Lord Shiva is worshipped in two ways: as a form (in a statue), and as the formless (in a linga). Thus, the Shivalinga is the mark of the formless Shiva. Linga means the mark, the smallest mark of Shiva, beyond which is the formless.
Shiva is the ‘kalyankari’ tatva, that is, he is the vehicle of welfare, well-being, of happiness and prosperity. The deeper meaning of the word Shiva is the inner force that cuts sin (kshati paapam or that which cuts sin).
Beneath the Shivalinga is the cosmic womb, or the yoni, of Shakti. The linga is inside the yoni but not going in or downwards, as is usually thought, but is an upward movement of energy, of rising.
People often say the Shivalinga is a symbol of sex, but it is not the sex of indulgence or excitement. The linga is a symbol of awakening. It symbolizes the transformation of sex energy, rising for the flowering of consciousness.
The story of creation begins with Shiva. Within him was the seed of desire to create the universe, both seen and unseen. But Shiva did not create the universe himself. Instead, he created Shakti from within himself and gave her the task of creating the world, from the very subtle to the most gross.
In Hinduism, they say there are eighty four lakh yonis but only one linga. Eighty four represents the evolution of Shakti. When she emerged from Shiva, Shakti’s vibrations were of the highest frequency. During the process of creation, she moved through eighty four lakh turns and the vibrations kept dropping till they came to their lowest point in the mineral kingdom.
These eighty four lakh yonis depict the pathway on which consciousness must travel to rise until it comes to the final yoni—that which is worthy of Shiva. The merging of this final yoni with Shiva is symbolized in the Shivalinga. Shakti has returned to her highest vibration where she can be joined with Shiva again.
In every man and woman, Shakti lies at the base of the spine. Shiva resides in the crown of the head. Humans may use Shakti in two ways. In the first, he uses it for procreation, personal satisfaction, and indulgence. But if a person finds a true Guru or Master who teaches them how to open the inner pathway and keep raising the vibrations of Shakti, taking her through the eighty-four lakh turns or steps to the top of the head, that person’s Shakti merges again with Shiva. They have now achieved the greatest prize in the universe: learning the secret of life, attaining eternal bliss, and finding freedom from the cycles of birth and death.
I have been very fortunate in my sixty-four years to have studied under many enlightened Gurus. One of my teachers was Swami Ramdulare Bapu, whom I studied under for seven years. I consider him one of the most mystical and esoteric human beings I have ever met. He was also a very hard taskmaster, and in seven years, he moulded me into what I am today. I remember spending the 1977 Kumbha Mela with him in Allahabad. He took me to meet so many secretive and unapproachable yogis and mystics during that time. I saw and experienced so many things that to a normal man would cross into the realm of the miraculous. Whenever we went to a Shiva temple, I would love the way he worshipped the linga. He would embrace the linga and touch the head to different parts of the body. It took me a long period of learning to understand this deep mystical science.
What I have learned is that the Shivalinga is an ellipsoid, just like the orbits of the planets. That is to say that it is a surface in which all planes or sections are either ellipses or circles. The earth is an ellipsoid. It has no corners (this is very important because when we study Vastu Shastra, angles are negative while rounds depict the positivity of love) and no straight sides (again, this is symbolic because there are no straight lines in the universe). But it does have a face which is the sort of angle-less flat part. If you cut an ellipsoid, you get another ellipsoid. The part and the whole are the same.
This ellipsoid shape, together with the quality of the stone, allows the linga to hold and store energy for thousands of years. Energy is also a conveyer of memory, and so the memories of thousands of years are stored in the linga. A sincere student of spirituality can learn from his teacher to access this memory and learn that which no book can ever teach him.
If we go a step further, we find that there are some lingams that not only store memory, Shakti and karma, but also produce new energy. That is, they are a source of perpetual energy without any raw material source. These are called the Jyotirlingas—not only do they store but they radiate too. Sometimes the student feels a little heat coming out of the lingam, as it radiates self-generated energy.
Water also has the capacity to hold memory. This is to say that to allow the Shivalinga to hold the memory in its core, water is continuously dropped on it from the top, while at the bottom is a holed vessel to let the water pass out. This is called Jaldhari Shivalinga. The flowing water keeps the data fresh and available. Thus when we start our worship, we wash the lingam, building its power to pass on the memory to us.
Within the ellipsoid is a center, but this center is not in the middle—it is a little distance away from the top. All the energy that goes to the outer sides of the linga is reflected back to this center, which is why even in a thousand years, energy will not escape from the lingam. When we touch the Shivalinga, another center is formed which is a little distance away from the bottom. There is an exchange of energy between the two centers at the top and bottom.
When the body parts corresponding to the seven chakras touch the Shivalinga, we create a circuit of energy between the two centers. Energy rises from our sex center and floods the brain and the crown of the head, which is the divine center. In that moment, we can experience a flash of the ultimate reality, which is to awaken from this dream of life. We will experience an interplay of energies between the two centers which will open certain channels of energy within us that presently lie dormant.
Of course, this requires several years of preparation. However, just armed with the knowledge written here, we may try to become silent inside and, with a deep sensitivity, embrace the lingam. If the interplay of energy happens, we may get a glimpse of the divine within. And if that happens, we will never be the same person again.
I spent 6 years learning with my Guru, Mr. Tavaria, and he explained the process of the Shivalinga to me and how it has a deep connection with the planet Jupiter, but we will take that story up some other time.