A Hindu Shiva linga of approximately 1000-1500 years old had been unearthed last week, on the western shore of Thailand province Nakhon Sithammarat, according to a news published in Bangkok Post.
Phra Kru Supakittayaporn, the honorary abbot (priest) of Wat Nang tra (temples) in the Tha Sala district of the province said that this discovery came into light by accident during a construction work in the temple. While digging down the grounds, the workers discovered the Hindu phallus symbol along with an ancient jar and 20 pieces of Buddha coins.
The shiva linga measures 1 meter long and has a base diameter of 47 cm. It has flowers carved in Tawaravadee style. The sculpture is still in good shape.
The temple authorities brought this to the attention of local fine department authorities.
As the news spread, devotees rushed to the temple to have a look at the Shiva linga and pay their reverences.
The Fine Arts Department director, Anat Bamrungwong believes that these artifacts date more than thousands years old. He stated that this discovery is no less than a treasure trove.
Shiva linga is revered by Hindus as a mark of energy and fertility. What exactly is a Shiva Linga?
According to Acharya David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri) of USA, the Shiva linga is often portrayed in an upright conical form much like the male sexual organ, but there are many other types of lingas as well. The linga is the symbol of the universal power, the cosmic masculine force or the Shiva principle. It has many forms in nature.
Dr. Frawley adds that: “In the Sanskrit language, the word linga refers to a ‘chief mark’ or ‘characteristic’ of something. As a term, it is not per se a synonym for the male sexual organ, as some would believe. Linga indicates what is outstanding and determinative. In this regard, the male sexual organ can be said to be the distinguishing characteristic or linga of a man at a physical level, but linga in other contexts can have quite a different meaning.”
Today, Thailand is predominantly a Buddhist country. Hinduism was prevalent during 10th – 12th century in Thailand, particularly, Surat Thani and Nakhon Si Thammarat provinces.
Corruption costs the world economy $2.6 trillion each year, according to the United Nations, which is marking International Anti-Corruption Day on Sunday.
“Corruption is a serious crime that can undermine social and economic development in all societies. No country, region or community is immune,” the United Nations said.
The cost of $2.6 trillion represents more than 5 percent of global GDP.
The world body said that $1 trillion of the money stolen annually through corruption is in the form of bribes.
Patricia Moreira, the managing director of Transparency International, told VOA that about a quarter of the world’s population has paid a bribe when trying to access a public service over the past year, according to data from the Global Corruption Barometer.
Moreira said it is important to have such a day as International Anti-Corruption Day because it provides “a really tremendous opportunity to focus attention precisely on the challenge that is posed by corruption around the world.”
To mark the day, the United States called on all countries to implement their international anti-corruption commitments including through the U.N. Convention against Corruption.
In a statement Friday, the U.S. State Department said that corruption facilitates crime and terrorism, as well as undermines economic growth, the rule of law and democracy.
“Ultimately, it endangers our national security. That is why, as we look ahead to International Anticorruption Day on Dec. 9, we pledge to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide,” the statement said.
Moreira said that data about worldwide corruption can make the phenomena understandable but still not necessarily “close to our lives.” For that, we need to hear everyday stories about people impacted by corruption and understand that it “is about our daily lives,” she added.
She said those most impacted by corruption are “the most vulnerable people — so it’s usually women, it’s usually poor people, the most marginalized people in the world.”
The United Nations Development Program notes that in developing countries, funds lost to corruption are estimated at 10 times the amount of official development assistance.
What can be done to fight corruption?
The United Nations designated Dec. 9 as International Anti-Corruption Day in 2003, coinciding with the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Corruption by the U.N. General Assembly.
The purpose of the day is to raise awareness about corruption and put pressure on governments to take action against it.
Tackling the issue
Moreira said to fight corruption effectively it must be tackled from different angles. For example, she said that while it is important to have the right legislation in place to curb corruption, governments must also have mechanisms to enforce that legislation. She said those who engage in corruption must be held accountable.
“Fighting corruption is about providing people with a more sustainable world, with a world where social justice is something more of our reality than what it has been until today,” she said.
Moreira said change must come from a joint effort from governments, public institutions, the private sector and civil society.
The U.S. Statement Department said in its Friday statement that it pledges “to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide.”
It noted that the United States, through the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development, helps partner nations “build transparent, accountable institutions and strengthen criminal justice systems that hold the corrupt accountable.”
Moreira said that it is important for the world to see that there are results to the fight against corruption.
“Then we are showing the world with specific examples that we can fight against corruption, [that] yes there are results. And if we work together, then it is something not just that we would wish for, but actually something that can be translated into specific results and changes to the world,” she said. (VOA)