Union Home Minister unveiled the statues of Lord Basaveshwara and Nadaprabhu Kempegowda in Bengaluru, Karnataka

Context: The statues of two legendary figures from Karnataka, Basavanna and Kempegowda, have been unveiled. The messages of social justice, democracy, sound governance, and progress shall be promoted.

Life History of Basaveshwara [ 1105-1167]

  • Born in Bijapur district, Karnataka in 1105 CE.
  • He was an Indian statesman, poet in the Kannada language, and social reformer who lived in Karnataka during the time of King Bijjala I of the Kalachuri dynasty.
  • As the Kalachuri kingdom’s chief minister, he established new public institutions including the Anubhava Mantapa, also known as the “hall of spiritual experience,” which attracted people from all socio-economic classes. 
  • He launched social reforms and a religious movement centred on resurrecting Shaivism using the public treasury, recognising and promoting ascetics known as Jangamas.
  • The Basavarajadevara Ragale, written by the Kannada poet Harihara (about 1180), is the earliest account of the social reformer’s life. It is significant since the author was a near contemporary of the Basavanna.
  • The Vachana Sahitya in Kannada is one of the literary works of the Basavanna. 
  • Basava is credited as the founder of Lingayats’ tradition in hagiographic writings. However, modern scholars, based on Kalachuri inscriptions assert that Basava revived and improved a previously existent tradition. 


  • He developed a new devotional movement named Veerashaivism. 
  • In his poetry, Basava discussed about gender equality, community spirit and refraining from wars for any cause.
  • He said that the true god is “one with himself, self-born,” challenging rituals, dualism, and externalisation of god. 
  • Basava opposed rituals, but he supported icons and symbols such as wearing an Istalinga (necklace with a personal linga) and applying Vibhuti (sacred ash on the forehead) as a constant reminder of one’s devotion and religious principles.
  • In order to eliminate the need for elite translation and interpretation of spiritual concepts and to ensure that everyone can grasp them, he advocated for the use of the vernacular language, Kannada, in all spiritual conversations. 
  • His holy trinity included a guru (teacher), a linga (a lingam that belonged to Shiva), and jangama (constantly moving and learning).
  • In the 12th century, Basava built the Anubhava Mantapa, a place where anyone from either gender might assemble and debate spiritual concepts. Here, ardent followers of Shiva would share their accomplishments and spiritual poems written in the vernacular language.

Social Reforms

  • Basava believed that all people were created equal, regardless of caste, and that all manual effort had an equal value. According to the Basava, a true saint and Shaiva bhakta was determined by behaviour rather than by birth.
  • Anti-caste movement: In the 12th century A.D.  Basaveshwara started one of the earliest known anti-caste campaigns in Karnataka. 
  • In order to replace patriarchy, caste, and the brahmanic religion with an equitable system, they were carefully scrutinised, painstakingly rejected, and replaced. 
  • Saints from the untouchable caste like Channiah and Kakkaih, as well as famous figures like Akkamahadevi and Allama Prabhu, participated in the collaborative effort known as the Anubhava Mantapa. 
  • He organised an inter-caste marriage between an untouchable groom and a Brahmin bride as one of his extreme actions. The inter-caste marriage arranged by Basavanna is still regarded as a notable accomplishment in the history of the social reform movement.
  • He stayed away from wearing the sacred thread, which is a sign of caste superiority, in order to distance himself from his caste.

As compared to other Bhakti movements, the social reform movement by Basava stands out as unique. The movement had a political as well as a social impact on society. He promoted the idea of political representation for the voiceless. The followers of Basavanna currently identify as Lingayats and are one of the most powerful castes in Karnataka.


  • Lingayatism emphasizes qualified monism (Vishishtadvaita), with philosophical foundations similar to those of the 11th–12th-century South Indian philosopher Ramanuja.
  • Lingayatism rejects any form of social discrimination including the caste system and authority of Vedas and Puranas.
  • According to a tradition which developed after Basava’s time, Lingayatism was transmitted by five Panchacharyas, namely Renukacharya, Darukacharya, Ekorama, Panditharadhya, and Vishweswara. 
  • The scripture of Lingayatism Basava Purana was completed in 1369 during the reign of Vijayanagara ruler Bukka Raya I.

About Nadaprabhu Kempegowda (Also mentioned in news)

He was 16th century chieftain of Vijayanagar Empire.He is credited to have built around 1000 lakes throughout the city.
He belonged to the dominant agriculture Vokkaliga community. ContributionFoundation of Bengaluru city: In 1526, Kempe Gowda conquered the Sivaganga principality and later Domlur.With imperial permission of the Vijayanagar Emperor Achyutharaya (an inscription at Dasarahalli records the decree date as 1532), he built Bangalore Fort and the town in 1537, and moved his capital from Yelahanka to the new Bengaluru Pete, the foundation of present-day Bangalore city.

Source: PIB

Practice MCQ

Q. Consider the following statements with reference to the religious history of India:

1.Lingayatism emphasises on Advaita Vedanta of the 11th century philosopher Ramanuja.

2.Lingayatism rejects the caste system and authority of Vedas.

3.Panchacharyas tradition in Lingayatism was developed during the time of Basavanna.

4.The scripture of Lingayatism, ‘Basava Purana’ was completed during the reign of Vijayanagara ruler Krishna Deva Raya.

Which of the statements given above are incorrect?

(a)1, 2 and 3 only

(b)2, 3 and 4 only

(c)1, 2 and 4 only

(d)1, 3 and 4 only

Answer: (d)

Practice Question for Mains

Q. ‘As compared to other Bhakti movements, the social reform movement by Basavanna stands out as unique’. In the light of given statement, examine the contributions of Basavanna to the social reform movement in the 12th century A.D.

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