By Swami Harshananda
God is defined as nirākāra and nirguṇa. Perhaps a symbol of rounded surface is the nearest iconic representation of God. A liṅga or Sivaliṅga exactly represents that. However phallic association of the liṅga cannot be ruled out since it might have been present in some aboriginal sects which later on might have absorbed into the Vedic fold.
The earliest Śivaliṅga discovered so far is at the Paraśurāmeśvara temple of Guḍimallam. It is a village situated about ten kilometers from Renigunta in Andhra Pradesh. It is an unmistakable piece of iconic representation of Śivaliṅga as an erect phallus. It is 1.5 meters (5ft.) tall and is assigned to the period 100-200 B. C. A beautifully carved image of Śiva standing against it and trampling a rākṣasa (demon), the apasmāra puruṣa (cretinous person), is an added attraction of this.
- Nirākāra means formless.
- Nirguṇa means without attributes.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore