Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Linga, principle of Life

Shivaism is one of the most ancient religions which influenced on several religions such as Hinduism and Greek religions. As Alain Danielou* says  Shivaism is the outcome of man’s efforts since his remotest origins to understand the nature of creation in its balanced beauty and cruelty.   It is essentially a naturistic religion, not moralistic; ecstatic and not ritualistic. 
In the forest, the name of the tiger is never spoken; in the same way, the name of god is never used openly.  In the Christian believe no one can see God face to face.    He is only named indirectly by using adjectives. So, for example, the French word ‘dieu’ comes from the rood ‘div’ which means ‘radiant’.  The Germanic ‘Gott’ and English ‘God’ come from another Indo-European root, ‘Go’, which surprisingly means ‘The bull’ (Alain Danielou).  References to the god must always be indirect, suggested by mentioning one of his qualities or attributes. 

The last time I visited The Bayon, in Seam Reap, I came upon a symbol of Shiva, the ancient god: the Linga or the principle of life.  The Linga sculpture is located in the second level of the Bayon, in an isolated corner (see the first photo).  It seems that the ones who put the Linga statue in that corner were hidden it from the crowded which suggests that advanced or deep knowledge is available only for few people, for the initiates in any religion. Although this symbol is visible to anyone, its meaning remains blur for many.  This symbol was worshipped in many ancient religions all around the world.  For instance, the last time I visited Cusco, Peru, I came upon a penis symbol beside a vulva in a cave, close to Sacssayhuaman fortress, carved by the Incas (See the picture number 3).  
About the male sexual organ, Alain Danielou provides an aptly and striking description. He says that the Linga or Phallus is the Shiva’s symbol.  The penis is, in fact, the mysterious organ by which the creative principle manifests itself in giving life to a new creature.  It is thus the organ by which the creative principle is visible represented in a particular species. It is the most perfect example of a symbol. Shivaites wear a small Linga around their neck, as did the ancient Romans.

In the Shiva Purana Vidyeshuara Samhitd, I Chapter 9, we find Shiva claiming: ‘I am not distinct from the phallus.  The phallus is identical with me.  It draws my faithful to me, and therefore must be worshipped.  My well-bellowed! Wherever there is an upright male organ, I myself am present, even if there is no other representation of me’.    As a perfect symbol of God, it represents the genesis and source of live: ‘The basis of the entire world is the phallus.  Everything is born of the Linga.  He who desires perfection of soul must worship the Linga’ (Linga Purana I, Chap,3).  ‘It is the symbol of the origin of all things.  Shiva the origin of all things should be worshipped in the form of the phallus, through which the male principle is recognizable.  The phallus is thus the symbol of the god’ (Shiva Purana, Vidyeshuara samhita I, Chap. 16).

Alain Danielou goes on claiming that according to the Shivaite concept, pleasure is the image of the divine state.  This is why, when the god is shown in his procreative aspect, he is also shown under the aspect of pleasure.  He goes on,  the sexual organ has therefore a double role: the lesser role of procreation and the higher role of the ecstasy of sensual pleasure.   To shivanism, sensual enjoyment is a sensation of the divine: the ecstasy of pleasure can reveal divine reality to anyone, and lead him to detachment and spiritual realization. By contrast to the Buddhism teaching –talking about the cycle of live-, pleasure could be the most suitable means to stop the future reincarnation: ‘The phallus is the source of pleasure.  It is the only means of obtaining earthly pleasure and salvation.  By looking at it, touching it and meditating on it, living beings can free themselves from the cycle of future lives’ (Shiva Purana, Vidyeshuara Samhita I, chap 9).

As any symbol, it should not be confused by the one who the symbol represents.  ‘The Linga must be considered as being of two sorts, external and internal.  The material organ is external, the subtle organ internal.  Simple people worship the external Linga and carry out rites and sacrifices.  The purpose of the phallic images is to stir the faithful to knowledge. The intangible Linga is not perceived by those who can only see external things; the subtle and eternal Linga is only perceptible to those who have attained knowledge’ (Linga Purana I, Chap. 75).

There are many representations of the Linga symbol, such as, stone phallus, pillars as found almost everywhere in the world, pillars with human or fish heads, plow, so forth. Erect phalli with a face are found throughout the Western world in Greece and India. The one I came upon in the Bayon agrees with the description of Alain Danielou:  ‘the Linga is worshipped in the form of an upright stone.  It is also represented inserted in the Yony, or female organ’ (see picture number 2).  Some Greek vases illustrate festivals in which the huge phalli are shaped like fish.  Alain Danielou says man preserves in his own body certain memories of his own long evolution.  He was first a fish, then a bird and lastly a mammal. In initiatory rites he becomes a bird;  in rites of fecundation and sexual union man is a bull.

After humans making Shiva be really angry, -this happen in all religions- the god Brahma suggested human being:  "In order to calm its wrath, you must sprinkle this divine sexual organ with holy water, build a pedestal in the form of a vagina and shaft (the symbol of the goddess) and install it with prayers, offerings, prostrations, hymns and chants accompanied by musical instruments.  Then you shall invoke the god, saying, ‘you are the source of the universe, the origin of the universe.  You are present in everything that exists.  The universe is but the form of yourself.  O Benevolent One! Calm yourself and protect the world’.   The sages therefore reverently approached Shiva who said to them, ‘The world shall not find peace until a receptacle is found for my sexual organ.  No other being except the Lady of the Mountain may seize hold of my sexual organ. If she takes hold of it, it will immediately become calm" (Shiva Purana, Kothi Rudra Samhita, Chap 12).
*All the text can be found in ‘Gods of the Love and Ecstasy’ by Alain Danielou; I strongly recommend you to read it.

#1 This structure surrounds and protects the Linga sculpture.  Walls at the Bayon, in Seam Reap. 

# 2The linga inserted in the Yony or female organ is shiva's supreme symbol which represents the genesis and source of life, At Bayon, Seam Reap.

#3  I came upon a penis symbol in a cave, close to Sacssayhuaman fortress, carved by the Incas, in Cusco - Peru.

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