History of Panchapeethas


The tradition of Virasaiva sect was founded by five ascetics- Revana, Marula, Ekorama, Panditaradhya, Vishwaradhya- who are held to have sprung from the five heads of Shiva, incarnate age after age, almost about 5500 -6000 years ago. These are regarded as very ancient, and Basava is said to have been but the reviver of the faith in 12th century. Yet the early literature shows that the five were all his contemporaries.

`The great gotrakaras established five great religious centers in different parts of India. Ekorama at Kedara in the Himalayas, Vishweswara at Banaras, Marularadya at Ujjain, Panditaradya at Shrishail, Renukacharya at Balehonnur…’ -M.E.Tharstan : Castes and Tribes of South India p-264-265

And also mentioned by Dr. J. S. Pharkuhar in The Religious Quest of India as follows;
`The tradition is that the Virasaiva sect was founded by five ascetics Ekorma, Panditaradya, Revana, Marula and Viswaradya….’

According to popular view, and one backed by historical and literary evidence, the Lingayat or Veerashaiva sect was founded by the Panchacharyas or the Five great Prophets. This view however, is in the realm of mythology and is supported by historical and literary evidence those are available at Allahabad High Court and Jangamwadimath of Kashi.

The Panchacharyas are the five Gurus who incarnated directly form five faces of the Sivalinga and established the Virasaiva religion and Philosophy. Hence they are called as Lingodbhavas. Those five faces of linga called as namely Sadyojata, Vamadeva, Aghora, Tatpurus and Isana. With the following names Revanaradhya, Marularadhya, Ekoramaradhya, Panditaradhya and Vishvaradhya. These five Acharyas are the Gotrapurusas (pioneers) of the Virasaiva religion. The five Gotrapurusas belongs to the five Gotras namely Veera, Nandi, Bhringi, Vrishabha and Skanda respectivily. These Panchacharya ruled the realm of Virasaiva kingdom by establishing the five peethas in different places in India as follows :

Veeashimhasana of Rambhapuri in Balehonnuru (Karnataka)
Saddharma Shimhasana of Ujjain (Karnataka)
Vairagya Shimhasana of Kedar (Uttaranchal)
Surya Shimhasana of Shrishaila (Andhra Pradesh) and
Jnana Shimhasana of Kashi (Uttar Pradesh)

Those Panchacharyas are called as:

  • Renukacharya
  • Marularadhya
  • Ekoramaradhya
  • Panditaradhya and
  • Vishvaradhya


Virasaivism has become a comprehensive and complete religion by incorporating its spiritual practices of worshipping lord Shiva took concrete shapes and forms in Virasaiva religion and this fact is quite clear and evident theory from Agamas. It is a rich and great religion, which has shown the path of Linganga-samarasya (Salvation) to one and all irrespective of one’s caste, religion, sect, sex, and group.

The origin of Adi Renukacharya and other mahacharyas has been explained in Sivagamas, especially in Svayambhuva Agama, Suprabhedagama and Viragama. Panchacharyas are the custodians of Virasaiva religion and they have expressed their feelings thus:

Pravakshyami Bhavintrashcha Shrunu Tajjananakramam.
Shri Madrevana Siddhasys Kollipaki Purottame
Someshwara Lingajjanana Mavasah Kadalipure.
Tadwad Marula Siddhasya Sukshetre Mahattare
Siddhesha lingajjananam Sthana Mujjayanipure.
Sudhakundakhy Sukshetre Mallikarjuna Lingatah.
Jananam Panditaryasya Nivasah Shrigirau Shive.
Draksharamakhya Sukshetre Ramanathakhya Lingatah.
Ekoramasya Jananamavasastua Himalaye.
Kashyam Vishwesha Lingashcha Vishwaradhya Sambhavah.
Sthanam Shri Kashi Kshetre Shrunuparvati Sadaram.
Yete Youga Chatashketu Pancharadhyadhividhihi.
Mamaling Mukhodbbhtaloka Vishruta Kirtayah.

(-Virasaiva Ratna written by Kashinath Shastrigalu: page-38)

The earlier portions of Agama Literature are the fundamental source of Saiva religion. The latter portions have been very helpful to Virasaivas religion. In that Siva has tutored Parvati regarding the matter of Panchacharyas having been sprouted out of Sivalinga. Panchacharya’s name has been mentioned and described in all the aiens, in connection with the sacred places of Sivalingas. The great Acharyas such as Renuka, Daruka, Ekorama, Pandita, and Vishwaradhya, established their own Peethas in their own places. They become quite famous as Pancha Peethas masters or owners of these Peethas are Panchacharyas. They are the founders of Virasaiva religion. Out of these now, let us try to know about the sacred birthplace of Adi Renukacharya.

It is customary to call Andrapradesh as Trilinga Desha. There is an important reason for this. The famous three Lingas are here. Out of these, Swayambhu Someswaralinga, which is at Kolanupaka (also called as Kollipaki or Kulyapaka, a village near Secunderabad in Andhra Pradesh) has the details about it in the work entitled “Kollipaka Mahatmam” written by a great literary person (poet) by name Chittaru Gangadhara. The details about this ancient place along with God’s blessings to fulfill the desires and requests of all the devotees right from the aiens (Yuga) of Kruta, Treta, Dwapara and Kali. He further asserts that it is nothing but Kailasa on land. Installation of this Swayambhu Someshwara Linga tells many important things connected with the Puranas. In this Swayambhulinga, Ganadhishwara Renuka was reincarnated.

Not only just that, in a book released by Travel and Tourism Department of Andhra Pradesh it is mentioned like this: “….Literary evidences reveal Kolanupaka as the birth place of Renukacharya the great Virasaivas saint, believed to be born from the Svayambaghu Linga at this village and absorbed in to it after preaching Virasaivism…..”

There are many inscriptions around Kolanupaka. The Languages used in those inscriptions are Kannada, Telugu and Tamil. Historians have found that, Shatavahanas to Vijayanagar Kings ruled this area. It was also ruled by Telugu and Orissa Royal families and these things have been established by historians. Still lot of research is to be done and when it is seriously pershed, many truths will come out and naturally they will end Lots of Suspicious and doubts regarding these matters. When we know the greatness of this place, we think that this place has been very aptly called as Kolanupaka which means it makes Kulas highly sacred and worthy of enormous amount of respect. Virasaivas authoritative work Siddhanta Sikhamani says that the name Kulyapaka would be more appropriate. This is a great holy place not only for Virasaivas , but also for Jains. This can be seen even in Jain Literature. It is quite noticeable that the Jain temples are in good condition even today.

By the many inscriptions that were available in the area, we come to know that this area was under the rule of Kannada kings. Chalukya king of Kalyan, was daily worshipping Lord Someshwara. By some of the inscriptions we come to know that he had given many types of gifts. On account of all these things, this is not only known as a holy place, it is also a historically famous place.