BASAVA JAYANTI | BIRTH OF BASAVANNA
Context: Basava JayantI was celebrated on 26 April as part of an annual event that is celebrated in the honour of the birth of Vishwaguru Basaveshwara.
Who was Vishwaguru Basaveshwara?
Also known as Bhaktibhandari (literally, the treasurer of devotion), Basavanna or Basaveswara, he is an Indian 12th-century Statesman, philosopher, poet, Lingayat saint in the Shiva-focussed Bhakti movement, and social reformer during the reign of the Kalyani Chalukya/Kalachuri dynasty. Basavanna reached his peak of influence during the rule of King Bijjala II in Karnataka, India.
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About Basava Jayanti
Basava Jayanthi is traditionally observed by the Lingayats and is observed as a holiday in the Indian state of Karnataka. It marks the birthday of Basavanna, 12th-century poet-philosopher, and the founding saint of the Lingayat sect.
It is celebrated majorly in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
In November 2015, PM Narendra Modi inaugurated the statue of Basaveshwara along the bank of the River Thames at Lambeth in London. Also in 2017, the PM suggested the digitization of holy Vachanas of Basavanna, which was done later.
Cultural Legacy of Basava
- Basavanna spread social awareness through his poetry, popularly known as Vachanaas.
- He rejected gender or social discrimination, superstitions and rituals but introduced Ishtalinga necklace, with an image of the Shiva Liṅga, to every person regardless of his or her birth, to be a constant reminder of one’s bhakti (devotion) to Shiva.
- The traditional legends and hagiographic texts state Basava to be the founder of the Lingayats.
- The Basavarajadevara Ragale by the Kannada poet Harihara is the earliest available account on the life of the social reformer.
- Basavanna literary works include the Vachana Sahitya in Kannada Language.
- A full account of Basava’s life and ideas are narrated in a 13th-century sacred Telugu text, the Basava Purana by Palkuriki Somanatha.
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The Lingayat/Veerashaiva community, a politically dominant group in Karnataka, are devotees of Shiva. The Lingayats follow 12th-century saint-philosopher Basavanna who had rejected ritualistic worship and pre-eminence of the Vedas.
- The Veerashaivas sect of the community also worships Shiva idols and practises other Hindu customs.
- The Lingayats consider the Veershaivas to be part of Hinduism as they follow Hindu customs while the Veerashaivas think the community was an ancient religion established by Shiva and Basavanna was one of its saints.
- The community has a strong presence in the Karnataka especially in the north.
- Lingayats constitute 17% of the total population in Karnataka. They are dominant in close to 100 of the 224 assembly seats, mostly in North Karnataka.
- There have been nine chief ministers from the community.
Political tussles related to Ligayats
- The Lingayat community has been demanding status of a separate religion for a long time. The issue came at the centre-stage last year when Karnataka Chief Minister (2013-18), Siddaramaiah promised to consider the demand.
- One part of the community demands the minority status for both Veerashaiva and Lingayats considering them the same, while another wants it only for the Lingayats as it considers Veershaivas to be Hindus.
- The Nagamohan committee has recommended minority status for only the Lingayats and has kept Veershaivas out.
- Karnataka State Minorities Commission had formed a seven-member committee, headed by retired high court Judge HN Nagamohan Das on the issue which submitted its report on March 2 stating that Lingayats in Karnataka could be considered as religious minority.
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