Modern historians have seen the vIrashaivas as an organic evolute of the kAlAmukhas. While their attachment to li~Nga worship, shiva devotion and monastic organization are indeed comparable, there are many differences. The vIrashaiva cult, while found by a brahmin basava, had a rather anti-brahminical streak. Firstly, it was vociferously critical of the varNAshrama dharma and secondly sought to replace brahminical rites with imitations. For example, they used the rudra gAyatrI in place of the savitA gAyatrI for the saMdhya rite. The virashaiva cult, as characterized by the vachanas of basava, was low on philosophy and high on rhetoric, and associated, as per its own admission, with murder of the ruling king, religious persecution and raising of private militias.

The inscriptions of the kAlAmukhas collected by Lorenzen clearly show that the majority of their priests were highly erudite brahmins with orthodox leanings. For example lAkulIshvara, a kAlAmukha priest in the first half of the 1000s has made an inscription that states:
“The god mahAdeva’s feet are worthy of worship by all the world. The rules laid down in the veda for the varNas and Ashramas is dharma. Who derides these two statements, on his head will I place my foot in the king’s court.”

The philosophical leanings of the kAlAmukhas are again made very clear in some of the inscriptions:
“lAkulIshvara is the able supporter of nyAyA and vaisheShika, he is a vADava fire to bauddha ocean, a thunderbolt of indra to the mImAmsaka mountain, a saw for cutting down the lokAyata banyan tree, a great eagle to the sAmkhya serpent, an axe for propounders of the advaita doctrine, a noose of yama to hostile proud paNDitas, and a meteor to the naked jains. “

Another inscription regarding a shiva temple of the kAlAmukhas made by the chAlukyan chieftain rAchamalla states:
“For the deva svyambhU’s personal gratification, theatrical entertainment of the population, offerings of food, restoration of worn out idols and temples, the chaitra and pavitra rites, vedic recitation, lectures on vaisheShika philosophy, class readings from the shiva-dharma purANa and feeding of the needy “.

This suggests that the kAlAmukhas were primarily nyAya-vaisheShika proponents, and this formed the scaffold of their philosophical constructs. The sudden decline of nyAya-vaisheShika both in the south and Kashmir appears to have coincided with the destruction of the kAlAmukhas who appear to have been its last great expositors.

But at the same time the kAlAmukha paNDitas may be described as being electic and using the various doctrines in their argumentation as seen the inscription describing kAlabhairava tatpuruSha munipati, a kAlAmukha priest who migrated to Karnataka from Kashmir:

“Through his intelligence that tat-puruSha munipati assumes the status of a bhairava to his opponents in debate. His terrifying trident is the mImAmsa. He agitates the hearts of his proud opponents with the sound of his drum which the bauddha doctrine. He has the terrifying three eyes of the atomic doctrine (vaisheShika), and the upraise skull brand of the sAmkhya thought. He causes the interiors of the atmosphere and the sky to be defeaned by the sound of this huge bell which is the nyAya doctrine. “

But even here the main thrust is towards their favored doctrines with no mention of advaita or others.

vIrashaivas appear to have merely adapted some of the prevalent superficial aspects of the kAlAmukhas while actually revolting against them in their declining years. The vIrashaiva attraction to the superficial and rhetorical aspects of the older layer appears to have acted as an impediment to any philosophical transmission from that layer. However, they preserved the high level of organization of the kAlAmukhas and as result were able to gain considerable political mileage for their movement.

The lesson from the kAlAmukhas leads me to a conjuncture: Strongly organized systems are best in propagating socially and politically oriented doctrines. They generally fail to preserve intellectual traditions over long periods, under volatile conditions, though they may be excellent in over the sh0rt to medium range.

~ by mAnasa-taraMgiNI on March 23, 2005.

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