The lingam or SHIVA LINGAM is a phallic-shaped icon that is a primary object of Shiva worship. The lingam always stands on a round base, which is representative of the YONI or vagina of the GODDESS.
   The origin story for this cult object is well known. Shiva in his guise as a mad ascetic, naked, smeared with human ashes, and dishev-eled, appeared in the Pine Forest (deodar for-est) where sages had retired with their wives to meditate. Mischievous and powerful, he began to brandish his erect penis before the women. Because of his divine power, the women were enthralled. However, the rishis were appalled and cursed the god so that he would lose his penis.
   Instead of falling, Shiva’s penis took off at lightning speed and fearsome energy and began rocketing around the universe causing endless destruction. The frightened rishis went to the gods to see how they could save the universe from destruction. The gods called upon the devi or goddess to offer her yoni as a safe place for the Shiva lingam to rest; thus it is that every Shiva lingam rests on a representation of the vagina of the goddess.
   Main symbols of Lord Shiva: lingam and trident, in Gujarat (Constance A. Jones)
   Further reading: Wendy Doniger O’Flaherty, Siva the Erotic Ascetic (New York: Oxford University Press, 1981); Stella Kramrisch, The Presence of Siva (Princ-eton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1981).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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