Virasaiva Scriptures: - The Virasaiva consider the four Vedas, the hundred Upanishads, the nineteen Smritis, the eighteen Puranas, the eighteen Upapuranas and the two epics as their scriptural authorities in so far as they relate to Lingadharana and other Virasaiva observances. But the chief authorities of the Virasaivas are the celebrated twenty-eight Sivagamas. The twenty-eight Sivagamas are: - (1) Kamikagama, (2) Yogajagama, (3) Chintyagama, (4) Karanagama, (5) Ajitagama, (6) Diptagama, (7) Sukshamagama, (8) Sahasragama, (9) Amsumadagama, (10) Suprabhodagama, (11) Vijayagama, (12) Visvesagama, (16) Rauravagama, (17) Makutagama, (18) Vimalagama, (19) Chendrajnanagama, (20) Bimbagama, (21) Prodgitagama, (22) Lalitagama, (23) Siddhagama, (24) Santagama, (25) Sarvoktagama, (26) Paramesvaragama, (27) Kiranagama and (28) Vatulagama. In these twenty-eight Sivagamas, the Purva or anterior portions relate to other Saivas and the uttara or ulterior portion relate to other Saivas and the uttara or ulterior portion relate to Virasaivas. Where the Ashtavarana (the eight environments), the Panchachara (the five religious observances) and the Shatsthala (the six steps to Salvation) are treated in the said twenty-eight Sivagamas, it is to be understood that those portions relate to Virasaiva religion Yogajagama states: -
To show that the twenty-eight Sivagamas are the special authorities of the Virasaiva (of course, in common with the Suddha-Saivas of the Tamil country), one of the Agamas states: -
There is a Bhashya of the Virasaivas on the Brahmasutras by Srikarasivacharya on the Shatsthala side the existence of which was not known by a portion of the Virasaivas for some time. An attempt is now made to publish it. The Brahmasutra Bhashya by Srikantha Sivacharya was hitherto considered as the exclusive Virasaiva Bhashya. But now the Suddhasaivas of the Tamil country claim it as their Bhashya, as it does not treat of Shatsthala which is the distinctive tenet of the Virasaivas. But Nilakanthanaganathacharya has written a treatise on the Bhashya of Srikanthasivacharya which is entitled Kriyasara in which Lingadharana and other subjects kindered with Virasaiva tenet are treated which shows that Srikantha Bhashya is a Virasaiva Bhashya. But whatever this may be, as the exclusive worship of Siva is the peculiar characteristic of the Virasaivas and as Srikantha Bhashya treats of the superiority of God Siva to the exclusion of other deities, the said Bhashya will have to be considered as the Virasaiva Bhashya. But I learn that the Suddhasaivas of the Tamil country are as rigid as the Virasaivas of the Kanarese country in worshipping one God Siva to the exclusion of other gods. If this be so, then Srikantha Bhashya becomes the common property of both the Suddhasaivas of the Tamil country and the Virasaivas of the Kanarese country. The Virasaivas have also what are called Bhashya which are not Bhashyas on Brahmasutras like the Srikara and Srikantha Bhashya. They are termed Bhashya, because they are discourses on various Virasaiva subjects. They are the following: - Somanatha Bhashya or Basavarajiya, Amritesvara Bhashya, Sarvesvara Bhashya, Ganabhashyaratnamala and other works. Besides these, there are in Kannada, a class of literature called Vachanas. These are existing and enthusiastic lectures delivered by Basavesvara of Kalyan and his innumerable disciples to the multitude. These vachanas treat of Shatsthala philosophy in pithy, concise and fiery style based on the twenty-eight. These vachanas are unlimited. The vachanas of Prabhudevaru himself is stated to be twice eighty crores in number. This is the number given by many authors. Extracts from these "vachanas" are quoted in many subsequent works. The subsequent works state that these "vachanas" have always been recited by Acharyas to the Bhaktas in every time from the time of Basavesvara. Besides these "Vachanas", there have been innumerable works from the early times to the present day which have been written in classic style on the subject of Virasaiva religion as well as on other matters. These have been written in Sanskrit, Kannada and Telugu by Virasaiva authors. The names of the authors and their works together with other details will be give further on in chronological order under a separate number. Fearing that this essay will become lengthy, I have stopped here. My appeal to the Virasaivas is that vast as the Virasaiva literature is, they should feel proud of it and try to do something for its preservation and development.
The system of Lingadharana: - The distinctive characteristic of the Virasaiva religion is the wearing of Linga on the body, i.e., Lingadharana. Is this system quite in accordance with Vedas, Upanishads, Smritis, Puranas and other orthodox authorities? According to Virasaivas, Lingadharana is Vedic, Upanishadic, Smritic, Puranic and Tantric. All the Virasaivic works quote passages from the Vedas &c., in support of the system of Lingadharana. One of the chief authorities which deals with the subject of Lingadharana is the celebrated Lingadharanachandrika. This work is about 500 years old. Its author is Nandivarasivayogi. In this work, it is learnedly shown that a number of passages in Vedas and Upanishads explain Lingadharana and that there are innumerable passages in Puranas which describe the tenet of Lingadharana. Extracts from the celebrated twenty-eight Sivagamas which are the special authorities of the Virasaivas are also given in this work in support of the system of Lingadharana. This work is now printed in Devanagiri character with the commentary of Sri Sivakumarasarma Pandit of Benares. The printing has been done at the instance of Sri Rajesvara Sivayogi of Visvaradhya Mutt at Benares. The whole Virasaiva world is deeply indebted to this Sivayogi for the great service he did to the Virasaiva religion. I quote some passages which are given in the said Lingadharanachandrika in support of Lingadharana, for the information of the readers of the Light of Truth. The passage in Rig-Veda which is said to import Lingadharana is: -
The passages in Yajurveda which purport that Rudra's body shines in the sinless &.c, is:-
The passage in Taittiriyopanishat of Krishna Yajurveda which signifies that the Dharana of Brahma should be one that cannot be declined &c., is: -
The passage again, in Rig Veda, which gives the idea and that this hand is God &c., is: -
This, according to the said work, refers to the practice, among the Virasaivas, of worshipping Lingam on the palm of the left hand. The passages in Svetasvatara Upanishat which purports that Siva resides in the face, head, and neck of all living creatures and that He pervades everything, is: -
This refers to the Antarlingadharana and Bahirlingadharana of the Virasaivas. Antarlingadharana is contemplating Siva in the heart. Bahirlingadharana is wearing the gross Linga on the body. The passages in Brahmopanishat, which purports that in preference to Bahissutram (which is Istalingam worn on the outside body), the sutram of Brahmabhava (which is Bhavalingam meditated in the heart) should be worn, is: -
Gautamasmirti speaks of Lingadharana as follows: -
Lingapurana says that Brahma, Vishnu and other Devas wear Linga on their bodies: -
Padmapurana specifies the kinds of boxes in which the Linga should be enshrined and worn: -
In the dialogue between Bhishma and Dharma in Mahabharata the following passage occurs in which the question whether alms should be given to Brahmins wearing Linga or to those that do not wear Linga, is discussed: -
Thus it has been shown that the system of Lingadharana is in accordance with Vedas, Upanishats, &c., and is sanctioned by them. But the detailed description of Lingadharana is given elaborately and extensively in Sankara Samhita of Skandapurana and in the Saivagamas. Besides these, there are innumerable works by individual authors in Sanskrit such as Anadi-Virasaiva Sangraha, Siddhanta Sikhamani, Virasaivananda Chandrika, Shatstalatilaka and other works and in Kannada, Virasaivamrita purana, Shatstalasiddhanta, Cheturacharya purana and other works. It is quite inexpedient to enumerate all those works in this small essay. It is unfortunate that the present day English educated Virasaivas are not taking the least trouble to translate some of these works into English so that the tenets of the Virasaiva religion which at present remain unknown to the world may be made known to all. With this humble remark, I close this Study II.
Antiquity: - Some people think that the Virasaiva Religion was newly founded by Basavesvara of Kalyan. It must be understood that Basavesvara is only a reformer of the Virasaiva Religion and not the founder. It is nowhere said either in Basavapurana or in any of the Virasaiva works that Basavesvara founded the Virasaiva Religion. On the other hand, according to Agamas, the origin of the Virasaiva Religion is thus given. It is said that Brahma wanted to create the world. He could bot do it as he did not known how to do it. He asked Siva to show him the way of creating the world. Then Siva created out of his chit the five Acharyas viz: Renuka, Daruka, Gantakarna, Gajakarna and Visvakarna. The descendants of these Acharyas and all those that have been converted by them and their descendants are called the Virasaivas of the Aprakritas. After this, Brahma created, out of Prakriti i.e. matter, the four castes and other living things. They are called Prakritas. This is, of course, a story. But this serves to show that the belief among the Virasaivas is not that Basavesvara founded their religion, but that their religion is existing from the beginning. There is also the evidence of the Vedas, Upanishads, Smritis, Puranas, Ithihasas and Agamas to show that the Virasaiva Religion existed at the time of their compilation, because they suggest and treat of Lingadharana which is the distinctive characteristic of the Virasaiva Religion. Besides these, there is some extraneous evidence to show unequivocally that the Virasaiva Religion is a very ancient religion, that it was reformed by Basavesvara of Kalyan, but not founded by him and that it existed at the time Sri Sankaracharya and prior to him. Professor H. H. Wilson, in his Religions of India, says that Sankara Digvijaya was written by one Anandagiri an immediate disciple of Sri Sankaracharya, and this was a work of the time of Sankaracharya. In this work, he says, that five divisions of Saivas are mentioned with whom Sankara disputed. They are Saivas, Raudras, Ugras, Bhaktas and Jangamas. Their respective characteristics are also given. The characteristic of Jangamas according to the work, was the carrying of the figure of Linga on the head. Professor, H. H. Wilson says that while all the other divisions have now disappeared, the Jangamas only continue, showing that the present day Jangamas are the same as the Jangamas of the time of Sri Sankaracharya. This shows that the Virasaiva Religion existed at the time of Sri Sankaracharya. In this connection there is another important thing to be noted. Professor H. H. Wilson says that the works that were used as scriptural authorities by the above named divisions of Saivas were Siva Rahasya, Rudrayamala Tantra and other works showing that the said works were in existence at the time of Sankaracharya. Siva Rahasya treats of Lingadharana and other matters kindered to it. This also shows that Virasaiva Religion existed at the time of Sri Sankaracharya. It is known that the 63 Purathanas were prior to Sri Sankaracharya. According to Chennabasavapurana, a work of 14th Century A.D., some of these 63 Purathanas were Virasaivas. They are: -
(1) Ahappageyaru (In Tamil – Iyarpagai Nayanar).
(2) Chirutoneyandaru (In Tamil – Sirutonda Nayanar).
(3) Kaligananatharu (In Tamil – Gananatha Nayanar).
(4) Murkhanainaru (In Tamil – Murkha Nayanar).
(5) Perumalugaru (In Tamil – Idangudi Nayanar).
(6) Marabhaktaru (In Tamil – Ilayangudi Mara Nayanar).
(7) Chendakesigalu (In Tamil – Chendeswara Nayanar).
(8) Siriyala Setti (In Tamil – Sirutonda Nayanar).
This shows that the Virasaiva Religion existed at the time of the Purathanas. According to Vrishabhendra Vijaya, in Kannada, an old work, some of the Purathanas ae described as giving alms to Jangamas. As I have already shown above, the word Jangama is applied to the Saivas who carry the figure of the Linga on the head. This also shows the existence of the Virasaivas at the time of the Purathanas. I hear that the word Jangama is also used in one or two places in Peria Purana. If it be so, it will add strength to my remark. Saint Tirumular who is one of the 63 Purathanas treats of Shatsthala in his works. Shatsthala is a tenet of the Virasaivas. This also shows that the Virasaiva Religion existed at the time of the Purathanas. Tayumanavar Svamigal makes use of the worlds Guru Linga and Jangama in his works. But, as he is a recent personage, he will not be of avail to prove the antiquity of the Virasaiva Religion. On a consideration of all the circumstances mentioned above, I am somewhat forced to think that the birth place of Virasaiva Religion is the Tamil country, that the members of the Virasaiva Religion first developed it in the Tamil Country. Be this as it may, what is it that makes some people think that the Lingadharana Religion is a recent religion and it was founded by Basavesvara of Kalyan, in spite of the existence of Vedas, Smritis, &c., which treat of Lingadharana. People seem to have been dazzled by the suddenness and brilliancy of Basavesvara's grand work of reform. They think that the system of Lingadharana is an innovation introduced by him. This is a great mistake. It may be that Basavesvara introduced many reforms into the existing Lingadharana religion, or he might have put into practice many things that existed in theory prior to him, such as regarding all men who were Sivabhaktas as equals, kindness to all living things &c. But it cannot be that he invented the wearing of Linga on the body. It exists from the early times. This mistaken idea about the time of the Virasaiva Religion is due to want of study of Virasaiva Literature as well as other works on the subject. The present day English educated Virasaiva also have not taken trouble to translate Virasaiva works into English and many of them have not studied the works in original even. This is a great misfortune of the Virasaiva Religion. Much activity is going on among the Virasaivas of the Karnataka country. Virasaiva Conferences are held every year. Virasaiva Boarding houses are established. Grand Funds for the promotion of the English education of the Virasaivas are started. But of what avail are all these? Things are not done with right earnestness. The only substantial and good works that may be considered to have been with real love for the religion are those executed by the late Varad Mallappa of Sholapur, the late Lingappa Gayappa Sirsinge, the Late Virasangappa of Mysore, the living Kumaraswami of Hunagal and the publication of the old Virasaiva classic works by the living Mr. N. R. Karibasava Sastri of Mysore. The only useful work that the English educated Virasaiva can do for the religion is printing grand works such as Sreekara Bashya and other works and translating excellent books such as Siddhanta Sikamani. To do this a great amount of labour and self sacrifice is necessary.
[The expression Guru, Linga, Jangama is a technical one. They are the forms of God, worshipping which God shows his grace. Guru is one's Acharya, and Jangama are Sivabhaktas and they have to be worshipped as God Himself. These both form the Jangama or moveable Form. The Stavara or immovable Form in the Sivalinga which has to be worshipped also as Siva Himself. This is the subject of the 12 sutras of Sivajnanabodham.
The Virasaiva of the Karnataka Country are greatly thankful to the promoters of the Saiva Siddhanta Conference for starting a movement in which the greatness and the all usefulness of the Saiva Religion is made known to the world in the course of which the existence and usefulness of the hitherto unknown Virasaiva Religion is also made known by its members being allowed to deliver lectures in the conferences and its members being allowed to contribute articles on Virasaivism to the well known and widely circulated Saivic Organ called the Light of Truth. When Saiva Siddhanta Conference was held at Ramnad, the Saivic promoters were kind enough to elect a Virasaiva of prominence as president and to permit a number of Virasaivas to deliver lectures on Virsaivism. But among the Virasaivas themselves, the work of Saivic progress is not satisfactory. While the Saivas of the Tamil country are doing all their best to improve the cause of Saiva Religion in every way, by starting a journal in English in which all about Saiva Religion is written, by translating excellent Saiva works in Tamil and Sanskrit into English, by writing lives of Tamil Saiva Saints in Tamil and English and by doing various other things, the Virasaivas of the Karnataka Country remain doing nothing in the spiritual field though they are doing some feeble work in the worldly sphere. There are innumerable classic works in Sanskrit, Telugu and Kannada which require to be translated into English by doing which only the existence and usefulness of a specific branch of Saivism can be made known to the world. The well-to-do and educated Virasaivas are wanting in fire to strive for all these things. This is the misfortune of Virasaivism. Be this as it may. Having said so much about the condition of Virasaivism at present and having offered sincere thanks to the promoters of Saiva Movement for their kindness in giving encouragement to the pitiable members of Virasaiva Religion to utter something in the Conferences &c., I now beg permission to come to my subject. The subject that I have chosen for delivering today is what is called Ashatavarana. The text of the Virasaivas consists of three things viz: - Shatsthala (six steps to salvation), Ashtavarana (the eight protections) and Panchachara (the five religious observances). These three things are really not separate from each other. In the Shatsthala, the Ashtavarana and Panchachara are embodied. The Shatsthala is peculiar workmanship in which everything is included. In it, the Karma Kanda, the Jnana Kanda, the Yoga Kanda and Bhakti Kanda are included. In it, the 101 sthalas from Pinda to Jnanasurya are included. In it, the five elements and the Atma are included. Within it, the Pindanda and Brahmanda are shut up. There is nothing beyond it. It is Brahma, appearing to the world in six forms on account of vibration of the Sakti which is connected with Siva (Brahma) as the smell with the flower, as the taste with milk and as coldness with the moon's rays. There is much to say about Shatsthala. But as my subject is Ashtavarana and as the time within which I shall have to finish my lecture is short, I shall have to satisfy myself with confining myself to saying a few words about Ashtavaranas. As I have already stated, this Ashtavarana is not separate from Shatsthala. When a Bhakta is practising shatstha, he meets with the downward opposition (Pravritti) of Saktis which prevents him from ascending towards Mukti. So, according to the prescriptions, he makes use of Bhaktis which resist Saktis and helps to make upward progress (Nivritti). In this struggle, various kinds of temptations of the world come and besiege the Bhakta and trouble him. To be undisturbed by these, the Bhakta is directed to make use of what are called Ashtavaranas which are Guru, Linga, Jangama, Vibhuti, Rudraksha, Padodaka, Prasada and Panchakshara. These Ashtavaranas are like the eight fortresses which protect the Bhakta from the siege of worldly temptations. Some account of the greatness of these Ashtavaranas, I give below in brief.
(1) Guru: - The Guru's shape is the source of meditation. The Guru's feet are the source of worship. The Guru's words are the source of Mantra. The Guru's kindness is the source of Salvation. Guru is father. Guru is mother. Guru is God. There is nothing beyond Guru. A sathbhakta should make 'ashtanga pranamam' before the Guru on the land and offer prayers to him. The sixty-eight Thirthas, the seven oceans, the eight mountains, the planet and stars and the thirty six tattvas are all in the various limbs of the Guru. The Sivasasanas say 'Naguroradhikam'.
(2) Linga: - All the movable and immovable things in the world and the three worlds shine in the midst of Sivalinga. There is nothing beyond Lingam. Linga is indestructible. It is free from vicissitudes. It is indivisible. There is no other thing which is like it. If one worships Sivalinga in any manner, he is sure to get Salvation. As long as there will be no death, as long as there will be no old age and diseases, as long as the senses are not weakened, so long one should worship Linga.
(3) Jangama: - Jangama devoid of shape and non-shape. It is free from desire and non-desire. It is beyond Nada, Bindu and Kala. It has traversed beyond Veda, Sastra and other things. It has no beginning, middle or end. It is eternal bliss. A Bhakta should worship this Jangama and offering Prasada of this Jangama to Ishta Linga, should swallow it. Brahmanas are Gods on earth. Jangamas are Rudras on earth. Of these two, Jangamas are great.
(4) Vibhuti: - Vibhuti prepared from the Cow dung of cows known as Nandi, Subhadri, Surabhi, Susila and Sumani born from the five faces of Siva known as Sadyojata &c., is to be besmeared on the body. If done so, age will be increased. The Vibhuti should be besmeared on head, forehead, neck, shoulders, elbow, wrist, breast, naval, sides and back. The Vibhuti should be besmeared after uttering Panchakshari. Such a person as does so will get all his desires and attain salvation.
(5) Rudraksha: - When Parameswara, at the time of Thripura Samhara, opened his eyes, there fell water from them. From this water, Rudraksha trees were born. If one names these Rudrakshas, he will get the Phala of giving one lakh of cows as alms. If he sees them, he will get double that Phala. If he wears them, he will become Rudra himself. If he wears, according to prescribed rules, Rudrakshas of various kinds from Rudraksha of one face to Rudraksha of fourteen faces, he will get great rewards.
(6) Padodaka: - If Padodaka of Guru, Linga and Jangama is worn on the body, Prarabdhas of previous births such as Sanchita, Agamya &c., will be destroyed. If it is worn on the head, all the catastrophes will be removed. If it is drunk, immediate salvation will be obtained.
(7) Prasada: - A Siva Bhakta should offer all things to Guru, Linga and Jangama and then eat their Sesha. He should not, even out of carelessness, give the said Sesha to place, beasts, water, &c. This Prasada destroys all sins. It is like the Badabanala (inner fire) to the Sea of Sorrow. It burns up poverty. It gives the four kinds of Purusharthas. It gives Sujnana (spiritual knowledge).
(8) Panchakshari: - By uttering Panchakshari, all sins will be destroyed. Death, disease and other things will be destroyed. One will get Salvation. One will be free from the fear of Yaksha, Rakshasa, Pisacha, Graha and Ugrasarpas. When one is on bare ground, when he is on bed, when he walks, when he is on cot, he should not utter Sivamanthra, but should only meditate upon it remaining silent without uttering any words.
Thus, I have stated, in brief, some account regarding the greatness of Ashtavarana. I pray that Almighty God Siva will bless all mankind and all living things and will ever continue to give to our promoters of the Saiva Siddhanta Movement the same firmness of will, vigour of purpose, and undiminishing energy to plod on with their work of Siva Cause. With this, I close my lecture.