Integrity of academia

R Srinivasan rsrin at PACIFIC.NET.SG
Fri Dec 29 00:27:29 UTC 2000

The term Linga means, among other things, a symbol, a mark, a mount, a
causal body. Now, the origins of teh abstract aniconic stone symbol of Siva
may have had origins in the primitive fertlity practices of the Prevedic
past, but Vedic seers have had the brilliant technique of amalgamating
primitive concepts with refined mental projections to lend Linga the meaning
of the suprreme mark of cosmic creation. Etymologically, it can also be seen
as merging of two terms, "Liyate",That in which all names and forms merge,
and Gamyate- That towards which all names and forms proceed.
Just as we have a gross form which the eyes and the senses can see, a subtle
body that is in the vaporized state and a causal body that which is the seed
source of subtle and gross, Lingas have  a Sthoola, Sookshma and Kaarana
sarira. That which looks like the phallic symbol, clearly marked with the
membrane may indicate its erotic connection, often visualised by the
Vamamarga Tantrika. (Lefthanded Tantriks). But, all the rest are in fact
Swayambhulinga (self-created anicone), Banalinga (arrow born) and Kshanika
linga, temporary installations for specific occasions. They are far removed
from their phallic connections, being octagonal prism, (Chanda),
sixteen-sided (Vikalpa) or cylindrical (Abhasa). The shape at the top may
have any of the 5 profiles: parasol, cucumber, egg-shaped, bubble-shaped,
quite like the Buddhist Stupa.(all of them indicate impermanence or a
natural process of detachment).
The pedestal, Yoni, means receptacle and not just a woman's organ of
procreation. The fact that huge mountains all across Cambodia and Thailand,
apart from India, have been thought of as Lingas, elements have been
identified as Lingas(Jyothirlinga, Appulinga, Vayulinga, etc) and man
himself is considered a symbol of that Supreme as Atmalinga, must set
serious students of religion, philosophy and Indology reflect on the
emphasis one wishes to put on Linga and interpret or misinterpret it as it
befits the personality and level of ingorance/knowledge.
Infact, every idea and the cause of that idea is alsocalled Linga. How far
removed this is from the penis interpretation! But, perhaps one whose head
(thought) is right there cannot conceive of it as any other symbol! So be
it...That too is the cause of procreation! Once can't beat the Seers!

-----Original Message-----
From: Indology [mailto:INDOLOGY at LISTSERV.LIV.AC.UK]On Behalf Of Swami
Sent: Friday, December 29, 2000 6:00 AM
Subject: SV: Integrity of academia

>>Rosati [SMTP:dante at POP.INTERPORT.NET] skrev 28. desember 2000 19:02:
>>>>"Later in the book (see note #144) the author inexplicably translates
>>>>"Shiva-linga" as "Shiva's penis." Perhaps this is because Kripal views
>>>>as one who is "known for his erotic exploits." All I can say on this
>>>>is that this is not the kind of image a practicing Hindu carries in his
>>>>her heart. I have worshipped Shiva my entire life and not once when I
>>>>upon the Shiva linga did "Shiva's penis" enter my mind. I can assure you
>>>>that this is the same for millions of other practicing Hindus."
>>>Is the author of this statement in deep denial, or am I misinformed? I
>>>always thought a Shiva-linga >was< a phallic symbol, probably the most
>>>famous phallic symbol in existence?
>>The linga is most certainly a penis *originally*, and has in early art
>>depicted as such. However, it is probably a long time ago that practicing
>>Hindus thought of it as a penis. It has long since become a powerful
>>symbol. You therefore have to look at historical periods when you
>>the symbol. Kripal's critic may be in good faith, although he may be
>>misinformed about the early history of Shaivism. Or he may simply be busy
>>doing what is often done in religious circles: projecting modern ideas
>>backwards into the past, so that the past does not seem scandalous to
>>modern sensibilities. Academics are not supposed to do so, but amateurs
>>theologians often do.
>>Lars Martin Fosse

Listmembers, I am the author of the piece that is being discussed. Thanks
for your input. Let me clarify. I am neither misinformed about the early
history of Shaivism nor I do have any agenda similar to "what is often done
in religious circles." All that I wrote was that practicing Hindus do not
have "Shiva's penis" in mind when they worship him. Nor is there any
evidence that Hindus of ancient times thought of the penis when they
worshipped Shiva. This reality does not conflict with the theory that the
Shivalinga was a phallic symbol. It may have been, but that is NOT what a
Hindu thinks while worshipping.
        More importantly, the linga is itself a symbol of Shiva. By no
stretch of
imagination can it becomes Shiva's linga or "Shiva's penis," which is what
Kripal writes in his book.

Swami Tyagananda

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