Sharief will become pontiff of the Murugharajendra Koraneshwara Shantidhama mutt in Asuti village, which is linked to the 350-year-old Koraneshwara Sansthan mutt in Khajuri village in Kalaburagi. They rank among the 361 mutts of Sri Jagadguru Murugharajendra mutt 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 mutt has opened its doors to all,” said Murugharajendra Koraneshwar Shivayogi, pontiff of the Khajuri mutt.
Influenced by Shivayogi’s discourses in Asuti, Sharief’s father, the late Rahimansab Mulla, donated two acres to set up a mutt in the village. Shivayogi said the Asuti mutt has been functioning for 2-3 years now and construction of the premises was on.
“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. Sharief took ‘deeksha’ on November 10, 2019,” the pontiff said. “We have trained him on the various facets of Lingayat religion and Basavanna’s teachings over the past three years.”
Sharief said he was drawn to Basava’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 authored by Basavanna and other Sharanas of the 12th century. Murugharajendra Swamiji recognised my small service and took me under his wings,” Sharief said. “I will move on the same path propagated by Basavanna and my mentor.”
Sharief is married and father to three daughters and a son and appointment of a family man as pontiff is still uncommon in Lingayat s. “Lingayat religion believes in sadgati (salvation) through sansar (family). A family man can become a swami and take up social and spiritual work,” said Shivayogi. “All devotees of the mutt have backed Sharief to be made pontiff. It is an opportunity for us to uphold Basavanna’s ideal of a ‘kalyana rajya’ (welfare state).”
Dyamanna Hadli, Sharanappa Karkikatti and Santosh Balutagi, who are among the prominent members of the mutt, said they were proud of their village setting an example. “We have seen hate and violent struggles on grounds of caste and religion. And such fights break out even over who will become pontiff of a mutt,” said Hadli. “But our Koraneshwar Mutt is charting an inspiring path by appointing a Muslim as pontiff of a Lingayat mutt.”
“Irrespective of caste and religion, all devotees of the village are followers of this mutt. We have unanimously backed Sharief,” said Balutagi.
In Video:33-year-old Muslim to head Lingayat mutt in Karnataka