No one exactly knows when the worship of Linga or Lingam started in Hindu religion. But throughout the history the worship of Linga has been identified with Lord Shiva. And thus Linga is also known as Shivling or Shivlingam and is of great importance in Hinduism.
But the best explanation is that the ‘ling’ is a visible form of Brahman which resides in all the living and non-living aspects in this world.
Significance of Shivling
Lord Shiva from time immemorial has been worshiped in the form of ‘ling’ or ‘lingam.’ The word ‘ling’ means ‘symbol’ or ‘sign.’ It is the visible symbol of Nirguna Brahman (the supreme being) and is present in all the living beings.
Bansi Pandit writes in Hindu Dharma.. “linga is derived from the two Sanskrit words laya (dissolution) and agaman (recreation).” Thus the linga symbolizes both the creative and destructive power of the Lord and great sanctity is attached to it by the devotees.
Today, the ‘ling’ has numerous interpretations and symbolisms. Thousands of pages have been written about the symbolism of Shivling.