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Lingayat Philosophy



What is the nature of the concept of Shiva-Shakti?
Shiva is Existence and Shakti is Consciousness
Realise that Existence itself is Consciousness.
And there is no duality, Lord Guheshwara.

-Allama Prabhu

After the fall of Buddhism, the Indian masses were subjected to the villainy and tyranny of Brahmanical reaction; People were oppressed under the yoke of the reinstated Varnashramadharma. Shankar's pure monism was the Philosophical background of society. His teaching can be summarised as the doctrine of Maya, that the world and life and their throbbing problems were an illusion, and that the ultimate entity, that is Brahman, was the only true reality. The masses were misguided and disillusioned about their duty and vocation during their worldly existence. They became disinterested in their callings and were hypnotised by the future grandeur of the life after death. Pure monism as the philosophical background to society led to the exploitation of the masses by the classes, suppressing the diverse tendencies of society. Unity in diversity was not .i maxim of the monistic morality of Shankar.

But the Lingayat movement headed by the revolutionary Basava ushered in a new era in Indian history by championing the cause of the exploited toiling masses. Basava, though a Brahmin by birth, did not undergo even the Upanayana ceremony of Brahmins, and even as a boy he objected to Brahmanism and its rites. He fought the old Brahmanic order and its philosophy and set up a new progressive revolutionary religion and philosophy, the age-long slavery of the masses embedded in the Vedic culture was shattered and the new order of society of Lingayats came into being. This freedom intoxicated movement cut asunder the shackles of exploitation of myriads including the untouchables and women.

The Sharanas, as the Lingayat revolutionaries were called, rebutted the deceptive hair-splitting monistic philosophy of Shankara and exposed threadbare the dangerous implications of the doctrine of Maya. Basava refuted his dubious monotheism and consequently toppled over the hoary structure of the Vedic caste system.

A philosophy which does not touch the problems of life on earth is barren. A philosophy is the underlying principle of the society. Any race or nation has some philosophy or other as its basis. In ancient times philosophy was wedded to religion, but in systems like the Sankhya and Vaishesika, the philosophic aspect was more marked than the theological. Again Buddhism was the culminating point. It was primarily philosophic and scientific. Therefore society became revolutionary and progressive under Buddhism. The more scientific and philosophic a system is the more progressive and prosperous the people are likely to become. Philosophy is interested in mundane problems. But the pure monistic philosophy of Shankar was a more abstract system. The concept of a void reality, Nirguna, Nirakar Brahman, leaves no room for explanation of the multifarious vicissitudes of the world and life. Brahman is destitute of all qualities. It is devoid of all attributes- thought, activity, etc. Yet Maya is assumed to be its Shakti which constitutes Upadhana, the material cause of the world. The material cause of the world is the Brahma in so far it is associated with Maya. But the concept of the unitary spiritual absolute Brahma goes against the doctrine of Maya. This is a great flaw in Shankara. To begin with the material world is dismissed as an illusion. Real existence has nothing to do with it. As to the question how Vedanta accounts for the moving power and diverse nature of life, Shankara connects Maya fictitiously to Brahman in wedlock as it were. But this is really a deadlock in his system. The impersonal Brahman becomes personal, which is a stark contradiction.

But a Lingayat Sharana solves the deadlock of Shankar by qualifying his monism with Shakti or Energy. The world and Shakti are not myth or illusion but real. A Sharana labels his system as Shakthivisistadvaita- Energy qualified monism. The reality in Lingayatism is neither Mind nor Matter only, neither Brahman nor Shakti only, but a fair combination of both. It is Shiva Shakti. The big booming world is both a unity and diversity. Shiva represents the silence or centre; Shakti the dynamic. There is change, law of energy or Shakti everywhere; But there must be something that changes. Motion without the object moving becomes abstract. Further Shiva and Shakti are related identity. This static-dynamic Reality, Shiva-Shakti, represents a synthesis of the abstract, static, bloodless Absolute of Bradley and the dynamic diverse flesh and blood reality of Bergson. Bradley is purely intellectual, and Bergson merely intuitive and emotional. But life requires both intellect and intuition. Shakti in the Lingayat philosophy is located in Shiva, and the Sharana finds an identity between Shiva and Shakti, between Truth and will. The Divine appears to him to have a dynamic aspect, but to address the Absolute only as dynamic is not to state the whole truth. Behind the dynamic aspect of the Absolute is the static which is the Centre of movement. Thus Allama Prabhu observes:

What is the nature of the concept of Shiva Shakti?
Shiva is existence and Shakti is consciousness.
Realise that existence itself is consciousness.
And there is no duality, Lord Guheshwara.

Just as Shakti it related to Shiva, in the same way Jangama ie., the individual soul is related to Linga i.e., the Universal soul. There is no Linga without Jangama nor is Jangama without Linga. Individuality and Universality are reciprocal and relative. Hence the individuality is retained in the universality. That is the significance of the Lingayat concept of Linga-Jangama. The point is further clarified by Channasangamadeva and Siddharama in their Vachanas.

Body is life (jiva); life (jiva) is body.
Just as these two are entwined so do Linga and Jangama.
Linga and Jangama are combined so harmoniously,
That you find Jangama in Linga and Linga in Jangama.
Shiva cannot exist without Shakti nor does Shakti do without Shiva.
Just as flower and fragrance,
Space (akasha) and air are respectively combined together,
So is Jangama without duality joined with Linga,
In fact, such Jangama is itself Linga, Lord Kudalachannasangama.

Can we separate sweetness from sugar?
Can we have Ghee without butter?
Can we create the world without earth?
Listen! There is no Linga without Jangama nor is there Jangama without Linga,
Kapila Siddhamallikarjuna.

Shri Kumaraswamiji, Nava-Kalyanmatha, Dharwar. enlightens us further on this matter;

"Bergson with an 'immediacy of Intuition' and Bradley with an 'immediacy of experience' proceed on parallel lines to demonstrate the dynamism of Will (Shakti) and the conservation of Truth (Shiva). But the Sharana comes into effect a synthesis between Bergson and Bradley, between will and truth, between dynamism and conservation by saying that the Absolute or God is the impersonal personality, that it is at once transcendent and immanent, static and dynamic. The static aspect is called Sthala, Shiva or Linga and the dynamic aspect of it is called Kala, Shakti or Jangama in Veerashaiva philosophy. This Shakti is the dynamic divine will which is the personality of the Absolute Truth or Shiva Linga.... This Divine will exists, therefore, in God by the relation of identity that is Samarasya which has been expressed very vividly by the Sharanas in their sayings: one of the sayings of Basava in this connection runs thus:

As submarine fire is hid in the waters of the seas,
As a ray of ambrosia is hid in the moon,
As fragrance is hid in the flower;
As affection is hid in the maiden,
So is the Truth did in the heart of Will,
O Lord Kudalasangama.

"The Sharana, therefore, emphasizes the integral unity of Shiva and Shakti and does not commit himself to the extremes of Shakti completely withdrawn into Shiva or Shiva completely losing itself into Shakti...

"It is this integral association of Shiva-Shakti or Shaktivishishtadvaita that is the Veerashaiva "Weltanschauung"- the world view of a Veerashaiva. For he views the whole world as an expression of the divine will under the stress and guidance of the divine Truth. In the idea of the Sharana the world is, therefore, an objective fact, a real modification but one which makes no difference to the essence of Truth... Shoristhi is the becoming of Shiva in the extention of its own being Shakti."

Finally Prof. Anil Kumar Sarkar, Rajendra College, Chapra, sums up the philosophic position of Lingayatism:

"As against the advaita concept of Sankar, it does not hold the view of Maya. Its principle of Shakti or Strength that accounts for the dynamic universe is fitted into the concept of dynamism (Shakti. That is realised in the centre of silence (Siva). There is a perfect relation of identity between dynamism and silence. Once is a necessary concept of the other. Viewed thus, the doctrine of .Veerashaivism has not got to account for any Maya or indefinable character of the manifest universe. The dynamic universe has its habitat in the centre of silence or Siva. By this emphasis on this new type of concept and experience, the Veerashaiva philosophy tries to claim a higher sort of consideration from the thinkers of the world"

The Shaktivisisthadvaita of the Lingayats is not identical with the Visisthadvaita of Ramanuja. The concept of Ramanuja's Absolute is an organic unity of God and Prakriti. But Prakrithi is assigned a secondary place in that the element of Visesya, i.e., God, controls the subordinate Prakriti and other elements, i.e. Visesanas "The Viesanas including Prakriti cannot by hypothesis exist by themselves separately. The complex whole (Vishistha) in which they are included is described as a unity. Hence the name Visisthadvaita"

The relation between God and Prakriti being one of subordination, not of identity, the system is not dynamic. Besides, Ramanuja's cult advocatesAvataras and incarnations of God and believes in the worship of idols and is hence other worldly in its outlook. That is not the case with Lingayatism which, like Christanity and Islam, is mundane and this-worldly.

Buddhism boldly asserted the dynamic of Prakriti so much so that it was more philosophic than any other system. It was matter-dominated rather than spirit inspired. It noted the dialectic view of nature that the continuous change in bodies owing to atomic combination and separation, necessarily involves a continuous process of the old perishing and the new growing. Mr. M.N. Roy sums up the philosophic role of Buddhism:

As the composite outcome of all the positive in the whole previous history of Indian thought, Buddhism shook the foundation of the hoary edifice of Brahmanical orthodoxy. It disputed the authority of the scriptures; vigorously condemned the sacrificial rites and rituals of the Vedic Natural Religion; it denied the existence even of an impersonal first cause, the Brahman of the Upanishads; and discarded the doctrine of soul. For the first time, there began to develop in India a system of truly philosophic thought having for its point of departure the atomism of the Vaisheshik system and the rationalist mechanistic conception of Nature contained in the Sankhya system.

Consequently Buddhist idealism retained its philosophical character as against the theological nature of the Brahmanical metaphysics. It asserted the existence of the world; it came near to the modern philosophical conception of the identity of the object and subject. The dynamic of Lingayatism recognised the identity of the object Shakti and the subject Shiva.

Lastly Jainism, another ancient heterodox sect, viewed Prakriti as dynamic and consequently posited the reality of the existence of the world. The Jains ex-rayed even the soul and found it was composed of atoms. By their ingenious dialectic logic they rejected the doctrine of the Brahman.

"The Jain philosophers maintained that contradictory attributes such as being and non- being, could belong to one and the same thing. They subjected the conceptions of absoluteness, unity and eternity to their reasoning. The result was rejection of the doctrine of the Brahman.
The Jain also believed in soul.... They thought soul was composed of an infinite number of particles- 'Soul-atoms'- which were constantly increasing and decreasing. That, in their opinion, did not affect the permanence of the soul; for a thing can be permanent and non-permanent at the same time. For example, although the water is constantly flowing, the stream of water is always there. The ontological counterpart of this logic is obvious: the phenomenal world is permanent and real with all its continual changes and transitoriness."

The trend of Jain logic runs in the thought of a Lingayat Sharana. The concept of Shiva-Shakti is a unity of being and non-being- a static dynamic reality. The upshot of the argument is that all heterodox sects, Buddhism, Jainism and Lingayatism admit the existence and reality of the world. Hence they revolutionised the philosophic thought of the country, revolted against the regressive orthodoxy of. Brahmanism and democratised the social structure of India by opening the flood-gates of freedom to the oppressed ignorant masses. By its philosophic revolution Buddhism socialised the masses, attracted foreign scholars from Japan, China, etc. to study in the Universities of Nalanda and Takshashila. Jainism with its logical weapon fought the ritualism of Brahmanism and spread from Kalinga into the Dravidian south- Andhra, Chola, Pandya and Karnatak. When Buddhism and Jainism decayed and degenerated, Lingayatism with its revolutionary banner of Shiva-Shakti revolted not only against decaying Buddhism and Jainism but also against orbhodox Brahminism. It spread far and wide into the Andhra, Tamilnadu, and M harashtra the whole of Deccan. Scholars from Kashmir, Bengal, Andhra, Orissa, Tamilnadu, Maharastra came to Kalyan, the head-quarters of the Lingayats, and participated in the religious academy of Anubhava Mantap. That is the revolutionary role of Lingayatism in Indian history. Thus Lord Basava sums up the essence of Lingayatism:

Being unable to know the Linga (the Universal soul) the
Veda Shuddered and called it unknowable;
Without realising the Linga the Shastra declares
it to be unrealizable.
The Logic became mute expressing its inability
To comprehend the Linga, nor could Agama understand it.
Men cannot make out the greatness of Sharanas.
A Sharana knows the criterion of
Our Lord Kudala Sangama.

Source: CHAPTER-VII from the book THE LINGAYAT MOVEMENT (A Social Revolution in Karnataka): By: S. M. Hunsal, B.A. (B. com); B.T., With forward by Dr. C. Ramlinga Reddy, Kt. Hon. D. Lit., M.L.C, Vice-Chancellor, Andhra University. 1947

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