The Vacana-s are incandescent poems, full of humor, ridiculing the stupidity and vanity of people, and filled with the ardor of the search for Truth. Rising from these, as an essence, is a monotheist path that recommends for its adepts the entrance into the terrible realm of their personal, inner spirituality.
Here are a few examples: Ganacara wrote: “they say I was born, but I have no birth. O, Lord! They say I have died, but I have no death!”
Allama Prabhu says: “when there was no beginning and no end, when there was no peace or war, when there was nothing or something, when everything was un-created and un-ripe, You, Guheshvara ( Shiva , as master of Mysteries), were alone, by yourself, present in the same realm and in the same time, but not present.”
Ironically, during the centuries that followed, Vira Shaivism absorbed many of the things that Basavanna rejected.
Thus, worship in the temple reappeared, the rituals and the institutionalization of the crucial guru-disciple relationship, in an exterior way. Great efforts were made in order to derive the Vira Shaiva technology from the Hindu traditional scriptures.
Until those times, the lingayats, rejecting the Vedas, have placed themselves outside the main Hindu stream, but through the acceptance of several Shaiva Agama – Shaivit writings considered as having been revealed, they aligned themselves to other Shaivit groups.
The Vira Shaivits regard their belief as a distinct and independent religion. However, the original ideals remain included in the lingayat scripture, which also contains the vacanas, the historic writings and the verse biographies.
The monotheist doctrine of Vira Shaivism is named Shaktivisistadvaita, and is a modified version of non-dualism, that also accepts the difference and the non-difference between the individual Self and the Divine, through a comparison with the beams of the sun.
In short, Shiva or the cosmic force are one, (Shiva is you, and so you must come back, you must return to Shiva, to yourself – as the lingayat writings indicate).
However, Shiva is also beyond His creation, which is real not illusory. God is the effective cause as well as the material cause. The individual Self, in its liberated state attains the undifferentiated union with Shiva.
The Vira Shaiva saint Ranukacariya said: “just as the water is put into water, and the fire into fire, the individual Self that becomes one with Brahman , is not seen as being distinct from Him.”
The true unity and identity between Shiva (Linga) and the individual Self (Anga) is the goal of life described as sunya (the void), which is not an empty void, but a creative void, full of potentialities.
The adept becomes united with Shiva through satsthala, a progressive path, with six steps of devotion and abandon: bhakti (devotion), mahesa (disinterested service), prasada (honest search for Shivas grace), pranalinga (the experience of the Whole as being Shiva), sarana (refuge in Shiva) and aikya (uniqueness in Shiva).
Each phase brings the seeker closer and closer to the final goal, until the individual Self and God are unified into one final state of perpetual Shivaic consciousness, just as the rivers flow into the ocean.
Vira Shaivism has the means to attain this purpose and these means depend on pancacara (five codes of conduct) and as avarana (eight shields to protect the body as the abode of the Divine).
The five codes of conduct are: lingacara (daily worship of shiva linga), sadacara (attention towards vacation and duty), shivacara (knowledge and acceptance of Shiva as unique God and equality among adepts), bhrityacara (humbleness in front of all creatures), and ganacara (the defense of the community and of the faith).
The eight shields are: guru, linga, jangama (the identification with the wandering monk; having no possessions), paduka (the water from the ritualistic bath of the gurus linga or feet), prasada (the consecrated offering), vibhuti (the holly ashes), rudraksa (the holly seed) and mantra (Namah Shivaya).
Anyone can adopt the Vira Shaiva religion through a formal initiation, named linga diksa, a rite that replaces the traditional ceremony of the sacred belt, consenting at the same time to the daily wear and worship of a shiva linga.
The lingayats place a great deal of importance on this life, the equality of all members, regardless of caste, education, sexuality, intense social implication and the service brought to the community. Their faith underlines free will, asserts a determined world and confesses a pure monotheism.
Today, Vira Shaivism is a vibrant belief, particularly powerful in its origin area, Karnataka, in Central and Southern India. Almost 40 million people live there, out of which approximately one fourth are lingayats.
One can hardly find a village in India without a jangama (lingayat monk) and a matha (monastery).
On the occasion of a birth taking place in a lingayat family, the child is brought into their religion that very day, by a jangama, who offers the child a shiva linga in a pendant, attached to a belt. This is the linga the child will wear throughout his or her entire life.
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