Wednesday, December 6, 2023

A Progressive twelfth Century Faith In India – Progressive Hindu Dialogue

By Shivanand Kanavi

A prolific efflorescence of Bhakti literature emerged within the type of vachana – brief poetic prose or free verse poetry – in easy Kannada within the twelfth century, in North Karnataka. To this present day about 12,000 vachanas of this era authored by over 100 non secular seekers and saints, together with over 30 girls have been found. These poet saints known as themselves ‘Sharanas’. They hailed from virtually all lessons of society, professions, and castes – together with outcastes or “untouchables”. 

They declared that they’re a brand new neighborhood to which all those that believed and practiced sure foundational tenets might be a part of on initiation. 

These tenets included: 

1) Equality and mutual respect of all Sharanas it doesn’t matter what their previous caste or neighborhood. 

2) Equality amongst seekers, the Sharanas, with none gender discrimination. 

3) Type of worship was private and personal to an emblem they known as ‘Ishta Linga’. It was primarily meditative and yogic. The Ishta Linga may very well be carried in your physique like a pendant and worshipped anyplace. Therefore the identify Lingayata — one who worships his private Ishta Linga.

4) They thought-about all types of labour and technique of livelihood (‘kayaka’) a type of worship, supplied the sincere earnings from labour (kayaka) are primarily used for social redistribution, known as ‘dasoha’. 

5) They pressured the significance of being a compassionate and socially productive human being on this world and on this life. They ignored the opposite worlds of heaven and hell, in addition to theories of rebirth.

6) By asserting the significance of socially productive and sincere labour as a type of worship to realize non secular enlightenment, Sharanas additionally ignored renunciation and ascetic ‘sanyasa’ because the dominant and most popular path to enlightenment, as preached by the prevailing types of Vedic, Agamic, Buddhist, Jain, and different traditions. Thereby they confirmed a path to non secular enlightenment for all strange house owners, farmers, merchants, artisans and all working women and men.

7) They insisted on consuming collectively amongst Sharanas defying the taboos imposed by caste discrimination, as they have been all spiritually equal.

They lucidly expressed their views within the individuals’s language of the area, Kannada, on their non secular pursuit. They primarily conceived their god as private and formless. In addition they critically and incisively commented profusely on prevalent precepts and practices akin to: meaningless Vedic and Agamic rituals, animal sacrifices throughout such rituals, and intermediation of monks in any type of worship. In addition they opposed rituals related to animism and polytheism. They rejected temple-based worship dominated by monks and rituals.

They opposed discrimination in opposition to girls within the non secular area. They broke the Brahminical taboos which regarded girls as inferior and unfit for non secular self-realisation, due to their pure organic capabilities of menstruation and youngster start. 

Critics of formality

The Sharanas – additionally known as ‘Vachanakaras‘ – not solely ridiculed the Karma Kanda or Vedic and Agamic rituals of yajnahomahavana, animal sacrifice and elaborate temple worship, however in addition they confronted all these Vedantins and Advaitins who merely spoke of the summary excessive falutin concepts of atma-brahma however blatantly practised caste and gender discrimination. Vachanakaras continuously known as such hypocrites as ‘vagadvaitins (‘advaitins solely in phrases’).’

Among the many Vachanakaras of twelfth century, those who stand out with their incisive commentary are Basavanna (1105–1167) and his contemporaries, Allama Prabhu and Akka Mahadevi. Many different Sharanas, over 100, additionally contributed to creating the brand new ethos and the brand new neighborhood’s norms in addition to its metaphysics.

What they advocated in phrases in addition to deeds was spiritually liberating and attracted a lot of working individuals of all castes together with ‘untouchables’, artisans, farmers, merchants, and a few enlightened Brahmins as effectively. 

(This text courtesy The Wire, April 2023 version)

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