The religious and social conditions which prevailed in India about eight centuries ago demanded the guidance of a bold reformer. Religion at that time ceased to have relevance to the day-to-day living of the common people. Meaningless rituals were rampant. It was in such a society that Basaveshwara was born around 1131 AD in Bijapur district.
His parents beloged to an orthodox Saivite Brahmin family. Even as a boy he was a rebel and his home and went to Kudala Sangama at the confluence of the rivers Krishna and Malaprabha. In the hermitage of his spiritual guide, Jataveda Muni, his personality blossomed.
Basaveshwara married the daughter of a minister under King Bijjala of Kalyana. Starting as a clerk in the service of the King. Basaveshwara rse to the position of the Chief Minister through merit and sincerity. Besides being an able administrator for the welfare of people, he ushered in several religious and social reforms. He proclaimed that God is one. He advised people not to waste money over building temples, but to look within, to find God enshrined in oneself.
Basaveshwara emphasised on right conduct, courtesy to common people and service to the downtrodden. “ Do not postpone living a good life in this world.” He recognised dignity of labour and condemned parasitic existence. “Work is worship; no occupation is high or low; inferior or superior; every job useful to society is entitled to the same respect and regard”.
Basaveshwara laid stress on liberty, equality and fraternity.To him all were equal irrespective of caste, creed, sex, occupation and wealth. His lifelong struggle was to eradicate untouchability and inequality of every kind. Though he was the Chief Minister, he not only visited the area inhabited by untouchables but partook food with them. He encouraged intercaste marriage. Jealous of his position, achievements and popularity, orthodox and traditional persons joined together and complained to King Bijjala that he was upsetting the established social order and thereby causing an upheaval in the kingdom. On such pressure, the king wanted to annul intercaste marriage and punish severely the parents of such spouses. Protesting against this unjust decision, Basaveshwara relinquished his spiritual mentor who was on his deathbed. Some time thereafter Basaveshwara attained samadhi. His perennial philosophy of life has universal appeal and his teachings are valid even today.