Worship of Shiva as a Lingam / Phallus


"Magic of life" is the biggest mystery of this universe – even now. 

We may have figured out the mechanics and the plumbing, but, we still do not know how “life” is created. 

Out of innumerable copulations, only a few result in “life”. 

How does this work ? 

Who decides when life enters that womb ? 

Who decides if the foetus survives the impossible odds of living in a water filled womb ?


Hinduism is an ancient religion.

Initially, fertility rites were of key importance to the hunter gather and tribal folk of India.  Fertility of land, fertility of the animals and their own fertility was of crucial importance to early society.  The nearest, most obvious and tangible thing they could observe was the fertility of their own bodies.  How life seemed to spring from genitals and how male and female were both essential for life to be created.  It must have taken a long time for early humans to figure this out in absolute, unequivocal terms.


They could see this reflected in nature around them.  In the animal and plant kingdom. 

Even in inanimate nature, they could see that a bolt of lightening was necessary for rain to start, earth to soften and life to spring from dry mud. 


Over time, they symbolised this “creation” in a visual form by placing a phallic shaped stone (Ling) in a triangular vagina (Yoni) shaped stone – effectively merging male and female – to create the ultimate symbol of how life is created.


Shiva, worshiped as a ling / linga / lingam has a long history.  It even goes beyond the Vedic period of Hinduism.

Shakti, worshiped as a yoni has an equally long history.  Usually the Yoni is represented by a red triangle. 

Tantricks, Aghoris and Shaktas worship the Ling and Yoni in their infinite forms - real, natural, animal, plant, fire etc.


Over time, various mythologies were developed and philosophies came to find deeper, more spiritual meaning for the mythologies.  Theologies developed to formalise these aspects of belief and worship.  Rituals developed to harness the creative energy of the life giving Ling and Yoni. 


As with everything, there are always some who want to internalise everything and find a “purer” meaning to it and some who want to take things literally. The mass of people in-between just want an easy life and will do anything to find a short cut to success.



During the Islamic invasion, our temples and religious institutions were badly damaged and Shiva temples were particularly loathed by the iconoclastic muslims.  Idea of worshiping a phallus repulsed them so much, their warriors took great pleasure in smashing ling statues and having them laid as steps to their mosques.  Even now, many mosques in Aghanistan, Pakistan and India, have idols of Hindu gods and goddesses buried in / under the steps of mosques so the muslim faithful may trample on them everytime they go to pray.


As the new rulers hated the idea of worship God as a phallus, new theories and philosophies were developed to “sanitise” the ling worship.  In the North, where muslim rule was most brutal and has been longest, Shiva Lingas lost their realistic look and assumed a more pillar / bollard like look.  The Yoni was also simplified and flattened to avoid looking like a vagina.  


When the Europeans invaded India, Portuguese, French and British, they were equally appalled at the idea of God being represented by a phallus.  The idea that men and women may bathe, dress and decorate the divine phallus was truly repulsive to the Christian mindset, so heavily influenced by the idea of “original sin” !  The Portuguese did destroy temples on a large scale, converting masses at the point of their riffles and introduced the inquisition to force the new converts to remain in the “mother church”.  The British were more subtle.  They introduced “European education” which made the new “Brown sahibs” (Hindus on the outside, European in mindset) ashamed of their cultural heritage and religion – particularly religion.  The quintessential boarding schools, convent schools and “modern” education further dented the faithful’s worship of God as a lingam.  Even the greatest and brightest of Indian philosophers and theologians of the 19th and early 20th century bowed to the European pressures and claimed the Ling worship had nothing to do with worship of a phallus or had any sexual relation at all.


Modern India is a confused mass of socialist, capitalist, pluralist society where culture and religion play an ornamental role in people’s lives.  Most people do not question what they see around themselves and if they are challenged, point to mass of differing opinions, shake their heads and claim “its too complicated”.  


Fact is simple.  
With the worship of Linga, God, in his creative form, is being worshiped as a copulating couple.  
Getting down to the bare essentials, ancient people saw that life could only be created when a lingam penetrated a yoni.  They adored this simple diagram of how life came into being.  And hence, we worship Lord Shiva as a phallus and the source of all life !



© Bhagwat    [email protected]


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