Discuss the starring role and influences of Basavanna as a social reformer. 10 marks

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  • In the intro briefly write about Basavanna.
  • In the body explain that his teachings and philosophy transcend all boundaries and address the universal and eternal. Discuss in detail his contributions to the Indian society. Explain the bringing of Lingayat faith by him, his contributions through Vachanas etc.
  •  Conclude with his teachings that hold relevant even in today’s times.

Basavanna or Lord Basaveshwara was an Indian 12th-century statesman, philosopher, a poet and Lingayats saint in the Shiva-focussed Bhakti movement and a social reformer in Karnataka. He lived during the reign of the Kalyani Chalukya/Kalachuri dynasty. He was active during the rule of both dynasties but reached his peak of influence during the rule of King Bijjala II in Karnataka, India.


Role and influences of Basavanna as a social reformer:
1. Basavanna was a philosopher and a social reformer, who fought against social evils of his time such as caste system and the ritual practices of Hinduism.
2. His teachings and philosophy transcend all boundaries and address the universal and eternal.
3. Basava was a great humanitarian, who advocated a new way of life, in which divine experience was at the center of life and where caste, gender and social distinctions carried no special importance.
4. From socio-economic prejudices and untouchability to gender discrimination, he waged war against all ills.
5. Basava championed devotional worship that rejected temple worship and rituals led by Brahmins, and replaced it with personalized direct worship of Shiva through practices such as individually worn icons and symbols like a small linga.
6. Basavanna spread social awareness through his poetry, popularly known as Vachanas.

Lingayats community:
1. The Lingayats/Veerashaiva community, a politically dominant group in Karnataka, are devotees of Shiva.
2. The Lingayats follow 12th-century saint-philosopher Basavanna who had rejected ritualistic worship and pre-eminence of the Vedas.
3. The Veerashaivas sect of the community also worships Shiva idols and practises other Hindu customs.
4. 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.

Anubhava Mantapa:
1. Basavanna staunchly believed in a caste-less society where each individual had equal opportunity to rise up in life.
2. To give force to the noble mission, he conceptualised Anubhava Mantapa– an academy of mystics, saints and philosophers of the Lingayata faith and acted as the fountainhead of thoughts on common human values and ethics.
3. Presided over another great mystic Allama Prabhu, the Anubhava Mantapa also had numerous Sharanas – people from the lower strata of society – as participants.
4. Basavanna himself joined as a participant in the Anubhava Mantapa with other greats like Akka Mahadevi and Allama Prabhu.

Vira-Shaiva movement:
1. Basavanna was a reformer. He became the leader of the Vira Saiva movement. He established a cult that is accepted today by many people.

2. It developed a school of poor priests. It abolished the old priestly class. It adopted the vernacular as the medium for inculcating the supreme truth into the people. It gave to women an important place in religious and social life.
3. It prescribed one ideal of realisation for every individual, high or low.

Basavanna gave rise to a system of ethics and education at once simple and exalted. But the spirit soon disappeared after the intermarriage that Basava facilitated came to an abrupt end when the couple were punished for the same by the King. The dream of the classless society was shaken and Basava soon realised the meek picture and left for Kudala Sangama and a year later died. Many believe that it was through self-annihilation, because of the agony caused by the failure.

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3 years ago


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