Basavanna was a 12th century philosopher, social reformer and preacher whose teachings are cherished not only by Karnataka but the whole country.
As a vehement social reformer, Basavanna had to suffer a lot at the hand of traditionalists but with the other reformers of his time, he started one of the greatest religious movements in the history of India questioning the teachings and traditions of Vedas and ancient scriptures.
His Early Life and Childhood
Basavanna was born around 800 years ago in 1131 A.D to a pious couple, Madarasa and Madalambike in a village called Bagewadi in Karnataka. The two were devotees of Nandeeshwara. Madalambike in her desire to have a worshiped Nandeeshwara every day, and one night she dreamt that Shiva had sent his bull Nandi to the mortal world and Basavanna was then born.
Madarasa’s guru, upon the birth of the child, smeared scared ashes on the forehead of the new born and prophesied that the child would promote Dharma in the world and work for the well being of mankind. The Guru then named him Basava, the Kannada form of the Sanskrit word Vrishabha.
Basava in his childhood refused to accept traditions and beliefs and left his home in search of truth and wisdom. He went to the Kudala Sangama, a city in the Bagalkot district of Karnataka. He finished his education in a gurukul at an age of 21 and was deeply grieved to find ignorance, casteism, sophistry and untouchability that had penetrated the society.
His Later Life and Teachings
Basava had married Sharane Neelganaga, the daughter of his maternal uncle, and taken the position of an accountant in the palace of King Bijjala. He became the Finance Minister and then Prime Minister in the King’s court.
Basava established the Anubhavamandapa, a place that Allamaprabhu and Akka Mahadevi became a part of. Anubhavamandapa was established as a spiritual and socio-religious academy. Basava was later conferred the title of Basavanna (Basava, the elder brother).
Basavanna later resigned from the post of Prime Minister in King Bijjala’s court and moved to Kudala Sangama for meditation. There he merged with the Almighty in 1196 A.D.
In 1155 A.D, Basava had a vision that it was incorrect to sacrifice humans or animals to a formless God. He popularized the concept and base of Ishta-Linga to overcome the discriminations of caste and creed. Later Ishta-Linga was declared as a symbol of the religion Lingayatism, which is followed all across the state today.