UBC Community, Partners, and Alumni Publications

Veerashaivas Kannan, Sushumna


The Veerashaivas are devotees of Shiva who emerged in regions that are now the modern states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh in the 12th century. The Veerashaiva path of devotion or bhakti was one that sought to remind its society that the mechanical performance of ritual would not help achieve 'arivu' or understanding. Arivu, led to the cessation of the cycle of birth and death. They also reminded the people around them that for moksha and for sadhana (striving towards it), all were equal, irrespective of class, caste and gender. Quite spontaneously, a number of people from different castes and communities followed this path of devotion and charted their self-transformation through a spontaneous verbalization of experience known as vachanas or simply speech. Some describe the self-transormation in terms of six phases or Shatsthalas, which are Bhaktasthala, (2) Maheshsthala, (3) Prasadisthala, (4) Pranalingi Sthala, (5) Sharanasthala and (6) Aiykasthala. Together, the Veerashaiva saints of the 12th century founded the Anubhava Mantapa, a forum for the discussion of experience, in the city of Kalyana, northern Karnataka. Anubhava literally means experience. Prominent figures of this mode of bhakti are Allama Prabhu, Basavanna, Akka Mahadevi, Soole Sankavva, Ayadakki Maramma, Devara Dasimayya and others. The vachanas explicate a yogic path and are essentially oral literature. The Veerashaivas are said to have emerged from earlier Shaivite sects such as the Kaalamukha and their tradition derives much from the Agamas. Many devotees of the Veerashaiva tradition took to expressing their devotion through madhura bhava (known specifically within the tradition as satipati bhava) or, love for the chosen deity and through surrender or sharanagati. The philosophy of surrender led to the Veerashaiva devotees to become known as 'shivasharanas.' For the Veerashaivas, Shiva is composed of Guru (teacher), Linga (abstract form of Shiva) and Jangama (guru with no attachments). The Veerashaivas believe in qualified monism or qualified nondualism

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution 4.0 International