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Lingayatism Resources

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

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Sunday, December 4th, 2011

Lingayatism or Virasaivism is a shaivite hindu sect which is considered reform in it practices due to its unorthodox approach towards traditional hinduism by rejecting various beliefs/practices in removing some of the unpleasantries of the hindu religion in advocating such matters as equality and social reforms. This is a favorable approach towards establishing a humanitarian platform which I applaud but do the beliefs that correspond with this movement necessitate a spiritual reality by repackaging this upgraded model of Hinduism? Furthermore Veerashaivism would not exist without the cornerstone and bedrock of traditional Hinduism and if the original foundation is weak and broken then any other structure which builds upon this philosophy crumbles as well. If it possible to change preexistent and ancient Hindu philosophies then it is also possible to  question anything that associates itself with Hinduism after all which one is right if either.

Anyway Basava is credited with starting this sect even though it is believed that he just revived another movement. He is said to have brought about these modifications of equality but yet there remains some controversy to his character. Even though he rejected his position as a Brahmin he was also elected to the prestigious office of royal treasurer by the influence of his uncle who was prime minister and as a result of this prominent position there came allegations of inequality in that he was depleting treasury funds in order to further the Lingayat cause which would include supporting its guilds and some of its impoverished members which was seen as favoritism among the Jains and Buddhists who protested his actions which in turn caused him to flee the kingdom.

Also Basaveshwara made an illogical statement that divine experience can be achieved by everyone regardless of belief, tradition, religion or whatever. I think the problem with any movement that advocates equality by making claims of inclusiveness in eradicating all bias is fickle in the sense that members disassociate others who act and believe differently from the mainstream of that particular groups way of thinking and even though others may be tolerated there is still the denial of intimacy or fellowship of those who are outside of that circle. Even people who adopt a view that all paths or streams lead to God may at first appear to be making a statement of absolute inclusiveness but where does that leave someone else who has an incompatible world view of exclusivism. To have freedom of equality and complete acceptance within a movement is one thing but to have a universalist view towards everyone is dishonest when attempting to advance or convert someone else to a particularized practice or belief which is unique to that faith thus setting themselves apart from others who are adherents to another religion,faith, or creed. Brotherhood within the movement is one thing while unconditional acceptance is another. I don’t think the Lingayats can really claim to offer equality on every basis otherwise there would be no need for them to obtain a distinguishable name as a classification for their organization which identifies themselves as being defined under a descriptive title. For instance they wouldn’t claim themselves as being Catholic nor would they allow Catholicism to be integrated within their movement in a syncretistic or pluralistic fashion as a valid expression of their faith. With a name comes a particular personality and a associated identity which makes it unique.

Another thing by which this group differentiates itself is by the exclusivity of a monotheistic faith in elevating Lord Shiva as the one and only Supreme God from among the pantheon of other hindu deities. I am not for sure how they have effectively eliminated the other competitors in favor of selecting their divine mascot and yet to worship Shiva above Vishnu would be an affront to other religious movements within the culture of Hinduism.

Conclusively I am not saying that particularism is wrong its just that we need to recognize that this movement  embraces an antithetical ideology to their statement of belief in displaying this illusory image of complete equality which is unfounded as being oxymoronic to their separatists or sectarian views. Just the nature of its origins alone as splitting themselves from the Brahmic institution of hinduism shows a break in its distinction as not including every person as holding to a valid expression of belief, tradition and religion.

Additionally even with the concept of ganāchāra comes the notion of elitism which is a defense towards maintaining their community along with its tenets.

Moreover I am not for certain how their conceptual ideas may vary from mainstream hinduism on karma and reincarnation because the traditionalist view would see the maltreatment and oppression of others which would include a persons social standing as a necessary means to the ends without any consideration of inequality regarding their karmic debt. I have previously written a post about karma and reincarnation which may be helpful at

Amazingly Basavanna  preached that the devotion of people to God was a direct relationship and did not need the intervention of the priestly class. However there is a conflict here in that they have eliminated the hierarchal Brahmin priesthood while ironically adopting their own hereditary caste system in elevating the Jangamas who are the Lingyat priests or gurus. Also it is questionable in how that Basavanna who was a Brahmin effectively rejected and renounced his role as a part of the priestly caste when he asserted to head up this movement. Granted this movement needed a ring leader towards establishing its presence but why didn’t he get a lower caste member or a Dalit to herald his cause as a means of practicing what he preached.

Furthermore it is through the rite of Ahangrahopasana that the Lingayats get their name by donning and worshipping the Linga which is a personification of Shiva. Yet for the Ishtalinga to be a representation of the exalted and supreme majesty of Shiva in displaying his deity as a dung and ash covered stone when in every other respect Shiva is highly exalted is unthinkable. To bring Siva down to such a base representation as compared to the earthily filth of a trash heap is really untenable. Alongside of this they have rejected the worship of images nevertheless this is what is being done to this piece of iconic jewelry.

Another discrepancy is that they have repudiated ritual and yet they still practice such rites as the initiation of male children knows as Diksa and paying homage to the linga twice a day as being apart of the Panchāchāras. Some other rituals which are incorporated in their regular observances are the eight shields or Ashtāvarana  with such actions as: Padodaka(Karunodhaka) in drinking the water from bathing the Linga, Prasada (Karuna Prasada) by presenting a sacred offering,Vibhuti the smearing of holy ash on oneself, Rudraksha the wearing of a string of holy beads and lastly the Mantra of “Namah Shivaya” as a means of giving adoration to Siva. Therefore ritual is not denied but rather it is affirmed based on their religious activities.

Anyway I know it is easy for me to criticize other belief systems but then again it is just as easy for others to justify their unfounded beliefs as well. I have pointed out some of the inconsistencies along with the shortcomings and weaknesses of this movement only in respect to challenge their standing in regards to achieving any kind of ultimate truth. Granted there are problems in each and every religious movement when scrutinized hard enough but perhaps this criticism has only affirmed what you may have already come to wonder or doubt about in your heart regarding its truth claims. At the same time maybe you are tired of trying to ascend the ladder of Shatsthala or perhaps you have fallen off wandering whether or not you will ever achieve shoonya which has left you feeling hopeless regarding the shame and guilt you carry.

The good news is that you don’t have to ascend the ladder on your own strength as Jesus descended in coming down so as to carry us and lift us up into the loving arms of God. You may not find the hope of aikya as a practicing Lingayat but there is a confidence that you can have in the person and work of Jesus who came to deliver us from the heavy yoke of religious duty by liberating those who trust in Him by freely giving them the gift of eternal life without all the insecurity that comes from having to earn or merit a sense of acceptance with God. He can truly deliver and set you free by uniting us with God as He removes the cares and burdens of our souls by shouldering the weight of our moral debt. You may have thought that Jesus is just some foreign form of western religious expression and yet Christianity originated as an eastern religion of which Israel is considered a part of Asia. The reason why Christianity is associated with western world is because God used Jesus to unite the east and the west and to remove all ethnical and societal boundaries by embracing every tribe,tongue and nation in unifying the world under the banner of Christ’s redeeming and saving work which is expounded in the gospel of John.

John 3:16,17

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Maybe you are discerning a change or a prompting to seek for truth elsewhere and I would just ask that you would consider other possibilities such as with Jesus. In conclusion I hope that you forgive me if I offended you over the content of this post as my intention is not to slander but to uncover any perceived falsehoods of which need to be exposed for the sake of the worshipper.

In closing I would like to provide some resources in Kannada and Hindi which may be beneficial towards any research you may give this matter. Finally I ask that you honestly and simply ask and seek God in prayer so as to reveal Jesus  in such as way so as to believe.

Matthew 7:7-8

7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

Mt 11:28-30

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”



How to know God

Lingayatism Resources




Encyclopaedia Britannica,Inc., copyright 1993, Vol.1, pg.931, Basava

Encyclopedia of Religion Second Edition, copyright 2005 Thomson Gale a part of The Thomson Corporation, Lindsay Jones Editor in Chief, Vol.7, pg.4430, Jan Gonda

Encyclopedia of Religion Second Edition, copyright 2005 Thomson Gale a part of The Thomson Corporation, Lindsay Jones Editor in Chief, Vol.12, pgs.8043-8044, Andre Padoux