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why shiva is worshipped in phallic form

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dear friends


many people asked the reason for worshipping the shivalinga with yoni

and why devotees do not worship the image of lord shiva himself.

here below is the narration of the same from the holy shivapurana,

kotirudra samhita, chapter 12:



sages ask suta to narrat the story behind the worship of phallic form

of shiva to which sage suta says that once upon a time in the forest

of daruka, sages were all devotees of lord shiva and worshipping him

daily. to test their devotion, lord shiva comes in the form of a

naked person (avadhoota) with ashes smeared all over is body,

standing there and holding his penis. the wives of the sages were

extremely frightened at this sight while other women excited,

surprised and approached lord shiva. some embraced him, others held

his hands and the women were engrossed in struggling with one

another. meanwhile the great sages came there and seeing lord shiva

engaged in perverse activities, they were pained and infuriated.

deluded by siva maya and plunged in grief, the sages asked the naked

person who he is but shiva does not reply. then the sages curse

shiva that his penis fall on the ground since he is acting

pervertedly in violation of the vedic path.


due to the curse of the sages, the penis of that avadhoota fell down

and burnt everything and wherever it went, it began to burn

everything there. the penis went all over the earth, patala and

heaven and never remained steady anywhere and kept on going places.


unable to comprehend shiva maya, the sages and gods approached lord

brahma to find a solution to stop the penis from burning everything

everywhere. then lord brahma says that if a guest comes to the

ashram of sages, he must be treated with respect even if he is

avadhoota. since this avadhoota instead of getting respect got

cursed, the penis would not become stationary which bodes bad for all

the three worlds. to make the penis stationary and steady, lord

brahma advises the gods and sages to propitiate goddess parvati and

pray her to assume the form of vagina so that it holds the penis.

lord brahma also states that a pot shall be placed over it and water

from holy centres shall be poured into the pot along with the sprouts

of durva and barley invoked with vedic mantras. the penis held in

the vagina thus shall be drenched in water with sata rudriya

mantras. parvati in the form of vaginal passage and an auspicious

arrow shall form as the pedestal wherein the phallus shall be

installed with vedic mantras. the shivalinga then shall be

propitiated with the offerings of sandal paste, fragrant flowers,

incense and other things as well as by food offerings and other forms

of worship. with prostrations, holy hymns, bhajans and songs he

shall be propitiated further with svastyayana mantras etc.


thus pleased, lord shiva tells the gods and sages that if the penis

is supported in the vaginal passage, it will immediately become quiet

and no woman other than parvati can hold his penis. then goddess

parvati assumes the vagina form and holds the phallus and is

worshipped by brahma, Vishnu, other gods and sages and the three

worlds stayed in peace and happiness.



narrating the above story, it is preached that when devotees worship

an image or form of the god, even if he is avadhuta or naked,

devotees shall focus on their meditation with holy vision which is

why our elders advise that whenever we see the image of a diety, we

shall look at their feet and prostrate at the feet to seek blessings.


members are aware that naga sadhus who live like avadhootas live

naked with ash smeared all over the body and they are given highest

respect. in all kumbha melas, naga sadhus are the first people to

take bath. we also see digambar jain gurus live all along as

avadhootas and these avadhootas travel barefoot and devotees treat

these avadhootas as god.


some other puranic experts also narrate that this story highlights

the significance of lord shiva and parvati representing the creation

of this universe. we also find at the beginning of raghuvamsam,

kalidasa eulogizing lord shiva and parvati and their cosmic union as

the parents of this universe.


with best wishes and blessings

pandit arjun

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