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In Work Itself Heaven Resides (ಕಾಯಕವೇ ಕೈಲಾಸ)

-Thrineshwara M.R.
No. 17/1, "Sunaada", Krishnappa L/O,
Nagashettyhalli, R.M.V. 2nd Stage,
Bangalore - 560094. , Karnataka, India.


Kayakave Kailasa (ಕಾಯಕವೇ ಕೈಲಾಸ)

The auspicious day of Basava Jayanti it is worthwhile to remember the works and teachings of Lord Basavanna, the social reformer, religious Guru and a revolutionary philosopher of 12th century, as we do every year.

Basava was at the center stage of “Kalyana Kranti”, which has gone into the history now but appears lively in our memory still. It was a revolution meant for establishing social equality among downtrodden people who were deprived of a meaningful and respectful status in the society socially, economically, politically and religiously. The new community he built on the principle of humanity is very well known as “Sharanas”, which had laid a very strong foundation of both social and religious principles. This Sharana community is not a separate caste but it is a congregation of people from all other communities having a common belief and principle in life. Since religious belief is a part and parcel of social life Basavanna advised people to directly worship the one and only universal God in the form of “Istha Linga” (ಇಷ್ಟ ಲಿಂಗ), which the sharanas wore around their neck always in contrast to worshiping multiple gods and visiting many temples and depend upon someone else to perform pujas on behalf of them in temples. Lord Basavanna proclaimed that “there is no one inferior to myself and no one superior to sharanas”.

The complete details on what triggered the 12th century revolution, who was Lord Basavanna, how did the Sharana community live, how the “Anubhava Mantapa” the first parliament in the world was built and run by the Sharana’s, what were the teachings of so many Sharanas including the stalwarts such as Basavanna, Allama Prabhu, Channabasavanna, Akka Mahadevi, Siddharameshwara, etc., and what followed the Kalyana Kranti, etc., can be read in the vast literature available. But the main focus of this article is to highlight the meaning of “Kayaka” in our life and how it is relevant for all time.

The word “Kayaka” means work in simple terms. When we translate certain words from one language to another it may become difficult to carry the same context and hence the meaning may get lost. What we will have to do is to provide adequate explanation on the original context in order to preserve the original meaning well. Kayaka is not just the work we normally perform daily in our life. The kind of work we do normally is very often meant for fulfilling one’s ego, greed and deriving material pleasure, even at the cost of the interest of others, even by depriving others of their basic necessities for living, peace of mind and respectful social status.

Importance of Kayaka (work)

ಕೃತ್ಯ ಕಾಯಕವಿಲ್ಲದವರು ಭಕ್ತರಲ್ಲ
ಸತ್ಯ ಶುದ್ಧವಿಲ್ಲದುದು ಕಾಯಕವಲ್ಲ
ಆಸೆಯಂಬುದು ಭವದ ಬೀಜ,
ನಿರಾಶೆಯೆಂಬುದು ನಿತ್ಯ ಮುಕ್ತಿ,
ಉರಿಲಿಂಗಪೆದ್ದಿಗಳರಸನಲ್ಲಿ ಸದರವಲ್ಲ ಕಾಣವ್ವ !

Those who are without kaayaka are not devotees.
That which is not truthful and pure is not kaayaka.
Desire is the seed of this world.
Lack of desire is liberation.
Look avva,
it’s not easy with Urilingapeddigalarasa. - 1298[1]

Since we always try to take care of our own and our family interests to accumulate wealth not just for today and tomorrow but for the entire life and for next generations we hardly find time to think of others who might be in a rather helpless situation. But the Kayaka doctrine has a totally different and revolutionary meaning and application in our life. Kayaka means working by expending one’s own physical and mental strength and abilities for earning. But in today’s professional world where we have defined several hierarchy of work only the lower level of workers make use of their own physical and mental strength while all other levels of people may use what is known as their intellectual strength. There are some sections of wealthy people who may not do anything but only command others and treat them as their slaves to get their work done and pay something in return in the form of money or grains. These types of work cannot be called as Kayaka. It is not only earning by expending one’s own physical and mental energy and hard work, but it is also earning for daily living and not amassing for next few years and for next generations. A person who believes in Kayaka doesn’t depend upon any body for earning but he himself works and earns. Also, a part of his earning will be used for charity because in his faith all that he is able to earn is only because of the kindness of God. Such being the case how can he consume all his earning for himself when there are some others who may not have enough strength and opportunity to earn? So, no matter how much he earns he would always share it with other people who are really incapable.

Begging from others, cajoling them,
pestering them, troubling them
and then offering it to jangama and linga is no good.
Making the body earn it,
making the mind earn it
even if it is just wild leaves and raw fruits,
doing daasohatojangama and linga
by serving jangama who comes to you
tired in body and mind is worship,
holy offering to Chandeswaralinga. -Nuliya Chandayya/1817[1]

So, the earning from the kayaka is not meant for deriving pleasure and continuing with that pleasure forever, which is nothing but the materialistic desire, but it is meant for being content with whatever one has and living in harmony with all others and the nature.

Doing a little kaayaka and asking for more in return-
is it truthful kaayaka?
Requesting a little from devotees for more kaayaka
purifies the mind for Amareeshwaralinga. -Aaydakki Marayya/1527[1]

When there is no greed for earning more and more, one would not resort to destroy the nature and inflict any kind of harm on others. With this principle every member in every family should earn by himself/herself and live in harmony and dedicate everything (Tan, Man and Dhan) to the God. What a beautiful message it is from Lord Basavanna and the Sharana’s? If we follow this principle of Kayaka then there will be no poverty, no exploitation, no damage to Nature, no discrimination among people and other living beings and hence there will be no Violence in the world.

All kaayaka is one kaayaka..
One vow is as good as another.
If you escape deceit, there is no death.
If you escape vow there is no union.
If you unite like the cuckoo and a crow
then, it’s for sure great hell
O Gangeshwaralinga. - Gangamma/1374 [1]

With Kayaka principle there is no question of dignity of labour being defined as per our convenience. Every type of work carries equal dignity and hence there will not be a class struggle and parity. Different type of work may fetch different amount of money but any body, irrespective of his social and financial status, will be able to take up any type of work and hence there will not be any discrimination even between genders. This principle is totally opposite to the system of four varnas (Bhrahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra) that is prevalent in our society and responsible for the division of people for thousands of years.

Being born in whatever caste or gotra
one should have no pollution in ones kaayaka or devotion.
Whatever vow is taken one should follow it in body, mind and words,
not caring for what others think.
Can one get ones nose cut for the sake of others?
Can one mix inauspicious with auspicious
just because elders say so?
For one who has purity of feeling in action
and divine knowledge filled in his feelings
such bhakta of guru will be
Chennabasavanna Saakshiyaagi
Kamaleshwaralinga himself. -Kannadi Kayakada Ammidevayya/1615[1]

It is a known fact that wherever there is a division there must be a conflict. Every conflict may lead to violence ultimately, which is against the essence of any religion and humanity. Hence work is nothing but worship meaning, when one is totally involved in Kayaka (work) he need not even think of God and his worship because through kayaka he is already serving the humanity. So, where is the question of worrying about God and his worship, which may require one to set aside a separate time to do? A person involved in kayaka will always remember God and dedicate his work and earnings to him and hence he doesn’t need a separate time and effort to worship God. For such a person work itself is Kailasa (Heaven).

[1] Number indicates at the end of each Vachana is from the book "Vachana", pub: Basava Samiti Bangalore 2012.

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