Lingayatism

Lingayatism is a distinct Shaivite religious tradition in India.[1][2][3] Its worship is centered on Hindu god Shiva as the universal god in the iconographic form of Ishtalinga. The adherents of this faith are known as Lingayats. Lingayatism was founded by the 12th-century philosopher and statesman Basava and spread by his followers, called Sharanas.[4] Lingayatism emphasizes qualified monism and bhakti (loving devotion) to Shiva, with philosophical foundations similar to those of the 11th-12th-century South Indian philosopher Ramanuja.[5]

The terms Lingayatism and Veerashaivism have been used synonymously, and Lingayats also referred to as Veerashaivas.[1][6][7] Lingayatism is considered a Hindu sect,[5][8] but some Lingayats have sought legal recognition as a religion distinct from Hinduism.[5][9] Lingayatism shares beliefs with Indian religions, such as about reincarnation, samsara and karma.[10][11][12]

Contemporary Lingayatism is influential in South India, especially in the state of Karnataka.[13] Today, Lingayats, along with Shaiva Siddhanta followers, Tirunelveli Saiva Pillai, Nadar, Naths, Pashupaths of Nepal, Kapalikas and others constitute the Shaiva population.[14][15]

Terms

Lingayatism is also referred to as Veerashaivism (Veerasaivism, Virashaivism).[5][16] The adherents of this faith are known as Lingayats. Both the terms Lingayatism and Lingayats are derived from Kannada word lingavanta for the "one who wears a i??ali?ga (Kannada: ????????)". The Lingayat i??ali?ga is an oval-shaped emblem symbolising Parashiva, the absolute reality, and is worn on the body by a cord hung around the neck.

History

Basava, the influential leader of Lingayatism.[17]

Basava is credited with founding Lingayatism and its secular practices.[5] He was a 12th-century Hindu philosopher, statesman, Kannada poet in the Shiva-focussed Bhakti movement and a social reformer during the reign of the Kalachuri-dynasty king Bijjala I in Karnataka, India.[17]

Basava grew up in a Brahmin family with a tradition of Shaivism.[18][3] As a leader, he developed and inspired a new devotional movement named Virashaivas, or "ardent, heroic worshippers of Shiva". This movement shared its roots in the ongoing Tamil Bhakti movement, particularly the Shaiva Nayanars traditions, over the 7th- to 11th-century. However, Basava championed devotional worship that rejected temple worship and rituals led by Brahmins, and replaced it with personalized direct worship of Shiva through practices such as individually worn icons and symbols like a small linga.[19][20]

Basavanna spread social awareness through his poetry, popularly known as Vachanaas. Basavanna rejected gender or social discrimination, as well as some extant practices such as the wearing of sacred thread,[21] and replaced this with the ritual of wearing Ishtalinga necklace, with an image of the Shiva Li?ga,[22] by every person regardless of his or her birth, to be a constant reminder of one's bhakti (loving devotion) to god Shiva. As the chief minister of his kingdom, he introduced new public institutions such as the Anubhava Mantapa (or, the "hall of spiritual experience"),[3] which welcomed men and women from all socio-economic backgrounds to discuss spiritual and mundane questions of life, in open.[23]

The traditional legends and hagiographic texts state Basava to be the founder of the Lingayats. However, modern scholarship relying on historical evidence such as the Kalachuri inscriptions state that Basava was the poet philosopher who revived, refined and energized an already existing tradition.[21][17][18]

Hindu Vijayanagara Empire

Lingayat scholars thrived in northern Karnataka during the centuries of rule by Vijayanagara Empire.[24] The Lingayats likely were a part of the reason why Vijayanagara succeeded in territorial expansion and in withstanding the Deccan Sultanate wars. The Lingayat text Sunya sampadane grew out of the scholarly discussions in an Anubhava Mantap, and according to Bill Aitken, these were "compiled at the Vijayanagara court during the reign of Praudha Deva Raya".[25] Similarly, the scripture of Lingayatism Basava Purana was completed in 1369 during the reign of Vijayanagara ruler Bukka Raya I.[24]

Islamic rule of Mysore

After Haider Ali led a coup, after being appointed the military chief of Hindu Wadiyar dynasty of Mysore, the Lingayats of Karnataka came under Islamic rule in late 18th century.[26] During this period, the followers of Lingayatism were persecuted. Tipu Sultan, for example, found the practices of Lingayats offensive and ordered the mutilation of Lingayat women not meeting his dress code.[27]

Theology

A necklace with pendant containing linga symbol of Shiva are worn by Lingayats. Rudraksha beads (shown above) and Vibhuti (sacred ash on forehead) are other symbols adopted as a constant reminder of one's principles of faith.[28]

Sripati, a Virasaiva scholar, explained Lingayatism philosophy in Srikara Bhasya, in Vedanta terms, stating Lingayatism to be a form of qualified nondualism, wherein the individual Atman (soul) is the body of God, and that there is no difference between Shiva and Atman (self, soul), Shiva is one's Atman, one's Atman is Shiva.[28] Sripati's analysis places Lingayatism in a form closer to the 11th century Vishishtadvaita philosopher Ramanuja, than to Advaita philosopher Adi Shankara.[28]

Other scholars state that Lingayatism is more complex than the description of the Virasaiva scholar Sripati. It united diverse spiritual trends during Basava's era. Jan Peter Schouten states that it tends towards monotheism with Shiva as the godhead, but with a strong awareness of the monistic unity of the Ultimate Reality.[29] Schouten calls this as a synthesis of Ramanuja's Vishishtadvaita and Shankara's Advaita traditions, naming it Shakti-Vishishtadvaita, that is monism fused with Shakti beliefs.[29] But Basava's approach is different than Adi Shankara, states Schouten, in that Basava emphasizes the path of devotion, compared to Shankara's emphasis on the path of knowledge - a system of monistic Advaita philosophy widely discussed in Karnataka in the time of Basava.[30]

Vedas and shastras

Lingayat (Veerashaiva) thinkers rejected the custodial hold of Brahmins over the Vedas and the shastras, but they did not outright reject the Vedic knowledge.[31][32] The 13th-century Telugu Virashaiva poet Palkuriki Somanatha, author of Basava Purana - a scripture of Veerashaivas, for example asserted, "Virashaivism fully conformed to the Vedas and the shastras."[31][33] Somanatha repeatedly stated that "he was a scholar of the four Vedas".[32]

Lingayatism considers the Vedas as a means, but not the sanctimonious end.[34] It rejected various forms of ritualism and the uncritical adherence to any text including the Vedas.[35]

Panchacharas

Kudalasangama in Bagalkot district, a temple and pilgrimage site linked to Guru Basavanna.

The Panchacharas describe the five codes of conduct to be followed by the Lingayats. The Panchacharas include:[36]

  • Ling?ch?ra - Daily worship of the individual Ishtalinga icon, one to three times day.
  • Sad?ch?ra - Attention to vocation and duty, and adherence to the seven rules of conduct issued by Basavanna:
    • kala beda (Do not steal)
    • kola beda (Do not kill or hurt)
    • husiya nudiyalu beda (Do not utter lies)
    • thanna bannisabeda (Do not praise yourself* i.e. practice humility)
    • idira haliyalu beda (Do not criticize others)
    • muniya beda (shun anger)
    • anyarige asahya padabeda (Do not be intolerant towards others)
  • Siv?ch?ra - acknowledging Shiva as the supreme divine being and upholding the equality and well-being of all human beings.
  • Bhrity?ch?ra - Compassion towards all creatures.
  • Gan?ch?ra - Defense of the community and its tenets.

Ashtavarana

The Ashtavaranas, the eightfold armour that shields the devotee from extraneous distraction and worldly attachments. The Ashtavaranas include:[36]

  • Guru - obedience towards Guru, the Mentor;
  • Linga - wearing the Ishtalinga on your body at all times;
  • Jangama - reverence for Shiva ascetics as incarnations of divinity;
  • P?dodaka - sipping the water used for bathing the Linga;
  • Pras?da - sacred offerings;
  • Vibhuti - smearing holy ash on oneself daily;
  • Rudr?ksha - wearing a string of rudraksha (holy beads, seeds of Elaeocarpus ganitrus);
  • Mantra - reciting the mantra of "Namah Shivaya: (salutation to Shiva)"

Shatsthala

Lingayatism teaches a path to an individual's spiritual progress is viewed, and describes it as a six-stage Satsthalasiddhanta. This concept progressively evolves the individual starting with the phase of a devotee, to the phase of the master, then the phase of the receiver of grace, thereafter Linga in life breath (god dwells in his or her soul), the phase of surrender (awareness of no distinction in god and soul, self), to the last stage of complete union of soul and god (liberation, mukti).[29] Thus bhakti progresses from external icon-aided loving devotional worship of Shiva to deeper fusion of awareness with abstract Shiva, ultimately to advaita (oneness) of one's soul and god for moksha.[29][30]

Shunya

Shunya in a series of Kannada language texts is equated with the Virashaiva concept of the Supreme. In particular, the Shunya Sampadane texts present the ideas of Allama Prabhu in a form of dialogue, where shunya is that void and distinctions which a spiritual journey seeks to fill and eliminate. It is the described as state of union of one's soul with the infinite Shiva, the state of blissful moksha.[37][38]

This Lingayat concept is similar to shunya Brahma concept found in certain texts of Vaishnavism, particularly in Odiya, such as the poetic Panchasakhas. It explains the Nirguna Brahman idea of Vedanta, that is the eternal unchanging metaphysical reality as "personified void". Alternate names for this concept of Hinduism, include shunya purusha and Jagannatha in certain texts.[37][39] However, both in Lingayatism and various flavors of Vaishnavism such as Mahima Dharma, the idea of Shunya is closer to the Hindu concept of metaphysical Brahman, rather than to the ??nyat? concept of Buddhism.[37] However, there is some overlap, such as in the works of Bhima Bhoi.[37][40]

Anubhava Mantapa

The Anubhava Mantapa literally means the "hall of spiritual experience".[19] It has been a Lingayat institution since the time of Basava, serving as an academy of mystics, saints and poet-philosophers for discussion of spiritual and mundane questions of life, in open.[41] It was the fountainhead of all religious and philosophical thought pertaining to the Lingayata. It was presided over by the mystic Allamaprabhu, and numerous sharanas from all over Karnataka and other parts of India were participants. This institution also helped propagate Lingayatism religious and philosophical thought. Akka Mahadevi, Channabasavanna and Basavanna himself were participants in the Anubhava Mantapa.[19]

Customs and practices

Ishtalinga

An idol of Akka Mahadevi holding Ishta Linga in her left hand

The Lingayats always wear the Ishtalinga held with a necklace.[5] The Istalinga is made up of light gray slate stone coated with fine durable thick black paste of cow dung ashes mixed with some suitable oil to withstand wear and tear. Sometime it is made up of ashes mixed with clarified butter. The coating is called Kanti (covering).[] The Ishtalinga is a symbolism for Lord Shiva.[5]

Lingadharane

Lingadharane is the ceremony of initiation among Lingayats. Though lingadharane can be performed at any age, it is usually performed when a foetus in the womb is 7-8 months old. The family Guru performs pooja and provides the ishtalinga to the mother, who then ties it to her own ishtalinga until birth. At birth the mother secures the new ishtalinga to her child. Upon attaining the age of 8-11 years, the child receives Diksha from the family Guru to know the proper procedure to perform pooja of ishtalinga. From birth to death, the child wears the Linga at all times and it is worshipped as a personal ishtalinga. The Linga is wrapped in a cloth housed in a small silver and wooden box. It is to be worn on the chest, over the seat of the indwelling deity within the heart. Some people wear it on the chest or around the body using a thread.

Vegetarianism

Lingayats are strict vegetarian. Devout Lingayats do not consume beef, or meat of any kind including fish.[42] The drinking of alcohol is prohibited.[43]

Motto: K?yakav? Kail?sa

Kayakave Kailasa in Kannada

Kayakave kailasa is a slogan in Virasaivism. It means "work is heaven" or "to work [Kayakave] is to be in the Lord's Kingdom [Kailasa]". Some scholars translate Kayaka as "worship, ritual", while others translate it as "work, labor". The slogan is attributed to Basava, and generally interpreted to signify a work ethic for all social classes.[44]

D?soha doctrine

Dasoha is the purpose and result of K?yakav? Kail?sa in Lingayatism.[45]Dasoha means "service", and more specifically "service to other Lingayats" including the Jangama. Regardless of one's vocation, Lingayatism suggests giving and donating a part of one's time, effort and income to one's community and to religious mendicants.[45][46]

According to Virasaivism, skillful work and service to one's community, without discrimination, is a means to experiencing the divine, a sentiment that continues to be revered in present-day Virasaivas.[47] According to Jan Peter Schouten, this doctrine is philosophically rooted in the more ancient So'ham Sanskrit oneness mantra related to Shiva, and which means "I am He".[48] This social ethic is also found among other Hindu communities of South India, and includes community provisioning of grains and sharing other essentials particularly with poorer members of society and those affected by natural or other disasters.[49]

Festivals

  • Siddharameshawar Jayanti Solapur(Jan 14 -Sankranti)
  • Allamaprabhu Jayanti (Ugadi)
  • Maha Shivraatri
  • Basava Jayanti
  • Akkamahadevi Jayanti
  • Basava Panchami (known as Nag Panchami) on this day Basava merged with God
  • Neelamma Shashti (Next day of Basava Panchami) on this day Neelagangambike merged with God
  • Madival Machideva jayanti
  • Channabasavanna Jayanti (Deepavali)

Literature

Vachana Sahitya (also called Sharana Sahitya) on a Palm Leaf

Several works are attributed to the founder of Lingayatism movement, Basava, and these texts are revered in the Lingayat community. In particular, these include various Vachana (literally, "what is said")[21] such as the Shat-sthala-vachana, Kala-jnana-vachana, Mantra-gopya, Ghatachakra-vachana and Raja-yoga-vachana.[50]

A vachana (poem) by Akka Mahadevi

The Basava Purana, a Telugu biographical epic poem, written by Palkuriki Somanatha in 13th-century, and an updated 14th century Kannada version, written by Bhima Kavi in 1369, are sacred texts in Lingayatism.[17][51]

Saints and Sharanas like Allamaprabhu, Akka Mahadevi, Siddarama and Basava were at the forefront of this development during the 12th century. Other important Lingayat literature include:[]

Demographics

Lingayats today are found predominantly in the state of Karnataka, especially in North and Central Karnataka with a sizeable population native to South Karnataka. Lingayats have been estimated to be about 20% of Karnataka's population.[8]

Significant populations are also found in parts of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana bordering Karnataka, as well as Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Gujarat. The Lingayat diaspora can be found in countries around the world, particularly the United States, Britain and Australia.[]

Politically, most Lingayats have for decades voted as a block for the BJP.[52]

Separate religion

According to a 2000 article in The Hindu, there has been a simmering controversy and a diversity of views within the Lingayatism community, for a while, whether it is same as Veerashaivism, and about their relationship to Hinduism. In the decadal census, many Lingayats identify themselves as Hindus. Some have sought a religious minority status through which minority rights would apply to Lingayats. The benefit of such a recognition would make Lingayats eligible for special rights granted by the Indian Constitution to religious and linguistic minorities only.[53]

According to a 2013 article by Times of India, some members of Lingayat community demand recognition of Lingayat as a separate religion.[54] According to Sri Sharanbasava Devaru and some Lingayat monastic organization leaders, Lingayatism is neither a part of Hinduism nor a synonym for the Veerashaivaism.[55][56] Other Lingayat-Veerashaiva monastic organizations, as well as historians from the Lingayat community such as Chidananda Murthy and G.S. Shivarudrappa disagree with this viewpoint, stating that the Lingayats and Veerashaiva are one community and a part of Hinduism.[53]

According to an article in The Economist, others who have argued that Lingayatism should be considered a separate religion include the "atheist and a staunch left-winger" Gauri Lankesh, and a "fellow Lingayat and Congress Party politician" M. B. Patil.[52] In July 2017, Congress - the political party in power in Karnataka - formed a team to "evolve public opinion in favour of declaring Veerashaiva Lingayat community as a separate religion", according to The New Indian Express.[57] In August 2017, a rally march supporting Lingayatism as "not Hinduism" attracted almost 200,000 people, but other Lingayat monasteries consider Lingayatism to be a part of Hinduism.[52] The Congress Party leader and Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah states that Lingayatism is "not Veerashaivism" and "not Hinduism". According to India Today, the ruling Congress party has publicly endorsed that Lingayatism is a separate religious group, not Hinduism.[58] In contrast, the BJP Party leader, former Karnataka chief minister and a Lingayat follower Yeddyurappa disagrees,[52] stating that "Lingayats are Veershaivas, we are Hindus" and considers this as creating religious differences, dividing people and politicizing of religion.[59][60]

Most scholars, states Ramanujan, consider Lingayatism to be a sub-tradition within Hinduism. According to William McCormack, this is because "their [Lingayats] beliefs are syncretistic and include an assemblage of many Hindu elements, including the name of their god, Shiva, who is one of the chief figures of the Hindu pantheon."[9]

See also

References

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  2. ^ Lingayat: Hindu sect, Encyclopedia Britannica (2015)
  3. ^ a b c Jan Peter Schouten (1995), Revolution of the Mystics: On the Social Aspects of V?ra?aivism, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120812383, pages 2-3
  4. ^ Lingayat Religion - Tradition and Modernity in Bhakti Movements, Jayant Lele. Brill Archive. pp. 76-78. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Lingayat: Hindu sect, Encyclopedia Britannica (2015), Quote: "Lingayat, also called Virashaiva, member of a Hindu sect with a wide following in southern India that worships Shiva as the only deity. (...) In the early 21st century some Lingayats began to call for legal recognition by the Indian government as a religion distinct from Hinduism or, alternatively, as a caste within Hinduism."
  6. ^ Aziz Ahmad; Karigoudar Ishwaran (1973). Contributions to Asian Studies. Brill Academic. p. 5. 
  7. ^ Aya Ikegame (2013). Princely India Re-imagined: A Historical Anthropology of Mysore from 1799 to the present. Routledge. p. 83. ISBN 978-1-136-23909-0. 
  8. ^ a b David Levinson; Karen Christensen (2002). Encyclopedia of Modern Asia. Gale. p. 475. ISBN 978-0-684-80617-4. ; Quote: "The Lingayats are a Hindu sect concentrated in the state of Karnataka (a southern provincial state of India), which covers 191,773 square kilometers. The Lingayats constitute around 20 percent of the total population in that state."
  9. ^ a b A. K. Ramanujan (1973). Speaking of ?iva. Penguin. p. 175. ISBN 978-0-14-044270-0. , Quote: "A modern attempt was made to show Lingayats as having a religion separate from Hindu when Lingayats received discrete entry in the Indian constitution of 1950. But we believe Lingayats to be Hindus because their beliefs are syncretistic and include an assemblage of many Hindu elements, including the name of their god, Shiva, who is one of the chief figures of the Hindu pantheon."
  10. ^ A. K. Ramanujan, ed. (1973). Speaking of Siva. UNESCO. Indian translation series. Penguin classics. Religion and mythology. Penguin India. p. 175. ISBN 978-0-14-044270-0. 
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  15. ^ Shaivam
  16. ^ Library of Congress, USA (2010). Library of Congress Subject Headings. Library of Congress. p. 4578. 
  17. ^ a b c d Basava Encyclopedia Britannica (2012), Quote: "Basava, (flourished 12th century, South India), Hindu religious reformer, teacher, theologian, and administrator of the royal treasury of the Kalachuri-dynasty king Bijjala I (reigned 1156-67)."
  18. ^ a b Edward Rice (1982), A History of Kannada Literature, Asian Educational Services, ISBN 978-8120600638, pages 52-53
  19. ^ a b c Jan Peter Schouten (1995), Revolution of the Mystics: On the Social Aspects of V?ra?aivism, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120812383, page 4
  20. ^ R Blake Michael (1992), The Origins of V?ra?aiva Sects, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120807761, pages 1-5
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  26. ^ Aya Ikegame (2013). Princely India Re-imagined: A Historical Anthropology of Mysore from 1799 to the present. Routledge. pp. 123-125. ISBN 978-1-136-23910-6. 
  27. ^ Justine M. Cordwell; Ronald A. Schwarz (1979). The fabrics of culture: the anthropology of clothing and adornment. Walter de Gruyter. pp. 144-145. ISBN 978-3-11-163152-3. 
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  40. ^ Bettina Bäumer (Translator) (2010). Bhima Bhoi, Verses from the Void: Mystic Poetry of an Oriya Saint. Manohar Publishers. ISBN 978-81-7304-813-5. 
  41. ^ SK Das (2005), A History of Indian Literature, 500-1399: From Courtly to the Popular, Sahitya Akademi, ISBN 978-8126021710, pages 161-163
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  52. ^ a b c d "A medieval poet bedevils India's most powerful political party". The Economist. 21 September 2017. 
  53. ^ a b Veerashaivas' campaign gaining momentum, The Hindu (11 December 2000)
  54. ^ Ataulla, Naheed (10 October 2013). "Lingayats renew demand for separate religion". The Times of India. Retrievedon 28 November 2015.
  55. ^ Lingayat is an independent religion: Seer, Vijaykumar Patil, The Hindu (2017)
  56. ^ Lingayats protest in Karnataka's Bidar seeking separate religious status, Rohini Swamy, India Today (2017)
  57. ^ Now, government bats for separate religion for Lingayats, The New Indian Express (25th July 2017)
  58. ^ Why Lingayat-Veerashaiva feud is bad news for BJP in Karnataka, India Today, Aravind Gowda, (August 24, 2017)
  59. ^ 'Veerashaivas are Lingayats and they are Hindus, no question of separate religion': Yeddyurappa, TNM News Minute (July 23, 2017)
  60. ^ Will welcome it if CM contests from north Karnataka, says Yeddyurappa, The Hindu (SEPTEMBER 18, 2017)

Notes

Further reading

  • Basavanna and other sharanas, Vachana sahitya
  • Lingayata Dharmada Modalaneya Pustaka Kannada, 1982, PM Giriraju.
  • Jatigala Huttu Kannada, 1982, PM Giriraju.
  • Sadbhakta Charitra Kannada. PM Giriraju. https://openlibrary.org/works/OL11062327W/Girir?janu_s?risida_sadbhakta_c?ritrya
  • Ishwaran, K. 1992. Speaking of Basava: Lingayat religion and culture in South Asia. Boulder, Colo: Westview Press.
  • Farquhar, J. N. 1967. An outline of the religious literature of India. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.
  • People of India : Karnataka : Volume XXVI/edited by B.G. Halbar, S.G. Morab, Suresh Patil and Ramji Gupta. New Delhi, Affiliated East-West Press for Anthropological Survey of India, 2003. ISBN 81-85938-98-9

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Lingayatism



 

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