Special Correspondent

Bangalore: Nearly 500 members of the Kerala State unit of Basava Samithi were among those present when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh released the Basaveshwara commemorative coin here.

General secretary of the Kerala unit K. Prasanna Kumar told The Hindu , "We are very happy to be here for the event honouring the 12th century saint, philosopher and social reformer, who is also the Paramacharya of the Veerashaiva community." The community in Kerala numbers 15 lakh and are organised under the samithi and the Kerala Veerashaiva Sabha, he said.

The community organises Basava Jayanthi at the district and State levels, and for several decades had been working to spread the Sharana culture, he said. Akkamahadevi Jayanthi, Kayaka Day and other festivals of the community are observed in Kerala also.

So far the community organisations had published 20 books in Malayalam, and Basava Samithi had brought out four books recently about Basaveshwara and his teachings.

The Veerashaiva community in Kerala migrated from Karnataka at the time of "Kalyana Kranthi", a revolutionary movement that took place under Basaveshwara in the 12th century, But its followers remained isolated for many centuries now, Mr. Prasanna Kumar said.

One reason was the lack of regular communication with the mother organisations and those Veerashaivas living in Karnataka.

"We are now being helped by Veerashaiva seers and organisations such as All India Veerashaiva Mahasabha and National Basava Samithi and we are rediscovering our roots. We have come here to express solidarity with the followers of our faith from other parts of the country," he said.