Lingadharane consists of two words, Linga and dharane. Linga is
the symbol of Parashiva - the Supreme God, and dharane means tying.
Hence, Lingadharane means tying of the symbol of God to Anga or
to the body of a person.
Basavanna said that the God's head is above the sky, his feet
are below the bottom and his body encompasses the universe. This
concept suggests that God cannot be seen by ordinary means. Akkamahadevi
also echoed the same by saying that she has fallen in love with
the formless person who is the most beautiful. Thus, the Sharanas
of the twelfth century have suggested that the God, Parashiva is
in fact formless. If so, why do we need a symbol for Parashiva?
The need for a symbol of God and the necessity for Lingadharane
have been thoroughly discussed by the Sharanas, which is known
as the Sampadane of Siddaramaiah. Siddaramaiah was an accomplished
Yogi who had an eye in his forehead with powers to burn everything
in its sight. He was called a Karmayogi because of his works. Allamaprabhu
also known as Allama, on his way to the city of Kalyana went to
Siddaramaiah’s place and saw his devotees constructing a
lake. Allama inquired about Siddaramaiah and in that process, he
ridiculed Siddaramaiah. His devotees were upset and one of his
devotees ran to Siddaramaiah’s house and reported that a
Sanyasi(Jangama) is ridiculing his work. Siddaramaiah not knowing
that the Sanyasi is in fact Allama was very angry with the Sanyasi
and thought that he could win him by burning him. So he opened
up his third eye. The fire that came out of his eye fell on to
Allama’s feet as though it was asking for his forgiveness.
Siddaramaiah felt ashamed of his anger and asked the forgiveness
of Allama. Allama asked Siddaramaiah to accompany him to Kalyana
and promised him that many of his questions about God will be answered
at that time. They both continued their journey to Kalyana. The
significance of Lingadharane is expressed in the following allegory.
In Kalyana, Siddaramaiah was very much impressed with Sharanas
and their way of life. Everyone use to do Kayaka (work to perform
for earning their daily living) and Kayaka had become their way
of life. Siddaramaiah spent several days in Kalyana listening to
the discussions of Sharanas in the great hall of Anubhavamantapa.
His desire to learn more about himself, God, and the relationship
between humans and the God increased day by day.
One day, the Sharanas expressed an annoyance with Siddaramaiah,
who was entering the great hall, for not having his Istalinga.
Allama, Channabasavanna, Basavanna and other Sharanas discussed
the importance of Istalinga in the following way.
God, on his own accord took a form and for his amusement he split
himself into two, namely, Linga and Anga. Linga became the divine
and Anga became the devotee worshipping the Linga. Anga’s
desire is to get back and unite with Linga. This state is called
the Linganga Samarasya or the eternal bliss. However, this unity
is a difficult one because the Anga forgets its mission due to
illusions(Maya). Because of illusions, the body accumulates three
types of impurities, namely, Anava, Manava, and Karmika. These
three impurities correspond to the triple body - the gross, the
subtle, and the casual. In Veerashaiva terminology, they are Thyaganga,
Bhoganga and Yoganga. The Guru by giving the Istalinga and teaching
the ways to follow during the ceremony changes these impurities
to the triple Linga namely, Prana, Bhava and Ista.
The discussion removed the vale of ignorance that prevented Siddaramaiah
to realize and experience the union with God. Therefore, Lingadharane
is the process in which Anga is given a Linga to remind it that
it is a part of Linga and it should concentrate in reuniting with
the Linga to enjoy the eternal happiness.
Siddaramaiah was overjoyed with this discussion and requested
for Lingadharane ceremony. Allama asks Channabasavanna to perform
the ceremony. Siddaramaiah upon receiving his Istalinga praised
Channabasavanna and accepted him as his Guru, who gave a form to
the formless, and brought it down to his palm.
Lingadharane ceremony can be performed at any age. The Veerashaivas
usually perform this ceremony when the child is about 3 days to
8 days old. The child receives Istalinga from the family Guru that
is worshipped until age 8 -11 years. Between the ages of 8 and
11 years, the child receives instructions for Linga worship from
the Guru. From then on, the child wears the Linga and it is worshipped
as his/her own Istalinga. Basavanna received his Istalinga as a
child. However, most other Sharanas including Allamaprabhu received
their Istalinga when they were adults from Basavanna.