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The concept of Shatsthala or six Phases/States/Paths is pivotal to the Lingayat philosophy. Shatsthala is a conflation of Shat and Sthala which means 'six phases/states/levels' through which a soul advances in its ultimate quest of realisation of the Supreme. The Shatsthala comprises the Bhakta Sthala, Maheshwara Sthala, Prasadi Sthala, Pranalingi Sthala, Sharana Sthala and the Aikya Sthala. The Aikya Sthala is the culmination where the soul leaves the physical body and merges with the Supreme.
While the origins of the Shatsthala may be traced to the Agamas, particularly the Parameshwaratantra, with the evolution of Veerashaivism the evolution of concept of Shatsthala was also unavoidable. While Basava understood Shatsthala as a process with various stages to be attained in succession, the credit of refuting this and redefining Shatsthala goes to Channabasavanna, Basava's nephew. Channabasavanna differed radically from his uncle and held that a soul can reach its salvation in any stage.
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