Significance of Sri Basaveshwara’s Teachings to the World

- J. M. Hondius

It is difficult to estimate the influence of a great mystic on the world. This influence works in many and often unknown ways. You never know in how far the awareness, the feelings and thought of mankind as a whole are influenced by a great mystic and reformer that Basava certainly was.

The revolution in India at the moment in many aspects resembles the revolution Basava wanted in his time, but nobody knows how far the revolution lie had inaugurated has influenced the revolution we witness today.

In the Western world of religion and science many things happen at the moment. All over the world the belief in the evolution of mankind, nature and the whole universe is growing (Teilhard de Chardin), but here again nobody knows as to how far this was influenced by Basava and the belief in the Shakti as the dynamic driving force of the growing universe and of growing humanity.

Basava was a very great mystic and he had the same experiences that every great mystic had. Important to Lingayat and to humanity is the way he interpreted his experiences and how his contemporaries and later followers interpreted his insights. As in every religion this was and is being clone in a different way at different times by different personalities. You cannot comprehend more than your inner experience allows and you have to express yourself in the context of your time.

Basava had to express himself ¡n accordance with the light of the faiths living around him: Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Nestorian Christianity. The different Sthalas (Stages) in Lingayathism are connected with the centers in Kundalini-Yoga, but the way of meditating on the Linga on the open left palm is much safer than the concentration on the centres and gives the same results. The mono theism of Basava accords with Hinduism, much more than Jainism and Buddhism.

The religious and social revolution Basava brought about can be compared with the religious and social reform Protestantism brought into Christianity much later.

Lingayathism is an up to date religion, closer to Christianity, Judaism and Western Gnosticism than any eastern religion I know.

In my opinion Western religion and Western philosophy could learn from Lingayathism that you can experience God immanently as Shakti, which means that if you talk about evolution or growth of the universe and mankind, you have to consider the universe and mankind as an organic unity unfolding itself in a certain direction (known only to Shakti, God, The Holy Ghost or the consciousness of the Universe and mankind as a whole and by no individual human being). In that case you can immanently get in tune with the universe and in harmony with the spiritual growth of mankind by finding out by introspection what is your unique task and contribution to this organic whole and order your life accordingly.

At the same time you can transcendently meet God as “The Other One” (Shiva). If your experience is genuine the inner most Self as Shakti (Maria-Sohpia) [1] and God as the Other One (Shiva) go together in full harmony. There is no conflict as there has so often been in the opinion of the Western churches and in Western philosophy. But there is more, the significance and the influence of Basava has not ended yet.


[1] Mari.aSophia—otherwise called Divine wisdom in the Orthodox Theology.

[This Article is from the book: Sri Basavesvara, Eigth centenary commemoration Volume, Pub: Government of Mysore (Karnataka), Bangalore, 1967.]

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