December 29, 2014The 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 riverThe 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 anti-sectarian causes.
Today, 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 Setalvad. 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?A. 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?A. 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 agenda.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?A. 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?A. 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 Worship!!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?A. 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?A. 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?A. 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.Ek lak-Imsi Hazar Panchopeer Pygamber MounuddinJithapeer Mounuddin Kashipathi Gangadhara MahadevaMonappayya is called Mounuddin gere. He is considered a Peer (Sufi) teacher. Monappayya songs have lines such as these:Hindus and Muslims marched togetherFor Hindus and Muslims the self same Moon is there.