--> Skip to main content

Shakti Vishishtadvaita Of Lingayat School

Shakti Vishishtadvaita, the name for Virashaiva metaphysics, suggests that it is a school of Vedanta, like Advaita and Vishishtadvaita. But a close examination proves the contrary. Normally, the word ‘Vedanta’ refers either to the philosophy of the Upanishads or to that system of philosophy which is enshrined in the commentaries on ‘the triple foundation’, prasthana-traya — the principal Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and Badarayana’s Brahma Sutra. The Vedanta Acharyas, commentators on the triple foundation, like Shankara, Ramanuja, Madhva, and others draw support from these three foundational sources in order to prove their Advaitic or Vishishtadvaita theses. However, no Virashaiva or Lingayat has written a commentary on these three — not even the Brahma Sutra, from the Virashaiva standpoint.

This definition, therefore, excludes Lingayatism from the group of Vedanta schools. Some scholars claim that one Sripati Pandita of the eleventh century has written the Srikara-bhashya, a commentary on the Brahma Sutra from the Virashaiva point of view. But others contend that this work is not genuine on the following three grounds:

It contains references to Madhvacharya, who lived in the thirteenth century, both by name and by doctrine. It appears to have been authored by some scholars in 1891 and ascribed to Sripati Pandita, who actually lived in the eleventh century, with the sole intention of pushing the date of Virashaivism to a pre-Basava period.

The book abounds in plagiarism, for commentaries of more than one hundred and thirty sutras have been copied fully or partially from the Sri Bhashya of Ramanujacharya.

Moreover, the doctrines advocated in this work are diametrically opposed to those advocated by Lingayatism as enshrined in the Kannada Vachanas. For example, it upholds the doctrine —contained in the ‘Apashudra’ (Pseudo Shudra) section — that the shudras, untouchables, and women in general are not eligible for moksha, because they are not authorized to study the Vedas as they do not wear the sacred thread whereas the Lingayats have been advocating that all those who wear the ishtalinga —the linga that all Lingayats wear on their person—are equally eligible for moksha, whether they are men or women, shudras or brahmanas.

Although the Virashaiva metaphysics can be constructed purely on the basis of the Vachanas, it can still be called Shakti Vishishtadvaita Vedanta, because its doctrines of God, soul, world, and liberation are comparable to those of the Vedanta schools and some of them are based on the Upanishads.

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