The Shiva Purana

by J. L. Shastri | 1950 | 616,585 words

This page relates “reason for shiva’s assuming the phallic form (linga)” as found in the Shiva-purana, which, in Hinduism, represents one of the eighteen Mahapuranas. This work eulogizes Lord Shiva as the supreme deity, besides topics such as cosmology and philosophy. It is written in Sanskrit and claims to be a redaction of an original text consisting of 100,000 metrical verses.

Disclaimer: These are translations of Sanskrit texts and are not necessarily approved by everyone associated with the traditions connected to these texts. Consult the source and original scripture in case of doubt.

Chapter 12 - The reason for Śiva’s assuming the phallic form (liṅga)

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

The sages said:—

1. O Sūta, you know every thing by the grace of Vyāsa. There is nothing not known to you. Hence we approach you with a query.

2. The phallic form (liṅga) of Śiva is worshipped throughout the world. You have said so. Is there any special reason for the same?

3. Pārvatī, the beloved of Śiva, is heard in the world in the form of an arrow. O Sūta, what is the reason for this? Please satisfy our curiosity in this respect by giving the account you have heard.


4. O brahmins, the story of a different Kalpa was heard from Vyāsa by me. O excellent sages, I shall narrate the same. Please listen.

5. What happened formerly among the brahmins in the Dāruvana[1] forest may kindly be heard. I shall narrate the same in the manner I have heard.

6. There is an excellent forest Dāruvana. There were many excellent sages there, great devotees of Śiva who were always engrossed in meditation on Siva.

7. O great sages, they performed the worship of Śiva incessantly thrice a day. They eulogised Śiva with different devotional hymns.

8. Once the leading brahmin devotees of Śiva engrossed in the meditation of Śiva went into the forest for bringing sacrificial twigs.

9. In the meantime Śiva himself assuming a very hideous form came there in order to test their devotion.

10. He was very brilliant but stark naked. He had smeared ashes all over his body as the sole ornament. Standing there and holding his penis he began to show all sorts of vicious tricks.

11. It was with a mind to do something pleasing to the forest-dwellers that Śiva, favourite of the devotees, came to the forest at his will.

12. The wives of the sages were extremely frightened at this sight. The other women excited and surprised approached the lord.

13. Some embraced him. Others held his hands. The women were engrossed in struggling with one another.

14. Meanwhile the great sages came there. On seeing him engaged in perverse activities they were pained and infuriated.

15. The sages, deluded by Śiva’s Māyā and plunged in grief, began to say—“Who is this? Who is this?”

16. When the naked sage did not reply, the great sages told that terrible Puruṣa.

17. “You are acting pervertedly. This violates the Vedic path. Hence let your penis fall on the ground.”

Sūta said:—

18. When they said thus, the penis of that Avadhūta, who was Śiva of wonderful form, fell down instantly.

19. That penis burnt everything in front; wherever it went it began to burn everything there.

20. It went to Pātāla; it went to heaven; it went all over the earth; it never remained steady anywhere.

21. All the worlds and the people were distressed. The sages became grief-stricken. Whether gods or sages no one had any peace or joy.

22. All the gods and sages who did not recognize Śiva became sad. They assembled together and hastened to Brahmā and sought refuge in him.

23. O brahmins, after going there, they bowed to and eulogised Brahma. They narrated what had happened to Brahmā the Creator.

2f. Brahmā heard them. He realised that they had been deluded by Śiva’s Māyā. After bowing to Śiva, he told the excellent sages.

Brahmā said:—

25. O brahmins, you though wise do such despicable things. Then why complain against the ignorant who act likewise?

26-27. Who can wish for happiness after offending and antagonising Śiva thus? If a person does not welcome and serve a guest at midday, his virtue is taken away by the guest who in return deposits his sin in him. What then of Śiva himself as a guest?

28. As long as the penis does not become stationary there cannot be anything good in the three worlds. I am telling you the truth.

29. O sages, you must do such things as will make the penis of Śiva steady. Please ponder over this in your minds.

Sūta said:—

30. Thus urged, the sages bowed to Brahmā and said—“O Brahmā, what shall be done by us? Please guide us in that task.”

31. When the great sages asked him thus, Brahmā, the grandfather of the worlds, spoke to them.

Brahmā said:—

32. Let the gods propitiate goddess Pārvatī and pray. If she can assume the form of the vaginal passage that penis will become steady.

33. O excellent sages, listen. I shall tell you the mode of procedure. Act accordingly with love and devotion. She will be thus pleased.

34. Make an eight-petalled mystic diagram of lotus and place a pot over it. Water from holy centres shall be poured into the pot along with the sprouts of Dūrvā and barley.

35. The pot shall be invoked with Vedic mantras. It shall be worshipped according to the Vedic rituals after remembering Śiva.

36. The penis shall be drenched with that water, O great sages. When the sprinkling is made with Śatarudrīya mantras it will become stable.

37. Pārvatī in the form of the Vaginal passage and an auspicions arrow shall form as the pedestal wherein the phallus shall be installed in accompaniment of the Vedic mantras.[2]

38. Lord Śiva shall be propitiated with the offerings of sweet scents, sandal paste, fragrant flowers, incense and other things as well as by food offerings and other forms of worship.

39. With prostrations, holy hymns, musical instruments and songs he shall be propitiated further. Svastyayana mantras shall be repeated and the devotees shall proclaim the victory of the lord.

40. The following prayer shall be recited—“O lord of the gods, be pleased, O delighter of the universe. You are the creator, protector and the annihilator. You are imperishable.

41. You are the beginning of the universe, the origin of the universe within the universe. “O lord Śiva, be quiet. Protect all the worlds.”

42. If this is performed there will be stability, to be sure. There will not be any aberration in the three worlds. There will be happiness always.

Sūta said:—

43. O brahmins, thus advised, the gods bowed to Brahmā and then sought refuge in Śiva with a desire for the happiness of the worlds.

44. When worshipped with great devotion and implored, lord Śiva became delighted and spoke to them.

Lord Śiva said:—

45. O gods, O sages, you listen to my words with reverence. If my penis is supported in a vaginal passage there will be happiness.

46. Except Pārvatī, no other woman can hold my penis. Held by her my penis will immediately become quiet.

Sūta said:—

47. O great sages, on hearing those words the delighted sages and the gods took Brahmā with them and prayed to Pārvatī.

48. After propitiating Pārvatī and the bull-bannered lord and performing the rites mentioned before, the excellent penis became static.

49. The gods and the sages propitiated Pārvatī and Śiva by the mode of procedure laid down in the Vedas for the sake of virtue.

50. Brahmā, Viṣṇu and other gods, sages and the three worlds including the mobile and immobile beings worshipped Śiva particularly.

51. Śiva became delighted and so also Pārvatī, the mother of the universe. That phallus was held by her in that form then.

52. When the phallus was stabilised, there was welfare throughout the worlds. O brahmins, that phallus became famous in the three worlds.

53. The phallus is known as “Hāṭeśa” as well as “Śivā-Śiva.” By worshipping it, all the people become happy in every respect.

54. Here everything will flourish in plenty conferring supreme happiness and bliss. Hereafter it will bestow final liberation. No doubt need be entertained in this respect.

Footnotes and references:


See P. 1083 note.


The pedestal shaped as the vagina and the phallus fixed therein are symbolical of the eternal creative forces personified as Śivā and Śiva.

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