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KĀYAKA (bread labour): [ಕಾಯಕ]

In the current context the word ‘kāyaka’ refers to any mode of earning one’s livelihood, a job, or an occupation. But the Vachana-writers who coined the word had in their minds also duties, which did not come under occupation or livelihood. To be called kāyaka, the duty or mode of earning must fulfil certain conditions. For example, it must not involve injury, deceit, untruth and other immoral ways or means.

The word refers directly to the physical body (kāya) [ಕಾಯ] and therefore, all are enjoined to earn their livelihood by means of physical labour. If one gives in charity things earned by begging or stealing or cheating, etc., it is against the principle of kāyaka and neither the charity has any moral value, nor does the giver attain any spiritual benefit.

If engaged in kaayaka
one should forget visiting guru;
forget worshiping linga
and ned not bother even if jangama stands waiting.
As kaayaka is Kailaasa
even Amareeshwaralinga is included in kaayaka -Aaydakki Marayya/1520 [1]

Equality in Work (Kayaka)

Being born in whatever caste or gotra
one should have no pollution in ones kaayaka or devotion.
Whatever vow is taken
one should follow it in body, mind and words,
not caring for what others think.
Can one get ones nose cut for the sake of others?
Can one mix inauspicious with auspicious
just because elders say so?
For one who has purity of feeling in action
and divine knowledge filled in his feelings
such bhakta of guru will be
Chennabasavanna Saakshiyaagi
Kamaleshwaralinga himself. -Kannadi Kayakada Ammidevayya/1615 [1]

All kaayaka is one kaayaka..
One vow is as good as another.
If you escape deceit, there is no death.
If you escape vow there is no union.
If you unite like the cuckoo and a crow
then, it’s for sure great hell
O Gangeshwaralinga. - Gangamma/1374 [1]

The doctrine of kāyaka is in a sense a philosophy of economics. Though one must earn one’s bread by honest means, one must not do so with a sense of greed. That is, one must not earn for hoarding for future, or for one’s children or grandchildren. Earning more than necessary is itself a violation of the kāyaka philosophy.

One must earn not only enough for one’s family but for Jangama. If everybody earns, none will be beggars. In fact, no devotee should beg. So by performing kāyaka honestly not only can one be content but also create the social feeling that nobody is going to miss his tomorrow’s bread.

Kāyaka was not just an occupation of an individual or a family – it was also a social service. But this social service was rendered not by any individual or by a family, but by specially appointed persons called Jangama [ಜಂಗಮ]. Some of the principal services rendered by the Jangamas are as follows.

1. Ghaṇṭeya kāyaka [ಘಂಟೆಯ ಕಾಯಕ] (‘bell duty’) : A Jangama by definition is a person who always moves about and having no house of his own, stays in a maṭha [ಮಠ] (monastery). His duty is to get up early in the morning and to wake up people by ringing a bell moving about in the streets. The intention is that people should get up early and do their religious duties before leaving for their respective duties such as farming.

2. Jaṅgina kāyaka [ಜಂಘಿನ ಕಾಯಕ] : If some people are still asleep even after the sun-rise, the Jangama (or another Jangama) may wake up them either by making sounds (like “jung, jung” ) of small bells which he has tied to his left hand for this purpose, or by poking gently a small stick at their body. People offer him food grains in gratitude.

3.hiṭṭina ayya [ಹಿಟ್ಟಿನ ಅಯ್ಯ] or flour Jangama: Around 8-9 a.m. the Jangama visits the houses again in order to ascertain whether people are engaged in their duties or whether they are still in bed. For this service people offer him jowar flour. (He is, therefore, called hiṭṭina ayya [ಹಿಟ್ಟಿನ ಅಯ್ಯ] or flour Jangama). Thus the Jangamas try these soft methods in order to correct and bring about the best in the individual’s, families’ society’s life. But there are people who do not yield to these soft methods and require harsher methods, which are mainly three. While the Jangamas who do the above duties stay in a particular place, the Jangamas who adopt the harsher methods move from place to place (from one village to another village).

4. Tekkeya kāyaka [ತೆಕ್ಕೆಯ ಕಾಯಕ] (“embrace duty”) : The Jangama goes to other villages, stay there in the local maṭha and procure from the local Jangama a list of irreligious people. He stands before the irreligious man’s house even before sunrise and as soon as the door is opened he rushes into the house and embraces a pillar in it. He does not loosen his grip until the irreligious person repents of his sins and promises the guru and elders that he will not do the offence again and would become religious. The sinner is forced to repent and promise because otherwise the Jangama would not bathe, worship and eat. Causing this inconvenience to the Jangama is another offence, which no devotee wilfully does. Therefore, the longer he takes to repent and promise greater his offence becomes.

5. Muḷḷāvigeya kāyaka [ಮುಳ್ಳಾವಿಗೆಯ ಕಾಯಕ]: The irreligious person may heave a sigh of relief at the departure of the Jangama of tekkeya kāyaka and may continue to be immoral and irreligious. But he cannot escape the eyes of the Jangama of muḷḷāvigeya kāyaka. The latter places his feet on two muḷḷāviges (sharp nails which are fixed to two wooden footwears) before sunrise in front of the irreligious person’s house and goes on uttering his name and also simultaneously praying Parashiva to grant him good sense. He is suffering for others’ spiritual upliftment. This results in two things. The irreligious person is insinuated in the public. Secondly, he has to witness the suffering of the Jangama standing on the nailfootwear. Others who watch this begin to advise or hold him responsible for the Jangama’s suffering. Since the Jangama does not take his feet from the nailed footwear, bathe, worship or eat, unless he promises not to continue the self-indulgence he is forced to make and keep promises.

6. Śastrada kāyaka [ಶಸ್ತ್ರದ ಕಾಯಕ] (weapon duty): There are many people who do not keep their promises. In such contexts the Jangama adopts the harshest method he knows called Śastrada kāyaka. He goes to the house of the irreligious person and hangs a sickle tied to a rope to the front wall of his house. He utters his name loudly, and praying Parashiva and the well known saints like Basava and others to give him good sense. He threatens to cut off his own head if the person does not mend his ways. He is again humiliated and may realise that others, especially a Jangama, must not die for his follies.

Thus the kāyaka if carried out seriously is both economically and spiritually beneficial to both the individual and the society.

Importance of work (Kayaka)

Those who are without kaayaka are not devotees.
that which is not truthful and pure is not kaayaka.
Desire is the seed of this world.
Lack of desire is liberation.
Look avva,
it’s not easy with Urilingapeddigalarasa. - 1298[1]

Taking up a vow,
entering into houses of devotees,
giving up kaayaka, and to beg for money and gold
is not the done thing for a good devotee.
That quality is far away from Amareeshwaralinga -Aaydakki Marayya/1524 [1]

Doing a little kaayaka and asking for more in return-
is it truthful kaayaka?
Requesting a little from devotees for more kaayaka
purifies the mind for Amareeshwaralinga. -Aaydakki Marayya/1527 [1]

Begging from others, cajoling them,
pestering them, troubling them
and then offering it to jangama and linga is no good.
Making the body earn it,
making the mind earn it
even if it is just wild leaves and raw fruits,
doing daasohatojangama and linga
by serving jangama who comes to you
tired in body and mind is worship,
holy offering to Chandeswaralinga. -Nuliya Chandayya/1817[1]

Even for a guru
kaayaka gives liberation.
Even for linga
kaayaka removes the quality of being mere sign.
Even for jangama
kaayaka cuts the bond of pretension.
Even guru should serve the living beings.
Even linga should serve the living beings.
Even jangama should serve the living beings.
That is the knowledge of
Channabasavannapriya Chandeswaralinga. -Nuliya Chanayya/1820[1]

Mind should not be disturbed
by the wealth earned through true and pure kaayaka.
For the rightful wage one should work without fail.
If you desire for the wealth apart from the rightful wage
or desire for gold, you lose the merit of service you have done.
Let you go the noose of desire.
For me the happiness ofjangama
is the very life of Chandeswaralinga. -Nuliya Chanayya/1824[1]

If one earns by pure and truthful kaayaka,
remains without deceit, losing the world
and offers daasoha to a true jangama,
in the heart of such a virtuous devotee
Kaamadhuma Dhuleshwara
remains like an imprint. - Maadara Dhulayya/1938[1]

Whatever be the kaayaka, doing one’s kaayaka,
presenting everything to guru, linga and jangama,
receving whatever remains and wishing well-
suffer if you are sick,
howl if you are in pain,
die if death comes.
Why do you need a god for this Laddeya Soma?
-Laddeya Somanna/2025[1]

[1] Number indicates at the end of each Vachana is from the book "Vachana", pub: Basava Samiti Bangalore 2012.

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