12. Guru Basavalinga : The Architect of Ishtalinga
As ordained by Lord Sangamanatha in his dream, after the bath, Basavanna entered the temple before the dawn. He was clad in fresh clothes. Just similar to Buddha who sat under the Banyan tree at Gaya for enlightenment, Basavanna was sitting in the temple and was introvert.
My Lord, I am searching for you
In an immense meditation, I am searching you
Bestow upon me like bee to flower
O Lord Koodala Sangama Deva
Fault is mine, Fault is mine
O God ! O God !
Endowed with knowledge away from all desires
Close to the inner conscience, not worried externally
Like an oyster-shell awaits the pearly drop
With half opened mouth
Even so for your grace I stand and wait,
O Kudala Sangama Deva.
Basavanna is meditating and chanting mantra internally, deep in his heart. On account of knowledge he has not set his organs of sensation to be influenced by anything externally. He is waiting for the graceful blessings of the Mahaguru God, the teacher of the universe as how a shell waits, sailing on the ocean, for a drop of swathi rain. The mind is getting elevated and becoming exuberant. It is venturing to get God's grace and power descended.
Then, suddenly a light appeared. An abounding power was generated in his body when the spherical light took a shape and placed its hands on Basavanna's head. That light, by entering into the entire body, brought in him the immense beatitude.
At the same time the greatest incident occured. Basavanna had been pondered over an important question since many years: "God is formless; how to worship Him ? How to express the devotion ? Man has three organs of sense - the body, speech (language) and mind. One can meditate in mind with the help of a mantra; with the help of Vachanas one can pray. An object is necessary to worship by the hand. If it is in the form- be it a deity in puranas, a plant, an animal or in the form of Mahatmas - it will be against the fact that God is formless and characterless. Then how to give a form to the formless and characterless God ?" One day when Basavanna was in deep thought and looking at the imm- easurable cosmos and the sky, an idea flashed in his mind.
Through deed the existence and personality of the creator can be understood. This world is the deed of the creator. This is globular in shape. Sphere is the symbol of eternity, endless, void and complete. How will it be if the God, who is endless and timeless is depicted in the form of sphere ? When we see it, there will not be a feeling of male or female. And the picturisation of the forms of Brahma-Vishnu-Maheshwara will not have any meaning. The feeling of endless and infinity will come to mind and its' colour can be made black in order to practice Drishtiyoga by concentrating on it. It's bottom can be made flat allowing it to be stable in the palm. It's size can be of a thumb- the size of soul in the heart. What an excellant imagination !?
It is easy to offer ablution, offerings and other eight fold worship. It can be a suitable object for the practice of Trataka-yoga by concentrating on it. In addition, if anyone who wants to worship- be it a man, a woman, a Brahmin, a sweeper- this can be given. If it is decided that whoever wears this they should not practice discrimination on the basis of caste, colour, class, will enable all to come together, forgetting differences under one common umbrella. This will avoid the tedious visit to the pilgrim centres, waste of money and more over the harassment by the priests. One can worship without the dependency on priests. This can be carried by wearing on the body and one can worship it whenever one desires. What a beautiful, pleasing, new and divine imagination....?! With this imagination, Basavanna's spirit flew high. But how to bring this novel idea into practice? The guru Jataveda Muni is from Pashupatha shaiva sect and he belongs to the tradition of worshipping the static linga which is installed the temple. Does he allow to wear it on the body ? If he mistakes me to be an impudent ?
Basavanna had already given a shape to his imagination and kept the Ishtalinga secretely. But he did not have courage to discuss it with the Guru.
Now the time has come to leave the gurukul and start reformations independently. He, deciding within himself to beg for the permission from the creator- God (not from an ordinary Guru), had brought the Ishtalinga (It was called Ishtalinga because it could be worshipped and it fulfills due wishes and also can become due wishing God for the seeker) with him. He was holding it in his hand.
The light, which had taken the shape and kept both hands on Basavanna's head, entered this Istalinga. The light im---- the divine power into the Ishtalinga to make it divine and powerful and blessed Basavanna as Guru and disappeared into the void of voids. When God bestowed upon him the grace, Basavanna became all powerful.* 1
Thus, God as a husband Basava as a wife, Panchakshari as a means, pure devotion *2- as holy water Basavanna became Lord's lovely son and Mahaguru.
Later, Basavanna took the Ishtalinga with great reverence (which had originated and assumed a shape in his heart). *3. He became overwhelmingly happy when the idea, which had flashed in his mind not only took a shape but also could get the God's grace and immense power. Tears of joy rolled down his cheeks. The feeling of blessedness was clearly visible on his face. Brilliance was dancing on his face. He expresses his blissful feelings in these lines.
Thy wideness is the wideness of the world
The wideness of the firmament
Ay, wider still
Thy feet go deeper than the cosmos
Ay, higher still
Thou Linga, who art imperceptible
Past understanding and beyond compare
Did come to my palm in a minimised form.
ಜಗದಗಲ ಮುಗಿಲಗಲ ಮಿಗೆಯಗಲ ನಿಮ್ಮಗಲ !
ಪಾತಾಳದಿಂದತ್ತತ್ತ ನಿಮ್ಮ ಶ್ರೀ ಚರಣ !
ಬ್ರಹ್ಮಾಂಡದಿಂದತ್ತತ್ತ ನಿಮ್ಮ ಶ್ರೀ ಮುಕುಟ !
ಅಗಮ್ಯ ಅಗೋಚರ ಅಪ್ರತಿಮ ಲಿಂಗವೇ ಕೂಡಲ ಸಂಗಮದೇವಯ್ಯ,
ನಿವೇನ್ನ ಕರಸ್ಥಲಕ್ಕೆ ಬಂದು ಚುಳುಕಾದಿರಯ್ಯ !
Bestowed by Shree guru,
And by the union of hand and forehead
He brought the Pranalinga to
The palm with complete understanding
Without being perturbed by inner and outer things
By trust and pride on the linga I bathed in happiness
I enjoy by accepting this Linga O! Lord Kudala Sangama Deva.
The Sadguru has placed the invaluable Linga,
An impossible to Veda and vedanta, in my palm.
Sadguru has brought the indivisible Linga,
Impenetrable by the Omkar and the beauty to the palm.
And has brought an Absolute linga to the palm
Which can't be sensed by mind and speech.
Now I am saved, my ambition is fulfilled
O! Lord Koodala Sangama Deva
Basavanna's marvellous dream had come true3.
"Invisible object has rendered itself on my palm
Joyously I play and sing
I behold it till I am satisfied
I worship you wholeheartedly
O Lord Kudala Sangama Deva.
Both, the source of knowledge, that is all pervading God and the supreme light in the lotus of heart have united together and graced Basavanna's palm. This has brought in him a tremendous joy.
O Linga, the source of knowledge and omniscient
You are the supeme light glowing in the lotus of my heart.
You are the companion to grace my palm.
And I have fastened you in my eyes, O Lord Kudala Sangama Deva.
He places it on his palm and rejoices. Basavanna's ambition was not of a recent one. It had taken a shape since his childhood. It was crystalised some 12 years back and had pervaded all over his body. Now it is fulfilled.
I was waiting just like a
Wife waits for her companion
With her heart open, graced
With meditation, with the lamp
Of knowledge lighted amidst
The calmness with the west door open
My ambition was fulfilled
When you graced the throne of my heart
The worries which were brewing since
Last twelve years are vanished
I am saved as Kudala Sangama Deva
Has bestowed his grace upon me."
This incident is an epoch making. This has brought Basavanna the enlightment and also crystallised the concept of Ishtalinga. This has transformed Basavarasa into Basavanna of Lord Almightly-Basavalinga. Moreover, this is an important phase in Basavanna's life. Because Basavanna is about to step into the arena of revolution with Lord Sangama as his supporter, guide and meditation on Lord Koodala Sangama Deva as his companion. This is a stage of psychological transformation too. By rejecting the worship of other gods except Shiva, he had embraced the worship of single deity giving an end to polytheism. Now, he is moving from worship of single deity towards the infinite dimension of monotheism and the worship of formless. He has realised that God is not within the four walls of the temple at Koodala Sangama but He is omnipresent and omnipotent. And he is convinced that:
"Linga is invaluable, immeasurable and invisible
Linga is independent with no begining and ends
Linga is eternally pure
It is not born from the womb
O! Kudala Sangama Deva".
Thus, with his own achievement Basavanna got the grace of God and became Mahaguru. There was God's will behind all his works, The poet Harihara reveals this in the following lines.
Worry not my son I come along with you Basava.
I promise you, I will come with you Basava.
My son, the treasure of friendship,
I will follow you my wise son
I just appear if you think of me,
I respond if you just call me
I will be in your mind, hand and the body.
I will stop if you stop and walk if you walk
I will come where ever you go and speak as you speak
Come on ! march ahead my son Basavanna
Become the Lord of this earth and my lovely Basavanna !!
Basavanna thus had the complete blessings of the creator. These lines show clearly that the God was with Basavanna as a companion all along his work.