Karnataka Minister Priyank Kharge on Wednesday, January 17 wrote a letter to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah asking him to declare 12th century social reformer Basavanna as the ‘Cultural leader of Karnataka.’
Basavanna championed an inclusive, anti-caste religious movement called Lingayat Dharma. This philosophy, distinct from Vedic principles, embraces equality and stands in stark contrast to the hierarchical structures of traditional Hinduism.
The letter highlighted Basavanna’s pioneering role in championing equality for the downtrodden and the oppressed communities, centuries before it became enshrined in the Constitution. Through Anubhava Mantapa – considered the first democratic forum in India, Basavanna formed a movement against untouchability.
The letter read, “Guru Basavanna, who introduced the concept of democracy for the first time in India through Anubhava Mantapa, formed a movement against untouchability. He was the first leader in history to raise his voice for the equality of the downtrodden, Dalits and other oppressed communities.”
Priyank also stressed the post-independence efforts by Dr BR Ambedkar who drafted the Constitution and established equal rights for all. Drawing parallels between Maharashtra’s recognition of Chatrapati Shivaji as ‘Cultural Hero,’ Priyank said that declaring Basavanna as the ‘Cultural Leader of Karnataka’ would not only honour his legacy but also inspire future generations to uphold his ideals.