“…Kalburgi is gone, KS Bhagwan is next”. When the co-convenor of the Bajrang Dal in Karnataka, Bhuvith Shetty, posted this tweet after the murder of Kannada writer M M Kalburgi in Dharwad, the question for many was this: what had K S Bhagwan done to incur the wrath of the Hindutva group?
“I have been facing this for 35 years since I wrote a book (Shankaracharya Mattu Pratigamithana) exposing the philosophy of Shankaracharya, who several people believed was a very great thinker. He was the father of fundamentalism in Hinduism. He has even said that education must not be given to ‘lower castes and women and they should be kept under control,” said Prof K S Bhagwan (70), a retired teacher from Maharaja’s College in Mysuru where he taught English Literature.
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Bhagwan is now a full-time writer and lists philosophy, rationalism and religious texts as his main pursuits.
Speaking to The Indian Express from Mysuru, even as Shetty was detained by police for his tweet, the Sahitya Akademi award holder and winner of the Kavyanand award said he believed in contesting “obscurantism”. Saddened by the murder of Kalburgi, his “friend and peer”, Bhagwan said: “The police have not found any clue, but I am very concerned about the murder. He was a great scholar, thinker, researcher and someone who was free from old ideologies and who upheld rational, democratic and humanistic ideas.”
Over the past two years, Bhagwan said he had attended several seminars and conferences where he had taken on those who said he should not express his views by asking for “text evidence”. “In those very texts that they claim as sacred these things exist. No one has been able to demolish my arguments,” he said.
In July, Bhagwan had said that all old texts must be debated and insisted that the Gita must be questioned for what he believed it upheld — “a casteist and an obscurantist view of the world”.
Five weeks ago, KS Bhagwan went onto challenge Pejawar Mutt Swamy, Vishwesha Teertha Swamy to an open debate in a public place, which he accepted, despite first wanting a closed or internal debate. Bahgwan though, insisted that the people hear both sides, but police permissions did not allow the debate to go through, even though a time and place in Mysure was fixed.
“From the time of Socrates, vested interests have tried to silence those they did not like, but no one can do it. Unfortunately, fundamentalists think they can silence free thinking, which is impossible,” said Bhagwan.
“The forces that have caused this death must be pursued. Maybe the best thing would be to snatch their property. Beggars don’t go about attacking anybody and are only concerned with filling their stomach. Only those with a lot of money seem to have ugly thoughts and plans to kill,” he added.
Bajrang Dal man held for ‘threat’ tweet
Bengaluru: A Bajrang Dal activist has been arrested in connection with an “inflammatory” tweet he allegedly posted after the murder of M M Kalburgi. Bhuvith Shetty was arrested in a suo motu case of provocation to cause riots and criminal intimidation, said police. The Bajrang Dal activist allegedly posted a tweet threatening another rationalist writer K S Bhagwan.
Bring law on superstition: Lingayat seer
Dharwad: A well-known seer of the Lingayat community in Karnataka Veerabhadra Channamalla Swamy, the seer of the Nidumamidi Mutt seminary, has asked the state to pass a contentious anti-superstition bill to honour M M Kalburgi. He demanded the Congress government introduce the anti-superstition bill, which it had promised but later withdrawn under pressure from religious leaders.