[dropcap] B [/dropcap]asava 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 religion. It is celebrated with much pomp and gaiety all over south India, majorly in Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.
In 2016, the date of Basava Jayanti is May 9. Basvanna is considered to be the founder of Lingayatism or Lingayat Sect or Veerashaivism. He was responsible for sweeping social changes in Karnataka and surrounding regions around 900 years ago.
A true humanist, Basaveshwara stood for the upliftment of the downtrodden and fought the evils that had crept into the Brahmanic Vedic tradition. He preached that there is only one Supreme Being and that is Shiva; and that all animate and inanimate are equal before the Supreme Being.
The philosophy and teachings of Basaveshwara had universal appeal and eternal value and it attracted millions of people. The equality of sexes and social justice, which was unheard in many parts of the world in 12th century, was introduced at the grassroots level of the Kannada society by Basavanna.
The below verse was penned by grate poet and sant basavanna.
Do not steal, do not kill, do not lie
Do not be angry, do not be scornful of others
Do not glorify yourself, do not insult others
These are the means to inward purity, these are the means to outward purity
These are the means to please Kudalasangamadeva.
The rich will make temples for Siva.
What shall I, a poor man, do?
My legs are pillars, the body the shrine,
the head a cupola of gold.
Listen, O lord of the meeting rivers,
things standing shall fall,
but the moving ever shall stay.
The power of knowledge destroys ignorance;
The power of light dissipates darkness;
The power of truth is foe of all untruth;
The sharana’s experience of God is the sole cure of worldliness;
The passage given above is called a Vachana’. Basaavanna wrote it. Kudalasangama was his personal deity. This name appears at the end of every vachana as a mark of identity. Basavanna wrote many vachanas. Before the birth of Basavanna it was customary to write religious and ethical texts in Sanskrit. But Basavanna began to write them in Kannada. This practice enriched the Kannada literature. Till then it was the custom of Kannada writers to compose poetry. Basavanna wrote in the vachana form using prose. So modern Kannada prose could develop. Kannada became popular.