Basavanna’s samadhi at Kudala Sangama is a place of great importance to his followers and admirers alike. But largely forgotten is the place where he was born, Basavana Bagewadi which is just 45 km from Bijapur on the Bijapur-Bangalore highway. The actual house in which Basavanna’s parents lived and where he spent his childhood has been replaced by a modern structure called Basava Smarak which was inaugurated in 2010 by the then Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa. Basava Smarak is a large hall with a domed ceiling. There are reliefs depicting the important events in Basavanna’s life. In the centre are three life-size idols of Guru Jatavedamuni, Madalambike with infant Basava and Madiraja. It depicts the moment when Guru Jatavedamuni awakens the still-born infant.
The main place to visit in Basavana Bagewadi is a Kalyani Chalukya temple built in the 11th century dedicated to Lord Shiva and his vahana (vehicle) Nandi/Basava. Known as the Basaweshwara Temple, Nandi or Basava is given prominence here as Basavanna is believed to be an incarnation of Nandi.
A stone arch leads to the temple which is surrounded by colonial buildings housing a school. We went during lunch time so the entire place was teeming with playful children. The temple is built in typical Kalyani Chalukya Style and has an imposing vimana. It is an east facing temple with a garbhagriha, open antarala (vestibule), natyamantapa, sabhamantapa and nandi mantapa. The main structure is built with sandstone but the nandi mantapa is in granite and looks like a later addition.
The garbhagriha houses a small linga and has a beautifully decorated doorway with numerous door jambs. A gajalakshmi forms the centre-piece. The makara torana (lintel) framing the antarala is well carved and is typical of the Kalyani Chalukya style of temple architecture. The roof of the natya mantapa depicts a dancing Shiva surrounded by the ashtadikpalakas (gods of the eight directions) and is a marvel in stone.
Nandi is worshipped in this temple as a deity unlike in other Shiva Temples and is hence is known as Moola Nandishwara. Much larger in size compared to the Shiva Linga housed in the garbhagriha, the nandi is well carved and adorned with colourful cloth and jewellery.
The temple has been modified over the years and a marble sculpture of Basavanna has been placed in the sabha mantapa. The flooring too is new. Though well maintained, the modernisation of the temple doesn’t blend in with the Kalyani Chalukya architectural style. The surroundings of the temple are clean and are dotted with Basavanna’s vachanas (short poems) painted on boards. The temple is maintained by the Kudala Sangama Development Board and free food is provided to all visitors in the spirit of Basavanna’s teaching – Dayave Dharmakke Moola (The source of dharma is compassion).
In 1131 CE, almost 9000 years ago, Basavanna was born to Madiraja and Madalambe somewhere in present day Basavana Bagewadi taluk but no one knows where exactly. Though born in a Brahmin household, the young Basavanna rejected the rigid caste system, the emphasis on rituals and sacrifices in Hinduism and the inaccessibility of the religious texts to the common people. He went on to become a social reformer and is today even celebrated as a poet for the innumerable vachanas (a type of poetic composition) in Kannada.
The three important places connected with life of Basavanna are Basavana Bagewadi, the place of his birth, Kudala Sangama, the place of his spiritual education and where he spent his last days, and Basava Kalyana, where he served as a minister and started the social revolution.
Plan a day trip from Bijapur
Bijapur – Basavana Bagewadi – Yalagur – Kudala Sangama – Almatti Dam – Bijapur
This article was published in Spectrum, Deccan Herald on 9th May, 2017. DH Article