Basava

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

Basava or Basavaṇṇa (c.1106–67/8). A Hindu religious reformer, associated with the founding of the Liṅgāyata, also known as Vīraśaivism. He was a devotee of Śiva from an early age, but he soon found caste and ritual impeding progress. He became a devotee of the Lord of the Meeting Rivers, Kūḍalasaṅgamadēva, to whom reference is made in almost all his poems. After study of the Vedas under a guru, he began to worship with his own chosen liṅga, iṣtaliṅga, later to become characteristic of the Liṅgāyats. His egalitarian community of followers grew rapidly, evoking the opposition of traditionalists. Basava espoused non-violence, but when he could not control his followers, he returned to Kappaḍisaṅgama, where he died. His most practical and characteristic teaching aimed to re-establish the body as the true temple, a theme which he often expressed in poems of the vacana style—vacana (‘that which is said’) being a religious lyric in Kannada free verse.