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Lingayat Concept Of Jivanmukti

The Lingayat concept of jivanmukti, embodied liberation, has a feature that distinguishes it from the Advaitic as well as the Vishishtadvaita attitude to the human body. Bondage, according to Advaita, is the result of superimposition of the qualities of non-consciousness—the body, antahkaranas, and the like — on Consciousness and those of Consciousness on non-consciousness. On the attainment of jnana, enlightenment, the liberated person realizes that all non-consciousness, including one’s own body, is maya. Some Advaitins think that ‘for the jivanmukta there is no body at all ’.

The Vishishtadvaitins think that the body, which is the result of prarabdha-karma, causes limitations to the soul and, therefore, as long as there is the body, liberation is not possible. In other words, embodied liberation is a contradiction in terms, like the son of a barren woman. If at all liberation is possible, it can be only after death.

Similarly, the body-mind complex made of Prakriti, according to Sankhya-Yoga, is the cause of bondage for the soul, Purusha, and liberation consists in viyoga, separation, of the Purusha from all evolutes of Prakriti. From this it appears that all these schools look down upon the body and mind.

For a Lingayat, the body is neither an illusion nor a bane, but is real and vital, like the shakti out of which it is made. The Lingayat regards the body as a prasada, gift, of Linga. Basavanna and Urilinga Peddi consider the human body to be the temple of Linga. The body is graced by Para-shiva so that humans, by making proper use of it, may attain moksha. The body thus graced is perceived not as ‘food-made’, but as prasada-kaya, ‘prasada-made’.

Chenna Basavanna thinks that the body-mind complex is a sala, ‘loan’, given by Linga. Therefore, to him moksha consists in repayment of the loan:

O Shiva, I don’t enter your world
Without repaying your loan.
I return the earth element to the earth element,
I return the water element to the water element,
I return the fire element to the fire element, …
Then only I enter you.

The belief in jivanmukti also implies that the body, senses, and mind of the liṅgaikya, which are products of shakti, become as pure as in their original form and thus are eligible to merge in the original shakti of Para-shiva. Therefore, to say that the anga merges in Linga is to say that the soul and its bhakti-shakti merges in Linga and its shakti. Adayya says: ‘The senses having lost their separateness have now merged in Linga; the sense objects having lost their separateness have now merged in Linga. Thus the body of sharana has become the body of Brahman (brahmanḍa).’ He clearly implies total union. In the state of bondage, humans wrongly think of the body and senses as their own and do all kinds of acts for their sake. But in the state of moksha they see these as belonging to Para-shiva.