Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Mausoleum (Samadhi) of 12th-century Kannada poet Basavanna at Kudala Sangama.

In the later part of the 12th century, the Kalachuris' succeeded in overthrowing their overlords, the Western Chalukyas, and annexing the capital Kalyani. In this turbulent period, a revolt against the existing social order in the Hindu society saw the spread of a new religious faith called Veerashaivism (also called Lingayatism). Some of the followers of this faith wrote literature called Vachana Sahitya ("Vachana literature") or Sharana Sahitya ("literature of the devotees"). This literature consisted of a unique and native form of poetry in free verse called Vachana.
Basavanna (or Basava, 1160), the prime minister of southern Kalachuri King Bijjala II, is generally regarded as the inspiration for this movement. A centre of religious discussions called Anubhava Mantapa ("hall of experience") in Kalyani became the conclave where devotees gathered to discuss their mystic experiences. Here, they expressed their devotion to God Shiva in simple poems called Vachanas. These poems were spontaneous utterances of rhythmic, epigrammatical, satirical prose emphasising the worthlessness of riches, rituals and book learning, displaying a dramatic quality reminiscent of the dialogues of Plato.

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