Long before the concept of people’s participation in decision took root in Europe, an Indian saint had built the world’s first Parliament, that also gave equal representation to women.
The saint philosopher was Basaveshwara, who birth anniversary is being celebrated as Basava Jayanti across Karnataka and parts of Maharashtra today.
The 12th-century social reformer was the founding saint of the Lingayat-Shaivism sect of Hinduism.
His message found expression in the form of Vachanas that define a new way of looking at God and life.
Basava staunchly believed in a caste-less society where each individual had equal opportunity to rise up in life.
To give force to the noble mission, Basava conceptualised Anubhava Mantapa – an academy of mystics, saints and philosophers of the ‘Lingayata’ faith and acted as the fountainhead of thoughts on common human values and ethics.
Presided over another great mystic Allama Prabhu, the Anubhava Mantapa also had numerous Sharanas – people from the lower strata of society – as participants.
Basavanna himself joined as a participant in the Anubhava Mantapa with other greats like Akka Mahadevi and Channabasavanna.
The Anubhava Mantapa played a pivotal role in changing the course of discourse in the caste-ridden Medieval Karnataka.