Sri Basaveshwara was a great revolutionary who taught that right conduct is heaven. He declared that work is worship and taught the ideals of simple living and the equality of all men. And he practiced what he preached.
Basavanna told: ‘There is none smaller than I.’ He used to say that he did not want to be praised. He would work with the people as one of them. He always addressed them, courteously in affectionate terms, as ‘father’, ‘brother’ and so on. He grew to be a great light shedding brightness not only over our motherland but also over the whole world.
He formed a new spiritual institution on a democratic foundation. And that was ‘Anubhava Mantapa’. Anyone, whatever his caste by birth, could become a member. Women, too, were allowed to join it. Piety and good character alone were required of any one who came to Anubhava Mantapa. Everybody was to take up some work or the other for livelihood. They were not to have any caste feelings or feelings of untouchability. These were some of the principles they were expected to follow.
Basavanna continued his mission for the formation of a new society, through Anubhava Mantapa. This work was based on certain noble principles. Some of them were as follows:
- There is only one God. He has many names. Surrender yourself completely to Him in devotion.
- Compassion is the root of all religions. Treat all living beings with kindness. Live for the welfare of all. Do not live for selfish and personal interests.
- Those who are acceptable in this world will be acceptable in the next world too. People should lead a proper life as householders, only then they will be fit for spiritual life. One need not give up the family and become a monk.
- No man should be proud thinking ‘I give this’ or ‘I do that’. What a man does he should do out of devotion in his heart. It should not be for the sake of show or publicity; nor even to win public praise.
- True devotion and virtuous conduct should be given greater importance than the outward religious formalities. One should lead a clean and good life both within and without. A pure mind is more important than scriptures and conventions.
- All people should have equal opportunities for religious life. Birth, profession, position or sex should make no difference.
- One should not eat or drink just to please the tongue. Food and water should be taken as ‘Prasada’ (the gracious gift) of Lord Shiva. Humility is God’s love. Never try to show off your power and position; and do not be vain.
- Everyone should take up a fair and honest means of livelihood. No one should beg. Out of the daily earnings one should take only as much as is needed for the maintenance of the family. The rest should be offered, by way of service, to God for the benefit of others. Everyone should set right the crookedness of his mind. Everyone should try to rise to the level of Godliness through prayer and meditation. This is the goal of life.
Basavanna lived as a man of God. He showed others also the way to become godly men. Even after eight hundred years the light that was lit by him continues to shine brightly. And Basavanna himself is such an effulgent light of life.
Today is Basava Jayanthi.