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Lingayatism

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Basavanna
Allama Prabhu
Akka Mahadevi
Channabasavanna
Yediyur Siddhalingeshwara Swamy Temple
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Ashtavarana · Shatsthala
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Siddhanta Shikhamani · Karana Hasuge · Mantra Gopya
Shunyasampadane · Vachanas
Shaivaite Agamas

Pilgrim centers
Kudalasangama · Basava Kalyana
Ingaleshwara · Shrishaila · Ulavi
Yedeyur · Basavana Bagewadi
Sholapur
Kashi · Jangamawadimath · Ujjaini · Kedar · Rambhapuri
Related topics
Ishtalinga
Sthavaralinga
Charalinga
Shaivism · Lingam
Anubhava Mantapa · Caste system

Basava (also known as Basavanna (Kannada: ಬಸವಣ್ಣ) or Basaveshwara (Kannada: ಬಸವೇಶ್ವರ), (11061167)) was a philosopher and a social reformer. He fought against practice of caste system and rituals in Hinduism. He is also called as Vishwa Guru and Bhakti-Bhandari. His teachings and preachings go beyond all boundaries and are universal and eternal. He was a great humanitarian. Basava advocated a new way of life wherein the divine experience was the center of life giving equal opportunity to all aspirants regardless of the gender, caste, and social status. The cornerstone behind his movement was the firm belief in a universal concept of God. Basava has a proponent of monotheistic concept of formless God.[1].

A true visionary with ideas ahead of his time, he envisioned a society that flourished enriching one and all. In addition to being a great mystic, Basava was the Prime Minister of the Southern Kalachuri Empire in South India and originated a literary revolution by introducing Vachana Sahitya. Basava is said to have been a mystic by temperament, an idealist by choice, a statesman by profession, a man of letters by taste, a humanist by sympathy, and a social reformer by conviction. Many great yogis and mystics of the time joined his movement enriching it with the essence of divine experience in the form of Vachanas (Lit. sayings - sacred hymns in Kannada) that define a new way of looking at God and life.

Basava's path later gave birth to a new religion (or "Sampradaya") called Lingavanta Dharma or Lingayata. Other synonyms for lingayata are: Basava Dharma, Sharana Dharma, Vachana Dharma.

Contents

Early life

Basavanna was born in the year 1106 (Hindu Calendar Ananada nama samvatsara vashakah masada akshaya triteeya Rohini Nakshatra) into a Shaivite Kamme Brahmin family residing in the small town of Ingaleshwar, Bagewadi in the Bijapur district of northern Karnataka, Basava grew up in a strict, religious household where he was made to wear a sacred thread known as the Janivara. He did not accept the Janivara. He rejected the religion based on agamas, shastras, and puranas which were written in Sanskrit and were not reachable to common people. He did not accept the ritual rites. Shrinivas Murthy, in his book 'Vachana Dharma Sara' writes:

Vachana Sahitya is not barrowed from other languages,they are the Original and Unique to Kannada language. What ever is there in Vedas and Upanishads is avaialable in Vachanas, but what ever is there in Vachanas is not there in Vedas and Upanishads. Basavanna with his original and creative thinking added much value to Kannada language through Vachana Sahitya.

The Great Religious Developments

He left Bagewadi and spent the next 12 years studying Sangameshwara, at the then-Shaivite stronghold of Kudala Sangama. There, he conversed with scholars and developed his spiritual and religious views in association with his societal understanding. His Guru was Játavéda Muni, also known as Eeshánya Guru. His views included believing there is only one true, perfect God; additionally, he created people who perform social services like removal of untouchability, superstitiousness, confusions, temple culture, and priesthoodness. He believed people who were in search of a false god needed to be shown the right way. He preached equality among humankind and condemned all barriers of caste, creed and sex, fighting against the caste system. He is also known as Krantikari (revolutionary) Basavanna for his revolution in the social system of the 12th century.

Basava Statue in Bangalore
Kudala Sangama in Bagalkot district, where Basavanna's samadhi is located

Basavanna started his career as an accountant at Mangalaveda in the court of Kalachuri king Bijjala, a feudatory of the Kalyani Chalukya. When Bijjala acquired the power at Basavakalyana, by overpowering Tailapa IV(the garandson of Vikramaditya VI, the great Chalukya king), Basavanna also went to Kalyana. With his honesty, hardwork and visionary mission, Basava rose to the position of Prime Minister in the court of king Bijjala, who ruled from 11621167 at Kalyana (presently renamed as Basavakalyana). There, he established the Anubhava Mantapa, a spiritual parliament to openly discuss Lingayatism, which attracted many saints from throughout India. He believed in the principle Káyakavé Kailása (Work puts you on the path to heaven, Work is Heaven); one step ahead of Ravindranath Tagore's 'work is worship'. It was at this time that the Vachanas, simple and easy-to-understand poetic writings which contained essential teachings, were written. Below is one of the thousands of Vachanas that were written:

The power of knowledge destroys ignorance;
The power of light dissipates darkness;
The power of truth is foe of all untruth;
The sharana's experience of god is the sole cure of worldliness;
- Lord Kudala Sangamadeva
ಧ್ನ್ಯಾನದ ಬಲದಿಂದ ಅಧ್ನ್ಯಾನದ ಕೇಡು ನೋಡಯ್ಯ
ಜ್ಯೋತಿಯ ಬಲದಿಂದ ಅಂಧಕಾರದ ಕೇಡು ನೋಡಯ್ಯ
ಸತ್ಯದ ಬಲದಿಂದ ಅಸತ್ಯದ ಕೇಡು ನೋಡಯ್ಯ
ಕೂಡಲ ಸಂಗನ ಶರಣರ ಬಲದಿಂದ ಆತ್ಮನ ಅಹಂಕಾರದ ಕೇಡು ನೋಡಯ್ಯ
-ಕೂಡಲ ಸಂಗಮ ದೇವ......
Dont rob,Dont kill, Never ever lie
dont get angry,Dont think negative about others
Dont self describe, Dont tease others
this is the way of self respect, this is the way to get respected by the world.
This is the way of impressing my lord Koodala sangam deva.
ಕಳಬೇಡ, ಕೊಲಬೇಡ, ಹುಸಿಯ ನುಡಿಯಲುಬೇಡ
ಮುನಿಯಬೇಡ, ಅನ್ಯರಿಗೆ ಅಸಹ್ಯ ಪಡಬೇಡ
ತನ್ನ ಬಣ್ಣಿಸಬೇಡ , ಇದಿರು ಹಳೆಯಲುಬೇಡ
ಇದೆ ಅಂತರಂಗ ಶುದ್ದಿ, ಇದೆ ಬಹಿರಂಗ ಶುದ್ದಿ
ಇದೆ ನಮ್ಮ ಕೂಡಲ ಸಂಗಮ ದೆವನೊಲಿಸುವ ಪರಿ.

Basava created much controversy by actively ignoring the societal rules associated with the caste system, which he wished to abolish. By allowing untouchables to have lunch at his residence and praising the historic marriage of a Brahmin woman and an untouchable man, Basava caused orthodox members of King Bijjala's court to go to the King with such stories, some true and some false. Bijjala, afraid of a possible uprising in orthodox society, ordered the newly married couple to be harshly punished. Before punishing the couple Bijjala asked Basava to agree with caste system; but Basava strongly opposed caste system and said, both Haralayya and Madhuvaras were Lingayats and the rules of caste system are not applicable to them. Bijjala did not agree with Basavanna's ideas; and asked Basavanna to be silent and accept the punishment to couple or leave Kalyana. The "Being punished" (Danda-gonda) Basavanna left Kalyana with heavy heart and marched towards Kudala Sangama. He left Kalyana in 1196 A.D. of Rakshasa nama samvatsara, phalguna masada 12 th day for Kudala Sangama and en route to Kudala sangama, he preached the people about the humanity, morality, honesty, simplicity, and the dignity of labour, equality among all human beings, human rights etc. Being a perfect yogi he released the bonds of the body and soul and took nirvana (Lingaikya) on 30-7-1196 A.D. (Hindu Calendar: NaLanama samvatsarada Shravan shuddha panchami), in response to the call from Kudala Sangama Devá, or Lingadeva the Almighty.

Philosophy

Tha aikya linga of Basava at Kudalasangama

Basava said that the roots of social life are embedded not in the cream of the society but in the scum of the society. It is his witty saying that the cow does not give milk to him who sits on its back, but it gives milk to him who squats at its feet. With his wide sympathy, he admitted high and low alike into his fold. The Anubhava Mantapa established by Basava laid down the foundation of social democracy. Basava believed that man becomes great not by his birth but by his worth to the society. This means faith in the dignity of man and the belief that a common man is as good a part of society as a man of status.

He proclaimed that all members of the state are labourers: some may be intellectual labourers and others may be manual labourers. He placed practice before precept and his own life was of rigid rectitude. Basava brought home to his countrymen the lesson of self-purification. He tried to raise the moral level of the public life in the country, and he insisted that the same rules of conduct applied to the administrators as to the individual members of the society. He also taught the dignity of manual labour by insisting on work as worship. Every kind of manual labour, which was looked down upon by people of high caste, should be looked upon with love and reverence, he argued. Thus arts and crafts flourished, and a new foundation was laid down in the history of the economics of the land.

Basava formed people's committees representing various vocations such as agriculture, horticulture, tailoring, weaving, dyeing, and carpentry. All vocations were regarded as of equal value and the members belonged to all sorts of vocations. Thus Jedara Dasimayya was a weaver, Shankar Dasimayya a tailor, Madivál Máchayya a washerman, Myadar Ketayya a basket-maker, Kinnari Bommayya a goldsmith, Vakkalmuddayya a farmer, Hadap Appanna a barber, Jedar Madanna a soldier, Ganada Kannappa an oilman, Dohar Kakkayya a tanner, Mydar Channayya a cobbler, and Ambigara Chowdayya a ferryman. There were women followers such as Satyakka, Ramavve, and Somavve with their respective vocations. The curious thing was that all these and many more have sung the Vachanas (sayings) regarding their vocations in a very suggestive imagery.

Basavanna's Vachanas

Kannada
ಉಳ್ಳವರು ಶಿವಾಲಯ ಮಾಡುವರು ನಾನೇನು ಮಾಡಲಿ ಬಡವನಯ್ಯಾ
ಎನ್ನ ಕಾಲೇ ಕಂಬ, ದೇಹವೇ ದೇಗುಲ, ಶಿರವೇ ಹೊನ್ನ ಕಳಸವಯ್ಯಾ
ಕೂಡಲಸಂಗಮದೇವಾ ಕೇಳಯ್ಯಾ, ಸ್ಥಾವರಕ್ಕಳಿವುಂಟು ಜಂಗಮಕ್ಕಳಿವಿಲ್ಲ
,

uLLavaru shiválaya máduvaru nánénu mádali badavanayyá
enna kále kambha dehavé degula shiravé honna kaLashavayyá
Kúdala Sangama Devá keLayya sthavarakkaLivunTu jangamakaLivilla
 [?]

The rich will make temples for Shiva.What shall I, a poor man, do?
My legs are pillars,The body the shrine,The head a cupola of gold.
Listen, O lord Kudal Sangama deva,Things standing shall fall,But the moving ever shall stay.

The Kudala Sangama Deva is - his insignia of all his vachanas in Kannada.

Ramanujam in his book, speaking of Shiva, has translated Basavanna's insignia Kudala Sangama Deva into Lord of the meeting rivers. But that is only literal translation. It does not fit to the Definition of Kudala Sangama Deva given by Basavanna.

Basavanna Defines GOD as:

jagadagala mugilagal migeyagal,
nimmagala, pataLadindattatta nimma shricarana,
brahmanDadindattatta nimma shri mukuta,
agammya, agOcara, apramana lingave,
neevenna karasthalakke bandu
cuLukadirayya kudala sangamadeva.

In this Vacana, Guru Basava has made it clear that, Kudala Sangamadeva in not Lord of meeting rivers. He is infinite, eternal, and beyond the reach of the physical senses.Basavanna gives perfect shape in the form of Ishtalinga to the formless and absolute GOD. Thus Ishtalinga represents the eternal, omnipresence, and Absolute GOD.

Views on Basaveshwara today

The Times of India in its issue dated May 17, 1918 paid a glowing tribute to Basava:

"It was the distinctive feature of his mission that while illustrious religious and social reformers in India before him had each laid his emphasis on one or other items of religion and social reform, either subordinating more or less other items to it or ignoring them altogether, Basava sketched and boldly tried to work out a large and comprehensive programme of social reform with the elevation and independence of womanhood as its guiding point. Neither social conferences which are usually held in these days in several parts of India, nor Indian social reformers, can improve upon that programme as to the essentials. The present day social reformer in India is but speaking the language and seeking to enforce the mind of Basava."

The movement initiated by Basava through Anubhava Mantapa became the basis of a sect of love and faith. It gave rise to a system of ethics and education at once simple and exalted. It sought to inspire ideals of social and religious freedom, such as no previous faith of India had done. In the medieval age which was characterized by inter-communal jealousy, it helped to shed a ray of light and faith on the homes and hearts of people. But the spirit soon disappeared after the intermarriage that Basava facilitated came to an abrupt end when the couple were punished for the same by the King. The dream of the classless society was shaken and Basava soon realised the meek picture and left for Kudala Sangama and a year later died. Many believe that it was through self-annihilation, because of the agony caused by the failure.

The movement gave a literature of considerable value in the vernacular language of the country, the literature which attained the dignity of a classical tongue. Its aim was the elimination of the barriers of caste and to remove untouchability, raising the untouchable to the equal of the high born. The sanctity of family relations and the improvement in the status of womanhood were striven for while at the same time the importance of rites and rituals, of fasts and pilgrimages was reduced. It encouraged learning and contemplation of God by means of love and faith. The excesses of polytheism were deplored and the idea of monotheism was encouraged[1].{{</ref>. The movement tended, in many ways, to raise the nation generally to a higher level of capacity both in thought and action. However, the sect failed to bring about a completely classless society.

See also

References

  • Prophets of Veershaivism by His Holiness Mahatapasvi Shri Kumarswami.
  1. ^ a b M. R. Sakhare, History and Philosophy of the Lingayat Religion, Prasaranga, Karnataka University, Dharwad

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