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Anubhava Mantapa In Vira Shaiva Tradition

Anubhava Mantapa is a place where, or a level of consciousness in which, mystic experiences were shared in the Vira-Shaiva tradition. Anubhava Mantapa is said to be a historically important place where Basavanna and other saranas sat together and discussed the various socio-economic, cultural, literary, and spiritual aspects of life as well as mysticism. The magnetic personality of Basavanna attracted spiritual luminaries of Kashmir, Afghanistan, Saurashtra, Sollapura, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and other parts of India.

The exact location of Anubhava Mantapa is not clearly known. It cannot be determined with certainty whether Basavanna’s residence – mahamane – was called Anubhava Mantapa or whether this was the newly designed accommodation built for the same purpose.

Probably, Basavanna’s residence, which was called mahamane, could have been the first place where saranas congregated for discussions. As far as the discussions and interactions among the saranas are concerned, we have numerous references in vacans and other literary works.

Allama Prabhu is said to have been the presiding deity of that holy seat. The greatness of that seat was that there was no barrier of caste, creed or gender. Aydakki Lakkamma, who was a housewife of Ayadakki Marayya, enjoyed the same freedom of discussion as Siddaramayya enjoyed. Men and women shared the same platform. The so-called prime minister of Bijjala Chakravarti, Basavanna, sat amidst saranas as a common sarana. In Kalajnana vacanas we find these phrases – vichara mantapa, visala mantapa, jnanaprakasha mantapa, prasada mantapa and elladevara anubhava mantapa. In fact, prasada mantapa (the place where food was served) later may have got converted into vicara mantapa, level of thought (and further became jnana prakasha mantapa, level of enlightening knowledge, and then elladevara anubhava mantapa, level of realization. Since it was big enough to accommodate quite a number of saranas, it was also called visala mantapa, all encompassing state.

Even though phrases like sulund or saranas nudigadana suggest that the discussions were held amongst saranas during the time of Jedara Dasimayya itself, it appears that it was only during the time of Basavanna that Anubhava Mantapa took shape as an institution which allowed democratic discussions aimed at creating a new society.