Basavanna & Vir Shaivism Lingayat Movement

Into the Free World    

Now his formal education started. Under eminent men he studied the Vedas, grammar, music, literature, six systems of philosophy, shivagamas etc. He had a keen intellect and an enviable memory. B was against parrot like reciting of scriptures. He felt that the Vedas proclaimed the greatness of God and of bhakti as opposed to the common belief that they glorified karma. B began to change, give vent to his feelings. He began to protest against the injustice to the lower castes. He had clashes with parents but before things could go out of control his parents passed away. Uninhibited now he cut the sacred thread and threw it away. The situation in his village became intolerable so he left for another town called Kudalasangama in Bijapur district. It was a holy place for Saivites and the temple there was a famous centre of pilgrimage during that period.

B came there because there was God Sangameshwara, the deity he secretly adored. As he entered the temple, his pent-up emotions burst into words. His life which was like a ship caught in a storm had found its haven now. B decided to settle down there. The temple priests assigned B the duty of bringing fresh water and flowers for worship. B was mad after God and the way he worshipped was not in accordance with the shashtras. He would dance, sing, clap, speak to God, would beg excuse of Him for any delay in bringing Him offerings. The people appreciated his devotion. B taught them devotional songs.

B began to attract people from the nearby villages. It was here that the foundation for his life as a religious and social leader was laid. It became the seat of his spiritual exercise. It was here that his personality flowered.

There is a controversy as to whether B was the founder of Virashaivism. While I have given details in the introduction, it would be better to focus on the man and his teachings than controversies. The present day Virshavas may fall into two groups i.e. the followers of Revanasiddha and Basava. There was not much of a difference in their teachings. He revolutionized old Shaivism, started a new movement. As we shall see later, it was perhaps a reformist’s movement on the lines of the Arya Samaj in the 19th century.

Receive Site Updates