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A lingam (Sanskrit: लिङ्गम IAST: liGga, lit. "sign, symbol or mark"), sometimes referred to as linga (pronounced as Ling) or Shiva linga (pronounced as Shiv Ling), is an abstract or aniconic representation of the Hindu deity Shiva in Shaivism.


  • First of all, many Indian tribals do practise linga worship. Pupul Jayakar (whose work is admittedly coloured by AIT assumptions) situates both Shiva and the liNga within the culture of a number of tribes, e.g. the Gonds:
    “There are, in the archaic Gond legend of Lingo Pen, intimations of an age when Mahadeva or Shiva, the wild and wondrous god of the autochthons, had no human form but was a rounded stone, a lingam, washed by the waters of the river Narmada. Even to this day there are areas of the Narmada river basin where every stone in the waters is said to be a Shiva lingam: ‘(…) What was Mahadev doing? He was swimming like a rolling stone, he had no hands, no feet. He remained like the trunk (of a tree).’ [Then, Bhagwan makes him come out of the water and grants him a human shape.]” Till today, Shiva or a corresponding tribal god is often venerated in the shape of such natural-born, unsculpted, longish but otherwise shapeless stones.
    • Pupul Jayakar: The Earth Mother, Penguin 1989 (1980), p.30. Remark that the Gonds are Dravidian-speaking tribals, which complicates the picture: are their customs to be treated as the heritage of native tribals who adopted the immigrant Dravidian language, or as Dravidian heritage?, quoted in Elst, Koenraad (1999). Update on the Aryan invasion debate New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan.
  • Every word embodies a spectrum rather than a single value. For example, the word lingam is often misunderstood, because it is collapsed into only one value/meaning that is taken to be its essence. Incorrectly translated as 'phallus', this has become lingam's normative usage in Western discourse. However, lingam's range of meanings includes sign, mark, spot, token, badge, emblem, and even gender. In the proposition, 'there is fire because there is smoke', the smoke is the linga. Broadly, it indicates a sign or meaning referring to something other than itself. The American flag, Statue of Liberty and national anthem are all linga for America, yet they are not redundant, because they represent different aspects of America. The logo of a company is its lingam, and there may be several linga for the same entity.
    • Malhotra, R., & Infinity Foundation (Princeton, N.J.). (2018). Being different: An Indian challenge to western universalism.

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