Vachanas sowed the seeds of rationalism and free thought

The Vachana literature of the 12th Century in Karnataka sowed seeds of rationalism and free thought and this needs to be applied to understand and resolve the problems of society today, according to the former Chief Justice of Karnataka and Kerala High Courts V.S. Malimath.

He was speaking at a convention organised by the Karnataka Vachana Sahitya Parishath here on Saturday.

Mr. Malimath said the concept on ‘Anubhava Mantapa’ of the philosopher-poet Basaveshwara, a place where everyone congregated to hold open discussions, was a model for democratic discussions today.

While all the emphasis in recent years has been on translating and spreading Vachanas beyond Karnataka or adapting them to music and dance, organisations should strive to apply their principles to solve our immediate problems, said Mr. Malimath.

He regretted that most organisations and religious heads, claiming to champion the cause of Vachanas, had “neither the inclination nor the mechanism” to address these larger issues. While laws can address issues like corruption or atrocities on women to a certain extent, there is no substitute for “character building” that the Vachanas aimed to do by talking in a simple language about “right conduct.”

Mate Mahadevi, founder of Basava Mantapa, described Vachanas as “rationalist literature” and the experiment of Anubhava Mantapa as an “open university.” She said that there was enough in the 15,000 extant Vachanas to generate new discussions. She said many principles of the Indian Constitution, on equality and human dignity, were enshrined in many Vachanas.

The former Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar spoke.

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