SHAIVISM IN KARNATAKA
It is necessary to trace the origin of Shaivism as distinct from Veerashaivism in the context of the religious scenario of Karnataka. However, it is to be noted that both these traditions have a lot in common and are now treated as branches of the same sect. The term Lingayat is used to describe both of them. A rejection of icon worship in temples and wearing an ‘ishTalinga’ on the body may be described as the most salient features of the Veerashaiva sect.
Worship of Shiva and
Shivalinga is a practice that date back to the pre Vedic times and it had a
spread cutting across the length and breadth of the country. Some scholars have
found traces of “linga worship’ in other countries also. In this sense Shaivism
is a very ancient religion. The conflict between the Vaishnavaite and Shaivaite
segments in the Hindu religion also goes back in time for centuries. It is
contended that Shiva worshipped in the form of a linga is essentially a Dravidian
concept. ‘Rudra’ described and venerated amply in the Vedic literature seems to
have evolved in to an all encompassing ‘shiva’ during history. Some seals and
coins found in
Shaiva Siddhanta, Siddha Siddhanta, Shiva Adviata and Kashmira shaiva are some of the important sects of the shaivite faith. Of these ‘shiva advaita’ and ‘vIrashaiva’ are prominent in Karnataka.
Shaivism in this context was present in Karnataka much before the advent of Veerashaivism. It was quite popular during the regimes of Kadambas, Satavahanas, and Pallavas. The Chalukyas of Badami were fervent patrons of Shaivism. Many Shaiva (lakulIsha, pAshupata) temples that are architecturally renowned were built during this period.
Many of the minor cults that thrived in Karnataka both before and after the birth of Veerashaivism were shaivite and worshipped shiva in one form or the other. PAshupata, kApAlika, kALAmukha and nAthapanthis constitute some of these sects. They had religious institutions and royal support all through the history of Karnataka. BaLLigAve, hampi, hAnagal, gadaga, abbalUru and hUli are to be counted as prominent among such places. The seers of these seats wielded a lot of power. Many of these seers were great scholars. ‘kAshmIra shaivism’ does not seem to have a dominant presence in Karnataka.
Panchacharya tradition is an
important segment of the
This in brief is the history of Shaivism with reference to Karnataka. Shaiva and Veerashaiva traditions have amalgamated with one another in modern times even though there is an under current of abiding differences between them.
Further Readings and Links:
1. ‘Vaisnavism, Śaivism, and Minor Religious Systems’, by Bhandarkar, Ramakrishna Gopal,1913, Asian Educational Services, New Delhi.
2. ‘Vaisnava Sects, Saiva Sects, Mother Worship’, by Tattwananda, Swami, 1984, written at Calcutta, (First Revised ed.), Firma KLM Private Ltd.
3. ‘The Concept of Rudra-Śiva Through The Ages’, Chakravarti, Mahadev, 1994, (Second Revised ed.), Motilal Banarsidas, Delhi.
4. ‘History of Shaivism’ by Pranabananda Jash, 1974, published by Roy and Chaudhury.