The Sharana Culture
The period of Sharanas (12th century A.D) was an enlightening chapter in the history of Karnataka as it left behind a saga of remarkable culture and literature that led the mankind from darkness to light. The revolution took place under the directions of Lord Basaveshwara with Sharanas giving an expression to their genuine feelings and experiences in the form of vachanas. These Vachanas are simple verses in Kannada language which can be easily understood by common man.
Hundreds of people from across the country joined the team of Sharanas to transform themselves and also the society. Their forum was formally termed as 'Anubhava Mantap' and the eminent spiritual personality of the period Allamprabhu was made the first head of this forum. The spiritual throne conceived for him was termed as 'Shoonya Peetha'.
Shri Jagadguru Murugarajendra Math, situated at the outskirts of Chitradurga district in Karnataka state inherits the rich culture of Sharanas. It is believed that the Math has a history of more than 900 years and is enthroned by eminent spiritual personalities like Channabasavanna, Thontada Siddalinga Yati, Gulur Siddaveerana Odeya, Gaganadayya Kattigehalli Siddhalingadeva, Murige Shantaveera Desika, Jayadeva Jagadguru and Mallikarjun Murugarajendra Swamiji. The present spiritual head of the Math is Dr Shivamurthy Muruga Sharanaru .
Present head of the Math
Dr Shivamurthy Muruga Sharanaru ascended the holy throne on 31st January 1991 as successor of Mallikarjun Murugarajendra Swamiji. Dr Shivamurthy Muruga Sharana was born on 11th April 1958 in Godabanahal village in Chitradurga taluk and completed his education in Chitradurga. Inspired by his sober, sincere and spiritual attitude, Shri Mallikarjun Murugarajendra Swamiji choose him as his successor after undergoing a spiritual and social training at Haveri and Sirsi branches of the Math.
The Murugarajendra Math experienced drastic changes after Dr Shivamurthy Muruga Sharanaru took charge as he rejected many age-old rituals practiced in the math which were inconsistent with the philosophy and culture of Sharanas. By switching over to active social service from simple religious ceremonies, he gave a progressive outlook to the activities of the Math. He set an example by renouncing the titles like 'Jagadguru' and 'swamiji' and wished to call himself a 'Sharana', which means 'one who has dedicated himself completely to god'.
Dr Shivamurthy Muruga Sharanaru took a revolutionary step of allowing women to 'Karthri Gaddige', the holy place where the body of Shri Muruge Shantaveera Swamiji, founder of the Math was lady to rest and worshipped. As per the wishes of people of different communities, he initiated many youth to monkhood with lingadharana without any discrimination.
New Vision, New Mission
Dr Shivamurthy Muruga Sharanaru set compassion and co-existence as two missions for functioning of the Math. Propagation of the Basava philosophy and its execution in day to day life was the programme he designed for the math and the disciples. For proper execution, he united the likeminded people and motivated them to open Basava Kendra in different towns, cities and villages. He has travelled to different countries of the world like USA, Australia, New-Zealand, Brazil, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Canada, England, Dubai, Sharjah, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, Abu dhabi, China, Hong Kong and Macau to propogate the Basava philosophy. He used to welcome scholars, social workers and political leaders to Matha and honoured them.
His field of action includes eradication of social evils like caste system, social discrimination, blind beliefs and avoiding environmental pollution while implementing development projects, protecting the interests of the farmers and common man, protection of orphans, old age people, avoiding dowry system and arranging inter-caste marriages and remarriages for widows. Sharana Sangama, Sharana Samskruthi Utsav, Sahaja Shivayoga, Maneyalli Mahamane, Janajagruthi Padayatra, Maha Dasoha, Basava Tatwa Mahavidyalaya and Basavashree Award are some of the programmes planned and executed by Dr Shivamurthy Muruga Sharana. He had also taken active part in struggle for bringing new railway line from Davangere to Tumkur and implementation of Upper Bhadra Project.
Dr Shivamurthy Muruga Sharana has been conducting mass marriages on 5th of every month for people of all communities irrespective of caste, class ad religious background. Even the widows are allowed to get remarried in these mass marriage ceremonies. So far more than 10,000 couples have tied the knot in these mass marriage ceremonies that are being conducted from past two decades and are leading a contented life. The ceremony has played crucial role in avoiding dowry complications and huge expenditure for marriages among the poor and middle class people.
Equality for women
His holiness Dr Shivamurthy Muruga Sharana, who is staunch follower of Lord Basaveshwar has provided equal opportunities for women to study and extended sainthood to many women of different communities. He also took the women to temples where entry of women was banned and made them to worship the god by convincing the authorities of those temples. Peace Marathon
In order to bring communal harmony among people, the Dr Shivamurthy Muruga Sharana has organizes peace marathon in the areas where communal clashes take place by holding meetings with the leaders of both communities. He also arranges for compensation to victims of such clashes through Srimath. So far, he has conducted peace marathon at Ummattur – Badanvalu of Mysore district, Annehal of Holalkere taluk, Ranebennur, Haveri, Shimoga, Chitradurga, Kambalpalli and Dyapalapura of Hassan district. In order to create a sense of brotherhood among Hindu and Muslims, he has also conducted mass feast programmes.
Sainthood for all communities
In order to uplift the oppressed class Dr Shivamurthy Muruga Sharana has given deeksha to many likeminded persons of backward communities like Madara, Kumbara, Hadapada, Koracha, Lambani, Kuruba, Dalitha, Ambiga, Ganiga, Kunchitiga and Madivala. These people were given two to five acres of land from the Srimath and necessary financial assistance for opening schools, colleges, hostels and also to conduct spiritual programmes under able guidance of Sharanaru.
Sharana Sangama is a one day discourse or discussion progrmme organized at all Basava Kendras to discuss preachings of Sharanas. This programme is conducted in Murugamath in Chitradurga on 5th of every month in which sincere efforts are made to find solutions to contemporary social problems and propagate how best the preaching of Basavanna are useful in leading a contented life.
It's a medication cum personality development programme organized for people of all age groups. Medication on 'Ishtalinga' is preached by Dr Shivamurthy Muruga Sharana to gain concentration, confidence and improve creativity. 50 such programmes are conducted every year. The duration of the programme ranges from three to five days and is also called as 'stress management course'.
This is an unique programme organized in prisons to transform the minds of inmates by teaching Sahaja Shivayoga to make them lead a simple and spiritual life after coming out of jails. It is a five to eight day programme in which the inmates are also trained to present skits and drama, convinced to give up bad habits and follow the right path in life.
The programmes is conducted at all district prisons including the Bangalore central prison. “For this revolutionary step, Dr Shivamurthy Muruga Sharana was presented a honourary doctorate by the Kuvempu University, Dr B R Ambedkar Award from Karnataka State Government and Indira Gandhi Priyadarshini Award.
In order to honour people for their distinguished services towards society in their respective fields by following the principles of Lord Basaveshwar, the Dr Shivamurthy Muruga Sharana presents Basavashree award. The award which includes Rs 3 lakh cash prize and a memento is being presented from 1997.
So far the award has been presented to eminent personalities like – Shri Siddarama Sharanaru Beldal (1997) of Bidar for being Basava culture propagator, Dr Hire Malluru Eshwarana (1998) for his contribution to Vachana revolution, Dr Sudarshan (1999) of B R Hills for giving new dimension to Soligas, Anna Hazare (2000) for his fight against corruption, Environmentalist Medha Patkar (2001), Peace Messenger from Buddha's Land Dharma Guru Dalai Lama (2002), Poet Gaddar (2003) of Andhra Pradesh, Dr Vandana Shiva (2004), Eminent agriculturist Subhas Palekar (2005), Social Worker Shabana Azmi (2006), Swami Agnivesh (2007) for his efforts to bring communal harmony, First Woman IPS officer Kiran Bedi (2008), Athlete P T Usha (2009), A T Ariya Ratne (2010) and the award was posthumously present to late Prof M D Nanjunda Swamy Founder of Karnataka State Farmers Association in 2011.
The programme is conducted at the residences of disciples of the Murugamath during occasions like marriage, naming ceremony of children and wedding anniversary. During this programme, Dr Shivamurthy Muruga Sharana and other guests would enlighten gathering on subjects like family welfare, child care, mutual understanding, and communal harmony. Depending to the availability of space, the swamiji also plants the sapling at the place.
In order to create awareness among general public on issued like protecting environment, improving literacy, awareness about deadly diseases and to keep people away from bad habits, Dr Shivamurthy Muruga Sharana takes out a procession and also meets people personally to convince people to choose a right path.
Since its inception, the Murugamath has been providing free food to devotees who visit the Math. Everyday more than 2000 devotees consume food at the math. The Murugamath has undertaken construction of a huge dasoha bhavana which is under construction for offering food to devotees.
Sharana Samskruthi Utsav
Every year Dr Shivamurthy Muruga Sharana organizes Sharana Samskruthi Utsava from 1991 in Chitradurga and other major cities and countries across the country and also in foreign countries. Different progrogrammes are organized during the event with equal opportunities to people from all communities across the country. The utsav also highlights our rich culture, variety of sports activities, Sahaja Shivayoga (meditation), music festivals, drama, folk arts and dance programmes. The utsav is conducted in the month of October every year in Chitradurga.
After ascending the throne in 1991, Dr Shivamurthy Muruga Sharana has opened more than 600 Basava Kendras in Karnataka, other states of the country and also in foreign countries to propagate the principles of Lord Basaveshwara and encourage people to follow sharana culture. Apart from preaching Basava principles, these centres are also involved in conducting Sharana Sangama, Maneyalli Mahamane, Providing milk to poor children on Nagara Panchami and awareness programmes for prisoners.
An unique wing of artists involved in performing 21 dramas and 40 skits to help common man come out of stress and encourage them face difficulties in life. The wing is conducted conducting dramas and skits at different places since 1991 and so far it has presented more than 1000 shows at different places. The main theme of the skits and dramas include literacy, environment, social responsibility and awareness on various issues. The troupe has also provided training to inmates at various prisons in the country. Impressed by services of Dr Shivamurthy Muruga Sharana, the Karanataka Government honoured him with National Communal Harmony Award in 1995.
Writings of Dr Sharanaru
Dr Shivamurthy Muruga Sharana, who has decided to create rationality among the common man, has written more than 50 books amidst his busy schedule. Some of the prominent works of include 'Vachana Sumana', 'Vachana Kranthi', 'Vachanasiri', 'Zhenkara', 'Nimondige', 'Antarala', 'Suliyodeda Bele', 'Nijadudaya', 'Belakinadege', 'Jagava Suttide', 'Sahaja Shivayoga', 'Parivarthaneya Patha', 'Mugila Minchu' , 'Santavana', 'Krantiya Kanasu', 'Agnigana', 'Jenu', 'Sandeha Samadhana', 'Prabhavali' and 'Vidyamana'.
Dr Shivamurthy Muruga Sharana with a great vision has developed a beautiful garden which stands testimony to his never ending love for nature in the premises of 'Brihanmath'. The Murugavan has more than 300 variety of saplings and many of them are with medicinal value. Dr Sharanaru has also initiated steps for development of such gardens at all branches of Brihanmath.
Apart from developing a beautiful garden, Dr Sharanaru has also taken steps for installation of statues in the Murugavan. The very glimpse of these statues provides in insight into the how the civilization has grown over the years. There are also plans to install statues of many Shivasharanas of 12th century and a children's train for providing entertainment to people apart from imparting education. The Murugavan also houses statues that remind us of freedom movement, kalyana revolution, life of Lord Basavanna and a detailed history of Muruga Math.
SJM Vidyapeetha, a biggest educational association in the state with many education institutes ranging from Nursery schools to Medical College, Engineering College, Dental College, Polytechnic College and Degree Colleges was started in the year 1966 by late Jagadguru Sri Mallikarjuna Murugarajendra Swamiji. In all there are a total of 135 education institutes and 200 branch Matts running under able guidance of Dr Shivamurthy Muruga Sharana.
Separate Hostel facility has been provided to both girls and boys in many of these education institutes to help students coming from far-off places.
Awards and Honours
Impressed by the efforts of Dr Shivamurthy Muruga Sharana in bringing social, educational and revolutionary changes in the society, many institutions have honoured him with many awards. A few to mention are Dr B R Ambedkar award conferred on him by Karnataka Government in 2006 for his sincere efforts for removing untouchability, removing gender bias and protection of Orphan children.
The Kuvempu University has honoured him with a honourary doctorate in 2009, and National Unity Conference of New Delhi honoured him with Indira Priyadarshini Award in 2010. For academic service through Vidyapeetha, Dr Sharanaru has received Kittur Rani Chennamma Award.
Dr Shivamurthy Muruga Sharana has also received award for his book 'Nimmondige' and Bangalore Kolada Math Allamasri Award, Jnana Mandara Academy's Vishwa Guru Award, Shankara Gowda Trust Award, Kanaka Award, Basavachetana Award and Sadakshari Award from Chikamagalur Basavatatwa peetha.
Facilities to devotees
In order to accommodate as many people as possible during mass marriage and other functions, Dr Shivamurthy Muruga Sharana has taken up construction of huge function hall. The hall can accommodate thousands at an estimated cost of Rs 12 crores.
Full-fledged apartments, cultural hall, community hall, archeological museum, Allamprabhu Research Centre, Anubhava Mantap, Kalaloka, Fine Arts, Information Centre, Health Centre and Administrative buildings are almost ready to serve devotees.
This is an under graduate college started by Dr Shivamurthy Muruga Sharana in 1998 with an objective to impart knowledge and training in both spiritual and social services based on principles of Lord Basavanna. It is affiliated to Kuvempu University and the syllabus includes Basava Philosophy along with other optional subjects like History, Sociology, English, Kannada and Hindi. Dr Sharanaru has also plans to start a post-graduate course in Basava Philosophy in the years to come.
It is an institution organized for encouraging school and college students to learn vachana literature. Every year more than 80,000 students enroll for different examinations like 'Pravesha', 'Parichaya' and 'Praveena'. The outstanding performers in the examinations are honoured with certificates and medals. Study materials for these examinations are provided by the Matt with a special arrangement for coaching in schools and colleges.
Allamprabhu Research Centre
Another ambitious plan of Dr Shivamurthy Muruga Sharana is research in the name of great saint Allamprabhu for promoting study and research in Vachana literatures and Sharana culture. Since the matt has thousands of palm leaves and paper manuscripts which are useful for research and editing work. The state government has provided necessary assistance for construction of building and developing other infrastructure for the research centre.
Since Murugamath has a remarkable history and has many valuable antiquities, the swamiji thought of establishing a museum in the premises of the Matt. The museum was as Murugarajendra Museum which houses an age old silver throne, a huge bell presented by Baramanna Nayaka, one of the paleygars of Chitradurga, variety of ancient swords, armour, guns, daggers, spears, silver water vessels, brass and copper images, bronze Buddha idols, paintings, silver and copper coins of ancient period, glass paintings and photographs. A huge building is under construction for displaying these valuables.
100 feet monolithic image of Basaveshwara
One of the dream projects of Dr Shivamurthy Muruga Sharana is installation 100 feet colossal statue of Lord Basaveshwara near the Matt by the side of Davangere road. The area where the statue will be installed is named as 'Basavagiri'. The idea of installing the statue came to the mind of Dr Sharanaru when he visited colossal statue of Jesus Christ on top of a hill near the City of 'Rio De Janeiro' in Brazil. A huge stone has already been selected near Doddaballapur for the purpose and a number of sculptors from Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Orissa are engaged in the carving work. There are also plans to arrange bus facility for visiting 'Basavagiri' and Former Chief Minister S Nijalingappa's memorial on Davangere road.
The total cost of the project in about Rs 15 crores and the state government has already provided an assistance of Rs 5 crores and the remaining amount is to be collected from the donors.