In a First, Lingayat Mutt in Karnataka Appoints Muslim, Married Man as Main Priest

CNN-News18

Bengaluru: In a rather unusual move, a lingayat mutt in Karnataka's Gadag district will appoint a Muslim man to be its next pontiff. The Murugharajendra Koraneshwara Shantidhama mutt in Asuti village in Gadag has appointed Diwan Sharief Rahimansab Mulla, a 33-year-old Muslim man, to be their main priest and take charge on February 26.

Although Diwan was born a Muslim, his parents — late Rahimansab and mother Fatima Koraneshwar — were staunch devotees of Basaveshwara, the 12th century Lingayat saint. About three years ago, Rahimansaab donated two acres of land in Asuti to build a Mutt dedicated to the teaching of Basava Philosophy.

"Principles are important, not the individual. Those who nurture the principles, whichever caste he's born into, we welcome them. When someone is born, there is no caste. It comes later. So Sharief had that desire to embrace this religion. His father Rahimansaab too had offered support to us," said Murugharajendra Koraneshwar Shivayogi, pontiff of the Khajuri Mutt.

The Asuti Mutt is affiliated to the 350-year-old Koraneshwara Sansthan mutt in Khajuri village in Kalaburgi as well as the Sri Jagadguru Murugharajendra mutt of Chitradurga. Diwan has been learning the tenets of Lingayat religion and basava's teachings for the past 3 years. He took ‘deeksha’ on November 10, 2019.

"I have been given this scared thread and the responsibility of the world, nobody should go through the hardships I went through. My parents have dedicated their son to basava. In the same way I would like to propagate his teachings further", Diwan Sharief said.

Diwan says he has got the support of all villagers in Asuti as well as all believers of Basava's teaching. Lingayats seers are usually unmarried monks, however, Diwan is a family man with three daughters and a son. But by making him the pontiff, his supporters believe they can set a new example and uphold the true ideals of Basava tatva.

"I only listen to my Paramatma, who is my atmasakshi. Nobody has opposed my appointment. My friends, my mentor (guru) everyone has extended their support always. Be it for doing poojas or other welfare works, they have all blessed me. Going forward I hope we can all see everyone with that kind of love", Sharief added.