It was a warm sunny day with cloudless pristine sky. The place was a large plain land adjacent to the holy town Harihara. A huge pendal with a large dais was erected and it was decorated with mango and plantain leaves. People were pouring in from all corners of Karnataka. Their faces were aglow with joy, hope and expectations. They were bubbling with enthusiasm. A festive mood was pervading every where. They have come to witness a very special historical event, namely the coronation of there spiritual GURUs. It was the occasion of materialization of their long felt need and solidification of their dreams to have their own Jagadguru. The date was 18-02-2008. Amidst cheers and fanfare, Sri Sri Dr.Mahantha Shivacharya Mahaswamiji was coronated as Stira Peetadhyakya, Various Jagadgurus from different mutts blessed the occasion with their Devine presence.
SELF SET GOALS OF GURU PEETA
Veerashaiva Lingayaths are one of the majority religions in Karnataka. There are very many sub-sects in this religion such as Panchamsali, Banajiga, Javali, Maheshwara, Sadhu, Nonaba, etc to name a few. However 70% of the Lingayaths belong ot Panchamasali sub-sect.
Inspite of their impressive majority, Panchamsalis are economically poor and socially downtrodden. Majority of them are farmers and agricultural laborers who are inherently poor. Another reason for their backwardness is, they are not organized. Sensing this deficiency many leaders of this community made efforts to organize them in a proper way. Probably the first such effort was made by Sri B.M. Hanumanal way back in 1988 at Gadag. Due to his tireless zeal and hard work, the Panchamsasli movement slowly gathered momentum.
The first state level conference of panchamsalis was held on 8-8-1994 at Yalburga in Koppal District. Then Chief Minister of Karnataka Sri Veerappa Moily inaugurated the conference. More than 1.5 lakh Panchamsalis participated in this conference.
Finally, the “KARNATAKA VEERASHAIVA PANCHAMSALI SANGHA®” was registered under the societies registration act on 2-9-1994 with registration No 432/1994-95. The president of this sangha was Sri B.M Hanumanal.
The second state level conference was held on 10-3-1996 at Noolvi near Hubli under the leadership of Sri P.C.Siddanagowda, the cabinet minister of Karnataka. Many dignitaries like Sri H.D.Devegowda, Sri Ramakrishna Hegde and Sri S.R.Bommai attended this conference.
In the month of March 1996, the leaders of the organization assembled at the Samudaya Bhavan of Sri Mutt and took the decision to expand the movement to state level. Members of legislative Assembly and dignitaries of Northern Karnataka regions participated in this meeting. The participants unanimously choose Sri S.R.Kashappanavar to head the organization at the state level. He lead the organization to new heights till his death on 26-6-2003. Then the committee members met on 13-7-2003 and chose Sri Bavi Bettappa as President, Sri Basavaraj Dindur as General Secretary, Sri C.A. Police Patil as treasurer, Sri K. Shivaramnagowda as secretary. Prof.C.S.Nelogal, Sri B.M Patil, Sri.V.S.Patil and Sri.G.B.Patil continued to be vice presidents.
Subsequently to strengthen the organization from the grass root level, district units were established. On 17-8-2003, the District Panchamsali Samaj (DPS) of Haveri and Dharwad districts were inaugurated at Haveri and Hubli respectively. On 18-8-2003, the DPS of Bagalkote and Bijapur district were inaugurated at respective district head quarters. Davanagere DPS was inaugurated on 23-08-2003, which was a historical day for the organization as Sri B.C.Umapathy and his team was at the helm of this DPS. His enthusiasm, hard work and support became the foundation stone for the great strength of the organization. Likewise, many DPS were inaugurated and started functioning subsequently.
A glance at the following list of district and taluk level conferences reveal the zeal and enthusiasm of Panchamasalis:
Apart from strengthening the organization through conferences and assemblages at different levels, the panchamsalis are conducting personality development programs for youths, Mass marriages, establishing computer centers, summer camps for children, eye operation camps etc. Also an employment information centre and a marriage bureau are functioning well. Other than this they are conducting innumerable social service activities.
On 12-12-2003, a group of 220 members went to Delhi, met Prime Minister Sri.Atal Bihari Vajpayee, deputy Prime Minister Sri Lal Krishna Advani and Social welfare Minister Dr. Sathya Narayan Jathiya and submitted a memorandum to enlist`Panchamsali’ under the OBC category and to install Kitturu Chennamma’s statue in the premises of the parliament.
In the mean time, a meeting was held by the leaders of the Panchamasali samaja at Belgaum on 21-07-2002. In this meeting, the idea of having their own Panchamasali Jagadguru peetha figured for the first time. Sri S.B.Siddanal,M.L.A, Suggested this idea in this meeting.
After four years, i.e., on 12-02-2006 at the meeting held in Davangere, Sri S.M.Patil, treasurer of the state level committee declared that a separate panchamsali peetha would be established to cater to the spiritual needs of the panchamsalis and to bind them together.
As a result of this entire struggle and as an answer to those who were opposed to the unity of Panchamasalis, the Panchamasali Guru Peeta came in to existence at Hahira with the coronation of two Jagadgurus as presidents of the Peeta.
This is how the Panchamsali Samaj has sprouted and grew tremendously within a short span of time. Now let us look at the aims and objectives of this Samaj.
All these have started to happen by the establishment of Guru Peeta at Harihara on 18-02-2008 and this is the reason for the Panchamasalis to rejoice the occasion of coronation of their Jagadgurus. The Panchamasalis are also aware that this is only a beginning and there is still a long uphill path to tread.