The Shivlinga, is perhaps the most famous symbol of Lord Shiva. Worshiped equally popularly as the Image of Shiva Himself ,it is found in abundance, with some variance, the world over, appearing in different timelines, and in many different forms.
A most esoteric symbol, it conveys different understandings at different levels, just like God means different things to different people.
The paramount understanding is this: that God in His Transcendence, in His Pure formlessness, timelessness, is both unfathomable and immeasurable, God , as Nirakar, the formless, is 'un knowable' in His Pristine realm of infinity! But, this same God, is however, knowable in the finite world He creates and pervades.
The Linga, (upper columnic portion) is transcendence,The lower receptacle is Yoni, the cosmic womb. Altogether the Shivlinga means to convey that the transcendent pervades the manifest world as immanence- God creates, and then is present in His own World.
The Shivlinga's great paradox is that it Gives Shiva the acknowledgement of being a creator, rather than a destroyer!
This also gives us some insight into the often pondered question “Why does God create the world?”
God is infinite, and in order to know Himself, he creates a contrast to infinity. He creates a Universe. But even the Universe is very small compared to God's Infinity. The whole Universe also, is finite compared to its creator-God. So now this Finite Universe helps Him to know Himself ! Finitude, serves by contrast, the purpose of the infinite light to focus, on itself. To 'measure' itself. It is by limitation, that the Unlimited gets to know its unlimited Nature.
The Shivlinga therefore tells us that God creates this world, and then enters it Himself, in order to know Himself, explore Himself, and this is His great Leela.
Thus the shivlinga is a symbol of God’s Creativity, immanence ,as also His transcendence.
It also represents the perfect balance of Yin and Yang, potential and kinetic, male and female energy, and so, Shiva and Shakti itself.
Because its ‘made’ form ,devoid of any complicated sculpting, represents God in a simple, straightforward way, the Shivlinga is a favourite symbol.
Aum Namah Shivaya!