[Advaita-l] Some questions on Advaita Vedanta and Smartism

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Mon Oct 31 14:42:25 CST 2005

Here's H.H.Wilson's take on the word "linga" - he simply takes the
meaning to be 'mark' or 'type', being symbolic of Shiva. Unless there
is good reason to believe otherwise, I'm going to believe his

Pages xli-xlii of the translation "The Visnu Purana":

11. Linga PurANa. "Where Maheshvara, present in the agni linga,
explained (the objects of life) virtue, wealth, pleasure, and final
liberation at the end of the agni kalpa, that PurANa, consisting of
eleven thousand stanzas, was called the Lainga by BrahmA himself."

The Linga PurANa conforms accurately enough to this description.


A description of the universe, and of the regal dynasties of the
Vaivasvata Manvantara to the time of KR^ishhNa, runs through a number
of chapters, in substance, and very commonly in words, the same as in
other PurANas. After which, the word resumes its proper character,
narrating legends, and enjoining rites, and reciting prayers,
intending to do honour to Shiva under various forms. Although,
however, the Linga holds a prominent place amongst them, the spirit
of the worship is as little influenced by the character of the type
as can well be imagined. There is nothing like the phallic orgies of
antiquity; it is all mystical and spiritual. The Linga is twofold,
external and internal. The ignorant, who need a visible sign, worship
Shiva through a 'mark' or 'type' - which is the proper meaning of the
word "Linga" - of wood or stone; but the wise look upon this outward
emblem as nothing, and contemplate in their minds the invisible,
inscrutable type, which is Shiva himself. Whatever may have been the
origin of this form of worship in India, the notions upon which it
was founded, according to the impure fancies of European writers, are
not to be traced in even the Shaiva PurANas.

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