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Basava’s Philosophy of Universal Significance: A Sure Solution to the Hate Crime Menace of Terrorism

-Kashinath Kadadi
# 19, Gumbeshwara Nilaya,
2nd main, 9th Cross,
Shankar Nagar, Mahalakshmi Layout.
Bangalore-560 096, Karnataka, India.


(Lecture delivered at Veerashaiva Samaja of North America VSNA-7 Sunnyvale U.S.A. on Basava Jayanthi Day 02-05-2002)
Courtesy: Basava Journal, Published by: BASAVA SAMITHI, Bangalore, INDIA.

Today the world is witnessing ugly incidents of TERRORISM, VIOLENCE and RACIAL CONFLAGRATION AND CONFLICTS. Much blood is shed on the surface of the Earth in the name of race and religion through TERRORISM like the one on 26/11/2011. Winds of hatred are threatening the peaceful existence of MANKIND. It looks as if BASAVAESHWARA anticipated the future happenings. Thus he proclaims in his VACHANA.

“What sort of religion can it be,
COMPASSION needs must be
Towards all living things
O Lord Kudalsangamadeva”!

He was a relentless rationalist in his attack on ignorance and superstition. He was more intensely modern than many modern thinkers in his insistence on rationality as a valuable aid to the spiritual life. Basaveshwara lived his life DIVINELY fearing none and HATING NONE.

To a society petrified into castes and creeds through VARNASHRAMA, in the TWELFTH CENTURY, he came as a great deliverer, preaching LOVE, ONENESS AND EQUALITY. All were equals in the eyes of GOD. Greatness did not depend on the accident of birth or caste. He thought of human society as a democracy of souls with inherent respect and affection for all.

Philosophy Of Basaveshwara

Basaveshwara’s entire philosophy may be summed up in three propositions, viz., God is real, the world is a challenge and an inspiration, and the goal of life is to attune itself to living in communion, and the goal of life is to attune itself to living in communion with the Divine Being and making life harmonious with society. His philosophy successfully strikes a balance between the outer and inner in a man, the Bahiranga and the Antharanga. He was an active reformer and at the same time the Bhakti bhandari, the very treasure of DEVOTION. The philosophy of life of Basava has to be gathered, from his sayings, the VACHANAS, which have come floating to us down these 800 years and more.

Social Equality

Social Equality was the breath of Basava’s philosophy. He rejected the caste system and vehemently denounced the notion that some communities are superior to others and eradicated the complexes of superiority or inferiority from the minds of his associates. His teachings were addressed to all men and women alike. Service to the community at large and devotion to the Lord constitute the means for human liberation. He preached the equality of women, rejected caste system and the distinctions and the hereditary right of Brahmins to priesthood as well as its traditional ritual worship. However he laid emphasis on devotion rather than asceticism and rejected temple worship and icon worship, except for a Linga known as Ishtalinga, worn around the neck, which should be worshipped daily. The Lingayats believe that after death they will go straight to unite with GOD i.e., Lingaikya and there will be no return to the world. The Lingayats, therefore need no orthodox funeral sites and bury their dead as is done with holy men. The wedding between and outcaste Harijan cobbler’s son and the daughter of a Brahmin was the zenith of the social revolution in twelfth century. This flouting of social convention led to King Bijjala condemning the couple’s parents to death. This act caused riots against the king who was assassinated. Basava, who was opposed to the community’s violence against the king, lived out his days. In a nutshell, Basava’s SOCIAL REFORMATION for self-purification and self-development of every individual is given in the following Vachana, which also summarizes the INDIAN PENAL CODE.

Do not Steal, Do not kill
Do not Utter Lies, Do not Lose Temper,
Do not Detest Others, Do not Glorify Yourself,
Do not Blame Others. These alone will Purify Within
And External and these are the ways to please our Lord

Emancipation Of Women

The greatest of Mahatma Basaveshwara’s manifold contributions towards the rejuvenation of the contemporary tradition-ridden society was his recognition of WOMAN’S INDIVIDUALITY AND HER RIGHTS. Women were not entitled to offer prayers, to practice penances, to undertake pilgrimage, to recite mantras, worship God or work shoulder to shoulder with the men. The movement of Basaveshwara not only granted equal rights for women in all these aspects but also raised her status to motherhood and divinity. In the words of Siddaramdeva-the associate Shiva Sharana of Basaveshwara “Women is not Maya (illusion) but, woman is really DIVINE”.

Kayaka-Work Doctrine

Basaveshwara’s concept of Kayaka (Work doctrine) not only states that everyone should earn his living by work done with the sweat of his brow but also in the spirit of dedication of that work to God. His concept of Kayaka cuts at the root of traditional varna or caste order of society and the varnashrama i.e. Brahamana, Kshatriya, Vysya and Shudra. Kayaka is a spiritual view of labor. Carlyle says “Work is Worship”, but Sharanas say “Kayakave is Kailas” i.e. “Work is the Abode of God”. Kayaka does not encourage amassing of wealth or hoarding of money. It is not motivated by profit. Kayaka is to be done in the spirit of Daasoha sharing the earnings with society by feeding the Jangamas i.e. philosopher preachers.

Anubhava Mantapa - An Academy of Experiences

The formation of Anuabhava Mantapa — the academy of socio-spiritual experiences was an outstanding work of Basaveshwara. It was an assemblage of supermen of the time, from the breadth and length of India, holding discussions and implementing discussions for the welfare of humanity. It was a place where these Vachanas were recited and philosophical discourses held. After deliberations they used to reach the conclusions embodied in the work SHUNYA SAMPADANE. The Sharanas for socio-spiritual pursuits conveyed these guiding principles to society at large. Late Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, renowned philosopher and former president of India has termed Anubhava Mantapa as “The First Religious Parliament of the world”.


Basaveshwara and his associate Sharanas started and enriched a literary form that had a universality of appeal, the Vachana or Brief Prose — Poetry lyric. Vachana literature committed to social upliftment and self realization was simple enough to be understood by the most ignorant and great enough to be admired by the sophisticated.

Basaveshwara was the First Indian Free Thinker and many thinkers have genuinely acknowledged his achievements. ARTHUR MILES observes thus in his book “The Land of Lingam”. “Whatever legend may say about Basava, the fact is pretty clear that he was the First Indian Free Thinker. He might be called the Luther of India”. The late Sir James Campbell, whose knowledge of Indian history, customs and manners were almost phenomenal, remarks “The present day social reformer in India is but speaking the language and seeking to enforce the mind of BASAVA”.


The message of Basava is a message of love and compassion coupled with devotion. It treats all men and women as equal and it makes no distinction between one person and another. It promotes compassion towards all living beings including animals and plants.

“Gird up your loins” said Basava and come to the field; yours is the lot to fight, not to yield. “Life is a struggle and a battle; nothing can be won without trouble”.

Today several dark clouds of violence, bloodshed, human / suicide bombs, terrorism, hate-crime seem to gather strength with their ugly faces on the horizon of the world, threatening the very existence of HUMANITY on this beautiful Earth of ours. The common men and women look disillusioned and perplexed, frustrated and show symptoms of gathering anger and indignation. At such a crucial time in our history, we can go back to Basava and seek guidance, inspiration and light from his philosophy. If Basava’s philosophy is properly understood and interpreted to the common man, it will help society in its onward march in search of peace, happiness, prosperity, social equality and spiritual good.

It is the pride of India that it produced as early as the 12th century a SAINT, HILOSOPHER, SOCIAL REFORMER, REVOLUTIONIST, ADMINISTRATOR, ECONOMIST RATIONALIST, FREE THINKER, WOMAN EMANCIPATOR AND THE CHAMPION OF THE POOR, DOWNTRODDEN AND THE UNTOUCHABLES, SRI MAHATMA BASAVESHWARA, who was the Prime Minister In Kalyan (now known as Basava Kalyan in North Karnataka South India) under King Bijjala. He lived much earlier than modern social reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Dayanand Saraswati, Mahatma Gandhi etc… Please see Annexure-I for Vishwa Vibhuthi Basavanna.


1. Miles, Arthur, Land of Lingam, London, 1933, .p.111
2. Michael, R. Blake: The Origins of Virasaiva sects Motilal Banarasidass, Delhi, p.16 3. A Popular Dictionary of Hinduism by Karel Werner
4. An Introduction to Hinduism by Gavin Flood
5. Basava Journal — vol. No. 26, Issue No. 3 — March 2001. Published by: BASAVA SAMITHI, Bangalore, INDIA.
6. Vishwa Vibhuthi Basavanna — Mata Mahadevi

* * *


The following exceptionally unique and excellent qualities / traits made Basavanna, the VISHWA VIBHUTHI:

RELIGIOUS (ಧಾರ್ಮಿಕ)

1. Mahaprasadi (ಮಹಾಪ್ರಸಾದಿ)
2. Karnik (ಕಾರಣೀಕ)
3. Mantra Purusha (ಮಂತ್ರ ಪುರುಷ)
4. Anubhಅavi (ಅನುಭಾವಿ)
5. Darshnik (ದಾರ್ಶನಿಕ)
6. Gaana Visharad (ಗಾನ ವಿಶಾರದ)
7. Thathva Jnani (ತತ್ವ ಜ್ಞಾನಿ)
8. Seshwara Vadi (ಶೇಶ್ವರವಾದಿ)
9. Bhakti Yogi (ಭಕ್ತಿ ಯೋಗಿ)
10. Jnana Yogi (ಜ್ಞಾನ ಯೋಗಿ)
11. Raj Yogi (ರಾಜ ಯೋಗಿ)
12. Kundalini Yogi (ಕುಂಡಲಿನಿ ಯೋಗಿ)
13. Kayaka Yogi (ಕಾಯಕ ಯೋಗಿ)
14. Shiva Yogi (ಶಿವ ಯೋಗಿ)
15. Paipurna Sakshathkari (ಪರಿಪೂರ್ಣ ಸಾಕ್ಷಾತ್ಕಾರಿ)
16. Sarvanga Lingi (ಸರ್ವಾಂಗ ಲಿಂಗಿ)
17. Pawada Purusha (ಪವಾಡ ಪುರುಷ)
18. Parusha Vyakthi (ಪರುಷ ವ್ಯಕ್ತಿ)
19. Sansar Yogi (ಸಂಸಾರ ಯೋಗಿ)
20. Neethivaadi (ನೀತಿವಾದಿ)
21. Param Viraktha (ಪರಮ ವಿರಕ್ತ)
22. Sthithaprajna (ಸ್ಥಿತಪ್ರಜ್ಞ)
23. Prasaadik (ಪ್ರಸಾದಿಕ)
24. Jeevan Muktha (ಜೀವನ್ಮುಕ್ತ)
25. Ichaa Marani (ಇಚ್ಛಾಮರಣಿ)
26. Eka Devopasak (ಏಕ ದೇವೋಪಾಸಕ)
27. Moodha Nambika Virodhi (ಮೂಢ ನಂಬಿಕೆ ವಿರೋಧಿ)
28. Loha Chumbak Vyakthi (ಲೋಹ ಚುಂಬಕ ವ್ಯಕ್ತಿ)
29. Samstha Nirmatru (ಸಂಸ್ಥೆ ನಿರ್ಮಾತೃ)
30. Jagadguru Peetha Nirmapak (ಜಗದ್ಗುರು ಪೀಠ ನಿರ್ಮಾಪಕ)
31. Jangam Ruhari (ಜಂಗಮ ರೂಹಾರಿ)
32. Vishwa Kutumbi (ವಿಶ್ವ ಕುಟುಂಬಿ)

SOCIAL (ಸಾಮಾಜಿಕ)

33. Samatha Vaadi (ಸಮತಾ ವಾದಿ)
34. Jaathi Paddhathi Virodhi (ಜಾತಿ ಪದ್ಧತಿ ವಿರೋಧಿ)
35. Stree Kulodharak (ಸ್ತ್ರೀ ಕುಲೋದ್ಧಾರಕ)
36. Pathithodharak (ಪತೀತೋದ್ಧಾರಕ)
37. Manavatha Vaadi (ಮಾನವತಾ ವಾದಿ)
38. Dalithodharak (ದಲಿತೋದ್ಧಾರಕ)
39. Swathantra Vichara Vaadi (ಸ್ವತಂತ್ರ ವಿಚಾರ ವಾದಿ)
40. Raja Kaaran Mutsadhi (ರಾಜ ಕಾರಣ ಮುತ್ಸದ್ಧಿ)
41. Swami Nishta (ಸ್ವಾಮಿ ನಿಷ್ಟ)
42. Ganitha Shastrajna (ಗಣಿತ ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರಜ್ಞ)
43. Lipi Shastrajna (ಲಿಪಿ ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರಜ್ಞ)
44. Artha Shastrajna (ಅರ್ಥ ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರಜ್ಞ)
45. Mano Shastrajna (ಮನೋ ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರಜ್ಞ)
46. Sharan Lol (ಶರಣ ಲೋಲ)
47. Ahimsa Vaadi (ಅಹಿಂಸಾ ವಾದಿ)
48. Ganachari (ಗಣಾಚಾರಿ)
49. Sahitya Sarvabhouma (ಸಾಹಿತ್ಯ ಸಾರ್ವಭೌಮ)
50. Loka Sangrahi (ಲೋಕ ಸಂಗ್ರಾಹಿ)
51. Sahithigal Spoorthi Gangotri (ಸಾಹಿತಿಗಳ ಸ್ಪೂರ್ತಿ ಗಂಗೋತ್ರಿ)
52. Samaj Sudharak (ಸಮಾಜ ಸುಧಾರಕ)
53. Samaj Sevak (ಸಮಾಜ ಸೇವಕ)
54. Nava Samaja Nirmapak (ನವ ಸಮಾಜ ನಿರ್ಮಾಪಕ)
55. Mano Kuladhari — Jagadguru (ಮನುಕುಲೋದ್ಧಾರಿ-ಜಗದ್ಗುರು)
56. He who taught Kannad to GOD (ದೇವರಿಗೆ ಕನ್ನಡ ಕಲಿಸಿಕೊಟ್ಟ ಗುರು)
57. Devaru Kotta Basavanna Pujari Galinda Shoshane Thappisida Mahatma (ದೇವರು ಕೊಟ್ಟ ಬಸವಣ್ಣ ಪೂಜಾರಿಗಳಿಂದ ಶೋಷಣೆ ತಪ್ಪಿಸಿದ ಮಹಾತ್ಮಾ)

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