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19 February, 2012

Siva Linga

       THE INFINITE REALITY is beyond the reach of the finite equipments of man.  Reality cannot be experienced through pratyaksa direct perception.  The scriptures therefore rely mainly on two sources of knowledge, namely anumana inference and upama comparison, for expressing the inexpressible Reality.  Siva Linga is one such indirect means of communicating the Reality.

       Linga in Sanskrit means symbolSiva Linga is a symbol of SivaSiva in this context refers to the infinite Reality.  Symbolism is an art of representing thoughts and ideas, objectives and ideals etc., through the medium of signs or symbols.  Symbolism is not a science to be investigated.  A symbol merely takes one to the thing symbolised by virtue of some similarity between the two.  Hindu symbolism explains the Truth of religion and philosophy through idols and forms, signs and stories.  All Hindu symbols have spiritual significance relating to life.  The study of symbolism lies in proper and faithful interpretations of the relationship which exists between the Reality and the form symbolising the Reality.

       The Dravidians originated the Siva Linga as a symbol of the supreme Reality.  The Narmada river contained marble-like stones shaped beautifully in the form of an ellipsoid by the running waters.  An ellipsoid is shaped like an elongated sphere having two foci instead of one as in the case of a sphere.  The ellipsoid represents Siva-sakti.  The two foci of the ellipsoid correspond to the two aspects of the Reality.  Siva the immanent, sakti the manifest.

       The Siva Linga ellipsoid is fixed in such a way that one half of it lies embedded in the earth while the other half remains outside the surface.  The upper half that appears above the surface represents the seen, visible manifest world of plurality, sakti.  The lower half under the surface is unseen invisible substratum, the supporter of the upper half.  That rightly represents the unmanifest supreme Reality, Siva.  The properties of the ellipsoid are ideally suited for symbolising the two aspects of the Reality -- the unmanifest and manifest.

       A cross-section of the ellipsoid cut along its axis is an ellipse whereas its cross-section cut at right angles to its axis is a circle.  The ellipsoid thus is a combination of ellipses and circles.  The circle represents the supreme Reality.  A circle has no beginning or end.  The Reality also has no beginning or end.  One part of an ellipsoid, namely the circle, therefore, represents the unmanifest Reality.  The other part which is the ellipse represent the manifest universe.  The entire universe consisting of an atom right upto the solar system is in a way related to the ellipse.  The solar system consists of the sun with the planets revolving around it.  The motion of each planet around the sun describes an ellipse.  Strikingly similar is the motion  of the electrons around the nucleus in an atom.  The orbits described by the movements of the electrons are also ellipses.  Hence the other aspect of ellipsoid, namely the ellipse, is most suited to represent the universe.

       Another interesting reference to the Siva Linga is that it represents the phallus.  This has provoked criticism both from the West and the East.  The critics feel that this idea has reduced the Hindu ritual and worship to absurdity.  Whether the linga was originally meant to represent the phallus is difficult to establish authoritatively.  Nevertheless, a subtle inner meaning could be read in the seemingly absurd symbolism.

       Lord Siva represents the power of destruction while Lord Brahma and Vishnu represent  the power of creation and maintenance respectively.  These three powers are the manifestation of the supreme Reality in this world.  In fact, these three powers are inseparable.  In other words, they are only three facets of the same power.  There can be no creation without destruction.  Nor destruction without creation.  For example, when the morning is dead noon is born, when the noon is dead evening is born when evening is dead night is born and so on.  In this chain of births and deaths, creation and destruction, the day is maintained.  Thus, the third power namely the power of maintenance also is ingrained in the other two powers of creation and destruction.  To indicate this inseparable nature of creation and destruction Siva, the Lord of destruction, has been represented by the organ of procreation.

Source: Excerpts from the Book on The Symbolism of Hindu Gods and Rituals by A. Parthasarathy.


praveen pandit said...

Thanks for this information . Its useful for all . Mansarovar Yatra

Geetha Manivannan said...

OM NAMAH SHIVAYA..great work