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The Sanskrit Lingam (also Linga) is often translated as “sign”, “chief mark” or “distinguishing) characteristic”.

Linga is popularly taken as referring to the phallus – possibly originally popularised by Sir Richard Burton in his translation of the Kama Sutra – but one that has generated a good deal of debate from the 19th century onwards.

Vivekananda for example, during his attendance at the Paris Congress of the History of Religions”, took pains to repudiate the theories of Gustav Oppert, who posited a link between the lingam and “phallic worship”. It’s notable that Vivekananda blamed the link between the Shivalingam and phallicism on “the filfthiest Tantrika literature of Buddhism.”