The lingam (the Sanskrit word for 'symbol') is the most definitive image of the Lord Shiva. Its worship traces its roots to a prehistoric community that discovered these phallic-shaped stones, called Svayambhu lingas, occurring naturally in the Narmada. The lingam may be set upright on a brass or stone pedestal, and worshipped as Shiva Himself. It is a sign of His transcendental self, His capacity for the creation of life. An aniconic image, it is an abstract expression of the dharmic reverence for life and how it comes about. Shaivites perceive it as a fiery column of light or the axis mundi, which is the bridge between ihloka (current realm of existence) and parlok (the subsequent one). The lingam that you see on this page is a fine example of this powerful Shaivite symbol.
The distinctive stature of this sculpture would add to your space an aura of the otherworldly. The lingams in many Shiva temples around the subcontinent are said to be self-existent (to have emerged naturally out of the ground). Filled with divine power, Shiva-lingam moortis are seen to emerge from a womb chamber where prayers for fecundity are offered by devotees. The same, together with the yoni-esque extension (along the transverse section), serve as a drain to carry away the libation poured over the lingam. In fact, the Shiva-lingam ensemble expresses the singular togetherness of Shiva with His Parvati.
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