Lord Shiva

The Shiva Linga or Lingam is a symbol that represents Lord Shiva in Hinduism. As the most powerful of deities, temples are built in his honour that includes a Shiva Linga, representing all the energies of the world and beyond. In Sanskrit, Linga means a "mark" or a symbol, which points to an inference. Thus, the Shiva Linga is a symbol of Lord Shiva: a mark that reminds of the Omnipotent Lord, which is formless.

Shiva Linga speaks to the Hindu devotee in the unmistakable language of silence. It is only the outward symbol of the formless being, Lord Shiva, who is the undying soul seated in the chambers of your heart. He is your in-dweller, your innermost self or Atman, and he is also identical with the supreme Brahman.

The Linga as a Symbol of Creation: The ancient Hindu scripture "Linga Purana" says that the foremost Linga is devoid of smell, colour, taste, etc., and is spoken of as Prakriti, or Nature itself. In the post-Vedic period, the Linga became symbolical of the generative power of Lord Shiva. The Linga is like an egg and represents the Brahmanda (the cosmic egg). Linga signifies that the creation is affected by the union of Prakriti and Purusha, the male and the female powers of Nature. It also signifies Satya, Jnana, and Ananta—Truth, Knowledge, and Infinity.

What Does a Hindu Shiva Linga Look Like?: A Shiva Linga consists of three parts. The lowest of these is called the Brahma-Pitha; the middle one, the Vishnu-Pitha; the uppermost one, the Shiva-Pitha. These are associated with the Hindu pantheon of gods: Brahma (the Creator), Vishnu (the Preserver), and Shiva (the Destroyer).

The typically circular base or peetham (Brahma-Pitha) holds an elongated bowl-like structure (Vishnu-Pitha) reminiscent of a flat teapot with a spout that has had the top cut off. Within the bowl rests a tall cylinder with a rounded head (Shiva-Pitha). It is this portion of the Shiva Linga that many people see. The Shiva Linga is most often carved from stone.