Lord Shiva has 3 forms- Nirguna, Saguna and Nirguna-Saguna.
Nirgun (In this state he is formless and the whole universe and creation lie in the pervasiveness of Shiva)
2.Saguna (In the Saguna state Shiva is the entire universe and his “ansh” is present in the tree, the insect, the, animal, male, female and the whole creation. In this state though all forms arise out of him yet no form can describe him. He remains the causeless cause of all causes)
3.Nirgun-Sagun (In this state through the intellect, knowledge, senses that are made of gunas we try to explain Shiva in terms of gunas and material forms yet our explanation can not do justice to him as he is beyond thought, intellect and senses)
Yajur Veda says ‘Na Tasya Pratima Asti’ which means ‘There is no image of Lord Shiva’. He is Nirguna, the formless. It was a rumour spread by some Muslims that the lingam is Shiva’s genital. The word Shivaling has been derived from sanskrit roots Shiva (the God) + Lingam (Chinha/Symbol). Hence, Shivalingam is the symbol of Lord within it’s creation. Lord Shiva is worshipped as Shiva Linga in its Nirguna-Saguna state. It is not possible for one to imagine how Lord Shiva must have actually looked like. The image that we usually see on posters and TV is not absolutely accurate as these are just assumptions.
Everything in this universe arises from a pind (dome) eg: a child is born from an embryo, a tree grows from a seed, the minutest of cells are round and even the Earth is round. Everything being round is a mark of Lord Shiva. Since he cannot be comprehended in a particular form, we worship his symbol in the form of Shiv ling. The three horizontal lines on the Shivling symbolizes the three ‘gunas’- Rajas, Satva and Tamas. These 3 gunas are present in all human beings. Lord Shiva is ‘Nirguna’ i.e he is unaffected by any of the above gunas. He is the most balanced and auspicious one.
Some Scientific Facts about the Shiva lingam by Dr. Ayathuray Rajasingam:
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 worshipped, 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 Vivekananda 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 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, being 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 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.
Sage Vyasa, the author of ,Maha Bharata, 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 worshipped 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.
During the creation a debate took place between the creator Brahma and the preserver Vishnu that who Shiva is. Just then this “Column of light” appeared in front of them on the Hindu month of Margasheersha and Hindu date Poornima or Pratipada. When both the Gods failed to know the real origin and end of this column, Shiva appeared in his visible form. He preached both of them the real meaning of Shiva Lingam.
He said, ” I have two form, Sakala(with form) and Nishkala(with out form). This column of light is my real form. Brahman is my Nishkala form and Maheshwara is my Sakala form.
When I come with sixteen kalas, I become Sakala and when I present in the crude energy, I am called Brahman. Brahman means the most enormous (Brihat) and the creator of all. Lingam depicts my formless Brahman power.
This is my Lingam(symbol). Lingam (Braman) and Lingee (Atman) are same, therefore the great souls should also worship me. One who has established Shiva Lingam somewhere in his life, he gets Sayujya Moksha (eternal company of Shiva).
From Vedanta :- A subtle representative of God that is present in our body. Kundalini is coiled with it in three and half coils. This is what Shiva Lingam and snake coiled round depict in our temples. It shows Paramatman in the form of Atman and Shakti in the form of Kundalini.
From Sankya :-The Mool Prakriti that absorbs all the Vikriti came from it finally.
From Nyay Shastra:- A source that can help us to know exactly about a matter or event. So formless Lingam represents the formless power of this universe that is the origin of all the matter and the events of this universe.
Simple meaning :- Symbol that help us to know, recognize any event or matter as stated above.
It has been a common myth that Shiva Lingam represents male genital organs. This is not only false, misleading but also base less. Such misinterpretations are done in recent times and popularized to make it common, when Indian literatures actually came into hands of foreign scholars; Britishers and Muslims. They relied on extracting simple meanings of major Vedic terms used in daily life without addressing rightful context. It was difficult to interpret the language, a word may have different meaning depending on the mis-contrued understanding. Some of the easy interpretation may be misleading. And such misinterpretation may actually be welcome by skeptics, if you want to find the defects in somebody else’s faith. Lingam means formless, Shiva Lingam is state of God just before manifestation of Universe.
This misunderstanding is one of the most glaring examples of such a situation. Misinterpretations of actual Sanskrit literature led to this false belief. Shiva Lingam is a differentiating mark; it is certainly not a s*x mark. While the actual meaning of male genital is “shishna” in Sanskrit.
Let us know what Lingam means as per The Lingam Purana:
प्रधानं प्रकृतिर यदाहुर्लिगंउत्तम ।
गंध–वर्ण–रसहिंनं शब्द–स्पर्शादिवर्जितं ॥
The foremost Lingam which is devoid of colour, taste, hearing, touch etc is spoken of as Prakriti or nature.
The nature itself is a Lingam (or symbol) of Shiva. When we see nature, we infer the presence of its creator – Shiva. Shiva Lingam is the mark of Shiva the creator, Shiva the sustainer and Shiva the destructor. It also dispels another myth in which Shiva is considered only as a destructor.
Another authentic reference comes from Skanda Purana where lingam is clearly indicated as the supreme Shiva from where the whole universe is created and where it finally submerge.
आकाशं लिंगमित्याहु: पृथ्वी तस्य पीठिका।
आलय: सर्व देवानां लयनार्लिंगमुच्यते ॥
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 emerge in the Linga itself.
Hence, it is clear that Shiva Linga is not a male genital rather it is Lord Shiva in its complete ‘Nirguna-saguna’ form and there is nothing to be ashamed of.
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