Tue Oct 31 00:14:44 UTC 2000

Ven. Tantra wrote:

> In recognition of the remarkably learned, perceptive
> and cordial exchange of S. Hodge and H. Isaacson
Wow, the flattery :))

> Moving into the adjacent area, might anything be cited on the
> linguistic origin of "linga," its original sense, and
> the suggestion that linga is the symbol from which the
> Buddhist "vajra" evolved?
As we have seen, "vajra" has two connotations: "lightning" and
"diamond" and I believe it is used in Buddhism with both senses.  When
thinking of it as a symbol, was it not first thought to be the weapon
of choice of Indra rather like Thor's hammer ?   As an important
element in its long journey to becoming a specifically tantric symbol,
one should also consider the history of who already
appears in sculpted representations in Gandhara style statuary --
where he is sometimes depicted in the Hellenistic form of Herakles.
Somewhat later, and thus giving rise to the early tantric three-buddha
family scheme, one finds `Shaakyamuni flanked by paired
with Avalokite`svara -- one with a vajra and the other with a lotus.
The possible covert sexual symbolism here should be obvious :)

> Appended questions: (1) Is "linga" spelt with
> overdot-'n'?
(2) What is a good way to transliterate
> the Sanskrit overdot-'n'?
Many use `n for this purpose but others solutions exist.  One
publisher said to me that they did not believe in using diacritics in
their books because of the trouble and since the uninitiated general
reader would not understand them while Sanskritists would know what
was intended anyway -- a bit radical and not foolproof !

Best wishes,
Stephen Hodge

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list