Ancient Pagan and Modern Christian Symbolism
by Thomas Inman, M.D. (1874)
Pagan and Christian symbolism
Figures 107, 108, 109, are copied from Moor's Hindu Pantheon, plate lxxxiii. They represent the lingam and then yoni, which amongst the Indians are regarded as holy emblems, much in the same way as a crucifix is esteemed by certain modern Christians.
In worship, ghee, or oil, or water, is poured over the pillar, and allowed to run off by the spout. Sometimes the pillar is adorned by a necklace, and is associated with the serpent emblem. In Lucian's account of Alexander, the false prophet, which we have condensed in Ancient Faiths, second edition, there is a reference to one of his dupes, who was a distinguished Roman officer, but so very superstitious, or, as he would say of himself, so deeply imbued with religion, that at the sight of a stone he would fall prostrate and adore it for a considerable time, offering prayers and vows thereto. This may by some be thought quite as reasonable as the practice once enforced in Christian Rome, which obliged all persons in the street to kneel in reverence when an ugly black doll, called "the bambino," or a bit of bread, over which some cabalistic words had been muttered, was being carried in procession past them. Arnobins, Op, Cit., p. 81, says, "I worshipped images produced from the furnace, gods made on anvils and by hammers, the bones of elephants, paintings, wreaths on aged trees; whenever I espied an anointed stone, and one bedaubed with olive oil, as if some person resided in it, I worshipped it, I addressed myself to it, and begged blessings from a senseless stock." Compare Gen. xxviii. 18, wherein we find that Jacob set up a stone and anointed it with oil, and called the place Bethel, and Is. xxvii. 19, xl. 20, xliv. 10-20.
I copy the following remarks from a paper by Mr. Sellon, in Memoirs of the London Anthropological Society, for 1868-4. Speaking of Hindostan, he remarks, "As every village has its temple so every temple has its Lingam, and these parochial Lingams are usually from two to three feet in height, and rather broad at the base. Here the village girls, who are anxious for lovers or husbands, repair early in the morning. They make a lustration by sprinkling the god with water brought from the Ganges; they deck the Linga with garlands of the sweet-smelling bilwa flower; they perform the mudra, or gesticulation with the fingers, and, reciting the prescribed mantras, or incantations, they rub themselves against the emblem, and entreat the deity to make them fruitful mothers of pulee-pullum (i.e., child fruit).
"This is the celebrated Linga puja, during the performance of which the panchaty, or five lamps, must be lighted, and the gantha, or bell, be frequently rung to scare away the evil demons. The mala, or rosary of a hundred and eight round beads, is also used in this puja."
See also Moor's Hindu Pantheon, plate xxii, pp. 68, 69, 70. Again, in the Dabistan, a work written in the Persian language, by a travelled Mahometan, about a. d. 1660, and translated by David Shea, for the Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland (8 vols., 8vo., Allen and Co., Leadenhall Street, London), we read, vol. ii., pp. 148-160, "The belief of the Saktian is that Siva, that is, Mahadeva, who with little exception is the highest of deities and the greatest of the spirits, has a spouse whom they call Maya Sakti.....With them the power of Mahadeva's wife, who is Bhavani, surpasses that of the husband. The zealous of this sect worship the Siva Linga, although other Hindoos also venerate it. Linga is called the virile organ, and they say, on behalf of this worship, that as men and all living beings derive their existence from it, adoration is duly bestowed upon it. As the linga of Mahadeva, so do they venerate the bhaga, that is, the female organ. A man very familiar with them gave the information that, according to their belief, the high altar, or principal place in a mosque of the Mussulmans, is an emblem of the bhaga. Another man among them said that as the just-named place emblems the bhaga, the minar or turret of the mosque represents the linga." The author then goes on to describe the practices of the sect, which may be summed up in the words—the most absolute freedom of love.
Apropos of the Mahometan minaret and Christian church towers and spires, I may mention that Lucian describes the magnificent temple of the Syrian goddess as having two vast phalli before its main entrance, and how at certain seasons men ascended to their summit, and remained there some days, so as to utter from thence the prayers of the faithful.