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Linga Is Sat – Chit – Ananda – Nitya – Paripoorna – Lingayat Teaching

The Vachanakaras in their Lingayat teaching, like the Vedantins, advocate the doctrine that Linga is sat, chit, ananda, nitya, and paripoorna.

Chit – Many Vachanakaras describe Linga or Shiva in mystical expressions like arivu or jnana, knowledge, chit, consciousness, prakashaa, effulgence, and chit-prakasha, consciousness-effulgence. It is infinite, indivisible undifferentiated consciousness and is gender-free. It is present in us in the form of the jivatman, individual self, bound by body, mind, and senses. Linga is omnipresent and it is wrong to think that it is present only in living beings and not in inanimate objects.

Sat – All things in the world are subject to constant change. But the Consciousness in them does not change. It is sat, real. All things come and go at different points of time, but the universal Consciousness neither comes nor goes, it always is. It is the unchanging substratum of all change. Just as the sea remains as it is, in spite of taking many forms — waves, bubbles, or foam — so also Linga remains unchanged in the midst of innumerable changes in the world, which is its transformation. In fact, if there were no unchanging reality, sat, no changing world could exist.

Ananda – In their samadhi, yogis experience the unchanging Consciousness in contrast to the constantly changing mental states experienced in the usual waking life. That is the moment when they experience bliss, ananda. Just as the Consciousness experienced in the state of samadhi is called sat and chit, so also it is called ananda. Ananda is the original nature of Consciousness and is not derived from any external source. If Consciousness experienced in the mystic state is Linga, then Linga must be sat, chit, and ananda.

Nitya – Linga is also nitya, eternal — beginningless and endless. One may ask the meaningful question, ‘What was the time of Shankaracharya?’ However, the question ‘Since when has Linga been in existence?’ is absurd, for Shiva is eternal. This implies that persons subject to birth and death should not be called God.

Basavanna argues that the god Indra is born of Amritavati and Somashambhu, Brahma is born of Jyeshta Devi and Satyarshi, and Vishnu is born of Vasudeva and Devaki. ‘Does God Kudalasangamadeva who is beyond creation, maintenance, and destruction have parents?’ (Samagra-vachana-samputa, ed. M M Kalburgi et al. (Bengaluru: Kannada Book Authority, 2001), vol. 1, verse 545.)

Paripoorna · The word Paripoorna as applied to Shiva means ‘all-pervasive’. While many theists refuse to think that God, being holy and perfect, exists in unholy places, the Vachanakaras think that Linga exists everywhere. Like the Upanishadic thinkers, they say that God is smaller than the smallest and bigger than the biggest. Statements like ‘Whichever way I look, you alone are, O Bhagavan’, ‘You are the forest, and trees in it, and the animals that move about in it’ also speak of the Lingayat concept of God as omnipresent.

Though the world is entirely occupied by Linga, it does not exhaust him. Since it is said to be included in God, he must be conceived as both immanent and transcendent. In other words, the Lingayat position is one of panentheism and not pantheism.

Sourceexcerpts from article titled ‘Lingayat Philosophy and Vedanta’ by Prof. N G Mahadevappa in the 2010 issue of Prabuddha Bharata Magazine.