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Dasoha In Virashaivism

Dasoha in its literal sense means self-surrender but in the context of Virashaivism, it has gained a new connotation. Here is means ‘sharing the day’s meal with men of spirituality’.

Virashaivism considers physical labor as sacred. A true follower of this faith should necessarily perform some duty to earn his living and to be self-sufficient. It is also laid down that out of what one earns by honest labor, one should set aside a portion for dasoha or the cause of the needy.

Dasoha is also a special ritual in Virashaivism. It is prescribed as a sacred duty to feed religious men before a follower of the religion partakes of his daily meal. Only after he offers the food for dasoha that it becomes prasada (sanctified food). The food taken as prasada can purify the body and hence the body turns out to be a (sanctified food) prasada kaya.

Dasoha is not charity alone. It is discharge of the social responsibility of feeding the other members of the religious fraternity. Hence it is a religious obligation which includes ethical and social values.

There is yet another dimension to the doctrine of dasoha. It is perceived as contributing for social equality as well. Virashaivism Saranas formed a religious fraternity at Kalyana during the 12th century CE under the leadership of Basavanna. It is believed that Basaveshwara used to feed 96 religious men in his house every day in the name of dasoha. Basavanna, a minister in the court of Bijjala, used to go and partake in the dasoha of other saints like Cannayya, a cobbler, and Marayya, a wood cutter.