Buddha aud Basava – A Comparison
Buddha and Basava are two great religious luminaries who have held aloft the blazing torch of our religion and culture were faced with a grave danger.”Whenever religion is in a grave crisis and irrational superstition is on the increase for the redemption of religion and truth, then do i take birth in the world’ says Lord Shri Krishna in Bhagavadgita. Though more than a thousand years distances them from each other, though they belonged to two different region. though they spoke two different languages they are at the same wave-Lengths in thought.actions and beliefs. They still speak and articulate the same language that represents the heart and mind of all humanity – the language of humanity. Great men think alike regardless of the age, country,clime. culture or religion they belong. They are at once the creatures of the age the creators of a new epoch. They transcend their age;break all barriers of country,clime,culture or religio. They are universal men, citizens of the world. They have a universal appea. Their universal message has relevance for all time.
The main events of the lives of these two enlightened souls are well known. Buddhas was the son of a minor ruler of Kapilavastu. He grew up in luxury. married Yashodhara. had a son, Rahul, and led a sheltered life.And the world,s miseries were deliberately hidden from him by this parents. However, on four occasions Buddha was face to face with different aspects of human misery. He met an old man and felt that he would succumb to the frailties of old age. He met a sick man and felt that he would also suffer from disease. He met a corpse and he feared that he would one day be dead.He met an ascetic with a peaceful and smiling face. who had ADOPTED THE TRADITIONAL WAY OF THE SEEKERS OF RELIGIOUS TRUTH. tHE bUDDHA RESOLVED TO GAIN FREEDOMFROM OLD AGE, SICKNESS AND DEATH BY following his example. He left his home, wife and child. Dressed like a mendicant he fled to the forest in order to meditate on human suffering, its causes and the means by which it could be overcome. He spant six Years studying the abstruse doctrines of religion. He suffered severest austerities almost reducing himself to a skeleton. He hoped that by mortifying the flesh he would attain ultimate Reality. When he had almost succumbed to starvation he accepted the milk in profound meditation under the tree. One day at the break of dawn he attained enlightenment. He became Buddha the enlightened one.After his enlightened one.After his enlightenment he preached his first sermon in Benaras.He travelled from place preaching Dharma for forty five years. The Prince and the peasant, people of all classes came under the spell of his personality. He taught the beauty of charity, and the joy of renunciation, the need for simplicity and equality.
At the age of eighty he was on his death bed. He consoled Anands,his disciple ‘o Anandal The doctrins I have preached to your master’and breathed his Last.
Basava was born about 1131 AD in Ingaleshwar Bagewadi in Biapur district in a devout Brahmin family. AS a ypung boy he was very precocious and given to the religious musings and questionings. he refused, to undergo the Upanayana or the sacred Thread Ceremony at the age of eight emphatically affirming that he had already been initiated at birth by jataveda muni into Veerashaiva religion. He went to Kudalasangama also in bijapur district. He ‘married the daughter of Baladeve Gangambike Baladeva was the Prime Minister of Bijjala.the kalachurya King ruling in Kalyan now in Bidar district of Hyderabad-Karnataka.After Baladeva’s death Bijjala offered that post to Basava. He was made Prime Minister,Chief Lord of the Treasury and Commandeirin-Chief.Basava married a second time.He second wifr’s name was Nilambike,the adopted sister or Bijjala.
The ceaseless quest of all religious faith in india has been safety from all ills an evil,fearlessness(Abhaya)to realize God or ultimate Reality.Moksha nirvana or deliverance.But the path-ways that different religions have chosen to realize this ultimate goal are different from religion to religion. Budddha chose the path of jnana or Bodhi-transcendental wisdom or absolute illumination And the way to it he said is the moral path of puritydimplicity,truth and nonviolence. To quote his own words.’But i dem the highest goal of a man to be the stage in which there is neither old age , no fear , nor disease,nor birth,no death, nor anxieties and in wshich there is no continuous renewal of activity.
But Basava who wanted to bring this ultimate goal of all religions within reach of the commom man evolved the sixfold system called Shatsthala(Bhakta,Maheshwara,Pranalingi,Prasadi, Sharane and Aikya).He Knew the secret of spiritual realization that essentially it is a gradual growth from within resulting from a conscious and continuous striving of a mind filled with devotion and total surrender to God Therefore he forged,fashioned and perfected the six fold system-the six stage which are clearly the stages of the inner spiritual growth and development. This inner spiritual growth requires conscious and continuous striving. Man should continuously strive to bit himself above earthly things.to go out from the world of senses-nay to sublimate the senses filling them with god consciousness to free his soul firm the trammels of the flesh and gross materialism and to break through this hard crust of outer darkness,ignorance and superstition. craving and muddy depravity and infatuation resulting from Avidya,into the world of light and spirit in other words to lead the life divine in order to attain the light divine.
Basava believed in one God,the supreme Lord of the universe,who is the creator,protector and destroyer of the universe. He set god-realization as the highest goal before mankind .This body is gifted to man by the grace of god.GOd has granted him this body to realise him.Hence he should not lay waste to his powers blinded by illusion,bound and tethered by the senses and sensual pleasures.God- filled body is the sure medium for god realization. He sought God in tangible manifest forms-Guru,Linga and Jangama Humble service and total surrender to these mainifest triple forms is the surest pathway to God realization and deliverance.
The orthodox caste system had unfortunately resulted in water-tight compartmental divisions like Brahmana Kshatriya Vaishya and Sudra resulting in the rigid graduation of humanity on the mere accident of birth. The same wisdom behind this four fold system of society as declared by Lord Krishna in Bhagavadgita had been forgotten Chaturvarnyam, maya srushtam guna karma vibhageshah ‘I have created this Chaturvarnya on the basis of quality and skill in particular profession. Basava reinterpreted the caste sysytem in its original sense. No man or woman is high or low by the mere accident of birth. His or her quality, merit and achievements alone should decide whether a person is high or low. He admitted one and all within his religious fold on the basis of quality, intrinsic worth and merit. Once they were so admitted they were all treated as equal. Women were treated as equal by him with men. They had equal rights in religious and they could realize their soul, realize God consciously strive for their deliverance along with men.
Basava founded Anubhava Mantapa- an academy of enlightened souls under the presidentship of Allama Prabhu a unique and unparallelled academy of its kind in human history. Here all people- menand women without any distinction of caste high or low, met and discussed problems social,economical religious and spiritual. It shows perfect democracy at work and reflects the casteless and classless society that Basava had established where men and women were treated on an equal footing. The dignity of the human worth was upheld as never before. What mattered most was intrinsic worth, achievement and experience ,not age, caste, birth or class. We have examples of Shiva Nagamayya, Haralayya who were untouchables,Dohara kakkayya, a basket weaver, Machayya the Washerman, Hadapada Appanna the barber, Padihari Uttanna the gate keeper, Akka Mahadevi, Queen Mahadevi, Lakkamma, Neelambike and Gangambike who took active part in this Mantapa.
The omni present, omni potent and omniscient god of infinite extension and possibility, resides also in the mind of man. A devotee with his body, mind and feeling filled with devotion should look within,reach out and realize him rather than seek him elsewhere in the temples built by rich people- On the top of the mountain in the caves and the thick forest. Basava said the devotees body itself is the temple, his head the golden pinnacle the mind the inner shrine, or the sanctum sanctorum. Hence he affirmed, that body, mind and feeling which house lord Supreme, should be pure. It is only through the perfect and pure human medium that god’s glow and goodness is reflected and fully revealed.
What should we do then to attain this purity internal and external? Basava evolved a simple technique a moral code in the nature of five commandments which are within easy reach of the common man. He says in one of his Vachanas:
Steal not, kill not: speak no untruth
Censure not otnher, Praise not yourself
This indeed is external purity
This too is internal purity
This is how you will win the grace of Lord Kudalasangama.
The five commandments laid down by Basava are simpler and easier to follow for the common man than the ten commandments of Moses(in Old testament).
As there are close parallels between Buddhism and Veerashaivism there are significant points of departure between the two. The first significant departure is the Buddhist’s rejection of the Atman and the Paramatman. But Veerashaivism affirms the existence of the soul and its unflinching faith in the universal soul. The individual soul is the part arid parcel of the universal soul. There should be an internal relation and harmony between the two. the ultimate goal set before the individual is the merging of his individual soul with the universal soul. Buddha was an agnostic he did not believe in the soul or the Supreme Deity governing the universe but Basava believed in one Supreme God. His deep devotion to the supreme lord is the mystique of his personality and the starting point of his philosophy .Buddhism views the worls as a snare, a net of bondage and an illusion. Caught in this net and is illusion the individual’s life of misery. the Supreme goal of Buddhism is Bodhi, or illumination which will free man from this misery. But Basava affirms that this world is real and life is earnest. He asserts that this world of mortals is the mint house of the marker. it is the battle ground in which man has to fight his battle royal. It is the testing ground of the human worth.
The emotional basis of Buddhism is pessimism. To buddha life is eternal striving. It is full of unfulfilled desires and unsatisfied longings. Hence, it is full and pulsates with vibrant optimism. He admits; life is a struggle. Human beings as heroes should accept the challenge. This body is gifted to us by God. We are born here to realize him and his grace. If we realize this, then we are beings with an unlimited destiny under the providential government of god. To Basava the life divine is no mere article of faith. It is an intense, all consuming all fulfilling experience. It is the breath and finer spirit of his whole being. It is more real, more vital than any other experience.
The World today is in a perpetual grip of cold war. The Super powers have enough niclear arm piles in their hands to burn the world over many times and turn it into a vast cremation ground. We do not know when the cold war will blow hot by the senseless and mind less use of these nuclear weapons. The whole world is hungering and praying for peace every ans waking moment of its life. What is required is the change of heart.’That difficult alchemy, the transformation of the heart is known only to the saints. They have the right knowledge and they make the right effort.They know that a spiritual direction given to the whole life can alone raise humanity beyond itself. Let us heed their advice or face extinction.