In India, not a day goes by without Hindus targeting the Muslims in one way or another.
These days, it’s all about an ongoing legal battle about an important mosque: Gyanvapi mosque. It was constructed by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in 1699 in Uttar Pradesh – India’s largest state. The Babri mosque, another landmark mosque in Uttar Pradesh, was destroyed by Hindu nationalists in 1992.
In fact Hindu nationalists have been targeting the Gyanvapi mosque ever since demolishing the Babri mosque.
This article will focus on Hindu nationalist arguments for “reclaiming” the mosque as an old temple.
On the last day of the video survey of the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi, lawyer Vishnu Jain claimed that a shivling was found inside the well. The shivling is alleged to be 12 feet by 8 inches in diameter.
Further, Jain told Aaj Tak/India Today TV about the shivling over the phone, he also said he would go to civil court to seek its protection. Hours later, the civil court issued an order to seal the area and prohibit entry of people in the area.
Are you wondering what a Shivling is?
Well, after finding out, you’ll probably wish you’d never heard of it.
Hinduism as a Phallic Cult
Hindus have tons of deities and one of the most popular among them is Shiva, alongside Rama and Krishna (both “avatars” or incarnations of Vishnu).
Ironically, Shiva is perceived as an ascetic figure by Hindus, yet he’s also highly sexualized… and the linga (or lingam) is his reproductive organ.
Wendy Doniger, considered the most influential Indologist in the West today, writes in her 1981-book Siva: The Erotic Ascetic (based on her PhD thesis successfully submitted to Harvard), pp. 6-7:
As early as the Atharva Veda hymn to the brahmacarin (a young student who has undertaken a vow of chastity), there is a detailed description of a sage who has been identified with Siva himself, the great brahmacarin but also the great linga-bearer, who spills his seed upon the earth.” The first explicit reference to Siva’s ambiguous sexuality appears in the Mahabharata (c. 300 B.C.), in a hymn in praise of Siva:
Whose semen was offered as an oblation into the mouth of Agni, and whose semen was made into a golden mountain ? Who else can be said to be naked brahmacarin with his vital seed drawn up ? Who else shares half his body with his wife and has been able to subjugate Kama?
The seed spilt creatively and contained in chastity, the ultimate act of desire and the conquest of desire—the essence of Saiva mythology is in this passage.
Wow, what a deeply “spiritual” religion…
As per Doniger, the oldest Hindu sculpture is in fact that of Shiva’s linga (p. 9):
Ithyphallic images are as early as any Siva images, and the Guddimallam linga, an erect phallus on which an image of Siva is carved, has been called the earliest known Hindu sculpture. Many images of ithyphallic yogis represent Lakulisa (‘The Lord of the Club”), an incarnation of Siva.” Siva mounted upon his bull should be ithyphallic, according to one textbook of aesthetics, and ‘the end of the phallus must reach the limit of the navel’. Similarly, Siva is ithyphallic as Nataraja, as the androgyne, and frequently when sitting in a yogic posture beside Parvati, whose hand sometimes touches his erect phallus.
Doniger then later goes on about how pre-Shiva Vedic deities such as Indra and Agni anticipated Shiva’s highly sexualized image, or Shiva’s different incestuous and adulterous affairs.
In her collection of essays, On Hinduism, published in 2013, she also dedicates a chapter to Shiva’s phallic symbolism.
She begins by saying that many modern Hindus, ashamed of subscribing to such a repulsive phallic cult, wrote to her insisting that Shiva’s linga does not represent the male reproductive organ, and that it is actually a “symbol.”
They even pressured the Encyclopædia Britannica into amending its entry regarding Shiva.
Doniger writes on p. 193:
Recently, many Hindus, especially bloggers on the Hindu internet (sometimes called the Hindernet), have insisted that the lingam has nothing at all to do with any part of the body of any human or any god, and the Britannica acted in response to that groundswell, or, rather, air-swell. Where did this argument come from?
She then proceeds to deconstruct their arguments: A phallic cult associated with Shiva (or proto-Shiva) can be seen in the Indus Valley civilization (2500 BCE at least), and while in later Hindu sacred scriptures the link is tenuous, it becomes quite explicit in the Mahabharata (300 BCE-300 CE), the most authoritative Hindu epic.
Furthermore, regarding Shiva’s self-castration, she quotes the Mahabharata on p. 195:
Then Shiva stood up from the water. When he saw those creatures of various forms, increasing by themselves, he became angry, and he tore off his own lingam and threw it down on the ground, where it stood up just as it was.
Ironically, Hindus derogatorily call Muslims “katwe” because of circumcision, whereas they worship a “god” who himself would be a “katwa.”
You’d be correct in assuming that the followers of this phallic cult would have some nasty ideas – that is, besides worshiping the Shivling. Ramakrishna (1836-1886), one of the most influential Hindu gurus of modern times, didn’t miss his chance to emulate Shiva.
Doniger writes on p. 197:
The nineteenth-century sage Ramakrishna used to worship his own male organ because, he said, it reminded him of the Shiva-lingam; he had learned this ‘jivantalingapuja,’ or worship of the living lingam, from his guru. As related by Mahendranath Gupta, Ramakrishna described what he called his madness: ‘When I experienced that divine madness, I used to worship my own sex-organ as the Siva-phallus.’
“Divine madness” driving one to worship his own genitals?! Quite a religion.
And this Ramakrishna is a highly respected representative of “Hindu spirituality,” which reveals a lot about this cult. In Kali’s Child (a book about Ramakrishna’s eroticized teachings), Jeffrey Kripal sheds light on other deviancies of this highly influential Hindu guru, such as his love for young boys.
Strangely enough, while such a phallus-centric religion would be outright repulsive to most, including nominal or secularized Hindus, some people actually found it appealing!
Alain Daniélou (1907-1994) was a French historian, musicologist, and homosexual. He was also one of the few rare European converts to Hinduism. (How anyone could even consider converting into a religion with castes is beyond perplexing.)
Alain Daniélou found Shiva’s linga image fascinating, to put it mildly.
He wrote an entire book, which he named: The Phallus: Sacred Symbol of Male Creative Power (1993). Within this book he tries to demonstrate that phallic cults existed not only in India (and were not only limited to Shiva there), but that they were also found in other Indo-European civilizations as well, such as ancient Greece and Ireland.
In Gods of Love and Ecstasy: The Traditions of Shiva and Dionysus – another book of his first published in the ’70s – he waxes lyrical about Shiva’s phallic symbolism, writing on pp. 56-57:
Shiva’s symbol is the Linga, or phallus. The penis is, in fact, the mysterious organ by which the creative principle manifests itself in giving life to a new creature. It is thus the organ by which the creative principle is visibly represented in a particular species. The sperm, which potentially contains the whole of ancestral and racial heritage and the genetic characteristics of the future human being, is called bindu (limit point). It is, in fact, the infinitesimal and mysterious transition between non-existence and existence. The penis is therefore the organ through which a link is established between man (or animal, or flower) and the creative force which is the nature of the divine. It is the most perfect example of a symbol.
“Shiva said, ‘ I am not distinct from the phallus. The phallus is identical with me. It draws my faithful to me, and therefore must be worshipped. My well-beloved! Wherever there is an upright male organ, I myself am present, even if there is no other representation of me’.” (Shiva Purdna, Vidyeshvara Samhitd, I , chap. 9, 43-44.) “The basis of the entire world is the phallus. Everything is born of the Linga. He who desires perfection of soul must worship the Linga.” (Linga Purdna, I , chap. 3, 7.) “The Lord is the source of all enjoyment… For existence to be a perpetual joy, the follower must worship the phallus which is the god Shiva himself, the sun which gives birth to the world and upholds it. It is the symbol of the origin of all things. Shiva, the origin of all things, should be worshipped in the form of the phallus, through which the male principle is recognizable. The phallus is thus the symbol of the god.” (Shiva Purdna, Vidyeshvara Samhitâ, I , chap. 16, 103-106.) Wherever the cult of Shiva has spread, the phallic emblem and the cult of the phallus play an essential role.
These modern Hindus can’t exactly accuse Alain Daniélou of “Hinduphobia,” especially as he was a convert to Hinduism. In fact, he adopted “Shiva Sharan,” which translated to “under the protection of Shiva,” as his chosen Hindu name. And on top of that, he’s simply quoting Hindu scriptures.
Is it at all surprising then, that Islam’s noble and heroic conquerors, repulsed by these phallic cults, destroyed the Shivling wherever they found it? One famous historical example is documented regarding Mahmud of Ghazni, who in 1026, attacked the much-prized Somnath temple which contained a gigantic Shivling outside its proverbial wealth.
Now Hindus want to do the reverse by destroying historic mosques and installing a Shivling in their place.
Muslims want to build houses of worship and remembrance for Allah, while Hindus want to replace these mosques with… phalluses!
And this isn’t restricted to mosques, as they think that the Taj Mahal also has a Shivling. It isn’t only confined to India either – Hindu nationalists are notorious for claiming that there’s a Shivling in the Ka’bah. This ridiculous claim has of course been thoroughly debunked.
In fact, they see a Shivling in any sort of “vertical” architectural feature (such as pillars), so of course they’ll see a Shivling wherever they look, considering all major constructions have some sort of verticality.
Putting all of these pieces together, you could conclude that Hinduism is a cult which seeks phallic symbols in everything, and that Hindus are in fact phallus-worshipers.
PM Narendra Modi has been seen “offering prayers” to a Shivling too. I’ll let you make of that whatever you will.