The liberated individual soul is therefore a divine ‘seer-will’ who belongs to the supra-mental region ‘where to will is to create, to think is to see.’ In that region will and seeing are one. Therefore when he has the sight and lives in the truth consciousness, his will becomes the spontaneous law of the truth; in his acts also he becomes one with all beings. In a word, he becomes the divine Hero who has that sublime trust in the Supreme Power that guides the universe, who has that high audacity of the human soul to wrestle with the Infinite and to realize the impossible, who has that wise and warrior confidence in its ultimate destiny which mark the great innovators and renovators. To create such a race of divine heroes is the one end and aim of Virashaivism; it has created many more in the past. In this lies its speciality and significance, its appeal and importance.
In practice, as in theory, Vedanta and Agamanta widely differ. As a method of discipline Vedanta is more intellectual. It anchors on discrimination and philosophical reflection which ultimately presents the truth of identity. It presupposes complete freedom from the working and the functioning of the lower triple – physical, vital and mental. Its practice teaches us, in one word, the final and total withdrawal of our being from all the aspects of life to enjoy the poise in luminous Silence. Agamanta, on the other hand, presupposes close touch with the informant Silence, but it implies more. It saturates our being with the movements of the dynamic Divine in its cosmic and supra-cosmic expression. Dynamic spirituality reveals to us the secrets of the Divine ‘in its irresistible power, in its absorbing beauties, in its joyful movement and in its ever fresh and ever creative life.’ Nay, it allows us the privilege of enjoying not as a remote observer, but as an intimate partaker of these spiritual privileges and genial currents of the soul.
In the method of discipline, the Agamanta differs from the Vedanta in insisting on the psychological opening of our whole being. For the sake of the psychological opening of our whole nature, the Agamas recognize the importance of the transcendent Will, impersonal and super-conscient, and seek and affiliation of our will to it. With this affiliation, individual will is redeemed from its inertia and imperfection and can feel its identification with the divine will. This identification makes the individual a swiftly sensitive and readily responsive receptacle of the inflowing divine Energy, with the result that the individual becomes an effective and powerful agent of the Divine Life and expression. The Tantras and the Agamas do not regard Prakriti a barrier to the expression of the Divine Life; matter can be made a fine instrument of supra-mental expression. The truth of this statement shall be clear when we consider the theory of evolution as propounded by the Agamas.
Of the facts about evolution, and obviously one of the most important facts, is that it tends to produce values. The most reasonable hypothesis then is that values are not accidental by products but integral to the process of evolution. But this tendency to produce value needs an explanation. Theory of ’emergent evolution’ sponsored by Professor S. Alexander and Professor O. Lloyd Morgan is meant to satisfy this query as well as intended to meet the difficulties which the older theories of evolution encountered in connection with the facts of the coming into existence of specially new qualities and values. This new theory holds that life, mind and consciousness are not the mere resultants of prior conditions, but ’emerge’, all of a sudden, unforeseen by any human eye in the course of evolution. This theory of emergent evolution may be welcomed more as a descriptive formula than as a definite principle.
It is to the credit of the Tantras and the Agamas that they have satisfactorily explained the theory of evolution. They differ from the Emergent Evolutionists in proceeding from the subtle to the gross, from the finer to the coarse. The finer cannot emerge from the gross rather the crude is the finer restrained in its complete expressions. Evolution is really a descent, it is down-ward movement. It is not that life, mind and consciousness emerge or evolve out of matter, but it is the Spiritual Force that in its downward movement exhibits these different grades of energy emerging in the course of evolution. Life and mind are the finer manifestation of the creative Energy of Shakti, but not of crude matter, for matter indeed is the arrested by Energy and suspension of its creative flow because of the dominance of inertia. If by the principle of redistribution the whole setting of life is changed and the crudeness and the inertia which hinder the free expression of life and delight be overcome, then life may show emergence into finer expressions, into the luminous expression of Sattva and the delightful vibration of Rajas, together with the calm equilibrium of Tamas.
Under the ingression of the Divine Shakti fine integration are formed through life in society, but the higher and the finer emergence of life through family, society and humanity has not yet attained complete spirituality. For life in this stage is to overcome the restraint and obstruction of unconscious matter and therefore cannot reveal full spiritual spontaneity and freedom, and the super-conscious will, if allowed to have the its free and full play with an affiliation of the individual will, is powerful enough to counteract successfully the resistance offered by unconscious matter. Matter is indeed energy checked in is creative flow because the dominance of Tamas. If humanity succeeds in removing this check through the inflow of the Divine Shakti the emergence of the supra-mental life through nature shall not be utopian. But the emergence of this supernal Life implies an infinite labour on the part of humanity whose hand, by dint of supreme activity and stupendous sacrifice, has to break through the stony obstacles of unconscious matter till it disappears into radiation.
Virashaivism which is a phase of the Agamanta is at once a faith and a philosophy. As a faith it inculcates the adoration of the Absolute in the form of Linga which is really the symbol of the Infinite Truth. Hence the name of Lingayatism. In this faith, the Lingayat blends harmoniously the spiritual devotion of the Bhagavata with the transcendent wisdom of the Upanishads with is stress on the Divine abstractness. He agrees with the Upanishadic seer when he says that the Linga conceived in Infinite Truth in its abstractness is Atyatisthat-dashangulam, that is, Linga is the super-cosmic Infinite; and he concedes to the truth of the Bhagavata Bhakta when he declares that the Linga, conceived as the symbol of the ultimate Reality with its form oval and colour blue-black having glazing splendour, is made captive in the ten fingers of its votary. For at the time of worship, the Linga is placed at the palm of the left hand with a canopy formed by the right hand so that it appears to be a captive in the hands of its votary, because of this sincere surrender and intuitive faith. If the cultures of the head and the heart respectively belong to the Upanishadic and Puranic literature, the culture of the hand is a distinctive feature of the Lingayat literature. Since creation springs from Eternal Hand and since it (creation) is an act of the Divine Will Virashaivism essays to transform the hand into Prospero’s magic wand, by transferring the seat of the soul from head and heart to the hand. Those who hesitate to accept the truth of this state need only look to the experiment of Prof. Callegaris, who has discovered three communicating discs in the human body and one of which he has placed in the hand. Or to return to occultism which forms the sanctuary of the Ancient Wisdom, occultism maintains that the Divine Aura encompasses all having beings and flows freely and spontaneously through the finger tips of the human hands.
Now it remains for Virashaivism as a spiritual discipline to found a synthesis of the Infinite, the universal and the individual Divine respectively revealed by the transcendent spirituality of the Upanishads, the concrete spirituality of the Bhagavat and the dynamic spirituality of the Agamas, Since these three centers of divinity have their corresponding points in body, Virashaivism with its bold and penetrating insight has ascertained three definite localities in body which go by the name of Shira-sthala, Ura-sthala, and Kara-sthala – the head-station, the heart-station and the hand-station. The Infinite Divine has a locus in the head and is termed as Bhava-linga; the universal Divine is situated in the heart and is called Prana-linga; the individual Divine has its seat in the hand and is therefore addressed as Ishta-linga. Ishtalinga is the individual Divine extending itself in the realm of eventualities. It fulfills what is contained in the truth, what works out in the possibilities reflected by the mind,what appears to us as the fact objectively realized. Prana-linga is the universal Divine which takes its stand in the possibilities. It has behind it the freedom of the infinite and brings it in us as a background for the determination of the finite. Every action in the world therefore seems to emerge from a balancing and clashing of various possibilities. Bhava-linga is the infinite Divine which sees the truth in itself, the truth in its becoming, in its essence. It contains all that is in the Idea comprehensively, not piece-meal. This Bhava-linga is Sat, the divine Prsence, which is the transcendent and luminous Silence that resides in the heart of all things. The divine Presence is therefore necessarily the divine Peace characteristics of the divine Life, Prana-linga. But neither of them can survive in the earth-consciousness unless they are securely founded upon the divine Power which is best illustrated by Ishta-linga. Ishta means the desired object or the cherished-for ideal; and for a Lingayat the ideal is not only to realize but also to manifest the divine in the world.
If a divine work has to be done in this physical world, if it has to remain not as an influence merely but as a fixed thing in the physical world, the culture of the hand, Kara-sthala, comes to be recognized as the foundation upon which the super-structure of the cultures of the head and heart is to be built. The Virashaiva is a profound exponent of this culture of the hand. Then what does it imply? It implies
a) the truth of the physical world and its importance;
b) the necessity of the earth-life and the human endeavour, its evolutionary meaning;
c) the truth and importance of the Individual, the liberation of the individual soul consequent upon the realization of the Divine here and now.
“The liberation of individual soul is therefore the keynote of the definitive divine action; it is the primary divine necessity and the pivot on which all else turns. It is the point of Light at which the intended complete self-manifestation in the many begins to emerge. But the liberated soul extends its perception of unity horizontally as well as vertically. Its unity with the transcendent One is incomplete without its unity with the cosmic Many. And that lateral unity translates itself by a multiplication, a reproduction of its own liberated state at other points in the Multiplicity. The divine self reproduces itself in similar liberated souls as the animal reproduces itself in similar bodies. Therefore, whenever even a single soul is liberated, there is a tendency to an extension and even to an outburst of the same divine self-consciousness in other individual souls of our terrestrial humanity and – who knows? – perhaps even beyond the terrestrial consciousness.”
The liberated individual soul is therefore a divine ‘seer-will’ who belongs to the supra-mental region ‘where to will is to create, to think is to see.’ In that region will and seeing are one. Therefore when he has the sight and lives in the truth consciousness, his will becomes the spontaneous law of the truth; in his acts also he becomes one with all beings and his life grows into a representation of oneness, truth and divine joy and no longer proceeds on the crooked path of egoism full of division, error and stumbling. Since will and sight are combined and no longer as in the human mind separated from each other, he strives to see unity in the Divinity trinity and comprehends the divine movement as a whole, and knows in its large line the divine intention and goal in it, without seeking to fix arbitrarily its details. He will try to sound the depth of the cosmos, to understand what the Divine in it is seeking to realize, not only at the present, not only in the next generation, but beyond, and for that he will speak, strive, if need be battle, even while, all the while, he knows that there is more yet beyond, beside which the truth he has seized will seem erroneous and limited. Therefore he will act without presumption and egoism, knowing that his own errors and those which he combats are alike necessary forces in that labour and movement of human life towards the growing Truth and Good, by which there increases shadowily the figure of a far-off divine Ideal. In a word, he becomes the divine Hero who has that sublime trust in the Supreme Power that guides the universe, who has that high audacity of the human soul to wrestle with the Infinite and to realize the impossible, who has that wise and warrior confidence in its ultimate destiny which mark the great innovators and renovators.
To create such a race of divine heroes is the one end and aim of Virashaivism; it has created many more in the past. In this lies its speciality and significance, its appeal and importance.
– OM SHANTI | OM SHANTI | OM SHANTIHI –
This article ‘Nisus in Virashaivism’ is taken from H.H.Mahatapsvi Shri Kumarswamiji’s book, ‘Virashaiva Philosophy & Mysticism’.