The Wars of Words that have engulfed Karnataka in recent months—U.R. Anantha Murthy versus N.R. Narayana Murthy, Anantha Murthy versus S.L. Bhyrappa, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw versus Anantha Murthy, M.S. Sathyu versus Karnataka Rakshana Vedike—on issues ranging from language and identity, and history and culture, to enterprise and intellect, either points to a flourishing intellectual climate in the State or to sheer intellectual anarchy.
Banjagere Jayaprakash‘s Aanu deva horaganavanu (Lakshmi Prakashana) is now pumping up the volume. The slim 85-page book makes the incendiary claim that the 12th century social reformer and Veerashaiva icon Basavanna was not a Brahmin but belonged to the untouchable maadiga (chamar) caste. The claim has proved to be pure dynamite, especially among the politically powerful Lingayats, who say Basavanna has been insulted.
The author’s academic credentials have been widely questioned, there have been calls to ban or to seize the book, and it has been alleged that Dr Jayaprakash is only angling for cheap publicity. On the other side, the author’s supporters say he is being targetted because he is a Dalit himself and that his freedom of express is being abused. And on Saturday, a discussion called by the Kannada Sahitya Parishat on the book dissolved into pure chaos.
Amid the heat and dust, the key questions have become inaudible and invisible:
# How did Dr Jayaprakash come to the conclusion?
# Has he conducted his research with due rigour?
# What are his sources?
# What is his methodology? Is it objective?
# Is Dr Jayaprakash only arriving at a premeditated ideological conclusion designed to create a ripple?
# And does the freedom to express give us licence to distort history?
Dr Prithvi Datta Chandra Shobhi, assistant professor of humanities at the San Francisco State University, has studied vachana literature for 15 years now. In this churumuri.com video critique (shot at the Open Air Theatre in the University of Mysore), Dr Shobhi contests Dr Jayaprakash’s primary premise that dissent and social criticism have come only from the backward classes leading him (Dr Jayaprakash) to conclude that Basavanna could only have been an untouchable.
On the whole, Dr Shobhi finds Aanu deva horaganavanu too full of “sloppy thinking, confused logic, bad speculation, and insufficient use of primary sources” to be taken seriously as a work of history. But that is no reason to ban the book or manhandle the author, he says. Instead, we need to debate and discuss its assumptions and conclusions with greater scrutiny than either side has been able to muster up until now.
When u are criticized, bring in the casteist cloak to defend. Thats the order of the day.
What is ‘intellectual anarchy’?
Basavanna stood for a casteless society. The caste of his birth therefore should be of no consequence. So why is it such an insult to Lingayats if Basavanna was indeed from a “lower” caste?
On the flip side, there is no indication that Basavanna’s words had any greater legitimacy just because he was born a Brahmin. Several vachanakaaras of his age either were not Brahmin or were of unknown caste – Akka Mahadevi, Allama Prabhu etc.
It is all very perplexing. Similar to the Muslims espousing a casteless society, but everyone wanting to be a Syed or a Quraishi.
I am a Lingayat and it makes no difference to me if Basava was born as a Brahmin or Madiga or someone else. What matters is his message and the life he led and how he brought together thousands of people from all castes and classes.
I don’t claim to be well read on this subject but I have had numerous discussions with more knowledgeable family members and friends regarding this subject. When someone comes out of nowhere and claims that Basava was a Madiga, we have to examine the claims and verify the “facts” presented in the book. Most of the scholars (Lingayat and non-Lingayat) have either dismissed or expressed deep reservations about the research of Dr. Banjagere. This has been presented in the media as opposition to dalits or outright casteism!! Why should I be labeled as anti-dalit if I question the authenticity of the claims in the book?
There are a lot of problems with this book as immensely more knowledgeable Dr. Prithvi Datta has pointed out.
One of the things Dr. Prithvi or most of the papers have not reported on is Dr. Banjagere’s claim or insinuation that Basava was born out of vamachara and that his sister was a Basavi!! This is considered obscene by Lingayats and this sort of language is fueling the protests and not the claim about the caste of his birth. Even assuming that Basava was born in a ‘lower’ caste, was the society progressive enough in the 12th century to allow him an education? Or move up the ranks to hold a ministerial position and manage the state treasury in the court of King Bijjala? Why then would a progressive society oppose Sharana’s attempt to conduct a marriage between a bride originally born into Brahmin caste and a groom originally born into Madiga caste? This incident led Bijjala and those opposed to Sharanas to force the movement out of Kalyana and
I am personally not in favour of banning books. However there is a legal precedence. Supreme Court has upheld the banning of books if it is in the public interest especially related to religious and social sentiments [http://www.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=86027].
What happened at the recent discussion at KaSaPa was ugly and healthy discussions are unlikely to follow. Our Sahitis would not answer the question on freedom of expression as defined by the law and chose to walk out in protest!! Many of these Sahitis are making statements without even reading the book.
As usual a few vested interests in KaSaPa are exploiting the situation. Would these so called Sahitis tolerate a similar writing about a prophet or a guru from other religions?
Yes, I agree. These Lingayats should get their heads examined! Also, for the record Veerashaivas were forerunners to Lingayats and I wish PDCS can explain a bit more on this issue. Thanks!
It is a simple logic. Anybody with minimum brain understand that Basavannaa is Brahmin or from upper caste. No farmer and trader would have followed the footsteps or preachings of a Dalit, 800 years back.
Lingayats are basically farmers and traders.
Does it really matter whether Basavanna was a Brahmin or a Chamar by birth?
What a shame?! What Basavanna wanted to eradicate, these so called writers-intellectuals-swamiji(s) fight like cats on the same caste issue!
Basavanna has been insulted because someone said he was a born maadiga and nit a brahmin, really? How unfortunate for the soul. You start a movement and your own people defeat the purpose.
Does it really matter if he was born a maadiga or a brahmin. what’s wrong with you people? Can’t we take the essence out of his vachanas and move on.
An editor of a Kannada newspaper stopped me last Ju;y and talked in length about this. He was quite happy to tell me that basavnna was a maadiga and NOT a brahmin. It was quite obvious why he was happy and at the same time it was scary to see an editor of a newspaper think on those lines. Talk of social divide and media’s role!!!
Alright, now what? this is going to be Aryan Invasion theory – part 2? We certainly can try and look for the truth, but history invariably beats us.
PDCS, a very nice talk.
@Doddi buddi, hesarige thakka haage mataadteeya! do not put comments which are not worth if your intent is to just make some comments.
@December stud. I agree with you. the whole religion of lingayats is playing against the preachings of Basavanna.
Tanna jaatiyanna maretu, tannavara jaatiyannu maresida basavanna jaatiya bagge, kelasakke baradavaru baredu, kelasa illadavaru pratibhatisi….
It has been proved again that, In india, Creating nuisance is the easiest job.
As people we have lost the capacity to take dissent in a civilised manner. We must realise that there are no absolute truths when writings are based on speculation attributing 100% guarantee to certain stanzas of Basavanna. What we should be concerned is the message of his teachings and its effect of larger good and not be debating about his caste. It is like saying with certainty that the utterance of a dying man is always right. It is a myth and at best a greater probability only and it is not absolute for people are driven by complex emotions of hate, jealousy and love. It is as cocyed in adivorce case that men are the tormentors.As they say it is phipty-phipty. The only conclusion if at all to be debated is much can be said on both sides and leave it at that.
@Doddi Buddi – Would you ask evolutionary biologists to examine their heads for opposing the pseudo-science of anti-Darwinist creationists and intelligent design theorists? Can you try to read up on the issues instead of wisecracking?
Decemberstud’s experience with a ‘news’ paper editor is typical. We have very low standards for objectivity and impartiality in the media.
Some things were left out in the news coverage of the chaos at KaSaPa on Jun 9th. The group opposing Banjagere’s work has taken the following positions:
– Lingayats have no problem if Basavanna was born in a Madiga family. He will forever remain Poojya and his teachings always relevant.
– The group will honor any writer if conclusive proof can be provided. A declaration will be made on behalf of the Lingayat community noting that Basavanna was born as a Madiga.
– The group opposes what it calls vulgar, obscene and baseless suggestions in the book that Basavanna was born illegitimately and his sister was a Basavi.
– The group claims that Banjagere has also raised doubts about the paternity of Mahakavi KuVemPu and Dr. Ambedkar.
One can use simple logic to disprove a lot of what Dr. Banjagere has written. Why would writers from 12th to 20th century would want to brahminise Basavanna only? Why not brahminise others in the movement who were also very influential? Why neglect the vachanas where Basava himself asks for not placing added burden on him for being from an upper caste? Why mistake his efforts to generate goodwill and create brotherhood among people of all castes and classes?
Instead of honest intellectuals we have mostly ideologues. Don’t hope for this issue to be settled in the ‘scholarly’ community. It has already spilled over into the streets.
there have been many people questioning whether it matters or should it matter if Basavanna was a Brahmin or a Chamar.
It matters. If Basavanna was a Brahmin, Brahmin Brahmins feel proud that even if a new caste with good social values comes to existence, its a brahmin who started it. Brahmin lingayats can feel secure that their ‘madi’is still on.
As far Chamars are concerned, I don;t think it matters to them.
For the rest of the brahmin hating non-brahmin lingayats, its sheer jealousy.
What if? One way or the other it doesn’t bother me. The teachings of Basavanna are more important–not his origins. “Avaravara bawakke, avarawara bakuhthigey, …..iruthihanu sharanagi Shiva yogi” Please correct if there are any mistakes in this vachana thanks,
caste-creed etc. are very-much-part of our society; whether we like-it-or-not. Recently, I was looking around for schools to admit my son into LKG and many application forms had column for religion/caste etc. Schools are important element of the society and ideally they should be leading the path, but…
In case of dailies, there is a differentiation between newspapers & tabloids. Tabloids can get away with anything (write-whatever-they-want-in-their-own-language). Not sure about books!!!!. May be Banjagere’s book can be classified as tabloid (like ‘Hai Bangalore’) …..
Dr.Banjagere Jayaprakash’s claim that Basavanna was not a Brahmin has come under serious attack. I saw some protagonists of the author blaming this controversy on “brahmana manassina tolalata”. In fact, none of the prople who are protesting and contesting the claim of this author are Brahmins. Without exception, everyone who is questioning the correctness of this claim is a Veerashaiva. Why call this duality or ambiguity suffered by Brahmins?
Irrespective of who raises the issue, my question to the author is this: If Basavanna was indeed an untouchable, how was his presence as a minister of Bijjala accepted in the Court, during that orthodox age?
“Kula Kula Kula vendhu hodedhaadadhiri
Nimma Kuladha neleya yenaadaru Ballira Ballira”
Antha Namma Kanakadaasaru aa dinagallae estu adbhutha vaaghi helidru , Innu Namma Janakke Budhi Baralilla…adakke irbeku Brahma Devaru(in One of the Jokes) alakke Shuru maadidhranthe ‘Nanna Kala aadhmelu ee desha Uddara aagalla’ antha.
Basavanna’s Vachanas has message for all in Sarala Kannada, irrespective of Caste/religion/Country like our Sri Bhagavad Gita…Instead of understanding the core of them and following them….these ppl are fighting in the name of Caste/religion.
What if u are a Dalit…Howmuch of Basavanna’s Vachana u do follow
What if u are a Lingayat…Howmuch of Basavanna’s Vachana u do follow
What if u are a Chammara…Howmuch of Basavanna’s Vachana u do follow
What if u are a Brahman…Howmuch of Basavanna’s Vachana u do follow
All these castes, which were started originally by the profession u take is being misused for the selfish motives. What matters at the end-of-the day is, how good you are and you are to others …not whether u r a Dalit,Lingayat,Chammara,Brahman or Muslim or christian.
Be a Human being First
To end With…
Para ra Chinthe Nimaghekhe Ayya
Nimma Manava Neevu Santhaisikolli.
hail prashanth, churumuri’s own prophet. :)
couldn’t agree with you more, sir.
Chickens coming home to roost? Well looks it seems to be. All the champions of free expressions…..here you have. what for……..just basvanna was not brahmin?
When on this very same spaces every one seemed agreed with sunaad raghuram’s two cent theory of tiger and 2000 psi force theory on Tipu Sultan, in the name of free speech and alternate history…….now you have one. Howzz that!
So what if Basavanna was not a brahmin. But this issue reveals many things. There are a group of people who would like to rob Brahmins of all humanity and also prove that no good has ever be done by any Brahmin (the ones who were born in the brahmin caste). There is an obvious conspiracy by the Marxists-Missionaries-Mullahs. So the message is anything from a Brahmin is bad. Brahmins = Bad. Basava = Brahmin. But Basava cant be Bad so Basava not equal to Brahim (or not born brahmin.). Anyway what difference does it make if Basava was brahmin or madiga or whatever. It is foolish to argue about the religious prophets who lived so long ago. Basava preached a humane value system during his time. So have many saints and reformers from Buddha to Vivekanada to Gandhi. In this modern age all these books makes no sense.
I think GAMPA u r true in some sense!!!.
I think now a days whatever brahmin, if u do some blame on it, u will get a sympathy, media attention, political face value.
i think it is attack of dalit on brahmins taking revenge
i dont know what dalit want , we should not blame brahmin for what they have not done!!
Philosophically…So what? For the followers of Basavanna, when there is no caste discretion…what difference does it make if you call him as brahmin or lingayat or dalit. All are equally good. What is there to be agitated if you call them a dalit?
But when an historical beleif is subjected to question all of a sudden, it calls for some amount of scrutiny. So that people(now & in future) are not mislead about any historical heritage. Its not a question of good or bad about the claim….but correctfulness of it.
these lingayats are the most stupid community of karnataka.they are worse than the gowdas.gowdas atleast listen to someone else’s views.these lingayats live in theit own fantasy world.they claim to be separate from hinduism when shiva whom they worship is a hindu god.
FYI, the formless shiva of lingayats is different from vedic/smarta shiva.
In proper lingayatism there is no hindu, no vishnu, no castes, no idol worship but a sharana with a cosmic mark worshipped as Ista Linga. Hence accordingly Lingaikya is used for liberation.
But in proper vaishnavism this shiva assumes a form as a destroyer drinking haalahala which almost becomes a corrupt version.
Due to these core differences the shaiva-vaishnava conflicts destroying Hampe occured and still the misinterpretation exists.
We prefer not to feed the trolls here…