In an exemplary display of religious tolerance from the Hindu community, Lingayat math in Gadag district of north Karnataka is set to make a Muslim youth its spiritual head, reports Times of India.
Reportedly, 33-year-old Diwan Sharief Rahimansab Mulla is all set to be anointed as the head, or Mathadheesha of the Murugharajendra Koraneshwara Shantidhama Matha in Asuti village on February 26. The Murugharajendra Matha is linked to the 350-year-old Koraneshwara Sansthan Matha in Khajuri village in Kalaburagi.
The new Mathadheesha Diwan Sharief said he was influenced by the teachings of 12th-century reformer Basavanna since childhood and would work towards his ideals of social justice and harmony.
The Matha is one of the 361 maths of Sri Jagadguru Murugharajendra Matha of Chitradurga, which draw lakhs of followers from across Karnataka and Maharashtra, besides other parts of the country.
“Basava’s philosophies are universal and we embrace followers irrespective of caste and religion. He had dreamed of social justice and harmony in the 12th century and following his teachings, the Matha has opened its doors to all,” said Murugharajendra Koraneshwar Shivayogi, the Mathadheesha of the Khajuri Matha.
Influenced by Shivayogi’s discourses in Asuti, Sharief’s father, the late Rahimansab Mulla, had donated two acres of land to set up the Matha in the village. Shivayogi said the Asuti Matha has been functioning for 2-3 years now and construction of the premises was on.
The Mathadheesha of Khajuri Matha added that Sharief is dedicated to Basava’s philosophy and has been living by those tenets. His father was also a staunch follower and had obtained ‘Linga Deeksha’ from us, added the seer.
“Sharief took ‘Deeksha’ on November 10, 2019. We have trained him on the various facets of Lingayat religion and Basavanna’s teachings over the past three years,” added Murugharajendra Koraneshwar Shivayogi.
Sharief said he was drawn to Lord Basaveshwara’s teachings since childhood. “I used to run a flour mill in neighbouring Menasagi village and, in my free time, conducted discourses on the Vachanas written by Basavanna and other Sharanas of the 12th century,” he added.
Sharief said Murugharajendra Swamiji recognised his service and took him under his wings to train and teach further. He added that he will move on the same path propagated by Basavanna and his mentor.
Sharief is married and father to four children. The appointment of a family man as Mathadheesha is still uncommon in Lingayat Mathas. However, the Matha has said that Sharief is a devoted follower and can be made a Mathadheesha.
“Lingayat religion believes in sadgati (salvation) through sansar (family). A family man can become a swami and take up social and spiritual work. All devotees of the Matha have supported Sharief to be made Mathadheesha. It is an opportunity for us to uphold Basavanna’s idea of a ‘kalyana rajya’ (welfare state),” said Shivayogi.
Dyamanna Hadli, Sharanappa Karkikatti and Santosh Balutagi, the prominent members of the Matha, said they were proud of their village setting an example. They said that they have seen hate and violent struggles on grounds of caste and religion. “Our Koraneshwar Matha is charting an inspiring path by appointing a Muslim as the head of a Lingayat Matha,” said members of the Matha.
“Irrespective of caste and religion, all devotees of the village are followers of this Matha. We have unanimously backed Sharief,” said Balutagi.