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(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Sex is a basic human drive. Propagation is creation, an activity linked with the gods. But because it can so easily get out of control, most religions have a difficult time deciding how to deal with it. Some, such as traditional monotheistic religions, generally look upon sex as a necessary evil and tightly fence it in with rules and regulations.

Other religions, such as Hinduism, have tended to celebrate it, recognizing powerful divine forces at work. Shiva (see Hinduism) is the Hindu god most often pictured with the phallic symbols of lingam and yoni, stylizations of male and female sexual organs. The lingam is often pictured as the shaft upon which the wheel of samsara, the wheel of life, revolves. And archaeological sites going back to the very first humans display elaborate caves, opening into the "womb" of the earth, decorated with red ochre and described, in the polite jargon of academic texts, as being representations of "that opening through which we all enter the world."

The Religion Book: Places, Prophets, Saints, and Seers © 2004 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
During the Preangkorian period, he was depicted almost exclusively in the phallic form of the linga. Unlike the common four-armed image of Visnu, there is perhaps only a single anthropomorphic image of Siva prior to the late ninth-century style of Preah Ko.
Northern Cambodia, northeastern Thailand and southern Laos, on the other hand, provide clearer evidence of linga dedications during the fifth and sixth centuries.
This can be seen in several inscriptions that belong to the reign of Isanavarman I, two of which mention Harihara dedications made in association with various forms of Siva (in each case including a linga) and one of which is associated with a linga and an image of Visnu.
Another 'mountain of the linga' may have been located in southern Vietnam, but it is not mentioned until much later, in a twelfth-century inscription from Phnom Svan (K.418); ibid., p.
Subsequent stanzas (XXXII-XXXIV) also list a gold linga, an image of Brahama, another Siva, a Siva Nataraja, a Sarasvati and a silver Nandin.
There are many mukha-lingas with one or more faces of Shiva attached to the linga, seen from the early centuries of the era till present times, but there are very few image-lingas with full figures of Shiva conjoint with the linga.
They all portray standing Ardhanarishvara (Lord whose Half is Woman) attached to the linga. Like the image-linga of the 1871 photograph, they represent ithyphallic Shiva (on the proper right half of the image).
It is significant in this context to mention that Lakulisha, the Shaiva Pashupata teacher deified as an incarnation of Shiva, is represented in front of the linga in the 6th-8th centuries and also in the medieval period in temples of Karvan (Kayavarohana) and Timberva in Gujarat.
Illustrating a Mathura image-linga (figure 4) in Manifestations of Shiva, Stella Kramrisch writes on the concept behind such representations: "The juxtaposition of the icon of Shiva and the aniconic shape of the linga within one sculpture set up for worship as a total symbol of the presence of Shiva was peculiar to the four centuries from the second century BC to the second century AD.