MYSTICISM IN KARNATAKA
Mystic tradition in any culture, by its very nature is cocooned in an aura of secrecy and mystical literature per se does not reveal much, because mysticism demands a rigorous relation between the master and the disciple. However, there are many mystical traditions and schools in Karnataka even though mysticism cuts across regional boundaries. It is necessary to dissociate mysticism and occult practices. Mystic experience is something that cannot be explained in terms of rationality or science. It does not depend on logical argumentations indulged by religious scholars either. It often transcends the barriers of religion and mystics belonging to various religions respect one another. Sufi saints of Karnataka have admirers, disciples and devotees all over the state. Mysticism is not unduly worried about yogic or tantric practices also.
Mystics of Karnataka can be studied under different headings. Veerashaiva saints of the twelfth century, Sufi saints and ‘tattvada padakAraru’ of the nineteenth century constitute some of these categories. Of course, this has nothing to do with their religious beliefs or caste specific practices. In all these cases mysticism is not equated with a total renunciation of the material world. Actually, mystic experience leads to a better understanding of the sensory world and fosters meaningful human and societal relations. This fact is supported in all the three instances cited above.
the great saint-poet of the twelfth century is perhaps the nucleus of all
mystical activities of Karnataka. He was a part of the religious-social
movement set in motion by Basavanna. But he was not bound by the shackles of
even Veerashaivism. Allama was conversant with most of the mystical and
philosophical traditions of contemporary
Sufism is another important strand that has influenced mystical activities in Karnataka. Great Sufi saints such as Hazarat Khwaja Bande Nawaz Gesu Daraz, (1321-1422) of Gulbarga, Hazrath Khwaja Ameen Uddin Ali Ala Sher-e-Khuda Chisty, Hazrath Ainuddin Ganjul Uloom and Hazrath Shamshul Ushaq all from Bijapur have carried this tradition in North Karnataka. Bababudan Giri is an important centre of Sufi tradition. All these saints have furthered the tradition of mysticism in Karnataka.
Nineteenth century witnessed the birth of many seers/mystics from the lower strata of the society who pursued the path of the mystics and poured out their experiences and feelings in an intensely lyrical language. Shishunala Shariff, Kadakola Madivalappa, Nagalingayati, Kaivara Narayanapa and Balaleela Mahant Shivayogi are the prominent ones among them. Not much is known about them by way of biography because they shunned publicity. However their songs have survived and they contain their teachings suffused with mysticism.
Some shrines in Karnataka have harboured these mystics who are usually nomadic. Mysticism has done a lot to check the violent attitudes unleashed by the votaries of institutionalized religions. Mystics have lived among people and tried their best to improve the quality of inter personal and societal relationships.
‘Introduction to Karnatak mysticism’ by R.D.
2. ‘Revolution of the mystics: on the social aspects of mysticism’, by J.P. Schouten, 1995.
3. ‘Philosophy of the Sunyasampadane’ by V.S. Kambi, 1973, Kumaresha Granthamale.
Sufigalu’ By Rahamath Tarikere, 1998,
brief survey of the Mystic tradition in religion and Art in Karnataka’ by M.V.
Krishna Rao, 1959, Vardha Publishing House,