Here is your essay on the Important Features of Veerashaivism !
Lingayatism or Veerashaivism is a Hindu religious sect, or according to themselves, an independent religion in India. The adherents of this faith are known as Lingayats or Veera shaivas and are a large caste of Shiva worshippers. The term is derived from Lingavantha in Kannada. This became more prominent after a reform movement attributed to Basavanna and others in the 12th century CE.
Essential Features of Veerashaivism was a social movement of protest and reform. It wanted to reform Hindu society of its social evils like exploitation of the lower castes by the upper castes of the unjust treatment meted out to women and so on. It projected a society where all were considered equal in all spheres of life. The essential features of Veerashaivism are:
(i) Rejection of the worship of multitude of Gods and Goddesses;
(iii) Anti pollution ideology;
(iv) Shasthala ashtavaranas and panchacharas;
(1) Worship of the Linga:
Veerashaivisim did not advocate the worship of idols, of various Gods and Goddess. It emphasized the worship of only one God namely Lord Shiva. Shiva was the only Supreme Being to be worshipped in the form of Linga. Every Veerashaivite should wear the lingam or Ishtalinga, the emblem of the God Shiva.
The utterance of “Namah Shivaya” was the most important simple form of salutation to Lord Shiva. The Linga was the source and goal of all things. The Linga helped to grant all objects desired and to ward off the undesirable. Anyone who wore the Ishtalinga, irrespective of his occupational subgrouping was regarded an equal.
Veerashaivism protested against many of the Rituals perpetuated by Brahmanical Hinduism. It was against temple worship sacrifices and pilgrimages. Veerashaivites were discouraged from participating or undertaking sacrificial ceremonies which involved slaughter, and elaborate offerings to Gods and Goddesses. Eudowment to temples were also forbidden because such acts encouraged inequality between one devotee and another. Veerashaivism also discouraged visiting holy places.
(3) Antipollution Ideology:
The Veerashaivism doctrine enjoyed upon its members to desist from observing the “Pancha Sutakas” or Five Pollutions namely the pollution arising from: (i) Birth, (ii) Death, (iii) Menstruation, (iv) Spittle, and (v) Caste contact, (with the so-called inferior castes). Death was considered as a merger with Lord Shiva. It was an event to be rejoiced not to be mourned. The dead are buried and not burnt among the Lingayat.
Veerashaivism looked upon the observation of menstrual pollution as a hinderance to the daily worship of Lord Shiva which was obligatory for every Lingayat woman, child and man.
The observance of spittle pollution i.e. pollution arising from touch or contact with the spit especially observed by Brahmins was looked upon as unessential by Veerashaivism. All were equal in the eyes of Shiva. Hence, one man could not pollute another man in any way. In this way, caste contact, pollution, and orthodox belief and practice was also totally rejected by Veerashaivism.
(4) Shatsthala, Astavarana and Panchachara:
The three most important components of the Lingayat ideological structure were Shatsthala, Astavarana and Panchachara.
(a) The Shatsthala:
It consisted of six steps which an individual had to take in order to attain a merger of his self with Lord Shiva.
(b) The Astavarana:
The Astavarana serve as covers for protecting an individual from dangers which came in the way of his spiritual pursuits. The eight covers are as under.
The emblem of the Supreme i.e. God Shiva.
The spiritual preceptor who initiated a new comer into the spiritual knowledge of Veerashaivism.
Devoted person who was endowed with excellent knowledge and moved from place to place preaching the doctrines of Veerashaivism.
This meant ‘thirtha’ or holy water which served to integrate the devotee and the preceptor.
The returned offerings indicated that those objects offered to God during worship become sacred.
It was the sacred ash that was applied on the forehead of the devotee.
It referred to the sacred chain worn around the neck of the Veerashaivite, and
The simple form salutation to Lord Shiva through the utterance the mantra “Namah Shivay”.
(c) The Panchachara:
The Panchachara were five religious stances or Postures. A Veerashaivite had to take them order to protect the faith from disintegration. The five positions were the Lingachara, Sadachara, Shivachara, Ganachara and Brityachara.
(i) The Lingachara was the acknowledgement of the absolute equality of all Lingawearers.
(ii) The Sadachara was the adoption of toil with a sense of duty, devotion and service.
(iii) Shivachara was the pursuit of the tenets of Veerashaivism with a pure heart.
(iv) Ganachara was the adoption of militancy to fight off any threats to the integrity of the religious community.
(v) Brityachara was the implementation of ‘dosoha’ to sustain the religious community.
According to Veerashaivism all work was equal and important they considered. They considered to toil, with a sense of duty and dedication essential for the livelihood and good of the individual and the welfare of the community. Lingayatism made no hierarchical discrimination between occupations.
The principle of Kayaka was implemented as early as Basava’s time. In the Anubhava Mantapa built by Basava no distinction was made between persons holding high office and those earning lower income. The engagement of Kayaka was conceived in two ways as under:
(i) If a person was already gainfully employed, lie should send physical and social help to support the communal services such as feeding and sheltering needy people.
(ii) If there was an unemployed person he should take up a job.
In this way, Veerashaivism tried to integrate the personal and social aspects of an individual life on the principle of religious and social equality.