Equality of Basava

-Shivshanker Cheral

Basava was the greatest of great person of 12th century and had provided very good equality path to the human kind. Basava never thought for himself or his family members he thought of all human beings, he struggled for equality between male/female equality between different castes. Basava was born in Brahmin family which is well dominant at 12th century, and no need to worry for the wealth as well as his father Madrasa is the chief of the village Bagewadi. But Basava left the home he sacrificed everything for the purpose of equality. At the tender child age he left his home for gender equality.

Basava has one elder sister Akkanagamma; he is offering to his sister all the eatables, milk or money anything before using himself. As per Brahmin custom all boys (male members only) at the age of 8 – 10 has to undergo “Upnayana” Samskar. Now as per the custom Basava has to undergo “Upnayana” Samskar. Basava asked his father that his elder sister Akkanagamma has to undergo “Upnayan” samskar first and then he will undergo the same process as he is offering anything to his elder sister first. Then father said it’s against our custom we cannot provide the Upnayan Samskar for female members. The entire family members and the society not ready to give equality to female members and they refused to do so against the Orthodoxy rule. Basava refused to receive the Upnayan Samskar which is only for male members; and left the home to build a society of equality between male and female.

In 12th century if anyone encounters any new person first question asked is who is he? What is your caste what is your Gotra etc… and if he does not belongs to their caste or Gotra then people are keeping away from him, not only that based on the caste there is no entrance to the home, public places, groceries shops, Temples, palaces etc… and even into the cities. (Shudras are living outside of the city) In such days Basava said.

ಇವನಾರವ, ಇವನಾರವ, ಇವನಾರವ ನೆಂದೆನಿಸದಿರಯ್ಯಾ,
ಇವ ನಮ್ಮವ, ಇವ ನಮ್ಮವ, ಇವ ನಮ್ಮವ ನೆಂದೆನಿಸಯ್ಯಾ
ಕೂಡಲ ಸಂಗಮದೇವ ನಿಮ್ಮ ಮಹಾ ಮನೆಯ ಮಗನೆಂದೆನಿಸಯ್ಯಾ.

Do not say “who is he”, “who is he”, and “who is he”?
Say that he is ours, he is ours, and he is ours,
Say that he is the son of Thy own house, O Kudalasangamadeva.

Do not say who is he? Who is he? Need to treat all human beings as sons & daughters of GOD’s home (world) (Mahamane); we need to welcome them just like our brothers & sisters since we all are children of GOD.

Basava started equality from there and continued throughout his life time. He preached & practiced the equality. He hugged all the down trodden people like cobbler, potter, goldsmith, waiver, farmers, harlots etc… which are from different castes. When people are asked that these people are inferior class we should not touch them then Basava says:

ಕೊಲ್ಲುವವನೆ ಮಾದಿಗ ಹೊಲಸು ತಿಂಬುವವನೆ ಹೊಲೆಯ,
ಕುಲವೇನು ಆವಂದರ ಕುಲವೇ,
ಸಕಲ ಜೀವಾತ್ಮರಿಗೆ ಲೇಸು ಬಯಸುವ ನಮ್ಮ ಕೂಡಲ ಸಂಗನ ಶರಣರೆ ಕುಲಜರು.

One who kills is a pariah (Madiga)
One who eats filth is indeed an inferior person (Holeya)
What has birth got to do with superior class or inferior class? (By birth all are equal)
Our lord Kudalasangamadeva’s Sharana’s indeed belong to the superior class as they wish for the welfare of all living beings.

Our Sharana’s are well-wishers of all living beings. Sharana’s are the real superior class. We should classify the people by their practice not by birth. One who is killing the living beings need classify as pariah. People who are eating the filth need to classify them as inferior class. The Brahmin Pandits argued that in Vedas and Agamas we have all the classification of castes we need to follow these as per our sastras Agamas, Then Basava says the following:

I shall sheathe the Vedas, fetter the Sastras,
Put Tarka in tongs, deface the Agamas.
Look father, most generous Kudalasangamadeva,
I am a son of Madara Chennayy’s family.

He completely disagrees to the caste system which is written in Vedas, Sastras and Agamas. These all are not be used for practical lives which were separates people based on birth.

We all need to learn lot of lessons from Basava Vachana literature; still we are at separation based on caste system. We need to rethink about these caste systems which create lot of problems in the society. We all need to follow the Basava theory of Equality and need to treat all people are equal and also need to give respect to each and every living being.

Shivshanker Cheral, M.Sc (CS), M.Tech., M.Phil,
H. No. 13-3-51, Shivpur Colony,
Behind S.P. Quarters, Ladgeri,
Bidar -585 401 Karnataka, India. E-mail: sscheral@gmail.com

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[1] From the book "Vachana", pub: Basava Samiti Bangalore 2012.