iconography and temples

This Lingam
Gudimallam lingam (Parashurameshwara temple, Andhra Pradesh) has been dated to between the 3rd and 1st century BCE. The phallic pillar is anatomically accurate and depicts Shiva with an antelope and axe in his hands standing over a dwarf demon.[11]

One of the oldest example of a lingam is found in the Parashurameshwara temple, midst a hilly forest about 20 kilometres (12 mi) east of Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh.[36] It is called the Gudimallam and is an active place of Shaiva worship. It has been dated to the 3rd-century BCE,[1] or to the 2nd century BCE,[10] and generally accepted to be from the 3rd- to 1st-century BCE.[11] The structure anatomically resembles a phallus, has the figure of Shiva carved on the front with an antelope and axe in his hands.[11][37] He stands above a rakshasha (demon) dwarf.[38]

The Bhita linga – now at the Lucknow museum – is also dated to about the 2nd century BCE, and has four directional faces on the pillar and a Brahmi script inscription at the bottom.[39][40][41] Above the four faces, the Bhita linga has the bust of a male with his left hand holding a vase and the right hand in the abhaya (no-fear) mudra.[40][note 3] The pillar itself is, once again, a realistic depiction of human phallus.[40]

The Mathura archaeological site has revealed similar lingams with a standing Shiva in front (2nd century CE) and with one or four faces around the pillar (1st to 3rd century CE).[43][44]

Numerous stone and cave temples from the mid to late 1st-millennium feature lingams. The Bhumara Temple near Satna Madhya Pradesh, for example, is generally dated to late 5th-century Gupta Empire era, and it features an Ekamukha Lingam.[45][46]


According to Doniger, the Mahabharata is the first ancient Hindu text where the lingam is "unequivocally designating the sexual organ of Shiva".[11] Chapter 10.17 of the Mahabharata also refers to the word sthanu in the sense of an "inanimate pillar" as well as a "name of Shiva, signifying the immobile, ascetic, sexualized form of the lingam", as it recites the legend involving Shiva, Brahma and Prajapati.[11][47] This mythology weaves two polarities, one where the lingam represents the potentially procreative phallus (fertile lingam) and its opposite "a pillar-like renouncer of sexuality" (ascetic lingam), states Doniger.[11]


The Shiva Purana describes the origin of the lingam, known as Shiva-linga, as the beginning-less and endless cosmic pillar (Stambha) of fire, the cause of all causes.[48] Lord Shiva is pictured as emerging from the lingam – the cosmic pillar of fire – proving his superiority over the gods Brahma and Vishnu.[49] This is known as Lingodbhava. The Linga Purana also supports this interpretation of lingam as a cosmic pillar, symbolizing the infinite nature of Shiva.[49][25][35] 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.[50] 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." [51] In the Linga Purana, an Atharvaveda hymn is expanded with stories about the great Stambha and the supreme nature of Mahâdeva (the Great God, Shiva).[35]

Other literature

4 Buddha and Shiva Linga Vajrayana Buddhism
A linga-yoni in Nepal carved with four seated Buddhas.

In early Sanskrit medical texts, linga means "symptom, signs" and plays a key role in the diagnosis of a sickness, the disease.[52][53][54] The author of classical Sanskrit grammar treatise, Panini, states that the verbal root ling which means "paint, variegate", has the sense "that which paints, variegates, characterizes".[33] Panini as well as Patanjali additionally mention lingam with the contextual meaning of the "gender".[55][56]

In the Vaisheshika Sutras, it means "proof or evidence", as a conditionally sufficient mark or sign.[33] This Vaisheshika theory is adopted in the early Sanskrit medical literature.[57] Like the Upanishads, where linga means "mark, sign, characteristic", the texts of the Nyaya school of Hindu philosophy use linga in the same sense.[33][58][59] In the Samkhya sutras, and in Gaudapada's commentary on Samkhyakarika, the term linga has many contextual meanings such as in verses 1.124.136, 3.9.16 and 5.21.61, as it develops its theory of the nature of atman (soul) and sarira (body, prakriti) and its proposed mechanism of rebirth.[33][60][61] In the Purva Mimamsa Sutra and the Vedanta sutra, as well as the commentaries on them, the term linga appears quite often, particularly in the form of "lingadarsanac ca" as a form of citing or referencing prior Hindu literature. This phrase connotes "[we have found an] indicative sign", such as the "indicative sign is in a Vedic passage".[62]

There is persuasive evidence in later Sanskrit literature, according to Doniger, that the early Indians associated the lingam icon with the male sexual organ.[63] For example, the 11th-century Kashmir text Narmamala by Kshemendra on satire and fiction writing explains his ideas on parallelism with divine lingam and human lingam in a sexual context. Various Shaiva texts, such as the Skanda Purana in section 1.8 states that all creatures have the signs of Shiva or Shakti through their lingam (male sexual organ) or pindi (female sexual organ).[63][64] However, the Sanskrit literature corpus is not consistent. A part of the literature corpus regards lingam to be sexual and the phallus of Shiva, while another group of texts does not. Sexuality in the former is inherently sacred and spiritual, while the latter emphasizes the ascetic nature of Shiva and renunciation to be spiritual symbolism of lingam. This tension between the pursuit of spirituality through householder lifestyle and the pursuit of renunciate sannyasi lifestyle is historic, reflects the different interpretations of the lingam and what lingam worship means to its devotees. It remains a continuing debate within Hinduism to this day, states Doniger.[63] To one group, it is a part of Shiva's body and symbolically saguna Shiva (he in a physical form with attributes). To the other group, it is an abstract symbol of nirguna Shiva (he in the universal Absolute Reality, formless, without attributes).[63] In Tamil Shaiva tradition, for example, the common term for lingam is kuRi or "sign, mark" which is asexual.[63] Similarly, in Lingayatism tradition, the lingam is a spiritual symbol and "was never said to have any sexual connotations", according to Doniger.[65] To some Shaivites, it symbolizes the axis of the universe.[66]

The term Linga also appears in Buddhist and Jaina literature, where it means "sign, evidence" in one context, or "subtle body" with sexual connotations in another.[67][note 4]

Muslim rule

After the 11th-century invasion of the subcontinent by Islamic armies, the iconoclast Muslims considered the lingam to be idolatrous representations of the male sexual organ. They took pride in destroying as many lingams and Shiva temples as they could, reusing them to build steps for mosques, in a region stretching from Somanath (Gujarat) to Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh) to Chidambaram (Tamil Nadu), states Doniger.[65][68]

Orientalist literature

The colonial era Orientalists and Christian missionaries, raised in the Victorian mold where sex and sexual imagery were a taboo subject, were shocked by and were hostile to the lingam-yoni iconography and reverence they witnessed.[16][69][70] The 19th and early 20th-century colonial and missionary literature described lingam-yoni, and related theology as obscene, corrupt, licentious, hyper-sexualized, puerile, impure, demonic and a culture that had become too feminine and dissolute.[16][71][72] To the Hindus, particularly the Shaivites, these icons and ideas were the abstract, a symbol of the entirety of creation and spirituality.[16] The colonial disparagement in part triggered the opposite reaction from Bengali nationalists, who more explicitly valorised the feminine. Vivekananda called for the revival of the Mother Goddess as a feminine force, inviting his countrymen to "proclaim her to all the world with the voice of peace and benediction".[71]

According to Wendy Doniger, the terms lingam and yoni became explicitly associated with human sexual organs in the western imagination after the widely popular first Kamasutra translation by Sir Richard Burton in 1883.[73] In his translation, even though the original Sanskrit text does not use the words lingam or yoni for sexual organs, and almost always uses other terms, Burton adroitly avoided being viewed as obscene to the Victorian mindset by avoiding the use of words such as penis, vulva, vagina and other direct or indirect sexual terms in the Sanskrit text to discuss sex, sexual relationships and human sexual positions. Burton used the terms lingam and yoni instead throughout the translation.[73] This conscious and incorrect word substitution, states Doniger, thus served as an Orientalist means to "anthropologize sex, distance it, make it safe for English readers by assuring them, or pretending to assure them, that the text was not about real sexual organs, their sexual organs, but merely about the appendages of weird, dark people far away."[73] Similar Orientalist literature of the Christian missionaries and the British era, states Doniger, stripped all spiritual meanings and insisted on the Victorian vulgar interpretation only, which had "a negative effect on the self-perception that Hindus had of their own bodies" and they became "ashamed of the more sensual aspects of their own religious literature".[74] Some contemporary Hindus, states Doniger, in their passion to spiritualize Hinduism and for their Hindutva campaign have sought to sanitize the historic earthly sexual meanings, and insist on the abstract spiritual meaning only.[74]

Iconography and worship

Linga-yoni worship in different ways; Left: river, Right: temple.

A river and decorated Shiva linga pooja, Hindu rituals
Lord Shiva devotees offering milk, flowers, fruits and bel leaves on a Shivaling for seeking divine blessings, in a city temple at the celebration of Maha Shivaratri, in New Delhi on February 23, 2009 (1)

The traditional lingam rituals in major Shiva temples includes offerings of flowers, grass, dried rice, fruits, leaves, water and a milk bath.[1] Priests chant hymns, while the devotees go the sanctum for a darshana followed by a clockwise circumambulation of the sanctum.[1] On the sanctum walls, typically are reliefs of Dakshinamurti, Brahma and Vishnu. Often, near the sanctum are other shrines, particularly for Shakti (Durga), Ganesha and Murugan (Kartikeya). In the Hindu tradition, special pilgrimage sites include those where natural lingams are found in the form of cylindrical rocks or ice or rocky hill. These are called Svayambhuva lingam, and about 70 of these are known on the Indian subcontinent, the most significant being one in Kashi (Varanasi) followed by Prayaga, Naimisha and Gaya.[1][75]

The historic lingam iconography has included:

  • Mukhalingam, where the lingam has the face of Shiva carved on it.[76][77] An Ekmukha lingam has just one face, Chaturmukha lingam has four faces in the cardinal directions, while a Panchamukha lingam has a total of five (the fifth is on the top) and represents Sadashiva.[78][79] Among the mukha-lingam varieties, the four face version are more common.[80]
  • Ashtottara-sata linga, where 108 miniature lingas are carved on the pujabhaga (main linga) following certain geometric principles.[81]

Lingam iconography exists in many forms, and their design are described in the Agama texts. Left: a 5th-century Mukha-linga (with face), Right: a Sahasra-linga (with 1001 carvings).

Bhubaneshwar ei040
  • Sahasra linga, where 1001 miniature lingas are carved on the pujabhaga (main linga) following certain geometric principles (set in 99 vertical lines, 11 horizontal).[82]
  • Dhara linga, where lingas have five to sixty four fluted facets, with prime numbers and multiples of four particularly favored.[83]
  • Lingodbhavamurti, where Shiva is seen as emerging from within a fiery lingam.[1] On top of this icon is sometimes a relief of a swan or goose representing Brahma, and a boar at the bottom representing the Varaha avatar of Vishnu. This reflects the Shaiva legend describing a competition between Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu, as to who has priority and superiority.[1]

A lingam may be made of clay (mrinmaya), metal (lohaja), precious stone (ratnaja), wood (daruja), stone (sailaja, most common), or a disposal material (kshanika).[17] The construction method, proportions and design is described in Shaiva Agama texts.[17] The lingam is typically set in the center of a pindika (also called yoni or pithas, symbolizing Shakti). A pindika may be circular, square, octagonal, hexagonal, duodecagonal, sixteen sided, alliptical, triangular or another shape.[84] Some lingams are miniaturized and they are carried on one's person, such as by Lingayats in a necklace. These are called chala-lingams.[17] The Hindu temple design manuals recommend geometric ratios for the linga, the sanctum and the various architectural features of the temple according to certain mathematical rules it considers perfect and sacred.[85] Anthropologist Christopher John Fuller states that although most sculpted images (murtis) are anthropomorphic or theriomorphic, the aniconic Shiva Linga is an important exception.[86]

According to Shaiva Siddhanta, 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.[87]

The various styles of lingam iconography are found on the Indian subcontinent and southeast Asia.[88][89]


Necklace with Shiva's Family LACMA M.85.140
A necklace with linga-containing pendant is constantly worn by the Lingayats.[90]

Lingayats, a sect of the Shaivite religious tradition in India, wear a miniaturized linga called the istalinga.[91] Initially known as Veerashaivas (heroic worshippers of Shiva), since the 18th century adherents of this faith are known as Lingayats.[92] This tradition originated in Karnataka around the 12th-century.[5][93] Lingayatism is derived from the term linga and suffix ayta.[94] The term Lingayat is based on the practice of both genders of Lingayats wearing an iṣṭaliṅga (also called karasthala-linga) contained inside a box with a necklace all the time. The istalinga is a personalized and miniature oval-shaped linga and an emblem of their faith symbolising Parashiva, the absolute reality and their spirituality.[94][95] It is viewed as a "living, moving" divinity within the Lingayat devotee. Everyday, the devotee removes this personal linga from its box, places it in left palm, offers puja and then meditates about becoming one with the linga, in his or her journey towards the atma-linga.[96]

Pilgrimage sites

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.[97]

Left:Spatika (quartz) lingam illuminated by laser at Kadavul Temple in the United States (left); Right: Lingam in the cave at the Amarnath Temple, Kashmir.

Spatika Lingam illuminated by laser
Lord Amarnath

In Kadavul Temple, a 700-pound, 3-foot-tall, naturally formed Spatika(quartz) lingam is installed. In future this crystal lingam will be housed in the Iraivan Temple. it is claimed as among the largest known spatika self formed (Swayambhu) lingams.[98][99] Hindu scripture rates crystal as the highest form of Siva lingam.[100]

Shivling, 6,543 metres (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 lingam when viewed from certain angles, especially when travelling 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.

Banalinga are the lingam which are found on the bed of the Narmada river.

Bhuteshwar shivling is a natural rock shivling in Chhattisgarh whose height is increasing with each passing year.[101][102] Sidheshvar Nath Temple's shivling is also a natural rock lingam in Arunachal Pradesh. It is believed to be the tallest natural lingam.


Shiva dans le linga de feu (musée Guimet) (8205960337)

Lingodbhava (Chola period)


Lingodbhava (Chola period)

Linga Temple 1

Badavlinga, Hampi (Vijayanagara Empire)

Statue of Pashupatinath Mandsaur

8 faced Shivlingam in Pashupatinath Temple at Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh

Natural Sivalinga near Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh

Natural rock linga, Arunachal Pradesh

Nepalese stone linga SF Asian Art Museum

A 10th-century four-face Mukhalinga, Nepal

Siva linga

Sixty four lingams (Nepal)

Plaque with Shivalinga and Worshipper LACMA M.85.125 (1 of 4)

An 11th-century linga-yoni plaque with a worshipper (Nepal)

Shiva Ling

Lingam from Angkor period, Battambang Province (Cambodia)

041 Linga and Yoni, Museum Mojopahit (40386002682)

Linga-yoni, Java (Indonesia)

Cattien copper linga

Copper lingam at the Cát Tiên sanctuary, Vietnam

Jatalinga sur cuve à ablution (musée Guimet) (5153565239)

A jatalinga with yoni (Champa, Vietnam)

Katas Raj Temple, Lahore24

A lingam at the Katas Raj Temples in north Pakistan

Shiva phallus - Wat Hiranyawat - Chiang Rai - 2017-01-02 - 002

Ganesha and Shiva-linga, Chiang Rai, Thailand

See also


  1. ^ According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, "the cross is thus a sign both of Christ himself and of the faith of Christians. In ceremonial usage, making a sign of the cross may be, according to the context, an act of profession of faith, a prayer, a dedication, or a benediction."[18]
  2. ^ This view is shared by K.R. Subramanian, who writes that some Buddhist stupas have been worshipped by Tamil Saivites because they believe it is a Shivalinga, and some ancient stupa sculptures from Amaravati and Jaggayyapeta look so much like a linga that anyone would mistake them for one.[26]
  3. ^ This linga is likely a dedication memorial stone according to the inscription which states, "The Linga of the sons of Khajahuti, was dedicated by Nagasiri, the son of Vasethi. May the deity be pleased."[40] Bloch objected to "Linga of the sons" interpretation, stating it made no sense. Other scholars maintain that to be a cryptic epigraphic reference to "worshipped by", given the mention of "deity" later in the inscription.[41][42]
  4. ^ Examples of this usage include the Lankavatara sutra in Buddhism, and Sukhlalji's bhasya on Tattvartha sutra in Jainism.[67]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "lingam". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010.
  2. ^ Johnson, W.J. (2009). A dictionary of Hinduism (1st ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780191726705. Retrieved 5 January 2016.(subscription or UK public library membership required)
  3. ^ Fowler, Jeaneane (1997). Hinduism : beliefs and practices. Brighton [u.a.]: Sussex Acad. Press. pp. 42–43. ISBN 9781898723608.
  4. ^ Dancing with Siva. USA. 1999. search:- "pīṭha: पीठ". ISBN 9780945497943.
  5. ^ a b Dalal 2010, p. 208-209.
  6. ^ Olson 2007, p. 239–240.
  7. ^ a b c d e Linga, Monier Monier-Williams, Harvard University Archives, pp. 901-902
  8. ^ a b c Yves Bonnefoy (1993). Asian Mythologies. University of Chicago Press. pp. 38–39. ISBN 978-0-226-06456-7.
  9. ^ T. A. Gopinatha Rao (1993). Elements of Hindu Iconography, Volume 2. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 63–68, 72–87, 91–98. ISBN 978-81-208-0877-5.
  10. ^ a b Klostermaier, Klaus K. (2007). A Survey of Hinduism (3. ed.). Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press. p. 111. ISBN 978-0-7914-7082-4.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g Wendy Doniger (2011). "God's Body, or, The Lingam Made Flesh: Conflicts over the Representation of the Sexual Body of the Hindu God Shiva". Social Research. The Johns Hopkins University Press. 78 (2): 491–493. JSTOR 23347187.
  12. ^ a b Alex Wayman (1987). "O, that Linga!". Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. 68 (1/4): 30., Quote: "That is why today one will read in various works by Indian on Saivism a denial that the linga is a phallus; and the late Dr. Basham once told the present writer that in all the years of his India contacts he never found any Saivite admitting that the linga is a phallus."
  13. ^ a b c d James G. Lochtefeld (2001). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Volume 1. The Rosen Publishing Group. p. 390. ISBN 978-0-8239-3179-8.
  14. ^ a b Wendy Doniger (2011). "God's Body, or, The Lingam Made Flesh: Conflicts over the Representation of the Sexual Body of the Hindu God Shiva". Social Research. The Johns Hopkins University Press. 78 (2): 503. JSTOR 23347187.
  15. ^ a b Lewis R. Rambo; Charles E. Farhadian (2014). The Oxford Handbook of Religious Conversion. Oxford University Press. pp. 332–333. ISBN 978-0-19-971354-7.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g Rohit Dasgupta. Michael Kimmel; Christine Milrod; Amanda Kennedy (eds.). Cultural Encyclopedia of the Penis. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 107.
  17. ^ a b c d T. A. Gopinatha Rao (1993). Elements of Hindu Iconography Volume 2. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 76. ISBN 978-81-208-0877-5.
  18. ^ Cross, religious symbol, Encyclopaedia Britannica
  19. ^ Alex Wayman (1987). "O, that Linga!". Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. 68 (1/4): 29–31.
  20. ^ sivaya subramuniyaswami (2001). Dancing with Siva. USA: Himalayan Academy. ISBN 0945497970.
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  66. ^ Susan Bayly (2003). Saints, Goddesses and Kings: Muslims and Christians in South Indian Society, 1700-1900. Cambridge University Press. pp. 129–130 with footnote 55. ISBN 978-0-521-89103-5.
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  68. ^ Mehrdad Shokoohy (2013). Muslim Architecture of South India. Routledge. pp. 17–18. ISBN 978-1-136-49984-5.
  69. ^ Douglas T. McGetchin (2009). Indology, Indomania, and Orientalism: Ancient India's Rebirth in Modern Germany. Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press. p. 34. ISBN 978-0-8386-4208-5.
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  74. ^ a b Wendy Doniger (2011). "God's Body, or, The Lingam Made Flesh: Conflicts over the Representation of the Sexual Body of the Hindu God Shiva". Social Research. The Johns Hopkins University Press. 78 (2): 499–505. JSTOR 23347187.
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  • Basham, A. L. The Wonder That Was India: A survey of the culture of the Indian Sub-Continent before the coming of the Muslims, Grove Press, Inc., New York (1954; Evergreen Edition 1959).
  • Blake Michael, R. (1992), The Origins of Vīraśaiva Sects: A Typological Analysis of Ritual and Associational Patterns in the Śūnyasaṃpādane, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-81-208-0776-1
  • Schumacher, Stephan and Woerner, Gert. The Encyclopedia of Eastern Philosophy and Religion, Buddhism, Taoism, Zen, Hinduism, Shambhala, Boston, (1994) ISBN 0-87773-980-3.
  • Chakravarti, Mahadev. The Concept of Rudra-Śiva Through the Ages, Delhi: Motilal Banarasidass (1986), ISBN 8120800532.
  • Davis, Richard H. (1992). Ritual in an Oscillating Universe: Worshipping Śiva in Medieval India. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691073866.
  • Dalal, Roshen (2010), The Religions of India: A Concise Guide to Nine Major Faiths, Penguin Books, ISBN 978-0-14-341517-6
  • Drabu, V.N. Śaivāgamas: A Study in the Socio-economic Ideas and Institutions of Kashmir (200 B.C. to A.D. 700), New Delhi: Indus Publishing (1990), ISBN 8185182388.
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  • Ram Karan Sharma. Śivasahasranāmāṣṭakam: Eight Collections of Hymns Containing One Thousand and Eight Names of Śiva. With Introduction and Śivasahasranāmākoṣa (A Dictionary of Names). (Nag Publishers: Delhi, 1996). ISBN 81-7081-350-6. This work compares eight versions of the Śivasahasranāmāstotra. The preface and introduction (in English) by Ram Karan Sharma provide an analysis of how the eight versions compare with one another. The text of the eight versions is given in Sanskrit.
  • Kramrisch, Stella (1988). The Presence of Siva. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 9788120804913.
  • Schouten, Jan Peter (1995), Revolution of the Mystics: On the Social Aspects of Vīraśaivism, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120812383
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External links


Angkor (Khmer: អង្គរ pronounced [ʔɑŋ.ˈkɔː], lit. capital city) was the capital city of the Khmer Empire, also known as Yasodharapura (Khmer: យសោធរបុរៈ; Sanskrit: यशोधरपुर) and flourished from approximately the 9th to 15th centuries. The city houses the magnificent Angkor Wat, one of Cambodia's popular tourist attractions.

The word Angkor is derived from the Sanskrit nagara (नगर), meaning "city". The Angkorian period began in AD 802, when the Khmer Hindu monarch Jayavarman II declared himself a "universal monarch" and "god-king", and lasted until the late 14th century, first falling under Ayutthayan suzerainty in 1351. A Khmer rebellion against Siamese authority resulted in the 1431 sacking of Angkor by Ayutthaya, causing its population to migrate south to Longvek.

The ruins of Angkor are located amid forests and farmland north of the Great Lake (Tonlé Sap) and south of the Kulen Hills, near modern-day Siem Reap city (13°24′N, 103°51′E), in Siem Reap Province. The temples of the Angkor area number over one thousand, ranging in scale from nondescript piles of brick rubble scattered through rice fields to the Angkor Wat, said to be the world's largest single religious monument. Many of the temples at Angkor have been restored, and together, they comprise the most significant site of Khmer architecture. Visitors approach two million annually, and the entire expanse, including Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom is collectively protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The popularity of the site among tourists presents multiple challenges to the preservation of the ruins.

In 2007, an international team of researchers using satellite photographs and other modern techniques concluded that Angkor had been the largest pre-industrial city in the world, with an elaborate infrastructure system connecting an urban sprawl of at least 1,000 square kilometres (390 sq mi) to the well-known temples at its core. Angkor is considered to be a "hydraulic city" because it had a complicated water management network, which was used for systematically stabilizing, storing, and dispersing water throughout the area. This network is believed to have been used for irrigation in order to offset the unpredictable monsoon season and to also support the increasing population. Although the size of its population remains a topic of research and debate, newly identified agricultural systems in the Angkor area may have supported between 750,000 and one million people.


Mt Arunachala (IAST: Aruṇācala, "red mountain") refers to the holy hill at Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu. The hill is also known by the names Arunagiri, Annamalai Hill, Arunachalam, Arunai, Sonagiri and Sonachalam.

It is one of the five main shaivite holy places in South India. The Annamalaiyar Temple, a temple of Lord Shiva is located at the base of the hill. Every year in the Tamil month of Karthigai (November–December), the Karthigai Deepam (Light) is lit atop the hill.

It is also an important place for devotees of Sri Ramana Maharshi, with Sri Ramana Ashram situated at its foothills.

Arunachalesvara Temple

Arunachalesvara Temple, also called Annamalaiyar Temple, is a Hindu temple dedicated to the deity Shiva, located at the base of Arunachala hill in the town of Thiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu, India. It is significant to the Hindu sect of Saivism as one of the temples associated with the five elements, the Pancha Bhoota Stalas, and specifically the element of fire, or Agni. Shiva is worshiped as Arunachalesvara or Annamalaiyar, and is represented by the lingam, with his idol referred to as Agni lingam. His consort Parvati is depicted as Unnamalai Amman. The presiding deity is revered in the 7th century Tamil Saiva canonical work, the Tevaram, written by Tamil saint poets known as the nayanars and classified as Paadal Petra Sthalam. The 9th century Saiva saint poet Manikkavasagar composed the Tiruvempaavai here.

The temple complex covers 10 hectares, and is one of the largest in India. It houses four gateway towers known as gopurams. The tallest is the eastern tower, with 11 stories and a height of 66 metres (217 ft), making it one of the tallest temple towers in India. The temple has numerous shrines, with those of Arunachalesvara and Unnamalai Amman being the most prominent. The temple complex houses many halls; the most notable is the thousand-pillared hall built during the Vijayanagar period.

The temple has six daily rituals at various times from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., and twelve yearly festivals on its calendar. The Karthigai Deepam festival is celebrated during the day of the full moon between November and December, and a huge beacon is lit atop the hill. It can be seen from miles around, and symbolizes the Shiva lingam of fire joining the sky. The event is witnessed by three million pilgrims. On the day preceding each full moon, pilgrims circumnavigate the temple base and the Arunachala hills in a worship called Girivalam, a practice carried out by one million pilgrims yearly.The present masonry structure was built during the Chola dynasty in the 9th century, while later expansions are attributed to Vijayanagara rulers of the Sangama Dynasty (1336–1485 CE), the Saluva Dynasty and the Tuluva Dynasty (1491–1570 CE). The temple is maintained and administered by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department of the Government of Tamil Nadu.


Chinnamanur is a town and a municipality in Theni district in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. As of 2011, the town had a population of 42,305. The town is one of the major trade centers in the district and supports basic needs for more than 1,00,000 population in and around the town. Chinnamanur in recent times is known for banana marketing. Processed banana from more than twenty units in Chinnamanur are exported to various countries. Chinnamanur also holds the most number of jewel shops in the entire Theni district. Chinnamanur is the fourth largest town in the district by population and second largest town in the district by area.


Draksharama is a town in East Godavari district of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The Bhimeswara Swamy temple in this town is one of the five temples of Shiva known as Pancharama Kshetras. The Manikyamba temple in this town is one of the eighteen temples of Maha Shakti Pithas in India.

Ekambareswarar Temple (Kanchipuram)

Ekambareswarar Temple (Ekambaranathar Temple) is a Hindu temple dedicated to the deity Shiva, located in the town of Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu, India. It is significant to the Hindu sect of Saivism as one of the temples associated with the five elements, the Pancha Bhoota Stalas, and specifically the element of earth, or Prithvi. Shiva is worshiped as Ekambareswarar or Ekambaranathar, and is represented by the lingam, with his idol referred to as Prithvi lingam. His consort Parvati is depicted as Gowridevi Amman. The presiding deity is revered in the 7th century Tamil Saiva canonical work, the Tevaram, written by Tamil saint poets known as the nayanars and classified as Paadal Petra Sthalam. The temple also houses Nilathingal Thundam Perumal temple, a Divyadesam, the 108 temples revered in the Vaishnava canon Nalayira Divya Prabhandam.The temple complex covers 25 acres, and is one of the largest in India. It houses four gateway towers known as gopurams. The tallest is the southern tower, with 11 stories and a height of 58.5216 metres (192 ft), making it one of the tallest temple towers in India. The temple has numerous shrines, with those of Ekambareswarar and Nilathingal Thundam Perumal being the most prominent. The temple complex houses many halls; the most notable is the thousand-pillared hall built during the Vijayanagar period.

The temple has six daily rituals at various times from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., and twelve yearly festivals on its calendar. Panguni Uthiram festival celebrated for thirteen days during the Tamil month of Panguni (March - April) is the most prominent festival of the temple and the town.The present masonry structure was built during the Chola dynasty in the 9th century, while later expansions are attributed to Vijayanagar rulers. The temple is maintained and administered by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department of the Government of Tamil Nadu. The temple is the largest and one of the most prominent tourist attractions in the city.

Jambukeswarar Temple, Thiruvanaikaval

Jambukeswarar Temple, Thiruvanaikaval (also Thiruvanaikal, Jambukeswaram) is a famous Shiva temple in Tiruchirapalli (Trichy) district, in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. The temple was built by Kocengannan (Kochenga Chola), one of the Early Cholas, around 1,800 years ago. It is located in the Srirangam island, which has the famous Ranganathaswamy temple.

Thiruvanaikal is one of the five major Shiva Temples of Tamil Nadu (Pancha Bhoota Stalam) representing the Mahābhūta or five great elements; this temple represents the element of water, or neer in Tamil. The sanctum of Jambukeswara has an underground water stream and in spite of pumping water out, it is always filled with water.It is one of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams, where all the four most revered Nayanars (Saivite Saints) have sung glories of the deity in this temple. The temple has inscriptions from the Chola period.


A Jyotirlinga or Jyotirlingam, is a devotional representation of the Supreme God Shiva. Jyoti means 'radiance' and lingam the 'Image or Sign' of Shiva; Jyotir Lingam thus means the Radiant Sign of The Almighty Shiva. There are twelve traditional Jyotirlinga shrines in India.

Kungiliya Kalaya Nayanar

Kungiliya Kalaya Nayanar (also spelt as Kunguliya Kalaya Nayanar, Kungulia Kalaya Nayanar), also known as Kungiliya Kalaya (Kunguliya Kalaya), Kalayar (Kalaya, Kalayan), Kunguliya and Kalaya Nayanar, is a Nayanar saint, venerated in the Hindu sect of Shaivism. He is generally counted as the eleventh in the list of 63 Nayanars.

Lingam massage

A lingam massage is a type of Tantric massage that primarily focuses on the male genitalia.Some analysts posit that the purpose of Lingam massage is to awaken one's kundalini, an enlightenment-related energy.

Nageshvara Jyotirlinga

Nageshvara is one of the temples mentioned in the Shiva Purana and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas.

Pancha Bhoota Stalam

Pancha Bhoota Sthalam refers to five temples dedicated to Shiva, each representing a manifestation of the five prime elements of nature: earth, water, fire, air, and space. Pancha indicates "five," Bhoota means "elements," and Sthala means "place." The temples are located in South India, four in Tamil Nadu and one in Andhra Pradesh. The five elements are believed to be enshrined in the five lingams of the temples, with each lingam named based on the element represented.

Pancharama Kshetras

The Pancharama Kshetras (or the Pancharamas) are five ancient Hindu temples of Lord Shiva in Andhra Pradesh. The Sivalingas at these temples are made from a single Sivalinga.


A phallus is a penis (especially when erect), an object that resembles a penis, or a mimetic image of an erect penis.

Any object that symbolically—or, more precisely, iconically—resembles a penis may also be referred to as a phallus; however, such objects are more often referred to as being phallic (as in "phallic symbol"). Such symbols often represent fertility and cultural implications that are associated with the male sexual organ, as well as the male orgasm.

Ramanathaswamy Temple

Ramanathaswamy Temple (Irāmanātasvāmi Kōyil) is a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Shiva located on Rameswaram island in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. It is also one of the twelve Jyotirlinga temples. It is one of the 274 Paadal Petra Sthalams, where the three of the most revered Nayanars (Saivite saints), Appar, Sundarar and Tirugnana Sambandar, have glorified the temple with their songs. The temple was expanded during the 12th century by Pandya Dynasty, and its principal shrines sanctum were renovated by Jeyaveera Cinkaiariyan and his successor Gunaveera Cinkaiariyan of the Jaffna kingdom. The temple has the longest corridor among all Hindu temples in India. The temple is located in Rameswaram considered a holy pilgrimage site for Shaivites, Vaishnavites and Smarthas. The presiding deity, the Lingam of Ramanathaswamy (Shiva), is believed to have been established and worshiped by Rama.


In Hinduism, Rasalingam or Parad Lingam is a Lingam, the symbol of the god Shiva, made of mercury (or possibly Gallium; see Composition below.) Tamil Siddhas carved Shiva Lingam from solidified mercury. The process of solidification of mercury is the secret process enunciated by Tamil Siddhas. In Tamil, mercury is called Pada-rasam and the Shiva Lingam made using pada-rasam is called Rasalingam. In Sanskrit, mercury is called Parad and the Shiva Lingam made using parad is called Parad Lingam. Rasalingams or Parad Lingams are consecrated in Hindu Shiva temples, Ashrams and other places of worships.

According to Parad granth(sacred book) a mere touch of this parad shivlingam, will bestow on the worshiper the goodness of Shiv pooja in all the three worlds (triloka)


Shiva (; Sanskrit: शिव, Śiva, lit. the auspicious one) also known as Mahadeva (lit. the great god) is one of the principal deities of Hinduism. He is one of the supreme beings within Shaivism, one of the major traditions within contemporary Hinduism.Shiva is known as "The Destroyer" within the Trimurti, the Hindu trinity that includes Brahma and Vishnu. In Shaivism tradition, Shiva is one of the supreme beings who creates, protects and transforms the universe. In the Shaktism tradition, the Goddess, or Devi, is described as one of the supreme, yet Shiva is revered along with Vishnu and Brahma. A goddess is stated to be the energy and creative power (Shakti) of each, with Parvati (Sati) the equal complementary partner of Shiva. He is one of the five equivalent deities in Panchayatana puja of the Smarta tradition of Hinduism.According to the Shaivism sect, the highest form of Ishvar is formless, limitless, transcendent and unchanging absolute Brahman, and the primal Atman (soul, self) of the universe. There are many both benevolent and fearsome depictions of Shiva. In benevolent aspects, he is depicted as an omniscient Yogi who lives an ascetic life on Mount Kailash as well as a householder with wife Parvati and his two children, Ganesha and Kartikeya. In his fierce aspects, he is often depicted slaying demons. Shiva is also known as Adiyogi Shiva, regarded as the patron god of yoga, meditation and arts.The iconographical attributes of Shiva are the serpent around his neck, the adorning crescent moon, the holy river Ganga flowing from his matted hair, the third eye on his forehead, the trishula or trident, as his weapon, and the damaru drum. He is usually worshipped in the aniconic form of Lingam. Shiva is a pan-Hindu deity, revered widely by Hindus, in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

Shiva Puja

Shiva Puja is the name of the action in Hinduism by which one worships Lord Siva through traditional and ancient rites with the use of mantra, tantra, kriyas, mudras, and abhishekam.

Vaithya lingam temple

Sri Vaithya Lingam Swami temple is located at Aladipatti, which is 30 km (19 mi) from Tirunelveli on the way to Tenkasi. The temple's sanctum has sri vaithya lingam swami and goddess yogambigai. The other deities of the temple for various castes of people are Sudalai Madan Samy and Karuppa Samy.

Philosophical traditions
Pancha Bhoota Stalam
Traditional observances


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