Childhood and Education
- ✍ Her Holiness Maha Jagadguru Dr. Maate Mahadevi
ಪೂಜ್ಯ ಶ್ರೀ ಮಹಾಜಗದ್ಗುರು ಡಾ|| ಮಾತೆ ಮಹಾದೇವಿ.
Basavarasa was very sharp and brainy. He had great respect for his teachers and elders. He started his studies reposing a tremendous faith in God. He was very brilliant even at his childhood. In those days there were special privileges to Brahmin children for education. Moreover, as Basavarasa was the son of chieftain of Bagewadi, naturally the teachers used to take lot of interest in him.
The boy Basava gained mastery
Over all branches of knowledge
Writing, recitation, arithmetic,
Language, grammar and composition,
Prose and poetry, art and literature,
Rythm and metre of music,
Epics, Vedas and philosophy.
He recited faultlessly and expressed eloquently
(Bhimakavi in Basavapurana) Thus, Basavarasa was fortunate enough to acquire knowledge in various branches of learning that was necessary to become a scholar. Moreover, by birth he possessed an independent and critical bent of mind. He used to question the age old practices and beliefs and would sit for long hours contemplating on them deeply. The way Basavarasa was asking the questions reminded of an ancient proverb.
SIMHAHA SHISHURAPI NIPATATI MADAMALINA
KAPOLA BHITTISHU GAJESHU
PRAKRUTHIRIYUM SATVAVATAM NA
KHALU VAYASTHEJASO HETUHU ||
This means "A lion-cub though small, would always aim at attacking the temples of a rogue elephant". He used to ask excellent questions since it was only the character not the age which was the basis for brilliance ! All the pupils were exclusively from Agrahara and none of the other caste boys of his age ever came to attend the classes. This perplexed the young boy. He was eager to help his peers. "Please come, I will teach you", he used to approach them. But they used to run away by saying "Why all these for us ?" Basavarasa could notice fear on their faces. This abnormal behaviour of those boys used to fasten the young Basavarasa with deep introspective enquiries.
One day when the young Basavarasa was writing something on the sand in the open space in front of the house, cobbler (an untouchable) Ketha, of the same age, brought a pair of foot wear.
"Madam, I have brought the foot wear stitched" he loudly called Basavarasa's mother. "Basava... ask him to leave them at the back-yard. Be careful.... don't touch him, we shall take them after sprinkling the cow-dung water" mother told Basavarasa.
The boy became curious.
"Why should we not touch him....?"
"They are Holeyas (untouchables).....of extreme low class......"
"What happens if we touch them ?"
"We will be polluted...."
"If so, would we not become polluted if we wear the footwear stitched by him ?"
"Keep quite ! stop arguing too much "
"Mother, tell me what will happen ? I would like to touch him...."
"No ! Don't do so. God will be angry if you touch him...."
"If God gets angry when I touch another human being who is just like me,
then He must be wicked. Ah! I had thought that God was good".
"Basava....... I have had enough, get in, get into the house...."
"Why they are of low caste mother ? Dont they have ear, nose,
eye and body just like me ?"
"They all eat meat my son, that you can't understand...."
"If all who eat meat are untouchables,
what about the cat which eats rats? why do you touch it ?
Even if I touch it you don't scold me, why ?"
"Stop your argument, it is too much, go and study..." Madalambike mildly tapped his head and could make him silent momentarily. But the young Basavarasa remained perturbed. He began contemplating. His mental acumen was stimulated and sharp thoughts started emanating from that little brain. The quest for reality had begun.