Worship of Genitalia


By K.L.Kamat

Worship of Linga
Town of Keladi, Karnataka

The majority of non-Indians have difficulty to understand and appreciate Indian way of thinking, Hindu philosophy, abstract concepts of Hinduism and its attitude towards life, and mock the practice of worship of genitalia. The Hindus have created different images gods and these deities perform all activities of the mortals!  A section of  Hindus believe that Lord Shiva acted as father, the Earth as mother, and all plants and animals are result of their union! "Linga" (penis) represents masculinity and "Yoni" (vagina) connotes cosmic felinity. Therefore Shiva's abode is believed to be hills and mountains which have a great resemblance to Linga. Kailash in Himalaya Mountains range and  Mahadeva Mountains in Madhya Pradesh with tapering peaks are supposed to be Shiva's very favorite residences.

The earliest linga is found in Mohenjadaro remains which dates back to three thousand years B.C. It very much resembles a human penis and its body and glans could clearly be distinguished easily. There are lingas as old as second century B.C. and they are still being worshipped. The followers of a later age were not pleased by the stone images of linga as a representative of Lord Shiva, and they added his image in front it. Some sculptors went ahead and carved the image of Shiva inside the linga itself. In some specimens it looks as though Siva rises from the linga. Earlier, pedestals were used to erect the linga but later the support part was given the shape of a "Yoni" and thus it became symbol of union of linga with yoni, which is the basis of all animal forms. 

Male Organ as a Symbol of Lord Shiva
Some sculptures have used black granite to erect a "Linga" at the middle of which Shiva stands out.

Shiva's devotees known as Shaivaites carry linga wherever they go. It may be located inside hair bun, tied to the neck, arm or shoulder. The linga may be stone, silver, gold or even of precious stone. Everyday a ceremonial bath is given to the linga and worshipped. For them it does not symbolize union of linga and Yoni but it is an abstract form of Shiva. it is very interesting to note Shiva is shown carrying a linga in some sculptures. 

Man and woman form one unit, i.e., human being is a single entity

Androgynous form of Lord Shiva depicted in Indian art

Long ago the Indian sages, saints, and philosophers have codified eroticism into one individual concept. "Uma-maheswara" or "Ardhanareshswara" is special name coined for this super god. In art this individual is depicted as right half of Uma and left half of Shiva and have been fused in the middle. It may sound very absurd concept but it has sound philosophical and scientific basis for it. There is nothing like a perfect man or woman, but it is a dynamic equilibrium between masculinity and femininity. The presence of vestigious mammary glands in man and that of penis in the form of a clitoris indicates that an individual's sex is changeable. This could be brought about by hormonal treatment or by surgery. Thus an individual can change their linga or yoni depending upon the role one's sexuality.

A Stone Sculpture of Lajja Gowri
Sculpture near Mahakoota, near Badami

The worship of "Lajja-Gouri" (shy goddess) is a form of  yoni adornment. Such idols could be found at deserted temples in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra States of India. The stone or mud icons of nude female has its feet held back so as the genitalia is prominently exhibited. She also poses full grown breasts. The hands are raised and clenched in fists, or holding lotus flowers. The head is represented by large lotus. The body is very richly ornamented. The women having problems with their puberty, menses, conceiving and child-birth take  to worship Lajja-Gouri with all dedication they can command. as part of this ritual they apply butter and kumkum and sometimes taste the yoni of the idol. Another similar type of practice was prevalent at Chandragutti in Karnataka state. Women favored by the goddess Renuka being worshipped in nude (Batteley-seve -- service in nude). Such customs and rituals connected with eroticism are prevalent throughout India in one form or the other.