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For other uses, see Yoni (disambiguation).
A stone yoni found in Cát Tiên sanctuary, Lâm Đồng, Vietnam

Yoni (Sanskrit: योनि yoni, literally "vagina" or "womb") is the symbol of the Goddess (Shakti or Devi), the Hindu Divine Mother. Within Shaivism, the sect dedicated to the god Shiva, the yoni symbolizes his consort. The male counterpart of the yoni is the lingam. Their union represents the eternal process of creation and regeneration. Since the late 19th century, some have interpreted the yoni and the lingam as aniconic representations of the vulva and a phallus respectively.[1]

In Indian religions[edit]

Lingam-yoni at the Cát Tiên sanctuary, Lâm Đồng province, Vietnam

The yoni is considered to be an abstract representation of Shakti and Devi, the creative force that moves through the entire universe. Yoni is often misunderstood/misinterpreted as a female organ. The Sanskrit word for that is yonideśa (योनिदेश).[2]

In Hindu philosophy, according to Tantra, yoni is the origin of life.

In Indian religions according to Vedas and Bhagavad Gita, Yoni is a form of life or a species. There are 8.4 million yonis total with Manushya Yoni (Human form/human species) as one of them. A human (manushya yoni) is obtained on the basis of good karma (deeds) before which a human goes through various forms of yonis (for example, insect, fish, deer, monkey, etc.). Bad karmas will lead one to be born in rakshasa yoni (evil form). The births and rebirths (the cycle of life) of a human happen in various yonis. A human who achieves the enlightenment (Mokshya) breaks the cycle of reincarnation and adjoins Brahma.


In Sanskrit, Yoni means place of birth, source, origin. Lingam means symbol of Shiva. As Shiva is represented as an endless fire, Lingam-yoni denotes origin of an endless fire which created the universe.

The yoni is the creative power of nature and represents the goddess Shakti. The lingam stone represents Shiva, and is usually placed on the yoni. The lingam is the transcendental source of all that exists. The lingam united with the yoni represents the nonduality of immanent reality and transcendental potentiality.


In Shaktism the yoni is celebrated and worshipped during the Ambubachi Mela, an annual fertility festival held in June, in Assam, India, which celebrates the Earth's menstruation. During Ambubachi, the annual menstruation course of the goddess Kamakhya is worshipped in the Kamakhya Temple. The temple stays closed for three days and then reopens to receive pilgrims and worshippers. It is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in the world, attracting millions of visitors each year, particularly for Ambubachi Mela which draws upwards of 100,000 pilgrims per day during the 4-day festival. Darshan at this temple is performed not by sight as in most temples, but by touch. There is a large cleft, a yoni in the bedrock moistened by water flowing upward from an underground spring, generally covered by cloths and ornate chunris, flowers, and red sindoor powder. Devotees and pilgrims offer items for worship directly to the goddess, then touch her and drink water from the spring. They then receive a tilak and prasad by the attending priest. After completing darshan, devotees light lamps and incense outside the temple. Like other temples, worship is not considered complete until the temple is circumambulated clockwise.

A stone yoni with carved Nāga in Jawi temple, East Java, Indonesia.

In archeology[edit]

Lingam-yonis have been recovered from the archeological sites at Harappa and Mohenjo-daro, part of the Indus Valley Civilization. There is strong evidence to support cultural continuation from the Indus Valley Civilization (Harappan; Indus-Sarasvati) to Vedic and modern Hindu practices.[3]

Other uses[edit]

Yoni mudra used in Yoga practice.
  • Yoni Mudra is a principle in meditation used to reduce distraction during the beginning of yoga practice.
  • In the Thai language the medial canthus (the sharp corner of the eye closest to the nose) is referred to as "Yoni Tha" where "Tha" means the eye.
  • Yoni is the vulva in texts such as the Kama Sutra.
  • The yonic symbol has also been used by artists to portray feminism in art.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "yoni (Hinduism) -- Encyclopedia Britannica". britannica.com. Retrieved 2014-07-28. 
  2. ^ http://sanskritdictionary.com/yonide%C5%9Ba/187462/1
  3. ^ Lal, B.B. (2002). The Sarasvati Flows On: The Continuity of Indian Culture. Aryan Books International. ISBN 81-7305-202-6. 
  4. ^ [1], Controversial Madonna Painting Opens Magnet HIV Clinic Art Show, Edge on the Net, McCoy, Winnie, Retrieved 30 October 2013.