Basavanna Speaks – Kaasi Kammara

In this beautiful vachana, the Kannada mystic Basavanna says all are equal and work is what elevates us, not birth. By citing examples of “kammara”(one who work with iron or blacksmiths), “madivala” (one who washes clothes), “soliga” (agriculturists) he says our professions may determine what we are called [caste] and iterates that one is not born into a caste and neither is any caste high or low. Basavanna declares that only the person who understands God can be deemed of high caste.

This vachana reminds me of a verse by Tamil poet Avvaiyar as she speaks of who can be deemed as “upper class”.

வெண்பா : 2
சாதி இரண்டொழிய வேறில்லை சாற்றுங்கால்
நீதி வழுவா நெறிமுறையின் – மேதினியில்
இட்டார் பெரியார் இடாதார் இழிகுலத்தார்
பட்டாங்கில் உள்ள படி

saadhi irandozhiya verillai saarrungaal
neethi vazhuvaa nerimuraiyin methiniyil
ittaar periyaar idaathaar izhikulaththaar
pattaangil ulla padi

English Translation
There are only two classes of people on this earth
based on the principle of natural justice
Those who give belong to the upper class
and those who do not belong to the lower. (

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