You have read at the very beginning of this book, the vachana - 'Do not steal, Do not
kill,' etc. It is simple, beautiful and full of meaning. Great men express great thoughts
in simple words.
'Do not be angry' is one of the command- ments of the vachana mentioned above. Anger is
not good. In another vachana Basavanna says:
Why should one be angry with those who are angry with one?
What does one gain? What do those others lose?
Physical anger weakens one's nobility
Mental anger weakens one's Wisdom.
The fire bums not the neighboring houses
Until it has burnt the very house where it was lighted
0 Lord Kudalasangama.
Why return anger for anger? It does no good to anyone, either to the angry man, or to his
opponent. It affects one's dignity and dims one's judgment. A raging fire first burns the
very house where it is kindled and then it burns the adjoining houses; anger is like such
a fire. Our anger first harms us and then harms others. The analogy of fire in this
vachana effectively brings home to our minds the evils of anger.
You have read also the episode of the cows stolen by the thieves. In that context
Bassavanna says in a vachana:
Pray don't say those thieves have taken the cows,
Please be so good; pray don't raise a hue and cry,
Please be so good; Pray don't even talk of it,
Please be so good; it is God Sangama who drinks milk there, as it is
He who drinks it here;
God Kudalasangama is one and the same.
Within us and within the thieves it is the same God who accepts the milk. The conviction
that the same God is present in all human beings finds moving expression in this vachana.
We should have such faith and conviction in the worship we offer and in all our actions.
Worship without this faith is like a figure in a picture; work without this faith is like
the frame of a picture. Driving home a lesson by means of homely simile and example is a
unique feature of Basavanna's vachanas.
Some have a notion that building temples or arranging grand celebrations is being very
But Basavanna says:
People who have money build temples
What can /, a poor man, do?
My legs are pillars
My body itself is the temple
My head is the golden tower
Please listen 0, Kudalasangama
The static has an end
But the dynamic has none.
The rich can build temples. What can 1, a poor man, do? But I build a different kind of
temple. My body itself is the shrine, with legs as pillars and head as the golden tower.
The temple that is built is stationary. My body moves. It is with me wherever I go. That
is why it does not perish. What is
made of matter perishes. The soul, the spiritual, is everlasting. That this body itself
should be made a holy shrine is a message of immense value. We should be able to see God
in this temple of our body. Basavanna never attached importance to outward form of
worship, rituals and religious observances.
About the worship and charities offered just for the sake of pleasing world Basavanna
Some were doomed for deeds done unwillingly
Some were doomed for charities given without sincerity.
If God's grace is to be obtained, we should be true and sincere in action and in giving.
Referring to half-hearted devotees he says:
Going into a temple, one pretends to be offering salutation;
But thinks only of his sandals and not of God.
How true! We leave our sandles outside the temple. So even while praying inside the temple
we are worded about the safety of our sandles. This is a common experience. Basavanna's
vachanas are rich in experience.
wishes to be praised. But Basavanna regarded 'praise' as 'the golden stake'. The stake is
a sharp weapon. Even if it is made of gold it can still pierce and wound the
body.Basavanna did not want to be praised. He prayed to God, "Lord, if you are good
to me please come in the way of anyone praising me." This is his real greatness.
Basavanna made it easy and simple even for common people to understand Dharma. Listen to
Heaven and man's world are not else where, my dears
Speaking truth is heaven, Uttering lies is man's world!
Righteous conduct is heaven unrighteous conduct is hell ...
Say 'sire', sweet and soft; heaven is there.
Say you feller, vulgar and rough; and that is hell.
Basavanna did not have any worldly desire.
Never do / keep by in store One streak of gold or one
Yarn of saree Desiring for today or for
I swear this oath by you and your ancient devotees.
Basavanna here declares in the name of God and all His devotees of all times that he would
never hoard gold or provisions in greed, expecting that he would need them some day.
He never begged or cringed before others for anything:
For fear of danger to my body shall not ask,
'Please protect me'
For fear of losing my livelihood
I shall not ask, 'Please give me"
'As is the feeling so it happens.'
Come what may - pain or gain,
I shall never deviate from you,
Nor shall / beg men for anything
This / swear by your name
I shall not beg of anyone to protect my body; nor shall I entreat anyone to give me this
or that for my livelihood. What is destined will happen. Whatever comes to my lot, pain or
wealth, I accept it without liking or disliking it. 0 God, I shall not seek a favor even
of you. Never will] beg men for any thing.
Basavanna was not afraid of anything;
Let what is to come tomorrow come today,-
Let what is to come today
come this very moment.
Who is afraid of it?
Since he had completely surrendered to God and relied entirely on His grace he could be so
You are my father, you are my mother
You are my brother, and all my kith and kin are you
I have none except you Lord Kudalasangama.
'Dip me in milk or dip me in water -only Thy Will be done.' Such was his firm stand. He
saw God everywhere. He had realized by experience that the same God who was present in all
cosmos was within him. Filled with such divine bliss, his heart sang:
My words are filled with you Nectar-like name
My eyes are filled with your image
My mind and heart are filled with thoughts of you
My ears are filled with the praise of your glory
0 Lord Kudalasangama
Your lotus feet are filled with me.
There is a deep sense of fulfillment in this vachana. Speech finds its fulfillment in
chanting His name. The eyes find theirs irT seeing His lovely form. The mind or heart has
its fulfillment in thoughts are feelings relating to Him only. The ears delight in
listening to the praise of His glory. The self, like the bumblebee sucking honey from a
lotus forgets itself in the ecstasy of being one with the Divine.
In the last line of this vachana there is a fine pun on the Kannada word 'Tumbi'. In
consonance with the eadier lines it means 'filled'. Aptly associated with the lotus it
means a 'bumble-bee'.
Basavanna lived as a man of God. He showed others also the way to become godly men. Even
after eight hundred years the light that was lit by him continues to shine brightly. And
Basavanna himself is such an effulgent light of life.