A Shiva Lingam is one of the popular statues found in Indian temples and homes. The word Lingam translates to a mark or a sign. Thus Shiva Lingam means a mark of Lord Shiva.
If you are new to understanding Hinduism, start with the fundamental question: Who is Lord Shiva? In the Hindu religion, Lord Shiva is one of the most important deities. The name Shiva means a body filled with life and motion.
The Shiva Lingam is a symbol, an idol placed in temples, revered, and prayed to as if communicating to Lord Shiva himself. According to belief, Shiva is considered the Universe itself. He represents opposing values like the beginning and the conclusion of life.
What does the Shiva Lingam Look Like?
The Shiva Lingam consists of three parts:
• Brahma-Pitha (The Creator)
• Vishnu-Pitha (The Preserver)
• Shiva-Pitha (The Destroyer)
The circular base on the Lingam is a representation of Brahma. An elongated bowl and spout-like structure on top of the base represent Vishnu. A cylindrical figure with the top rounded-off resting on the Vishnu-Pitha is known as the Linga.
What Does Shiva Lingam Mean?
The Shiva Lingam is often known as the pillar with no beginning and no end. It is a fire that is the original cause of all causes in the Universe. The Linga is a representation of the infinite nature of Lord Shiva. It is a structure-less, tasteless, Supreme power that holds the entire Universe together.
There are various Puranas or scripts which interpret the Lingam in different ways. For example, according to Shiva Purana, the Linga represents Lord Shiva’s superiority over Brahma and Vishnu. According to Skanda Purana, the base of the Linga is the Earth, and the Linga itself represents the great void that contains the Universe.
According to other stories, the Linga is considered the first form that came into existence at the time of creation and will be the final form before the Universe dissolves.
Now that you know who Lord Shiva is and what the Linga means, here’s why the Shiva Lingam is worshipped in Hinduism.
Significance of the Shiva Lingam in Hinduism
According to Linga Purana, the Linga does not have any form, taste, or color. It is like the undying soul that resides in human beings. It is a symbol that has been created with both masculine and feminine energies. It also represents nature, truth, knowledge, and enlightenment.
The Linga is not a mere block of stone for devotees, but rather, Lord Shiva himself. It is the medium through which they communicate with the God. The Lingas are placed in a particular location where the confluence of energies is the highest. It helps people raise the consciousness of one’s mind and focus their energies in one place.
A Linga made up of quartz is one of the most revered statues of Lord Shiva. Devotees believe it houses the mysterious power of Shiva, which helps them improve their concentration and focus. ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ is the mantra often chanted when worshipping the Linga.
Back in the day, one could find Shiva Lingams only in temples. But, these days, one can find Shiva Lingams housed in several devotee homes. So, if you are a Shiva devotee, practice meditation, or are looking to learn more about Hinduism, you could explore Shiva Lingams made from different materials.
To summarize, the answer to the question,” who is Lord Shiva?” is that he is an all-encompassing being, and one of the most revered deities in Hinduism. The Shiva Lingam is considered a representation of Lord Shiva himself. Devotees use the Lingam as a medium to connect with Shiva, focus their attention, and raise their level of consciousness.