Krishna says in the Bhagavatam, “Whenever and wherever there is a decline in Dharma, I will make my presence be known time to time.” Similarly, revolutionary thoughts and ideas have taken birth time and again in our ever evolving Sanatana Dharma. One such idea emerged during the 12th century in the mind of a minister whose name was Basava. Basava was the prime minister of King Bijjala of the Southern Kalachuri Empire which consisted of parts of present day North Karnataka and South Maharashtra. The society by this time had accepted and was readily following a strict system of social stratification. These stratifications were so rigid that they hindered the development of a healthy society. The right of a person to choose and pursue a profession was suspended to the advantage of a few upper class sections of the society. Varnashrama was forced by birth and not through choice of profession. The livelihood of a farmer and his family was decided by either the generosity of the monsoon or of the money lender. Bonded labor became common and accepted. Basava, though being born into a Brahmin family, rejected the Shastras and Puranaswhich were written in Sanskrit and available only to the upper classes of society. Through sheer hard work and honesty he rose to the position of prime minister. Basava used his position for the benefit of society and carried out a number of social reforms, such as abolishing untouchability, the caste system and harmful practices based on superstitions. To further promote harmony between different social classes, he promoted inter-caste marriages and himself married the sister of King Bijjala who was a Jain. He encouraged a form of Kannada writing called Vachana Sahitya; these readily intelligible prose texts had the flavor of the Vedas and could be understood and appreciated by the common people. Basava established the Anubhava Mantapa at Kalyani (today Basavakalyana) which became the center for all religious and spiritual thoughts. Any person from any caste, creed or gender could discuss, debate and propagate his ideas on spirituality. By carrying out such reforms he was able to bring the different classes of the Hindu society together and was popularly known as Krantikari Basavanna. Basavanna preached a monotheistic, formless God through his vachanas where Linga was the supreme God. This evolved into a new branch of Hindu religion called Lingayatism. The followers of Basavanna are called Lingayats or Shiva Sharanas. They represent a strong and significant percentage of people in today’s Karnataka. Vachanas by Basavanna and later the Shiva Sharanas have become household sayings. They carry strong messages in simple words and poetic language. There are a number of famous vachanas. One of them is: uLLavaru shiválaya máduvaru nánénu mádali badavanayyá enna kále kambha dehavé degula shiravé honna kaLashavayyá Kúdala Sangama Devá keLayya sthavarakkaLivunTu jangamakaLivilla Those who are rich build Shiva temples; what can a poor person like me do? My legs are the pillars, body the shrine, and head the goldenkalash. Oh God of Kudala Sangama, listen, temples may fall but not jangamas (Shiva Sharanas).