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Moksha – Liberation – Lingayat Teaching

The Lingayats indiscriminately use terms like Shiva-sayujya, advaita-sthiti, kaivalya, nirvana, Linganga-samarasya, and bayalaguvudu — merging in consciousness-space or attaining Shunya — as synonyms of moksha. Some of these terms have specific connotations in other schools and, therefore, one cannot expect them to have the same meaning in Lingayatism as well. Let us then use the most widely used word ‘moksha’. One who attains moksha is called lingaikya or Shivaikya, united with Linga or Shiva.

In contrast to the dualistic conception of Shaiva Siddhanta and Vishishtadvaita, that liberation consists in an after-death passage of the pure soul to the celestial abode where it maintains eternal companionship with God; the Lingayats conceive of liberation as consisting in the union of anga, the individual soul, with Linga, the universal Consciousness, in the embodied state. Some Vachanakaras overtly state that the liberated soul becomes Linga.

It would be absurd to interpret their statement as meaning that the particular soul becomes the universal soul or that a part becomes the whole. What they imply is that the liberated person merges in Linga indistinguishably, as the following Vachana implies:

All the individual souls, which touch
the Linga become themselves Linga;
Just as all the rivers, which touch
the ocean themselves become ocean.

The Lingayat concept of union simply means that the anga, which due to ignorance draws a fictitious line between itself and Linga, now recognizes that it is but an inseparable and indistinguishable part, anga, of Linga. This is the attainment of its natural original oneness with Linga.

One of the characteristics of the samarasya, harmonious relation, between anga and Linga is loss of ego, aham nasha. When the soul unites with Linga, it loses its individuality and begins to think that it is a vehicle of Linga. Just as the speed and direction of a vehicle are controlled by its driver, so the thoughts and actions of the lingaikya are controlled and directed by Linga. What this means is expressed clearly by Chenna Basavanna:

Your body is in my body and my body is in yours;
Your life is in mine and mine in yours;
Your senses are in mine and mine in yours …
I am camphor and you are flame,
I merged in you.

If the lingaikya wipes out the distinction between his body and senses and those of Linga, does he not enjoy sensory perceptions like smell and taste? No, says Chenna Basavanna in another Vachana:

Sitting at the door of my nose, it is you
Who enjoy the pleasure of good smell;
Sitting at the door of my tongue, it is you
Who enjoy the pleasure of good taste;
Sitting at the door of my eyes, it is you
Who enjoy the pleasure of good sights; …
Because I know I am only a machine

Handled by you. The two Vachanas quoted above unmistakably imply that liberation is attained in an embodied state and that loss of ego is an inevitable result of liberation. Loss of ego means not only considering oneself a vehicle of Para-shiva but also being totally occupied by Linga. Morally speaking, the lingaikya is free from all selfish motives, which bind us to karma and rebirth; and since lingaikyas do not undertake any selfish act, they are free from karma and rebirth.