Basaveshwara, colloquially known as Basavanna, was a 12th-century CE Indian statesman, philosopher, poet, social reformer and Lingayat saint in the Shiva-focussed bhakti movement, and a Hindu Shaivite social reformer during the reign of the Kalyani Chalukya/Kalachuri dynasty. Basava was active during the rule of both dynasties but reached the peak of his influence during the rule of King Bijjala II in Karnataka, India.
Basava spread social awareness through his poetry, popularly known as Vachanaas. He rejected gender or social discrimination, superstitions and rituals but introduced Ishtalinga necklace, with an image of the Shiva Liṅga, to every person regardless of his or her birth, to be a constant reminder of one’s bhakti (devotion) to Shiva. As the chief minister of his kingdom, he introduced new public institutions such as the Anubhava Mantapa (or, the “hall of spiritual experience”), which welcomed men and women from all socio-economic backgrounds to discuss spiritual and mundane questions of life, in open.
The traditional legends and hagiographic texts state Basava to be the founder of the Lingayats. However, modern scholarship relying on historical evidence such as the Kalachuri inscriptions state that Basava was the poet philosopher who revived, refined and energized an already existing tradition.
The Basavarajadevara Ragale (13 out of 25 sections are available) by the Kannada poet Harihara (c.1180) is the earliest available account on the life of the social reformer and is considered important because the author was a near contemporary of his protagonist. A full account of Basava’s life and ideas are narrated in a 13th-century sacred Telugu text, the Basava Purana by Palkuriki Somanatha.
asava literary works include the Vachana Sahitya in Kannada Language. He is also known as Bhaktibhandari (literally, the treasurer of devotion) and Basavanna.