Origin: The Saga of Veerashaiva & Lingayat Mutts in India


[Origin by Nativeplanet] Veerashaivism is a faction of Shaivism under the layered folds of Hinduism in India. Translates to ‘heroic worshippers of Shiva’ Shaivism has many subsects like, Pashupatha Shaiva, Soma Shaiva, Dakshina Shaiva, Kala Mukha Shaiva, Lakula Shaiva, Yavala Shaiva, Samanya Shaiva, Mishra Shaiva, Shuddha Shaiva, Adi Shaiva, Anu Shaiva, Avantara Shaiva are some of the sects within Shaivism. ‘Veerashaiva’ is one such sect and is found largely in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Kerala. Shaivism was preached mainly by five Gurus known as Panchacharyas.

The sect clearly originated even before the Agamas. It is said that these five mythical gurus represent the five faces of Lord Shiva. It is believed that Lord Shiva himself took the role of these five gurus and taught the world, a new way of life. These five gurus travelled across the country to spread Veerashaivism and established mutts in their wake. Today, those mutts are widely known as ‘Panchapeeta’ (five mutts) and is an important place of worship for Veerashaivas.

  • Which are the five Panchapeetas? Where are they now and who established them?
  • Veerasimhasana of Rambhapuri in Baalehonnur- Karnataka , established by Jagadguru Renukacharya
  • Saddharma Simhasana in Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh) which is now moved to Ujjini in Bellary is associated with Guru Marularadya
  • Vairagya Shimhasana in Kedar (Uttarakhand) was established by Guru Panditaradhya
  • Surya Simhasana in Shrishaila (Andra Pradesh) is established by Guru Ekoramaradhy
  • Jnana Simhasana in Kashi (Uttar Pradesh) is established by Guru Vishwaradhya

What is the Origin of Veerashaivism?

Renukacharya is the main propagator of Veerashaivism. It is said that, Jagadguru Renukacharya who was born from the Someshwara Linga, taught the Veerashaiva philosophy to the great sage Agastya. It is later that the other Panchacharyas spread the word of Veerashaivism across the country.

The Veerashaiva lineage goes back to royal administration. Early Veerashaiva Gurus were the Royal advisors or Royal preachers for many kings who ruled in the South Canara and North India. Hence all the Veerashaiva mutts takes its name as ‘Simhasana’ or Royal seat.

Writer Dr. R.C. Hiremath in his book Mahayathre’ (published by Kannada university, Hampi – 1997) clearly states that Veerashaivism existed during Harappa & Mahenjadaro civilization and in the Upanishad period. (page 24) Dr. Hiremath quoting famous anthropologist Sir John Marshal from his Mahenjadaro and Indus Civilisation’ (vol.-1 page 9) says Maniature lingas made of stone, glass and other materials are frequently carried by shaivites and invariably by members of the shaiva sect of the lingayaths who wear them in a little casket suspended round the neck’. Interesting isn’t it?

How are Veerashaiva Mutts Different from Lingayat Mutts?

Lingayat religion is a politically dominated religion in Karnataka. The community has layers of faith to offer. That is the main reason this community faces political propaganda during the elections. The long-time debate of who is what and how gets very aggressive during that time. The issue heated up so much that, a 108-year-old seer of Siddhaganga Mutt in Tumkur, who was hospitalized at the time had to come out of a coma to tell people not to fight and that they are all the same. Political façade over religion is not the first time in India. People should realize that. What should you know before knowing about the Mutts is – Veerashiavas and Lingayats are different from each other. But the same.

It’s basically like brothers from different mothers. Veerashaivism goes back to more than 6000 years ago. But the Lingayatism was propagated by Basavanna (a renowned follower of Shaivism in the 12th century). The Veerashaiva Mutts follow the teachings of the Panchacharya, especially the Siddhanta Shikhamani (sacred text of Veerashaivism) which is said to be written by Shivayogi Shivacharya in 8th century. The work is a spread of Veerashaiva Philosophy in dialogue tone between Jagadguru Renukacharya and sage Agastya.

While the other mutts, Virakta Mutts as we call them, follow the preachings of Basavanna. Virakta translates as the renouncement of blood or ultimate detachment. The Basava Tatva or Basavanna’s Ethics as we know it is just about that.

Unlike Veerashaivism, Lingayatism is much like a rebellion. Basavanna initiated the concept of individual worshipping of the Ishtalinga or one’s own God. Born as a Brahmin himself, Basavanna revolutionized or democratized Shaivism. Hence he is called as the Father of Democracy. He encouraged people to follow Shaivism and embrace the soul journey of the Linga, no matter the caste a person is born into. There are hundreds of virakta mutts in Karnataka, Andra Pradesh, Kerala and across India.

Some of which are important will be –

  • Murugha Rajendra Bhruhan mutt in Chitradurga
  • Suttur Mutt in Nanjangud, Mysore
  • Taralabalu mutt in Sirigere, Chitradurga
  • Siddhaganga mutt in Tumkur
  • Duradundeshwar mutt in Kadoli

Are Veerashaiva mutts and Lingayat mutts Worth Visiting?

Yes. They are. While the Veerashaiva lore takes you back to the unknown origins of Shaivism and tells you stories of how Veerashaiva Gurus or teachers were advisors to many great kings who ruled the country with their fierce faith. And there is Lingayatism that graces history with its global belief in equal rights and simple living.

Most of the Veerashaiva and Lingayat mutts and temples bear witness of this great tradition; its literature; teachings and history. How do you think, the people who believe in all these things still exist? Visiting a Lingayath or Veerashaiva Mutt should definitely be on your bucket list! We got many in every nook and corner of Karnataka.


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