Watch: Caste-based mutts and their influence on Karnataka politics

Watch: Caste-based mutts and their influence on Karnataka politics

How did mathas emerge as power centres?

Updated - July 10, 2024 08:34 pm IST

Published - July 10, 2024 07:09 pm IST

Whether it is running educational and medical institutions, engaging in charity and development works or endorsing candidates and lobbying for ministerial berths, mathas or mutts are institutions peculiar to the state of Karnataka.

The State is home to hundreds of mathas, representing the many castes and sub-castes. Politically significant among them are Lingayats, Vokkaligas and Kurubas.

Over the years, Karnataka has seen a growing interdependence between politicians and pontiffs. Today, these spiritual and religious institutions can even make or break a candidate’s electoral fortunes.

Successive governments have also supported the mathas, whether by association of high-profile leaders, allocation of land or through budgetary grants.

But how did these mathas and their pontiffs gain followers and clout to become so crucial to Karnataka’s political landscape? How has this affected the State’s electoral and identity politics?

We speak to Janaki Nair, a Bengaluru-based historian and retired professor, Centre for Historical Studies, JNU.

Presentation: Nalme Nachiyar

Video and production: Ravichandran N.

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