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Submitted by Rupayan Banerjee, Last Modified on 2019-11-08

You walk down the streets of India and within a couple of minutes, it is guaranteed that you’ll see a stone figure underneath the shades of a tree. More often than not it is a cross between an oval and cylinder and almost always adorned by flowers. Shiva-linga it is called and is a thing of reverence for the Hindus. What appalls me and makes me laugh out loud is the fact that many of these stone figures have eyes, nose drawn on them. They call it linga (the male private organ) and they make it look like a face. In well established temples however they refrain from doing this and there Shiva-linga is seen on the top of a disc shaped structure.

The Linga artifacts dates from the first century BC to the third century AD when they used to look like realistic Phalli (the penis). Thereafter the shape becomes progressively more abstract. By medieval times, its observable portion, rising from the Yoni, forms a round block with domed apex.

Shiva, lord of the erect Phallus can be traced to the Indus Valley Civilization and prehistoric India is replete with such figures. What we get to know from the epics and the Puranas is this:

A great fire appeared from the cosmic waters, and from this flame Linga Shiva emerged to claim supremacy and worship over Brahma and Vishnu, when he was castrated because he seduced sages’ wives in the pine forests of Himalayas. He castrated himself because no one could castrate the Supreme Lord. Thus fallen phallus of the Supreme Lord destroyed all the worlds until it reached the Yoni of Uma/Parvati and cooled down. All procreation of worlds started after the worship of Yoni-Linga was restored and all Gods, including Vishnu and Brahma accepted supremacy of Lord Shiva.

It is interesting to see that one of the most powerful Gods in mythology is not the idealistic one. He is not heavenly as the other Gods, doesn’t don expensive clothes, stays on a mountain rather than the heavenly abode, wears a tiger-skin, covered in ashes, drinks booze and smokes marijuana, sports a serpent, and is still the kingmaker. Not only that his symbol is Coitus, a sin in any of the established religions. Add to that his other form is the androgynous ‘Ardhanariswara’ half woman-half man. Lord Shiva with his consort Parvati is always in a celestial dance of procreation and destruction of the worlds. Shiva mythology is not only radical but if seen in a different light it proves that prehistoric India was ahead of its counterparts in all forms of intellectuality. The concept of Shiv-Parvati, Ardhanarishwara, has its parallel with positive-negative energy or the Chinese Yin-Yang. Metaphysically, it also is the most scientific philosophy that explains fundamentals of existence through ‘positive and negative’ or ‘male and female’ aspects of matter and life. Sexual intercourse was widely celebrated as the purest form of worship.

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