December 29, 2014
The Prime Minister is helpless in the
face of ghar vapsi because it is the RSS and the RSS alone that has
brought him to power: Swami Dr
Thontadarya Siddalinga Swamy of Thontadarya Matt of Gadag,
The insecurity faced by the poor and
helpless, especially the minorities makes the call for Communal Harmony,
Dialogue and Co-Existence the most vital need of the hour,
said Dr Thontadarya
Siddalinga Swamy of Thontadarya Matt of Gadag, a progressive seer of the
Lingayat tradition speaking to Teesta Setalvad in an
exclusive interview that took place at the sacred temple on the banks of
the Krishna river
Thontadarya matt seer has been the spirit behind the anti-Posco agitation
since its genesis in the early 2000s in Karnataka. The head of a powerful
matt in north Karnataka, Thontada Siddalinga Swami is also counted among
the progressive Lingayat seers and has been associated with pro-people and
Saturday, December 27, 2014, he was an
inaugural speaker at the Fourth State Seminar and Celebration of
Traditions of Cordial Co-existence by Different Communities organized by
Karnataka Komu Souharda Vedike (Karnataka Communal Harmony Forum) at
Tinthani in northern Karnataka, present there with over 500 delegates
representing vast struggles and peoples organisations, along with Teesta
December 27-28 is the birth date of
Kuvempu who propagated the concept of Vishwa Manava Tatwa as against
narrow minded communalism.
A second edition of the
book, Tinthani Monappaiah- A Study by Dr MM Padashetty first
released in 1982 will also be released.
Q. How and why do see as
Communal Harmony the mort crucial need of the hour? Why is a Call for
Harmony and Dialogue between all Indian Communities so crucial today?
We are facing
unprecedented degrees and forms of aggression and violence, acts of
terror; be it in Assam, Pakistan or through the ghar vapsi
programmes being launched by the ruling party and its allies in India,
which has generated deep fear and insecurity among the minorities. Ghar
Vapsi is a deliberate attempt to create fear and an irritant to the
minorities, it does not bode well for the social harmony of the country.
If the Prime Minister is true about his claims to represent an agenda of
‘development’ then why is his party indulging in these acts which have
nothing whatsoever do with development?
Q, If the Central
Government was serious about its claims on representing an agenda of
development, should not the Prime Minister be speaking out unequivocally
against these provocations, this hate speech and ghar vapsi by BJP
MPs, Ministers and organisations like the RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal?
He is a helpless Prime
Minister because it is the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and RSS alone
that has brought him to the forefront and ensured his becoming prime
minister. He is helpless in the face off their agenda, which is the real
Q. So it is 89 years of
the RSS’ existence, its struggle for a “Hindu” nation against the ideals
of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s Constitution that is actually responsible for
this majoritarian NDA II government and not the Modi magic?
Absolutely. It is their
work in the area of distortion of history, culture and education that is
responsible for the political situation and the discourse today. And their
apparent dominance and success. Akbar, with his broad humanistic vision is
not remembered by them but the Ghaznis are; the wonderfully inclusive
Sufi tradition is not celebrated nor the Basava tradition among
Lingayats. Everywhere, among all communities casteism and the lure of
money is attempting to control the dominant discourse.
Q. What is the
significance of this wonderful location by the river, the Tinthani
Mouneshwara Kshetra in the Surapura Taluk of Yadagiri district of north
Karnataka for communal harmony and co-existence?
We have inherited this
tradition and it is the tradition of Basava, the Basava parampara
which about 20 per cent of the Lingayat swamis actually follow. While 80
per cent of the other Swamis misuse and mis-quote Basava and are actually
casteist in their practices.
This Swami sitting by my
side is the Siddhalinga Swami Lambani trained at the Illikad math by the
84 year old Swami Dr Puja Mahsanteshwara Swami of Chittaragi-Illekal (the
original math) who trained him. This was 14 years ago, in 2000. This step
was opposed tooth and nail by casteist voices who even dragged us to Court
to de-legitimise the Matt. We finally won the battle when advocate Nagappa
of Raichur advised us that instead of Matt we should use the title of
Anubhava Mantapa (Parliament of the Learned) for the Centre of
This is the land of mutual
co-existence and shared worship. The Tinthani tradition is special. On
the bank of the Krishna River, Avadhuta and Sufi traditions have
intermingled here. The tradition of Monappayya’s Thintani known for
Gaddige alias Moinuddin a renowned Sufi and Natha saint is alive among
people. For centuries, there has been co-existence and sharing. The
Murtaza Qadrisaheb Dargah on the highway was respected by the 15th
Math Swami of Illekal (Vijaya Math) and there was much intermingling and
sharing of customs and beliefs.
There is another example
of a Swami from the Scheduled Castes (not just a Banjara) being accepted
after Swami Siddayyanakote trained him. Samagar Swami. Despite swift
resistance in the beginning, when we stood upto the beliefs and principles
of Basava, both Swamis have been accepted and are now even called to
perform ritual; (path puja) at festivals and functions. Another
example that if we are firm in our convictions, the world, even if wedded
to injustice will come around. We will win the day.
Q. Has there been a
lasting political or social impact of these traditions?
Political, not much.
Casteism and the lure of money has ensured that. But socially we have made
a lasting impact through an absence of Hindu-Muslim strife and a genuine
sharing of social customs through a respect for each other’s spirituality.
Q. Should not religious
heads of the major faiths, Hinduism and Islam be at the forefront to
re-claim our traditions that have been appropriated by
communalists/fascists and fundamentalists?
This is imperative. I, we
have been trying but have been only partially successful.
Q. As a spiritual head
what is your message for the youth, who,we are told, is being attracted by
consumerism and communalism?
Though times are
difficult and there appears to be darkness all around, our understanding
and commitment to humanism is unflinching, an unwavering ray of light that
cannot be turned off. It will shine through because it is the right path.
We must convey this even to the youth.
lak-Imsi Hazar Panchopeer Pygamber Mounuddin
Jithapeer Mounuddin Kashipathi Gangadhara Mahadeva
is called Mounuddin gere. He is considered a Peer (Sufi) teacher.
Monappayya songs have lines such as these:
and Muslims marched together
Hindus and Muslims the self same Moon is there.