Message of R. C. Hiremath (Vice Chancellor of Dharwad University)

(Preface to the first edition-1942 of Book “History and Philosophy of Lingayat Religion” by R.C. Hiremath. Publisher: Prasaranga, Karnataka University, Dharwad. Page v-ix)

Lingayat religion and Philosophy have a distinct place in the History of India. It is true that the six systems of Indian Philosophy are well known in the Philosophical world. But apart from these systems, there are other Philosophical systems in India which deserve special mention. Shaiva Schools of Philosophy, School of tantric Philosophy, Jain and Buddhistic Schools of Philosophy may be cited here. Lingayat religion and Philosophy come under Shaiva Schools of Philosophy and re known as Veerashaiva Religion and Philosophy popularly called Veerashaivisim.

Veerashiavism is not merely a sect and a mode of worship but a regular system. Many of the scholars who wrote on the history of Indian philosophy including Dr. Radhakrishnan, Dr. Dasgupta and Hiriyanna could not realize this for the reason that a much of the literature on the subject was in Kannada and tha in Sanskrit was not published fully. The students of Lingayat religion and Philosophy particularly those who do not know Kannada, therefore, find extremely difficult to study the subject for what adequate literature in English. This subject is prescribed in colleges and post graduates Departments such as M.A. Philosophy, M.A. In Kannada etc. these students are very much handicapped since they do not find proper text books on the subject in English. Hand Book of Veerasahivism by Dr. S. C. Nandimath and History and Philosophy of Lingayat Religion being an introduction to Lingadharana Chandrika by Prof.M. R. Sakhre are frequently reffred by the students. There was a great demand for these books. The University, therefore, thought of reprinting these books as they are authentic works on the subject and as such are required by the students and public very often. The University could obtain the permission of Literary Committee, L.E. Association, Dharwad for reprinting the Introductory Part of the work by Prof. M. R. Sakhre. We are now publishing only the introductory part leaving the textual part of Lingadharana Chandrikia and the translation and notes by Prof. M. R. Sakhre on the text. As Dr. Radhakrishnan expressed in his introduction. Prof. Sakhre’s work will continue for long to be of immense use to the students of Indian Philosophy and Religion.

Lingadharana is a distinctive feature of Veerashaiva Religion. It is on account of this Lingadharana, this religion is called Lingayat religion and its followers, Lingayats. The Linga concept of Veerashaiva is quite different from the rest of the Shaiva concept. The Linga worn on the body and worshipped by the Lingayats is called Istalinga as against the Stavar Linga worshipped by other Shaivate. The Istalinga is the cosmic and Conscious force hidden in the heart of the individual, but drawn out by the Guru by placing his palm on his head and piercing his sight through his eyes. The Guru thus places it, the supreme consciousness, in his (disciple’s) Bhava, Prana and Tanu. The one Linga is called Bhava Linga, Prana Linga and Istalinga. The installation of the one Linga in three places Ista, Prana and Bhava is called Ayata, Swayata and Sannihita respectively. The Linga on the body of the disciple is called Istalinga, that on the Prana is Prana Linga and the one in Bhava is Bhavalinga. The Ista, Prana and Bhava are the three bodies the gross, the subtle etc. the concept of Linga and the process and teachnique of Linga Dixa from the cardinal principles of Veerashaivism. Lingadharana Chandrika of Nandikeshwara explains clearly the whole process. This is one of the basic texts pertaining to Veerashaism in Sanskrit. Prof.M. R. Sakhare is of the opinion that Veerashaivaism is quite distinct from the Hinduism on account of Istalingadharana, non-observance of Varnashramadharma, etc. he has therefore, selected this test which as published by the Jangamvadimath of Banaras was incomplete and not critically edited. He has edited the text with the help of this printed one and two other manuscripts. He has added very valuable translation and notes at the end. For the present we have taken only the Introduction of this work which gives the history and the Philosophy of Lingayat religion in detail.

The ‘Introduction is an independent thesis by itself. Since Lingayatism has its roots in Shaivism, he traces the history of Shaivism in all its phases. The roots of Shaivism go back to Dravidian Civilization which according to the author was not inferior to Aryan Civilization. He has pointed out that the doctrine of transmigration of soul is as much Dravidian. Having traced the roots of Shaivism in the Dravidian civilization and called it a Dravidian Religion, he has further given the development of Shaivism in Vedic times and later periods. These chapters throw flood of light on several issues pertaining to Shaivism, Dravidian and Aryan Civilization etc.

Agamas from the basis of Shaivism. An exhaustive treatment of the Shivagamas finds a place here. He has shown that Shaivagamas and Shaivism preced Vaishnavagmas and Vaishnavism.

He has skillfully culled out of the Agamas and given different schools of Shaivism. The heart of the thesis lies in tracing the origin of Lingayat Religion and proving that Basaweshwara was the founder of the religion in view of the prophetic turn he gave to Virashaivism, new interpretation of Shatsthala and social revolution, he brought about. He has also said in unmistakable words that as the Lingayat Religion accepts the authoritativeness of the Agamas but not the Vedas and discords Varnshramadharma which is the basis of Hinduism, it is not a part of Hinduism. Dr. Radhakrishnan in his forward says that ‘This is taking a somewhat narrow view of the spirit of Hinduism’.

In the next chapter the philosophy and practices for the Lingayat Religion are dealt in detail.

The whole thesis is the result of life time’s study of the great scholar.

Prof. M. R. Sakhare was one of the founder members of the K.L.E Society. He was a Sanskrit Professor at the Lingaraj College, Belgaum. In addition to his enormous work in the field of education in developing the G. A. High School, Lingaraj College, he has done his great Scholarly work. He was truly a dedicated soul.

The Karnataka university is supremely happy in bringing out this work by Prof. M. R. Sakhre. The University is grateful to the members of the family of late Prof. M. R. Sakhre and to the literary committee of the L.E. Association for having given over exclusive copy right of reprinting the Introductory part of the work, but for which the present venture would not have been possible. Our thanks are also due to Dr. K. Krishnamoorthy, Prof, and Head of the Dept. of Sanskrit, for scrutinizing the press copy and reading the proofs of this work. We are happy to place this work at the hands of the public.

Karnataka University, Dharwad

R. C. Hiremath

Vice Chancellor of Dharwad University

Note: copies of the book available at: Prasaranga, Karnataka University, Dharwad, Karnataka, India.

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