RELIGIOUS HARMONY IN KARNATAKA
regional or cultural scenario is always torn asunder by divisive forces as well
as forces trying to bring about emotional integration and Karnataka is no exception.
The upper echelons of any religious hegemony are keen to fan the fires of
communal discord and gain the upper hand in power politics. On the contrary,
common people are driven by faith and love which transcends all barriers of
religions and castes, unless they become puppets in the hands communal forces.
Karnataka has witnessed inter religious and Intra religious conflicts among
Shaiva sect, Vashnava sect, Jaina and Islamic religions over the centuries.
However, the pan Indian Bhakti movement and the unifying forces set in motion
by Sufis, mystics and ‘tattvadapadakAraru’ have worked ceaselessly to further
communal harmony. Communal accord that prevails in almost all villages of
Karnataka is an outcome of these endeavours. People respect Gods and saints belonging
to all religions and seek favours from those Gods when they are in trouble.
Festive occasions are celebrated in the entire village cutting across castes
and religions. In addition to this there are many shrines in Karnataka which
attract devotees from all castes and religions. These shrines are managed by
people belonging to different religious faiths. For instance in Dharmasthala a
Hindu God Manjunatha (Shiva) is worshipped by Brahmin priests (who of course do
worship shiva) and the whole show is managed by Jaina Heggades. Added to this
the place was originally associated with folk deities. In some of these places
many rituals are geared to bring about a participation of different religions.
course, most places of pilgrimage are visited by Hindus of all castes. However
this note focuses on places which show amity among different religions.
Bababudan Giri, Dharmasthala, Sharanabasava Temple in Gulbarga, Khwaja Bande Navaz Darga in Gulbarga, Shivalingana Matha in Savalagi and the Infant Mary
Jesus church in Bangalore are some important places reflecting this
Bababudan Giri: Bababudan
Giri a part of the Western
Ghats has a cave which is
worshipped as the shrine of the Muslim saint Dada Hayath Mir Khalander. That
very cave is also known as ‘dattAtrEya pITha’.
People belonging to all religions visit this place, offer their prayers
and seek the blessings of the saints.
Khwaja Bande Navaz Darga, Gulbarga: Khwaja Bande Navaz Darga is the tomb of the famous
Saint Hazrath Khwaja Bande Navaz Gesu Daraz. He was a great Sufi saint. (“The
Sufi saint settled down in Gulbarga
on the invitation of Bahamani King Fairoze Shah Bahamani. For the next 22
years, till his death at the age of 105 years, Khwaja made Gulbarga his home and spread the message of universal
brotherhood from here.”) His darga
continues to be a place of pilgrimage to both Hindus and Muslims. It is great symbol of religious harmony.
Savalagi Shivalingana Matha: Savalagi
(sAvaLagi) is a small town in Gokak talluk of Belgaum district. It contains a beautiful shrine of
Shivalingeshvara built in Islamic style and a religious institution known as
‘sAvaLagi maTha’. There is regular interaction between the
Swamiji of sAvaLagi and the seer of Bende Nawaj darga in Gulbarga. People from both religions congregate here during
the annual fair. The village Savalgi in Bijapura district is also well known as
a shrine fostering religious harmony.
Infant Mary Church, Bangalore: ‘Infant
Jesus church’ situated in Viveknagar is one among the oldest and famed churches
in Bangalore. This is visited by thousands of devotees from all
castes. The shrine, which has a long history of sacrifice and devotion, was
built in 1979. Later a new church adjacent to the old shrine was inaugurated
and opened for devotees on June 9th, 2005. The new church has a fan shaped hall and the
interior is designed in such a way that wherever people are seated, they will
feel that the altar is facing them. It also has provisions for basement
parking, a ramp and lifts, so that people can easily reach the podium. The
devotion to Infant Jesus has become widespread and the shrine is known as a
place for miracles and divine solace. Devotees arrive here for Novena's held
every Thursday to experience the amazing power of Infant Jesus.” Khaja Aminuddin Dargah of Bijapur,
Shirahatti Fakirswamy Math in Gadag district, Kodekal Basavanna, Thintani
Mauneswara of Surpur taluk in Gulbarga district, Murughamalla Kshetra of
Chintamani taluk are some more shrines in Karnataka which facilitate
Hindu-Muslim and Hindu-Christian amity.
In addition to these there
are many shrines in towns and villages of Karnataka which promote religious
harmony. This attitude is also reflected in the exchanges that have taken place
in fields of art and architecture all through history among different
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