kb_1.pngA protest was organised by Aghaz Sanskrutik Manch, AISA, AISF, Anhad, Cinema of resistance, Delhi Science Forum, Disha, DTF, Dwarka Collective, Hinsa ke khilaf kala, Hum log, IPTA, Jamia students’ solidarity manch, Janam, Janhastakshep, Jansamskriti, Janwadi likhak sangh, Janwadi shikshak manch (DU), JNUTA, Kavita 16 ke bad, Khudai khidmatgar, KSSP Delhi forum, Naujawan Bharat sabha, Progressive writers’ association, Rashtriya andolan front, Sahitya samvad, Samkaleen teesri duniya, Sandesh education society, SFI, Society for science at the Jantar Mantar, New Delhi on 5th September 2015. The meeting was titled "In defence of rationality" and was organised to condemn the murder of Prof M. M. Kalburgi, a noted Kannada language scholar.

 

Shivanand Kanavi, Adjunct Faculty at the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bengaluru, Consulting Editor at Business India and member of the All India Council of Lok Raj Sangathan, who had personally known Prof Kalburgi and spend many hours discussing his work and beliefs. He has the following to say about Prof Kalburgi.

"His research and speculation were bold and were often iconoclastic. He was a great admirer of Basavanna the 12th century Sharana and founder of Lingayatism. The radicalism of Basavanna and his Sharana colleagues inspired Professor Kalburgi to take on all those who claimed to be leaders and moral guides of Lingayats today but who would not stand the test of Basavanna’s radicalism.

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"The 12th century Sharana movement with Basavanna as the spearhead founded Lingayatism and in short stood for: Complete dignity of labour; dismantling of caste discrimination; gender discrimination; temple worship and all meaningless rituals. It also gave a prominent egalitarian social twist for the first time to the older experiential Bhakti movement that had primarily advocated paths to individual spiritual salvation.

"It was not only inclusive towards all castes and communities but also put forward an egalitarian economic and social philosophy and not renunciation of the world for other worldly goals.

"In today’s India very few would, of course, stand Basavanna’s test. This led Professor Kalburgi to not only take on casteist and conservative forces in general, but also some powerful conservatives among Lingayats.

"Conservatives found him polarising and some researchers disagreed with his speculations while admiring his scholarship, but he posited that culture studies and historians have to perforce join the dots, speculate, interpret, interpolate, extrapolate and take leaps to make progress even if some of them later turn out to be wrong.

"While scholars may not disagree with his approach in principle and listened to him with interest, students lapped it up. Status quoists or those who feared his criticism, however, would adopt extra-academic methods like demonstrations and stone throwing outside his residence.

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"Shrill elements in the media would be all too happy at times to take his remarks out of context or even misquote him to create a controversy. A remark he had made about superstition at a public meeting in Bengaluru which had been organised to discuss the draft anti-superstition bill prepared by the Karnataka government led to screaming headlines in one newspaper, leading to death threats and cowardly acts of vandalism at his residence last year."

Thus it looks likely that Prof Kalburgi was murdered by hired killers for his beliefs and scholarship. Lok Raj Sangathan upholds the right to conscience as a human right and joins the organisers of the protest in strongly condemning the dastardly killing of Prof Kalburgi to his views.

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