Veerashaiva Pontiff Urilinga Peddi
by Dr. Jyotsna Kamat
First Online: November 9, 2008 in Amma's Column
Urilinga Peddi: Dalit Sharana and Pontiff
Urilinga Peddi (C-1150-1200) occupies a unique place in the Virashaiva mvement of India. He belonged to the low caste and was a robber. Once Peddi had gone to steal at the residence of Surayya, a rich man and devotee of Urilingadeva, a great Shaiva Saint. Peddi heard the exposition of scriptures and the way to pious life. Peddi was a changed person onwards and for twelve years he brought firewood to Urilingadeva's hermitage without being noticed.
Once Urilingadeva caught him and was impressed by his piety. Peddi, who was worshiping that Saint as Guru, insisted that he may be initiated under the guidance of the Saint; Peddi became well versed in Sanskrit and Kannada religious lore. He attained proficiency in all the Shastras and Shaiva rituals that Urilingadeva nominated him as his successor of the Matha he was heading, displaying thereby a rare spirit of castelesssness and communal harmony in the medieval times. Peddi's wife Kalavve was also educated and spiritually inclined. The couple were widely respected for their learning. Later Veerashaiva classics and their Vachanas or sayings are profusely quoted. Both have several Vachanas to their credit. Kalavve is much respected Sharane because of her Sanskrit learning.
Casteism prevailed in spite of all revolutionary teachings of Basava and his contemporaries like Urilingadeva. There are smaller Mathas in Gulbarga-Bhalki region which owe allegiance to Urilinga Peddi and whose followers are only Dalits. But the Swamijis are not. Urilinga Peddi enjoys the sole credit of being the first Dalit preceptor and pontiff in dark medieval times.
A Vachana of Peddanna
Shiva is God. Non-Killing is religion
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