BASAVESHWARA Biography - Religious Figures & Icons


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Shree Basaveshwara was the reviver of the Veerashaiva ( Lingayats) religion. He advocated the equality among the humankind and condemned all barriers of caste, creed and sex etc. and showed the right path to the society which was
lost in the darkness of casteism,which makes him a Unique saint, hence he was known as Jagajyoti ( a devine light for the world ). He is also known as Krantikari Basavanna
for his revolution in the caste ridden society.


Shree Basaveshwara was born in a brahmin family, to Madarasa and Madalambe in 1131 AD in Bagewadi. Madarasa was the chief of Bagewadi, now known as Basavanna Bagewadi is in Bijapur district, Karnataka, India. It is observed that Basaveshwara was an incarnation of Nandi the vehicle of lord Shiva, as Madalambe gave birth to a son after observing the Nandivrata. Basaveshwara had a sister Akkanagamma and a brother Devaraja.


Upanayana was done when Basava was eight years of age. He was made to wear the sacred thread called Janivara and worship the holy fire reciting “Gayatri” mantra and perform many complex rites. Soon after this, his both parents died and was looked by his grandmother. Basava was in no way convinced by the Upanayana ceremony and the subsequent strict observances because they were administered by the persons who had no true insight. This made him revolt against the ritualism. At the age of 16 years Basava discarded Janivara and broke away from the brahmanical
religious traditions. He then proceeded to Kudala Sangama, then the Shaivite stronghold.


Kudala Sangama is now a village in Hunagund Taluk of Bijapur District and situated at the meeting place( Sangama or Junction ) of two rivers, the Krishna and its tributary the Malaprabha.


Basava found his guru at Sangama and with his guidance, plunged himself into study and devotion to Sangameshwara the presiding deity of Sangama. He spent 12 years at Sangama which was the most significant period of his life. He had established the contacts with many learned
Brahmin scholars who were less orthodox in social and religious affairs.By this time Basava had come to a conclusion on spiritual, religious and social aspects of life. His views were:


There is one God , he is real, universal and supreme. He is perfect,noble, compassionate and he is always present to help the true devotees. No other God could attain his dignity and he is SHIVA,who is worshipped in the form of linga, the symbol of infinity.
The Jangamas, true devotees of Shiva, who propagate his gospel deserve the highest respect. The humanity which went astray in search of unreal God and false faiths should be brought back on the right path. The society suffering from artificial distinctions and discriminations needed reform and revival.


Basava married Gangambike the daughter of his maternal uncle Baladeva, who was a minister in the King Bijjala’s court at Mangalaveda.He had another wife, Nilambike ( Nilalochane). He had a son named Balasangayya.
Later he found a job in Bijjala’s court. Bijjala changed his seat of power to Kalyana and Basaveshwara followed him. Basaveshwara became the minister to King Bijjala in 1162 AD. As the minister Basaveshwara established the spiritual parliament, known as ANUBHAVA MANTAPA, to discuss the various aspects of Veerashaivism with the people from all walks of life. The dreams of Basava dreamt in Kudala Sangama, were being realised at Kalyana. His Bhakti movement brought great saints from all over India to the Anubhava Mantapa. The fundamental principles of religion, philosophy and society were discussed at a great length. The great Vachana Literature took final shape.
Basaveshwara was not only a minister by now he was the central figure of the socio-religious revolution ( Kranti) and condemned the barriers of caste, creed, sex etc. He had established the shunya pitha in the Anubhava Mantapa as the symbol of the new religion, which was being advocated by the Shivasharanas in 1154 AD. Allamaprabhu ascended the shunya pitha in 1162 AD. Kalyana attracted sharanas and jangamas.


Basaveshwara’s life long aim was to eradicate the deep rooted varnashrama or the caste system. Though he was the minister, he used to invite the untouchables to his residence and have meals with them. This act incited the hatredness among the orthodox people who were jealous
about the Basaveshwara’s great achievement. They carried many false stories to King Bijjala to malign Basaveshwara. These accusations created suspicion in the mind of Bijjala and he was fearing about the uprising of traditional and orthodox society, if the accusations were proved to be true.
As if adding fuel to the fire, the historic marriage between the daughter of Madhuvayya a Brahmin and the son of Haralayya an untouchable took place in Kalyana. This marriage was blessed by Basaveshwara and many sharanas, but this infuriated the traditional people in the society and they complained the King Bijjala. The king ordered, Madhuvayya and Haralayya be punished by removing their eyes and dragged in the streets by elephants. Basaveshwara was unable to stop the punishment and his
sensitive mind could not bear this shock. He took the blame for this upon himself. He felt that his mission in Kalyana has come to an end. With great sorrow in his heart he left Kalyana in 1167 AD and went to Kudala Sangama.The chaotic conditions prevailed in Kalyana and the sharanas were very much distressed by the developments. Mean time the king was


Three months after reaching Kudala Sangama Shree Basaveshwara attained the union with Lord Kudala Sangameshwara in 1167 AD . Following is one of the thousands of vachanas of Shree Basaveshwara:


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;


O Lord Kudala Sangamadeva.