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Lingam (Sanskrit: लिंगम्, IAST: liṅgaṃ, .lit sign, symbol or mark), linga, Shiva linga, ling or Shiva ling, is an abstract or aniconic representation of the Hindu deity, Shiva, used for worship in temples, smaller shrines, or as self-manifested natural objects. In traditional Indian society, the linga is seen as a symbol of the energy and potential of Shiva himself.
The lingam is a column-like or oval (egg-shaped) symbol of Shiva, the Formless All-pervasive Reality, made of stone, metal, or clay. The Shiva Linga is a symbol of Lord Shiva – a mark that reminds of the Omnipotent Lord, which is formless. In Shaivite Hindu temples, the linga is a smooth cylindrical mass symbolising Shiva. It is found at the centre of the temple, often resting in the middle of a rimmed, disc-shaped structure, a representation of Shakti. There is an inclination to reduce the Shiva linga and Shakti yoni, the two main Tantric symbols of ascending and descending forces – which are often represented by upright conical stones for the Shiva linga and ring stones or basis for the Shakti yoni – to merely the male and female sex organs, which is but one of their many reflections, and their erotic glorification. There is a tradition of Tantric sexuality of mithuna which uses sacred sex as part of Yoga practice. But it is not the only practice of Tantric Yoga, much less the highest, and when done is integrated into a much larger array of practices.
Terracotta Shiva Linga figurines found in excavations at Indus Valley Civilization site of Kalibangan and other sites provide evidence of early Shiva Linga worship from circa 3500 BCE to 2300 BCE.
Anthropologist Christopher John Fuller wrote that although most sculpted images (murtis) are anthropomorphic, the aniconic Shiva Linga is an important exception. Some believe that linga-worship was a feature of indigenous Indian religion.
There is a hymn in the Atharvaveda that praises a pillar (Sanskrit: stambha), and this is one possible origin of linga worship. Some associate Shiva-Linga with this Yupa-Stambha, the sacrificial post. In the hymn, a description is found of the beginning-less and endless Stambha or Skambha, and it is shown that the said Skambha is put in place of the eternal Brahman. The Yupa-Skambha gave place in time to the Shiva-Linga. In the Linga Purana the same hymn is expanded in the shape of stories meant to establish the glory of the great Stambha and the supreme nature of Mahâdeva (the Great God, Shiva).
The Hindu scripture Shiva Purana describes the origin of the lingam, known as Shiva-linga, as the beginning-less and endless cosmic pillar (Stambha) of fire, the cause of all causes. Lord Shiva is pictured as emerging from the Lingam – the cosmic pillar of fire – proving his superiority over the gods Brahma and Vishnu. This is known as Lingodbhava. The Linga Purana also supports this interpretation of lingam as a cosmic pillar, symbolizing the infinite nature of Shiva. According to the Linga Purana, the lingam is a complete symbolic representation of the formless Universe Bearer – the oval-shaped stone is the symbol of the Universe, and the bottom base represents the Supreme Power that holds the entire Universe in it. A similar interpretation is also found in the Skanda Purana: "The endless sky (that great void which contains the entire universe) is the Linga, the Earth is its base. At the end of time the entire universe and all the Gods finally merge in the Linga itself."  In yogic lore, the linga is considered the first form to arise when creation occurs, and also the last form before the dissolution of creation. It is therefore seen as an access to Shiva or that which lies beyond physical creation. In the Mahabharata, at the end of Dwaraka Yuga, Lord Shiva says to his desciples that in the coming Kali Yuga, He would not appear in any particular form, but instead as the formless and omnipresent.
According to Shaiva Siddhanta, which was for many centuries the dominant school of Shaiva theology and liturgy across the Indian subcontinent (and beyond it in Cambodia), the linga is the ideal substrate in which the worshipper should install and worship the five-faced and ten-armed Sadāśiva, the form of Shiva who is the focal divinity of that school of Shaivism.
The lingam is the considered to be the primordial representation of pure form devoid of energy.
However in the last 100 years, there has been a concerted effort to link Hindu religious symbols to misplaced Western notions of the nearly banned Tantric practices, including imagining the Lingam as a representation of a sexual organ to promote other religions and show Hinduism in poor light as something barbaric and primitive.
The Saiva Agamas says "one can worship this Great God Shiva in the form of a Lingam made of mud or sand, of cow dung or wood, of bronze or black granite stone. But the purest and most sought-after form is the quartz crystal (Sphatika), a natural stone not carved by man but made by nature, gathered molecule by molecule over hundreds, thousands or millions of years, grown as a living body grows, but infinitely more slowly. Such a creation of nature is itself a miracle worthy of worship." Hindu scripture rates crystal as the highest form of Siva Lingam.
In Kadavul temple, a 700-pound, 3-foot-tall, naturally formed Spatika(quartz) Lingam is installed. In future this crystal linagm will be housed in the Iraivan Temple. it is claimed as among the largest known sphatika(Quartz) self formed lingams.  Hindu scripture rates crystal as the highest form of Siva Lingam.
Shivling, 6,543 metres (21,467 ft), is a mountain in Uttarakhand (the Garhwal region of Himalayas). It arises as a sheer pyramid above the snout of the Gangotri Glacier. The mountain resembles a Shiva linga when viewed from certain angles, especially when travelling or trekking from Gangotri to Gomukh as part of a traditional Hindu pilgrimage.
But the basic and most common object of worship in Shiva shrines is the lingam.
. It was almost as if the linga had emerged to settle Brahma and Vishnu’s dispute. The linga rose way up into the sky and it seemed to have no beginning or end.
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