The object of the present article is to remove the most erroneous idea entertainedregarding the Holiest of Hindu - nay universal - Symbol, viz : the Siva-Linga. To SwamiVivekananda, we owe a deep debt of gratitude for retrieving the honour of this AncientSymbol of the land of Bharata. He did his best to repudiate the oft-repeated, but erroneous,explanation of the Siva-Linga as a Phallic emblem.
hen Gustav Oppert, lately of thePresidency College, Madras, read a paper in London on the Siva-Linga explaining it as aPhallic emblem, the Swani who was then present in the audience refuted it and establishedwhat it truly meant. The London Daily Chronicle reported the same in the following manner."The Swami said that the worship of the Siva-Lingam originated from the famous lingam inthe Atharva Veda Samhita sung in praise of the Yupastambha, the sacrifical post. In thathymn a description is found of the beginning less and endless Stambha or skhamba, and it isshown that the said Skhamba is put in place of the eternal Brahman. As, afterwards, thesacrificial fire, its smoke, ashes and flames, the soma plant and the ox that used to carry onits back, the wood for the Vedic sacrifice gave place to Siva's body, his yellow matted-hair,his blue throat, and the bull, the Yupa-stamba gave place to the Siva Lingam and was raisedto the High Devahood of Sri Sankara. In the Atharva Veda Samhita the sacrificial cows arealso praised with the attributes of the Brahman. In the Linga Purana, the same hymn isexpanded in the shape of stories meant to establish the glory of the great Stambha andsuperiority of Mahadeva." Later on he says "the explanation of the Siva Lingam as a Phallicemblem began in India in her most thoughtless and degraded times." Yes in her thoughtlessdays, and shameless days too, when the internal quarrels between the different sects werehighly rampant and were waged with an implacable hatred and when the minds of her menwere so notoriously plastic as to receive any kind of impressions. The story of the Lingabecoming sundered by a curse does not at all account for the origin of the Linga, but thesupposed, and fanciful too, resemblance to the genitive organs and the appellation of Lingaas applied to both, accounts for the story. It was a general practice in antiquity to inventfictitious tales for the purpose of explaining names of which the origin was lost in obscurity.It must be admitted that the worship of the Linga was almost universal in this land duringthe time of Mahabharata, and it must also be admitted that long ages must have elapsedbetween the time that it was first introduced and the time when it was universallyworshipped. There were innumerable temples in those times. The 5 sons of Pandu, theKauravas, the warriors like Aswathama, all Brahmins, Sri Krishna, Rishis like Vyasa andalmost all were worshippers of Linga or Vigraha.
hile on the one hand it gained in itspopularity, or, the other hand, it lost much. The thick mist of ages began at first to dim thetrue significance of the symbol, till in the long distance of time the significance was soentirely lost, that people at a comparatively later stage began to tax their ingenuity tounravel the mysteries and began to refer to their imagination for this purpose. Many of theindecent practices as are mentioned in the Soma, Laguda, Kapalika and Bhairava,Pancharatra, Vama Sakta and other tantras began to appear then. Theories hitherto