One of my Muslim friends asked me the meaning of Shiva Linga? I do not think it was a sincere question to understand the meaning but it was an effort to mock at the Hinduism. I did not have the right answer because I do not know the exact meaning of Shiva Linga. Can you please explain it to me so I can pass it on?
Brijesh (Name changed), India
Good your Muslim friend asked meaning of Shiva Linga. I can explain the true meaning of Shiva Linga, and also explain "Abrahamic religions" & their master's (Western/Arabic Scholars) "slanderous" approach towards Hinduism.
Maha Shivaratri Photos: Images of Maha-Shivaratri
First let me start with the most Idiotic and Slanderous interpretations (mostly by foreigners having questionable intentions and the Hindu victims of the western propaganda) of the Shiva Linga and the Hinduism in general.
.Proselytizer's version of Shiva Linga (or Shiv Ling, Shiv Lingam)
1) The meaning of Shiva Linga from Wikipedia: “The Lingam has also been considered a symbol of male creative energy or of the phallus. The lingam is often represented with the Yoni, a symbol of the goddess or of Shakti, female creative energy. The union of lingam and yoni represents the "indivisible two-in-oneness of male and female, the passive space and active time from which all life originates".
2) Here are some more “intentionally slanderous” interpretations available on the internet: “In physical terms lingam denotes an erect penis” OR “The Shiva Linga base represents yoni (female sex-organ)” OR “Hinduism is where human sexual organs are worshiped, where the "gods" are indulging in perverted sexual behaviors, its nothing but a perverted sexual cult” OR “When I came to know Hindus worship a Shivas Linga (Shiv Ling); Lord Shiva in the form of a phallus (penis). This knowledge made my skin crawl shiver in sheer disgust.”
You will find many such descriptions on the internet. Even though these are absolutely idiotic interpretations of the Shiva Linga and the Hinduism in general, I am not surprised considering the source of these interpretations. The “Westerner’s” interpretation of Shiva Linga as a union of male and female sex organs is perfect a image of their SPIRITUAL BANKRUPTCY AND LOWEST LEVEL OF DIVINITY attained by their religions.
Most of these versions come from the Proselytizers whose primary objective is to denigrate other religions by distorting the truth to promote their version of God as the "ONLY True God". Slander (intentional and international propaganda to discredit Hinduism) is always considered as a Holy Duty and a Service to “The God” in their religions. These are the proven liars with history of extreme religious violence, propaganda and barbarism that DO NOT need any introduction. Read how systematically the propaganda machine works here in Yoga and Hinduism: Why there is urgent need to dissociate Yoga from Hinduism?.
We need to understand that the above description is not about the Shiva Linga or Hinduism, but it is the mirror image of the caliber of the morality (or absence of it) of the religions and their followers, that “intentionally” portray the sexual versions of Shiva Linga. Interestingly, this is the level of spiritual maturity these religions and cultures have attained after the evolution of 2,000 years.
Unfortunately, these are the same cultures where mother and a 10 year old child sleeping in the same bed is looked upon with suspicion. These are the same religions whose preachers (called ‘Religious Scholars’ or ‘Spiritual Leaders’ and ‘Teachers of Divinity’) preach morality in their holy places and also involve in pedophilic sex with minors at the same holy places OR are allowed to have several wives to satisfy their lust. These are the cultures where Sub-Animal instincts have always overtaken the Human instincts for 2,000 years of the Kaliyuga. No wonder they see symbolism of Shiva Linga with “Their Level and Perception” of Spirituality and Divinity.
In my views, these religions are in the stage of Sub-Animal species where they can not see anything beyond - Male/Female, Penis/Yoni and Sex/Orgies in every duality. They will need evolution of few thousand years to reach to the level of Animals where they also understand the love between Mother and a baby (which is present in the initial stages of the animal-hood). After few MORE thousand years of evolution in the Animal stage these religions will get to the level of Humans where they will start understanding the "Universal God" that loves each of his creation equally (not "My God” and “Your God”) and reach the heights of a spiritual consciousness and awareness where they will be able to see the Shiva and Shakti and the principal of union in the duality. As of now these concepts are way beyond their perception, imagination and grasp.
In view of all the above, Hindus should not get upset at Proselytizer's version of Shiva Linga. In fact Hindus should feel sorry for the plight of these religions, pray for the upliftment of the "lost Souls" of the "harvesters" and wish the day soon arrives when they understand the meaning of the Universal God that resides in each of his creation independent of the faith or the religion any individual follows.
Fortunately, millions of people across the world are now following yoga practices and doing meditation to understand the "Sanatana dharma" that seeks the God beyond boundaries of the religion...that resides in each of us.
Having shed the light on the source of the slanderous versions of Shiva Linga and the distortion of the Hinduism in general, let us get back to your question: What is the meaning of Shiva Linga
Fortunately Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism) is millions of light years ahead of the pathetic religions. Here is my effort to explain each of the perspectives – form sub-animal perspective to the perspective by highest possible level of spirituality in human beings.
.Perception of the God in Hinduism
Before I can explain the symbolisms and meaning of the Shiva Linga, let us first understand how Hinduism (or Sanatana Dharma) perceives the God.
As per the Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma: The God is Nirguma (free of qualities) / Nirakar (free of form) as well as Sagun (having qualities) and Sakar (having form). BOTH these attributes are exactly opposite to each other, at the same time they BOTH are ABSOLUTELY TRUE. How can God be both that is exactly opposite to each other? I shall explain the reasoning in a separate discussion later. For current discussion let me assert emphatically that the God IS Nirgun and Nirakar as well as Sagun and Sakar, at the same time, how-so-ever contradictory it may appear to the human mind.
Having said this, let us also understand that the human being (jivatma or soul) in his/her journey towards the God travels from Sagun/Sakar (Duality) in the initial stages to Nirgun/Nirakar (non-Duality) in the ultimate stage. Therefore, nirgun in the Vedic sense implies transition of an individual from Sagun God (with the form having qualities – or God with Dualities) to Nirgun God (formless possessing absence of qualities – God in the form of non-Duality) The God – that is Divine Awareness (or The Bliss, Sat-Chit-Ananda, Chaitanya, Moksha, Super-Soul, Supreme Awareness or Supreme Consciousness)
.TRUE MEANING of the Shiva Linga (the ultimate union of Shiva and Shakti into The ONE – The God)
Now with the above view, in a simple layman’s terms, Shiva Linga is a symbol of union of the duality of the Shiva (The Pure One) and Shakti (sacred force or empowermentoror or the cosmic energy). This union is the source of all the creation around us. Shiva and Shakti can be considered as a metaphor for union of the duality to represent the ultimate non-duality (creation) of the universe. The Divine Awareness (or The Bliss, Sat-Chit-Ananda, Chaitanya, Moksha, Super-Soul, Supreme Awareness or Supreme Consciousness)
.Different levels of interpretations of the Shiva Linga
Here are three different interpretations of the Shiva Linga as per the spiritual level of the interpreter (call it a concentration of Sattva Guna or Divinity or Purity). I personally would not challenge any one particular version of them, because it is all about the level of Spiritual Perception and Concentration of Divinity of the preceptor (you and me), and not about the perception (The Shiva Linga) itself.
.1) Shiva Linga: Interpretation by Sub-animal (Sub-human) mind
The fact of the life is: The modern western mind is not capable of moving beyond the duality of Male / Female (at its lowest level) and Sagun / Sakar (at its highest level).
The minds that are obsessed with lowest level of duality look at Shiva Linga as subject of sexuality in general (because that is the only major duality they have known in their lives and can perceive with their mind). This duality also comes handy for the proselytizers whose primary objective is to denigrate the Hinduism by deriving the meanings that help promote their Slanderous version of the Hinduism, to distort the truth and promote “their version” of “The God”. I consider this as Sub-human meaning or the interpretation by the minds that can be calibrated as “Spirituality in the lowest form – The animal form” or “The total absence of Spirituality or Divinity”.
.2) Shiva Linga: Human interpretation with spiritual meaning
The minds (for example of the people from Tantra yoga) that can perceive and understand the higher form of duality (including the dualities of nature from electricity and magnetism, to the forces of fire and water, the sun and the moon, and so on) interpret the Shiva Linga as symbol of the universal duality with its spiritual meaning (of creation). Shiva Linga and Shakti are the two main Tantric symbols of ascending and descending forces (energies) in the universe that are often represented by upright conical stones for the Shiva Linga and ring stones or basis for the Shakti. In their view, The Shiva Linga represents the ascending energy of consciousness and life in nature – an iconic pillar of light or as an abstract symbol of God. We see this in forms such as the mountain, the thunder cloud, the tree, and the upright human being and so on (please note that Human upright form has evolved over thousands of years and there are not many upright forms of life in the world, most of them being non-upright – Ec: Fish, snake, animals on four legs etc. - hence the importance of the upright form in spirituality).
.3) Shiva Linga: From Duality to the Ultimate Union with Non-Duality
The true meaning of Shiva Linga goes even beyond the Tantra yoga meaning of union and the Creation. It is the eventual union of the duality (of you and me) into the non-duality (where the God is seen in the form of Nirgun/Nirakar – or absence of “you and me” and “Eternal Blissful presence of The Divine Awareness” (or The Bliss, Sat-Chit-Ananda, Chaitanya, Moksha, Super-Soul, Supreme Awareness or Supreme Consciousness) “
Most of the people (even those with spiritual background) fail to perceive the true meaning of the union of this duality into universal non-duality (simply because they are living in the duality itself.) But this is the ultimate meaning of the Shiva Linga. This is absolutely very difficult for an ordinary mind to perceive (because words can not explain the experience of non-Duality.)
Since the true meaning is so difficult to perceive, there are so many versions, misinterpretations and misrepresentations (intentional and unintentional) about the symbolism of Shiva Linga. As mentioned above, this is the exact reason this comes handy for those whose primary objective is to denigrate Hinduism. Hence you will find several “sexual” interpretations of the Shiva Linga all over the literature and internet web sites (which is absolutely malicious, hateful and defamatory and that is the only thing they can understand and perceive.)
.Conclusion: What You See IS What You Are:
The fact of life is – The sexuality is the strongest of our biological force and psychological desires in almost every life form. Therefore, the human mind when at its lowest level of perception sees this union of Shiva and Shakti in human sexual terms. The human mind at its highest level of perception can reflect on the same Shiva Linga with greater and higher forces of creation behind this duality, and union with the ultimate God. The Ultimate Fact Is - ONLY the spiritual mind that has attained the divine awareness can grasp the ultimate meaning behind the Shiva, Shakti and the Shiva Linga (NO ONE ELSE CAN – Period). People (most of them) live in duality can only “imagine” the Supreme Oneness (non-duality) by attaining higher level of Sattva guna. The perception of unity with the One is way far beyond “Ordinary” human mind. It can only be experienced by individuals having highest level of Divinity.
I hope this helps. For more specific details of Shiva, Shakti and Shiva Linga I shall suggest reading Dr. David Frawley on the topic of “The Shiva Linga and its Meaning”. There are several more interpretations available. But everything ultimately points to the union with the God which is Nirgun and Nirakar, far beyond the ordinary perception of the God that is Sagun and Sakar (in view of an average individual).
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