Linga, aka: Liṅgā, Liṅga; 21 Definition(s)


Linga means something in Hinduism, Sanskrit, Jainism, Prakrit, Buddhism, Pali, the history of ancient India, Marathi. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

In Hinduism

Shaivism (Shaiva philosophy)

Liṅgā (लिङ्गा):—One of the twelve guṇas associated with Gola, the sixth seat of the Svādhiṣṭhāna-chakra. According to tantric sources such as the Śrīmatottara-tantra and the Gorakṣasaṃhitā (Kādiprakaraṇa), these twelve guṇas are represented as female deities. According to the Ṣaṭsāhasrasaṃhitā however, they are explained as particular syllables. They (eg. Liṅgā) only seem to play an minor role with regard to the interpretation of the Devīcakra (first of five chakras, as taught in the Kubjikāmata-tantra).

Source: Wisdom Library: Ṣaṭsāhasra-saṃhitā

Liṅga (लिङ्ग).—The worship of Liṅga on the earth is the fruit of a quarrel between Brahmā and Viṣṇu. Episodes on how and why there was a quarrel between the two great gods and how that is the root cause for Liṅga to descend for worship by living beings on the earth, are narrated mainly in the Liṅgapurāṇa and Śivapurāṇa.

Source: Archaeological Survey of India: Śaiva monuments at Paṭṭadakal (śaivism)

Liṅga (लिङ्ग).—The liṅga is understood as the “semi-iconic image of Śiva”, because of its form and nature as falling somewhat between the iconic and the aniconic. Liṅga literally means “phallus”, and has undeniable phallic connotations even in its abstract iconographic form as a cylindrical shaft; as noted above, sometimes the five faces of Sadāśiva are also carved on the shaft.

Source: McGill: The architectural theory of the Mānasāra (shaivism)
Shaivism book cover
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Shaiva (शैव, śaiva) or Shaivism (śaivism) represents a tradition of Hinduism worshiping Shiva as the supreme being. Closely related to Shaktism, Shaiva literature includes a range of scriptures, including Tantras, while the root of this tradition may be traced back to the ancient Vedas.

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Shilpashastra (iconography)

Liṅga (लिङ्ग).—Śiva is worshipped in a number of anthropomorphic forms, as also in the symbol of Liṅga. Liṅgas are broadly divided into two classes, namely:

  1. calaliṅga (the movable liṅgas),
  2. acalaliṅga (the immovable liṅgas).

To the latter belong class belong the large and heavy stone Liṅgas which are permanently set up in the central shrines of Śiva temples.

Liṅgas are almost always set up in pedestals known as the piṇḍikā or pīṭha. These may be square, oblongular, octogonal, elongated octagon, hexagon, elongated hexagon, duodecagon, elongated duodecagon, 16-sided, regular or elongated, circular, elliptical, triangular and semi-circular in plan.

Source: Google Books: Elements of Hindu iconography

Śiva, is primarily worshiped through the abstract symbol of the Liṅga—the phallus which is depicted standing in a base which encircles and holds it—the yoni or the womb. The Liṅga ejaculates the seed (bīja) of the spatial universe into the yoni which is the matrix of all manifestation.

Source: Red Zambala: Hindu Icons and Symbols | Trinity

Liṅga (लिङ्ग).—According to Ajitamahātantra (thirty-sixth paṭala) “Śiva should be represented standing in the middle of the liṅga, with three eyes, four arms, red color, a serene face, adorned with all ornaments, wearing the mesh-headgear (jaṭāmukuṭa), having Moon and Gaṅgā (in his hair) on his right and left respectively, wearing serpents, and datura flowers on his right and left, so that in the middle of the Liṅga he is visible without feet at the bottom and the top of the head being visible. Or one third of that should be visible. At the top and base of the Liṅga one should make Brahman in the form of a haṃsa and Viṣṇu with the head of a boar. Brahman and Viṣṇu should be made standing, their hands should be joined into a cup(añjalihasta), on the right and left of the Liṅga” (śloka 207-211).

It is stated in the Kāraṇāgama that one-fifth part of the liṅga should be left on the top and at the bottom respectively without any sculpture.... The colour of the figure of Śiva should be red, that of Viṣṇu black and that of Brahman golden yellow.

Source: Archaeological Survey of India: Śaiva monuments at Paṭṭadakal (śilpa)

Liṅga (लिङ्ग).—In Mānasāra chapter LII, liṅgavidhānam, “Composition of Liṅga”, the options of deriving height of liṅga, the semi-iconic image of Śiva (usually the principal pratiṣṭhā, “consecrated image”, in a Saiva temple) number seven. They are:

  1. from the breadth of the adytum of the temple;
  2. from the door;
  3. from the width of the temple;
  4. from the height of the base of the temple;
  5. from the height of the main pillar;
  6. according to hasta, cubit;
  7. from the body of the yajamāna, patron or “c1ient”.

These lists of options display an “instrumental” nature, primarily as a means of procuring the height of the image.

Source: McGill: The architectural theory of the Mānasāra (iconography)

Liṅga (symbol of Śiva) refers to one of the several “attributes” (āyudha) or “accessories” of a detiy commonly seen depicted in Hindu iconography, defined according to texts dealing with śilpa (arts and crafs), known as śilpaśāstras.—The śilpa texts have classified the various accessories under the broad heading of āyudha or karuvi (implement), including even flowers, animals, and musical instruments. The other miscellaneous articles found as attributes in the hands of the deities are, for example, Liṅga.

Source: Shodhganga: The significance of the mūla-beras (śilpa)
Shilpashastra book cover
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Shilpashastra (शिल्पशास्त्र, śilpaśāstra) represents the ancient Indian science (shastra) of creative arts (shilpa) such as sculpture, iconography and painting. Closely related to Vastushastra (architecture), they often share the same literature.

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1a) Liṅga (लिङ्ग).—A term for mahat.*

  • * Vāyu-purāṇa 102. 21.

1b) A term for Jīva.*

  • * Vāyu-purāṇa 102. 101.

1c) Origin of; came out of a ball of ever-burning fire and grew and grew; Viṣṇu and Brahmā undertook to find out its beginning and the end. It was all effulgence. They found it impossible and prayed to Śiva who initiated them into māheśvaram bala.1 Establishment of the cult in the presence of Śiva and the sages; is Jīva, mahat; leads to kaivalya;2 found in Godāvarī;3 worship of at Benares relieves one of rebirth;4 its size for installation in the palace depends on the measurement of the palace; nine varieties are distinguished. The technique of the making of a Linga is furnished in detail. It may be of gems, spaṭika, of stone, earth, or wood.5

  • 1) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 26. 21 to the end; 27. 30-101; Vāyu-purāṇa 55. 21-61.
  • 2) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa IV. 3. 22, 56-9, 79.
  • 3) Matsya-purāṇa 22. 57.
  • 4) Ib. 154. 350; 185. 57.
  • 5) Ib. 263. 1, 11, 25.
Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
Purana book cover
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The Purana (पुराण, purāṇas) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahapuranas total over 400,000 shlokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

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Samkhya (school of philosophy)

Liṅga (लिङ्ग, “mark of anything”).—The existence of avyakta can be inferred on the basis of vyakta. For this reason, vyakta is called liṅga (mark) of the inference of avyakta. So, the term liṅga is used here in the sense of anumāpaka or hetu (mark). Though to infer puruṣa, prakṛti (pradhāna) is used as a liṅga, still prakṛti is not a liṅga for the inference of itself. That is what is indicated by Vācaspati in saying “liṅgam pradhānasya”. Here, the term liṅga has been used to denote the anumāpaka of pradhāna. How the vyaktas are used as liṅga for the inference of pradhāna is narrated in Sāṃkhyakārikā 15.

Source: Shodhganga: Prakrti and purusa in Samkhyakarika an analytical review
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Samkhya (सांख्य, Sāṃkhya) is a dualistic school of Hindu philosophy (astika) and is closeley related to the Yoga school. Samkhya philosophy accepts three pramanas (‘proofs’) only as valid means of gaining knowledge. Another important concept is their theory of evolution, revolving around prakriti (matter) and purusha (consciousness).

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Vyakarana (Sanskrit grammar)

Liṅga (लिङ्ग).—Gender which is accepted by the Grammarians as one of the five meanings of a nominal stem.

Source: Shodhganga: Vaiyākaraṇabhūṣaṇasāra: a critical study

1) Liṅga (लिङ्ग).—Sign or characteristic mark; generally the mute letter prefixed or suffixed to roots, affixes, or augments and their substitutes with a specific purpose; cf. किंचिल्लिङ्गमासज्य वक्ष्यामि (kiṃcilliṅgamāsajya vakṣyāmi) M. Bh.on I.1.1 Vārt.7, अवयवे कृतं लिङ्ग समुदायस्य विशेषकं भवति (avayave kṛtaṃ liṅga samudāyasya viśeṣakaṃ bhavati) M. Bh. on P.I.3.62 Vārt. 5;

2) Liṅga.—Proof, evidence (प्रमाण (pramāṇa)); the word is often used in the Paribhāșendușekhara and other works in connection with a rule or part of a rule quoted as an evidence to deduce some general dictum or Paribhāșā;

3) Liṅga.—Gender; cf. लिङ्ग स्त्रीलिङ्गपुंलिङ्गनपुंसकानि (liṅga strīliṅgapuṃliṅganapuṃsakāni) Kāś. on P. II. 3. 46; cf. also प्रातिपदिकग्रहणे लिङ्गविशिष्टस्यापि ग्रहणम् (prātipadikagrahaṇe liṅgaviśiṣṭasyāpi grahaṇam). Par. Śek.Pari.71. The gender of a word in Sanskrit language does not depend on any specific properties of a thing; it simply depends on the current usage; cf. लोकाश्रयत्वाल्लिङ्गस्य (lokāśrayatvālliṅgasya) which is often quoted in the Mahābhāsya; cf. M. Bh. on P. II. 1.36, II.2.29, II.4.12, IV. 1.3, V.3.66, V.4.68, VIII.1.15. For details see Mahābhāșya on P.IV.1. 3 where after a long enlightening discussion the definition संस्त्यानप्रसवौ लिङ्गम् (saṃstyānaprasavau liṅgam) is given.

Source: Wikisource: A dictionary of Sanskrit grammar
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Vyakarana (व्याकरण, vyākaraṇa) refers to Sanskrit grammar and represents one of the six additional sciences (vedanga) to be studied along with the Vedas. Vyakarana concerns itself with the rules of Sanskrit grammar and linguistic analysis in order to establish the correct context of words and sentences.

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General definition (in Hinduism)

1) Liṅga (लिङ्ग).—Phallic symbol which is used in the worship of Lord Śiva.

2) Liṅga (लिङ्ग).—The subtle body: mind, intelligence and false ego.

Source: ISKCON Press: Glossary

In Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

Liṅga (लिङ्ग, “sign”).—One of the seven sub categories of ascetics (nirgrantha-muni);—What are the peculiarities amongst different kind of ascetics with reference to ‘the sign’ (liṅga)?

With reference to the psychic signs, all the five types of ascetics (pulāka, bakuśa, kuśīla, nirgrantha, snātaka) are bhāva-liṅga (have psychic signs as they are all with right faith and practice self-control).

With reference to physical signs, all ascetics barring successful ascetics have the whisk and the water pot even though all of them are sky clad unbound ascetics.

Source: Encyclopedia of Jainism: Tattvartha Sutra 9: Influx of karmas

Liṅga (लिङ्ग, “gender”) refers to a category of dispositions (bhāva) due to the rising of karmas (audayika), according to the 2nd-century Tattvārthasūtra 2.6. What is the meaning of sexes (liṅga)? State caused due to the rise of quasi passion known as veda or sex. How many types of sexes are there? There are three types of sexes namely male, female and neutral. What causes different types of sexes? Rise of different types (male, female and neutral) of sex (veda) tendencies of physique making karmas results in the respective sexes.

Source: Encyclopedia of Jainism: Tattvartha Sutra 2: the Category of the living
General definition book cover
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Jainism is an Indian religion of Dharma whose doctrine revolves around harmlessness (ahimsa) towards every living being. The two major branches (Digambara and Svetambara) of Jainism stimulate self-control (or, shramana, ‘self-reliance’) and spiritual development through a path of peace for the soul to progess to the ultimate goal.

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Languages of India and abroad

Pali-English dictionary

Linga in Pali glossary... « previous · [L] · next »

liṅga : (nt.) sign; mark; attribute; feature; the generative organ; the gender (in grammar).

Source: BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary

Liṅga, (nt.) (fr. liṅg; late Vedic & (pre-eminently) Class. Sk. linga) 1. characteristic, sign, attribute, mark, feature M. I, 360; S. V, 278; Sn. 601 sq. (=saṇṭhāna SnA 464); Vin. IV, 7 (two: hīna & ukkaṭṭha); J. I, 18; IV, 114 (gihi°), 130; Miln. 133 (sāsana°), 162 (dve samaṇassa lingāni), 405 (lingato ca nimittato ca etc.); Vism. 184; DhsA. 64 (=saṇṭhāna Tīkā: Expos. 86).—2. mark of sex, sexual characteristic, pudendum (male as well as female, as neither m. nor f.) Vin. III, 35 (purisa°); J. V, 197 (°saṇṭhāna); KhA 110 (itthi°); SnA 48 (°sampatti), 51 (id.), 300 (itthi°); DhsA. 321 sq. (itthi°).—3. (in grammar) mark of sex, (characteristic) ending, gender SnA 397. °vipallāsa change or substitution of gender PvA. 7, 33, 58, 87, 157. (Page 584)

Source: Sutta: The Pali Text Society's Pali-English Dictionary
Pali book cover
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Pali is the language of the Tipiṭaka, which is the sacred canon of Theravāda Buddhism and contains much of the Buddha’s speech. Closeley related to Sanskrit, both languages are used interchangeably between religions.

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Marathi-English dictionary

liṅga (लिंग).—n (S) The penis. 2 Gender. (pulliṅga Masculine, strīliṅga Feminine, napuṃsakaliṅga Neuter.) 3 The Phallus or emblematic representation of Shiva. 4 An affix to the names of worshipers of the lingam; as dādaliṅga, sadaliṅga. 5 A distinguishing mark; a sign, token, badge. 6 Nature or Prakriti, according to the Sankhya philosophy; the active or motive power in creation. 7 (fig. of 1st Sig.) A clog or an encumbrance: anything that ties down or confines: also a trouble or difficulty freely. v lāga, aḍaka, asa. liṅgavibhakti sambhāḷūna bōlaṇēṃ To speak grammatically.

Source: DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

liṅga (लिंग).—n Gender. The emblematic representation. A distinguishing mark, a sign, token of śiva.

Source: DDSA: The Aryabhusan school dictionary, Marathi-English
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Marathi is an Indo-European language having over 70 million native speakers people in (predominantly) Maharashtra India. Marathi, like many other Indo-Aryan languages, evolved from early forms of Prakrit, which itself is a subset of Sanskrit, one of the most ancient languages of the world.

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Sanskrit-English dictionary

Liṅga (लिङ्ग).—[liṅg-ac]

1) A mark, sign, token, an emblem, a badge, symbol, distinguishing mark, characteristic; यतिपार्थिवलिङ्गधारिणौ (yatipārthivaliṅgadhāriṇau) R.8.16; अथवा प्रावृषेण्यैरेव लिङ्गै- र्मम राजोपचारः संप्रति (athavā prāvṛṣeṇyaireva liṅgai- rmama rājopacāraḥ saṃprati) V.4; मुनिर्दोहदलिङ्गदर्शी (munirdohadaliṅgadarśī) 14.71; Ms.1. 3;8.25,252.

2) A false or unreal mark, a guise, disguise, a deceptive badge; लिङ्गैर्मुदः संवृतविक्रियास्ते (liṅgairmudaḥ saṃvṛtavikriyāste) R.7. 3; क्षपणकलिङ्गधारी (kṣapaṇakaliṅgadhārī) Mu.1; न लिङ्गं धर्मकारणम् (na liṅgaṃ dharmakāraṇam) H.4.85. See लिङ्गिन् (liṅgin) below.

3) A symptom, mark of disease.

4) A means of proof, a proof, evidence.

5) (In logic) The hetu or middle term in a syllogism; particularly the assertion of the hetu's being found in the पक्ष (pakṣa) or minor term coupled with the statement of the invariable concomitance between this hetu and the major term; it is thus defined:-व्याप्तिपक्षधर्मतावल्लिङ्गम् (vyāptipakṣadharmatāvalliṅgam) Tarka K.

6) The sign of gender or sex.

7) Sex; गुणाः पूजास्थानं गुणिषु न च लिङ्गं न च वयः (guṇāḥ pūjāsthānaṃ guṇiṣu na ca liṅgaṃ na ca vayaḥ) U.4.11.

8) The male organ of generation.

9) Gender (in gram.)

1) The genital organ of Śiva worshipped in the form of a Phallus.

11) The image of a god, an idol; धत्तेऽसावात्मनो लिङ्गं मायया विसृजन् गुणान् (dhatte'sāvātmano liṅgaṃ māyayā visṛjan guṇān) Bhāg.7.2.22.

12) One of the relations or indications (such as saṃyoga, viyoga, sāhacarya &c.) which serve to fix the meaning of a word in any particular passage; e. g. in कुपितो मकरध्वजः (kupito makaradhvajaḥ) the word कुपित (kupita) restricts the meaning of मकरध्वज (makaradhvaja) to 'Kāma'; see K. P.2 and commentary ad loc.; तदेव सक्तः सह कर्मणैति लिङ्गं मनो यत्र निषक्तमस्य (tadeva saktaḥ saha karmaṇaiti liṅgaṃ mano yatra niṣaktamasya) Bṛ. Up.4.4.6.

13) (In Vedānta phil.). The subtle frame or body, the indestructible original of the gross or visible body; cf. पञ्चकोष (pañcakoṣa); यं योगिनो योग- समाधिना रहो ध्यायन्ति लिङ्गादसुतो ममुक्षया (yaṃ yogino yoga- samādhinā raho dhyāyanti liṅgādasuto mamukṣayā) Bhāg.3.19.28.

14) A spot, stain.

15) The nominal base, the crude form of a noun (prātipadika).

16) (In Sāṅ. phil.) Pradhāna or Prakṛti; q. v.

17) The effect or product (that which is evolved out of a primary cause and itself becomes a producer).

18) Inference, conclusion; अव्यक्तमिति विज्ञेयं लिङ्गग्राह्यमतीन्द्रियम् (avyaktamiti vijñeyaṃ liṅgagrāhyamatīndriyam) Mb.12.189.15.

19) = उपाधि (upādhi); योगेन धृत्युद्यमसत्त्वयुक्तो लिङ्गं व्यपोहेत् कुशलोऽहमाख्यम् (yogena dhṛtyudyamasattvayukto liṅgaṃ vyapohet kuśalo'hamākhyam) Bhāg.5.5.13.

Derivable forms: liṅgam (लिङ्गम्).

Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary
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Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family. Closely allied with Prakrit and Pali, Sanskrit is more exhaustive in both grammar and terms and has the most extensive collection of literature in the world, greatly surpassing its sister-languages Greek and Latin.

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Relevant definitions

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