veerashaiva - An Introduction

Matching to its name vIra shaivam this appeared as a mass level enlightening structured movement. This stream of Shaivam is a quite special one that it while upholding the superior knowledge passed through the ancient sages, gave a serious thought to shunning off some of the customs which by then lost their essence and got corrupted. This stream of Shiavam was not limiting itself to the elites, it was a very big mass movement. It streamlined the thoughts and rituals blasting off the blocking precipitations from good old customs. It thus revitalized the entire system with the sanAtana dharma placed comfortable and Shaivam shining gloriously.

It would be a blunder if looking at some of the outsets of this stream of shaivam that it is against the vedas and to be considered separate from the base of sanAtana dharma. Actually one would find that the holy scriptures of vIra shaivam giving due regard to the shrutis like the other schools of spirituality in Hinduism. What it emphasizes and tries to achieve is the sarva shR^iti samanvayam (collective and symphonized view of all the shR^itis). The means it chooses in achieving this are the Agamas. If the shR^itis could be considered as the science or knowledge bases which given the nature of the truth that it could have different complementary behaviors making it complete, the Agamas are like the recipe or "How to apply this knowledge" scriptures. vIra shaivam defines a framed approach that was derived from the openness of spiritual analysis. It appears to deal more with the practical aspects and is more implementation oriented. So this has been a mass movement.

One of the major reforms vIra shaivam tried to achieve was the abolishing of the discrimination of people based on their birth. It tried to create a "one society" that focused on the worship of Lord shiva shunning away the narrow-minded groupings. The caste system which probably was intended to ensure a smooth running of the social system knitted with the interdependence of each other sections of the society had got exploited by some claiming superior making the life of some others pathetic ! vIra shaivam fought against this, by making one shade from various colors. Whatever be the original sections of the society they belonged the ones who joined this stream became one community clearly erasing off their old marks. They were called li.ngAyat as they wore the Holy symbol of Lord shiva - the shiva li.ngam on their chest. This marvelous stream demolished the genderwise discrimination too. The females used to actively do all the worship of Lord shiva as their male counterparts could. While the great Mother shakti does the worship of the Lord why not the other womenfolk ?!

It was a really admirable unconventional thrust in bringing people together to love and love the Supreme, which is Pure and Science. With these fundamentals any one who practices in the other streams of shaivam could claim himself/herself to be a vIra shaivite ! This movement gained good momentum despite the initial hurdles and progressed but it was a paradox that many generations later, this open system itself became section by itself with somewhat closed contours ! However its contribution are quite significant and still valuable.

The vIra shaivites are also called li.ngAyats as they wear a shiva li.ngam which is known as iShTa li.ngam on their chest. Worship of this li.ngam is the most preferred worship of Lord shiva in the vIra shaiva school. It is mandatory to have this iShTa li.ngam and it is done from the time even when one is conceived. The major scriptures of vIra shiavam are called vachanas (speeches) indicating their simplicity of language in appealing to even masses. The saints of vIra shaivam who are called sharaNas (refugee - in Lord shiva) have composed these scriptures.

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