PAÑCHĀCHĀRA (Five fold conduct): [ಪಂಚಾಚಾರ]

PAÑCHĀCHĀRA (Fivefold conduct): It is not enough if we believe in the philosophy of Lingayathism; we must adopt certain practices as well in accordance with that philosophy. These practices, which are reckoned at five, include, broadly speaking,

  • Religious acts: Such as worshipping Guru, Linga and Janagama.
  • Moral acts: Such as abstaining from adultery and falsehood, keeping promises etc.,
  • Social service: These five acts, lingāchār, sadāchār, shivāchār, ganāchār and bhṛtyāchār, seem to include all types of acts, which we ought to practice.

LINGĀCHĀRA: [ಲಿಂಗಾಚಾರ] consists mainly worshipping the ISHTALINGA and nothing else. One must take a vow at the time of initiation that one worships ishta-linga thrice a day and neither believes nor worships other gods and goddesses. A breach of this vow is indicative not only of the disloyalty of the devotee to the Ishtalinga, but also disbelief in doctrines of Lingayathism.

The highest form of Lingāchār is expressed when a devotee convinces himself that he is a vehicle of Parashiva and that whatever he does, thinks, speaks or experiences is for Linga (Parashiva), and not for himself or his family's sake.

SADĀCHĀRA (good conduct) includes a set of moral codes. Not stealing, not telling lies, not committing adultery, showing compassion to all living beings, truthfulness, keeping promises are some of those codes. A religion, which does not include morality, is no religion.

One must earn only in an honest way. One must not earn more (greedily) than required. The excess must be given as DASŌHA.

The basis of moral conduct is the idea that men by involving himself in morally good activities becomes unselfish, an unselfish self is pure and only pure self becomes the temple of Parashiva.

SHIVĀCHĀRA: [ಶಿವಾಚಾರ] is the practice of treating all devotees of Parashiva as equal. In Basava's time discrimination between followers of Lingayathism on the basis of their castes (or occupation) was in vogue. For example, the oil extractor is inferior in caste to the one who sells oil; both of these are inferior to a merchant class (called Banajiga [ಬಣಜಿಗ]). Basavanna and his followers aimed at the abolition of this evil practice. They argued that even a Brahmin wearing ishta-linga becomes a man of lowest caste if he eats meat or indulges in immoral conduct and that even a man born in the family of madigas [ಮಾದಿಗ] (now named scheduled caste) if he has a morally good conduct is respected as a great devotee. Mādara Chennayya, a man born in the madiga caste, was highly respected by Basavanna for his greatness as a Shiva-devotee.

GANĀCHĀRA: [ಗಣಾಚಾರ] is a social conduct with an implication of "each for all Lingayats and all for each Lingayat". Whenever possible a Lingayat should prevent people who condemn Parashiva, Jangamas and the devotees of Parashiva, or doctrines and practices of Lingayathism. Ganāchār, if carried to the extreme, would mean that those who cannot tolerate the comments against Lingayathism must kill the one makes intolerable comments or leave the place itself. In other words, everyone in the community (Gana) [ಗಣ] must avoid all that comes in the way of practice of spirituality.

BHṚTYĀCHĀRA: [ಭೃತ್ಯಾಚಾರ] is an act done in total humility or modesty. The behaviour of a servant towards his master is an example of bhṛtyāchār (act of servant). Every Lingayat must inculcate the practice of bhṛtyāchār towards every other Lingavanta. Only an aspirant with humility is eligible to learn spiritual aspects from others including people of lower castes and younger ones. Bhṛtyāchār is an act of eliminating one's own arrogance and egoism. Basavanna's words "there is none smaller then me' express unequivocally how modest he was towards others in spite of the fact that he was prime minister of king Bijjala.

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