The path to divinity given by Guru Basavanna takes a holistic approach that encompasses all aspects of an aspirant’s life. A seeker stepping into this path will be guided in a step-by-step fashion into transforming himself. At every step, a seeker will be given arivu, the true knowledge or understanding of the state he is in along with the guidance as to how to take the next step. This arivu will enlighten an aspirant regarding what is true and what is untrue. Aspirant needs to bring this arivu into practice known as achara. Achara will guide an aspirant in his conduct. It will not only show him how not to behave, but also guide him towards the right conduct. By adopting the arivu into achara, a seeker will be able to enjoy anubhava, the real experience. When anubhava of a given step becomes a part of the aspirant, he will be guided to the next step.
This step-by-step approach will eventually lead a sincere and determined aspirant to the state of eternal divine communion, even while living in this world. Reaching this state demands strong resolve and valor from the aspirant. Every step taken in this process of transformation is rewarding in itself, helping a person to evolve into a better human being. An aspirant’s life will become more meaningful and fulfilling with each step.
This is a journey long and tedious journey with many stages. Broadly, one can discern four major stages in this process. The first stage is for a person to realize the realities of the mortal life and its pitfalls. Here, a novice is given a wake-up call and prodded to acknowledge the fact that this mortal life is indeed ephemeral. He is made to recognize that the happiness he is seeking in this world is fleeting and always accompanied by sorrow. Instead of chasing after the mirage of eternal happiness in this world, he is taught to appreciate the life as a wonderful opportunity. He is made to recognize that a human birth is a indeed a blessing. He is then urged to make best use of this opportunity to evolve beyond the confines of the mundane life.
When the aspirant is ready to start the process of transformation, he enters the next stage. In this second stage, the aspirant is given an understanding of the cause and effect of life, world, and actions of individuals. With the understanding of the true nature of life and creation, aspirant is encouraged to align his life to the universal values. Aspirant is taught to examine his personal, social, and religious notions and refine them. While this stage broadens the horizon of the aspirant and gets him ready to the next stage, it also helps him lead a more rewarding life in the society.
An aspirant who has refined his thoughts and actions is ready to be initiated into the spiritual path. The spiritual path requires an aspirant to learn to use his body-mind in the spiritual pursuit. The transformation of a human to Sharana can be a daunting task. Guru Basavanna has given a eight-fold practice, known as Ashtaavarana, to help the aspirant. An aspirant progressively acquires these eight tiers of spiritual practices.
To balance the life with spiritual practice, Guru Basavanna has given Panchaachaara, the five-fold code of conduct. These code of conducts help an aspirant to lead a life as a productive member of the society while continuing his spiritual pursuit.
As the aspirant imbibes the practices of Ashtaavarana and Panchaachaara , he will enter the next stage of yogic realm. Guru Basavanna’s path of yoga advocates a holistic approach that comprises bhakti (devotion), jnana (knowledge), and kriye (action). Practicing these with diligence will lead the aspirant to Shivayoga, the union of the aspirant with the divine. At this stage, aspirant will be able to enjoy the divine bliss. But, Guru Basavanna’s path does not stop here. It leads a Shivayogi to Lingangayoga . Lingangayoga is the discipline that brings the divine to the aspirant. The body-mind complex of the aspirnat will become an abode of the divine. This is the final stage of the transformation of a human to Sharana.
The life of a Sharana is unparalleled. He is an expression of divinity, the divinity that lights up the inner being of a person as well as pervades the entire universe and beyond. Sharana’s body becomes a conduit for the functioning of the divine will. A Sharana is one who has evolved beyond the laws of Karma, broken the shackles of Bhava, and escaped the grips of Maya. Even while living in this mortal world, he remains untouched by the turmoil of Samsara. Guru Basavanna remarks,