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work, on the ground, as given to me, that it is necessary
to tell little falsehoods in the course of business.

Lingadari. A general term, meaning one who
wears a lingam, for Lingayat.

Lingakatti. A name applied to Lingayat Badagas
of the Nilgiri hills.

Lingam. A title of Jangams and Sllavants.

Lingayat. For the following note I am mainly
indebted to Mr. R. C. C. Carr, who took great interest
in its preparation when he was Collector of Bellary.
Some additional information was supplied by Mr. R. E.
Enthoven, Superintendent of the Ethnographic Survey,
Bombay. The word Lingayat is the anglicised form of
Lingavant, which is the vernacular term commonly used
for any member of the community. The Lingayats
have been aptly described as a peaceable race of Hindu
Puritans. Their religion is a simple one. They
acknowledge only one God, Siva, and reject the other
two persons of the Hindu Triad. They reverence the
Vedas, but disregard the later commentaries on which
the Brahmans rely. Their faith purports to be the
primitive Hindu faith, cleared of all priestly mysticism.
They deny the supremacy of Brahmans, and pretend to
be free from caste distinctions, though at the present
day caste is in fact observed amongst them. They
declare that there is no need for sacrifices, penances, pil-
grimages or fasts. The cardinal principle of the faith is
an unquestioning belief in the efficacy of the lingam, the
image which has always been regarded as symbolical


of the God Siva. This image, which is called the
jangama lingam or moveable lingam, to distinguish it
from the sthavara or fixed lingam of Hindu temples, is
always carried on some part of the body, usually the
neck or the left arm, and is placed in the left hand of
the deceased when the body is committed to the grave.
Men and women, old and young, rich and poor, all alike
wear this symbol of their faith, and its loss is regarded
as spiritual death, though in practice the loser can, after
a few ceremonies, be invested with a new one. They
are strict disciplinarians in the matter of food and drink,
and no true Lingayat is permitted to touch meat in any
form, or to partake of any kind of liquor. This Puritan
simplicity raises them in the social scale, and has
resulted in producing a steady law-abiding race, who
are conservative of the customs of their forefathers,
and have hitherto opposed a fairly unbroken front to the
advancing tide of foreign ideas. To this tendency is
due the very slow spread of modern education amongst
them, while, on the other hand, their isolation from
outside influence has without doubt assisted largely in
preserving intact their beautiful, highly polished, and
powerful language, Canarese.

It is matter of debate whether the Lingayat religion
is an innovation or a revival of the most ancient Sai-
vaite faith, but the story of the so-called founder of the
sect, Basava, may with some limitations be accepted as
history. The events therein narrated occurred in the
latter half of the twelfth century at Kalyan, a city which
was then the capital of the Western Chalukyas, and is
now included in the province of Bidar in the Nizam's
Dominions. It lies about a hundred miles to the west
of Hyderabad. The Chalukyas came originally from
the north of India, but appeared to the south of the


Nerbudda as early as the fourth century. They
separated into two branches during the seventh century,
and the western line was still represented at Kalyan 500
years later. The southern portion of Hindustan had
for centuries been split up between rival kingdoms, and
had been the theatre of the long struggle between the
Buddhists, the Jains, and the Hindus. At the time of
Basava's appearance, a Jain king, Bijjala by name, was
in power at Kalyan. He was a representative of the
Kalachuryas, a race which had been conquered by the
Chalukyas, and occupied the position of feudatories.
Bijjala appears to have been the Commander-in-chief
of the Chalukyan forces, and to have usurped the throne,
ousting his royal master, Taila III. The date of the
usurpation iwas 1156 A.D., though, according to some
accounts, Bijjala did not assume the full titles till some
years later. He was succeeded by his sons, but the
Chalukyan claimant recovered his throne in 1182, only
to lose it again some seven years afterwards, when the
kingdom itself was divided between the neighbouring
powers. The final downfall of the Chalukyan Deccani
kingdom was probably due to the rise of the Lingayat
religion. The Hindus ousted the Jains, but the tenets
inculcated by Basava had caused a serious split in the
ranks of the former. The house divided against itself
could not stand, and the Chalukyas were absorbed into
the kingdoms of their younger neighbours, the Hoysala
Ballalas from Mysore in the south, and the Yadavas
from Devagiri (now identified with Daulatabad) in the

At about this time there appears to have been a
great revival of the worship of Siva in the Deccan and
in Southern India. A large number of important
Saivaite temples are known to have been built during


the eleventh and twelfth centuries, and inscriptions
speak of many learned and holy men who were devoted
to this worship. The movement was probably accen-
tuated by the opposition of the Jains, who seem to have
been very powerful in the Western Deccan, and in
Mysore. An inscription which will be more fully noticed
later on tells of the God Siva specially creating a man
in order to "put a stop to the hostile observances of
the Jains and Buddhists." This was written about
the year 1200 A.D., and it may be gathered that
Buddhism was still recognised in the Deccan as a
religious power. Mr. Rice tells us that the labours of
the Saivaite Brahman, Sankaracharya, had in the eighth
century dealt a deathblow to Buddhism, and raised the
Saiva faith to the first place.* Its position was,
however, challenged by the Jains, and, even as late as
the twelfth century, it was still battling with them.
The Vaishnavaite reformer, Ramanujacharya, appeared at
about this time, and, according to Mr. Rice, was mainly
instrumental in ousting Jainism ; but the followers of
Vishnu built many of their big temples in the thirteenth
century, two hundred years later than their Saivaite
brethren, so it may be presumed that the latter faith was
in the ascendancy prior to that time. Chaitanya, the
Vaishnavaite counterpart of Basava, appeared at a much
later date (1485 A.D.). It is interesting to note that
the thirteenth century is regarded as the culminating
period of the middle ages in Italy, when religious
fervour also displayed itself in the building of great
cathedrals, t

The actual date of Basava's birth is uncertain, but is
given by some authorities as 1106 A.D. The story of

Manual of Mysore and Coorg. t Lilly, Renaissance Types.


his career is told in the sacred writings of the Lingayats,
of which the principal books are known as the Basava
Purana and the Channabasava Purana. The former was
apparently finished during the fourteenth century, and
the latter was not written till 1585. The accounts are,
therefore, entirely traditionary, and, as might have been
expected, are full of miraculous occurrences, which mar
their historical value. Tie Jain version of the story is
given in the Bijjalarayai'haritra, and differs in many
particulars. The main "acts accepted by Lingayat
tradition are given by Dr. Fleet in the Epigraphia
Indica [Vol. V, p. 239] from which the following account
is extracted. To a certain Madiraja and his wife
Madalambika, pious Saivas of the Brahman caste, and
residents of a place called Bagevadi, which is usually
supposed to be the sub-divisional town of that name in
the Bijapur district, there was born a son who, being an
incarnation of Siva's bull, Nandi, sent to earth to revive
the declining Saiva rites, was named Basava. This
word is the Canarese equivalent for a bull, an animal
sacred to Siva. When the usual time of investiture
arrived, Basava, then eight years of age, having mean-
while acquired much knowledge of the Siva scriptures,
refused to be invested with the sacred Brahmanical
thread, declaring himself a special worshipper of Siva,
and stating that he had come to destroy the distinctions
of caste. This refusal, coupled with his singular wisdom
and piety, attracted the notice of his uncle Baladeva,
prime minister of the Kalachurya king Bijjala, who had
come to be present at the ceremony ; and Baladeva gave
him his daughter, Gangadevi or Gangamba, in marriage.
The Brahmans, however, began to persecute Basava on
account of the novel practices propounded by him, and
he consequently left his native town and went to a



village named Kappadi, where he spent his early years,
receiving instruction from the God Siva. Meanwhile
his uncle Baladeva died, and Bijjala resolved to secure
the services of Basava, whose ability and virtues had now
become publicly known. After some demur Basava
accepted the post, in the hope that the influence attached
to it would help him in propagating his peculiar tenets.
And, accompanied by his elder sister, Nagalambika, he
proceeded to Kalyana, where he was welcomed with
deference by the king and installed as prime minister,
commander-in-chief and treasurer, second in power to
the king himself; and the king, in order to bind him as
closely as possible to himself, gave him his younger sister
Nilalochana to wife. Somewhere about this time, from
Basava's unmarried sister Nagalambika there was born,
by the working of the spirit of Siva, a son who was an
incarnation of Siva's son Shanmukha, the god of war.
The story says that Basava was worshipping in the holy
mountain and was praying for some gift, when he saw
an ant emerge from the ground with a small seed in its
mouth. Basava took this seed home, and his sister
without Basava's knowledge swallowed it, and became
pregnant. The child was called Channabasava, or the
beautiful Basava, and assisted his uncle in spreading the
new doctrines. Indeed, he is depicted as playing a more
important part than even Basava himself.

The two Puranas are occupied for the most part with
doctrinal expositions, recitals of mythology, praises of
previous Siva saints, and accounts of miracles worked by
Basava. They assert, however, that uncle and nephew
were very energetic promoters of the faith, and that
they preached the persecution and extermination of all
persons (especially the Jains), whose creed differed
from that of the Lingayats. Coupled with the lavish


expenditure incurred by Basava from the public coffers
in support of Jangams or Lingayat priests, these
proceedings aroused in Bijjala, himself a Jain, feelings
of distrust, which were fanned by a rival minister,
Manchanna, although the latter was himself a Vira Saiva,
and at length an event occurred which ended in the
assassination of Bijjala and the death of Basava.

At Kalyana there were two specially pious Lingayats,
whom Bijjala in mere wantonness caused to be blinded.
Thereupon Basava left Kalyana, and deputed one of his
followers Jagaddeva to slay the king. Jagaddeva, with
two others, succeeded in forcing his way into the palace,
where he stabbed the king in the midst of his court.
Basava meanwhile reached Kudali-Sangameshvara, and
was there absorbed into the lingam, while Channabasava
fled to Ulvi in North Canara, where he found refuge
in a cave.

The above story is taken mainly from the Basava
Purana. The account given in the Channabasava Purana
differs in various details, and declares that Bijjala was
assassinated under the orders of Channabasava, who had
succeeded his uncle in office. The Jain account states
that Basava's influence with the king was due to Basava's
sister, whom Bijjala took as a concubine. The death of
Bijjala was caused by poisoned fruit sent by Basava, who,
to escape the vengeance of Bijjala's son, threw himself
into a well and died. The version of Basava's story,
which is found in most books of reference, makes him
appear at Kalyan as a youth flying from the persecution
of his father. His uncle, Baladeva, sheltered him and
eventually gave him his daughter ; and, when Baladeva
died, Basava succeeded to his office. This seems to have
been copied from the account given by Mr. C. P. Brown,
but later translations of the Purana show that it is




erroneous. When Basava came to Kalyan, Bijjala was
in power, and his arrival must therefore have been
subsequent to 1 1 56 A. D. If the date of birth be accepted
as 1 1 06, Basava would have been a man of fifty years of
age or more when summoned to office by Bijjala. The
latter resigned in favour of his son in 1167, and may
have been assassinated shortly afterwards. On the other
hand, Baladeva could not have been Bijjala's minister
when he came to Basava's upanayanam ceremony, for
this event occurred in 1 1 14, long before the commence-
ment of Bijjala's reign. There is no reason, however,
for crediting the Purana with any great historical
accuracy, and, in fact, the evidence now coming to light
from inscriptions, which the industry of archaeologists
is giving to the world, throws great doubt upon the
traditional narrative.

An inscription on stone tablets which have now been
built into the wall of a modern temple at Managoli, a
village in the Bijapur district of the Bombay Presidency
about eleven miles to the north-west of Bagevadi, the sup-
posed birth place of Basava, contains a record of the time
of the Kalachuri king, Bijjala. Two dates are given
in the inscription, and from one of them it is calculated
with certainty that Bijjala's reign began in 1156 A.D.
The record gives a certain date as " the sixth of the
years of the glorious Kalachurya Bijjaladeva, an emperor
by the strength of his arm, the sole hero of the three
worlds." The corresponding English date is Tuesday,
1 2th September, 1161 A.D., so that Bijjala must have
come into power, by the strength of his arm, in 1156.
But a still more important piece of information is furnished
by the mention of a certain Basava or Basavarasayya as
the builder of the temple, in which the inscription was
first placed, and of one Madiraja, who held the post of



Mahaprabhu of the village when the grants in support
of the temple were made. The record runs as follows.*
" Among the five hundred of Manigavalli there sprang
up a certain Govardhana, the moon of the ocean that
was the Kasyappa gotra, an excellent member of the
race of the Vajins. His son was Revadasa. The
latter had four sons .... The youngest of
these became the greatest, and, under the name of
Chandramas, made his reputation reach even as far as
the Himalaya mountains. To that lord there was born
a son, Basava. There were none who were like him
in devotion to the feet of (the God) Maheshvara (Siva);
and this Basava attained the fame of being esteemed
the sun that caused to bloom the water-lily that was
the affection of the five hundred Brahmans of Mani-
gavalli. This Basavarasayya came to be considered
the father of the world, since the whole world, putting
their hands to their foreheads, saluted him with the
words ' our virtuous father ' ; and thus he brought
greatness to the famous Manigavalli, manifesting the
height of graciousness in saying this is the abode of
the essence of the three Vedas ; this is the accomplish-
ment of that which has no end and no beginning ; this
is the lustrous divine linga."

Dr. Fleet suggests that we have at last met with an
epigraphic mention of the Lingayat founder, Basava.
This is eminently satisfactory, but is somewhat upsetting,
for the inscription makes Basava a member of the
Kasyapa gotra, while Madiraja is placed in an entirely
different family. As regards the latter, the record says ;
(/. 20) " in the lineage of that lord (Taila II, the leader
of the Chalukyas) there was a certain Madhava, the

* J. F. Fleet, Epigraphia Indica. V, 1898-99.


Prabhu of the town of Manigavalli, the very Vishnu of
the renowned Harita gotra ; " and later on the same
person is spoken of as the Mahaprabhu Madiraja. If
Basava and Madiraja, herein mentioned, are really the
heroes of the Lingayats, it is clear that they were not
father and son, as stated in the Lingayat writings. But
it must be borne in mind that this is the only inscrip-
tion yet deciphered which contains any allusion what-
ever to Basava, and the statement that " he caused to
bloom the water-lily that was the affection of the five
hundred Brahmans of Manigavalli," is directly opposed
to the theory that he broke away from the Brahman fold,
and set up a religion, of which one of the main features
is a disregard of Brahman supremacy. The fact that
the inscription was found so near to Basava's birthplace
is, however, strong evidence in favour of the presump-
tion that it refers to the Basava of Lingayat tradition,
and the wording itself is very suggestive of the same
idea. The record gives a long pedigree to introduce
the Basava whom it proceeds to extol, and puts into his
mouth the noteworthy utterance, which ascribes godly
qualities to the " lustrous divine linga." The date of
this record is contemporary with the events and persons
named therein, and it must therefore be far more reliable
than the traditionary stories given in the Puranas, which,
as already indicated, are not at all in accordance with
each other. Dr. Fleet is of opinion that the Purana
versions are little better than legends. This is perhaps
going too far, but there can be no doubt that later
research will in this, as in the case of all traditionary
history, bring to knowledge facts which will require a
considerable rearrangement of the long accepted picture.
Another inscription, discovered at Ablur in the
Dharwar district of the Bombay Presidency, is of great


importance in this connection. It is dated about A.D.
1 200, and mentions the Western Chalukya king Somes-
vara IV, and his predecessor the Kalachurya prince
Bijjala. It narrates the doings of a certain Ekantada
Ramayya, so called because he was an ardent and
exclusive worshipper of Siva. This individual got into
controversy with the Jains, who were apparently very
powerful at Ablur, and the latter agreed to destroy their
Jina and to set up Siva instead, if Ramayya would cut off
his own head before his god, and have it restored to his
body after seven days without a scar. Ramayya appears
to have won his wager, but the Jains refused to perform
their part of the contract. The dispute was then referred
to king Bijjala, himself a Jain, and Ramayya was given
a jayapatra, or certificate of success. This king and his
Chalukyan successor also presented Ramayya with lands
in support of certain Siva temples. It is noteworthy that
the story is told also in the Channabasava Purana, but
the controversy is narrated as having occurred at Kalyan,
where Ramayya had gone to see king Bijjala. The same
passage makes Ramayya quote an instance of a previous
saint, Mahalaka, having performed the same feat at a
village named Jambar, which may conceivably be the
Ablur of the inscription. But the interest and importance
of the inscription centre in the fact that it discloses the
name of another devout and exclusive worshipper of
Siva, who, it is said, caused this man to be born into
the world with the express object of "putting a stop to
the hostile observances of the Jains and the Buddhists
who had become furious" or aggressive. Dr. Fleet
considers that, making allowance for the supernatural
agency introduced into the story, the narrative is reason-
able and plain, and has the ring of truth in it ; and, in
his opinion, it shows us the real person to whom the



revival of the ancient Saivaite faith was due. The
exploits of Ramayya are placed shortly before A.D.
1162, in which year Bijjala is said to have completed
his usurpation of the sovereignty by assuming the para-
mount titles. Ramayya was thus a contemporary of
Basava, but the Ablur inscription makes no mention of
the latter.

This fresh evidence does not appear to run counter
to the commonly accepted story of the origin of the
Lingayats. It confirms the theory that the religion of
Siva received a great impetus at this period, but there
is nothing in the inscription ascribing to Ramayya the
position of a reformer of Saivaite doctrines. He appears
as the champion of Siva against the rival creeds, not
as the Saivaite Luther who is attacking the priestly
mysticism of the Saivaite divines ; and, as Dr. Fleet
points out, there is nothing improbable in the mention of
several persons as helping on the same movement. Both
Ramayya and Basava are, however, represented in these
inscriptions as being the chief of Saivaite Brahmans, and
there is no mention of any schism such as the Protestant
revolt which is associated with the name of Luther. It
is possible, therefore, that the establishment of the
Lingayat sect may have been brought about by the
followers of these two great men a fact that is hinted at
in Lingayat tradition by the very name of Channabasava,
which means Basava the beautiful, because, according
to the Channabasava Purana, he was more beautiful in
many respects than Basava, who is represented as
receiving instruction from his superior nephew in
important points connected with their faith. The two
inscriptions and numerous others, which have been
deciphered by the same authority, are of the greatest
value from a historical point of view, and paint in bold


colours the chief actors in the drama. The closing years
of the Western Chalukyan kingdom are given to us by
the hand of an actor who was on the same stage, and, if
the birth of the Lingayat creed is still obscured in the
mist of the past, the figures of those who witnessed it
stand out with surprising clearness.

It has been already stated that one of the principles
of the religion is a disregard of caste distinctions. The
prevailing races were Dravidian, and it is an accepted
fact that the theory of caste as propounded by Manu is
altogether foreign to Dravidian ideas. Historians cannot
tell us how long the process of grafting the caste system
on to the Dravidian tree lasted, but it is clear that, when
Basava appeared, the united growth was well established.
Brahmans were acknowledged as the leaders in religious
matters, and, as the secular is closely interwoven with
the religious in all eastern countries, the priestly class
was gradually usurping to itself a position of general
control. But, as was the case in Europe during the
sixteenth century, a movement was on foot to replace the
authority of the priests by something more in accordance
with the growing intelligence of the laity. And, as in
Europe, the reformers were found amongst the priests
themselves. Luther and Erasmus were monks, who
had been trained to support the very system of priest-
craft, which they afterwards demolished. Basava and
Ramayya, as already stated, were Saivaite Brahmans,
from whom has sprung a race of free thinkers, who
affect the disregard of caste and many of the ceremonial
observances created by the Brahman priesthood. The
comparison may even be carried further. Luther was
an iconoclast, who worked upon men's passions, while
Erasmus was a philosopher, who addressed himself to
their intellects. Basava, according to the traditionary


account, was the counterpart of Luther. Ramayya may
be fairly called the Indian Erasmus.

This freedom from the narrowing influence of caste
was doubtless a great incentive to the spread of the
reformed religion. The lingam was to be regarded as
the universal leveller, rendering all its wearers equal in
the eye of the Deity. High and low were to be brought
together by its influence, and all caste distinctions were
to be swept away. According to Basava's teaching, all
men are holy in proportion as they are temples of the
great spirit ; by birth all are equal ; men are not superior
to women, and the gentle sex must be treated with all
respect and delicacy ; marriage in childhood is wrong,
and the contracting parties are to be allowed a voice
in the matter of their union ; and widows are to be
allowed to remarry. All the iron fetters of Brahmanical
tyranny are, in fact, torn asunder, and the Lingayat
is to be allowed that freedom of individual action,
which is found amongst the more advanced Christian

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