DĀSŌHA: [ದಾಸೋಹ]

One of the prerequisites of liberation is selflessness, which is expressed in two ways – bhṛtyāchār [ಭೃತ್ಯಾಚಾರ] and Dāsōha. [ದಾಸೋಹ] In fact, the two are related in the sense that the latter cannot be practised without the former. The essence of the bhṛtyāchār (conduct of a servant) is humility or modesty. One who is humble must serve guru, Jangama, other devotees of GOD and the society in an humble and selfless manner. Dāsōha consists in giving charity, but in an humble manner. The difference between charity and dāsōha is that the former may be – but the latter must not be - practised with a sense of selfishness and arrogance. Dāsōha is far removed form giving charity with a selfish motive or with arrogance.

The Kannada word dāsōha is, in fact, a corrupt form of the Sanskrit compound dāsōhaṃ meaning ‘I am (ahaṃ) [ಅಹಂ] servant (dasa). But the Kannada word dāsōha means charity given with a sense of servitude. One who practises dāsōha must, in the first place, regard himself as a servant (bhṛtya or dāsa) [ಭೃತ್ಯ or ದಾಸ ] of Jangama, society, etc. Moreover, an effective dāsōha must fulfil one more condition: the food or money or other materials offered in dāsōha must have been earned in honest manner. If they are gained in a corrupt way or by methods, which involve violence, cheating, stealing, etc., they are not fit for dāsōha.

Dāsōha is practised in two ways. The one done in the maṭhas [ಮಠ] (monasteries) is normally in the form of ‘common kitchen’ (free food) and though this is done by the Jangamas of the maṭha, the Jangamas themselves are helped financially and materially by the devotees. The Jangamas are engaged in promoting knowledge (Jnyana-dāsōha) [ಜ್ಞಾನ-ದಾಸೋಹ] also.

Dāsōha of another form, performed by the devotees in their houses consists in offering food to the Jangamas and fellow devotees. It may also include offering food grains, money and other materials to the Jangamas, which the latter use for the social good. Thus one who practises dāsōha enhances one’s own spiritual merit while simultaneously doing social service.

In the final analysis, the concept of dāsōha represents the core of Lingayat philosophy that all things are Prasaada of Parashiva and must be returned to the fellow devotees who are but His different mouths in an humble manner. One who does this in this sense has the satisfaction of being free from the feeling of indebtedness.

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Guru Basava Vachana

Akkamahadevi Vachana

[1] From the book "Vachana", pub: Basava Samiti Bangalore 2012.