Purpose is the driving force of destiny
When purpose goes beyond self
The accomplishment supersedes expectation
In the early part of the 20th Century, seven young men with academic aspirations beyond convention, traversed the distance to Fergusson College and other institutions of repute in Pune to quench their thirst for knowledge. They were financially supported by the “Lingayat Fund” instituted by two benevolent patrons Rao Bahadur R C Artal and Rao Bahadur Gurusiddhappa Gilaganchi along with a few other leaders of the Lingayat community.
The country was beset with turmoil owing to the colonial occupation. Those were the days when Lokmanya Tilak and the Deccan Education Society envisioned a futuristic India which would be empowered by education. The ideals and efforts of Lokmanya Tilak left an indelible impression on the young minds and the seven visionaries were spurred into action. Instead of opting for lucrative jobs after their graduation, they chose to return to their roots, to the region of North Karnataka which was languishing in the darkness of illiteracy and consequent ignorance. The city of Belgaum did not have a college and had a few schools which were largely affordable only to the affluent. Shri B. S. Hanchinal, Dr. H. F. Kattimani, Shri B. B. Mamadapur, Shri M. R. Sakhare, Shri S. S. Basavanal, Shri P. R. Chikodi & Shri V. V. Patil made it their mission to transform the social landscape and commenced efforts to set up a school at Belgaum.
13th November 1916, their efforts bore fruit and the first Anglo Vernacular School was set up in Bungalow No 24 which they took up on a rental basis in Fort, Belgaum. The Karnatak Lingayat Education Society (KLE) was born. Rao Bahadur Artal, their benefactor and guide was the key supporter of their endeavour, although it took them several attempts to convince him about their resolve. He then assumed responsibility as the first President of KLE Society. The endeavour also enjoyed the unconditional support of two other benevolent patrons Rao Bahadur V G Naik Desai and Rao Bahadur Vaijappa Anigol.
The going was tough but then the tough got going! Resources were scarce but the determination plentiful. The seven young men with dreams in their eyes set out to invite citizens in town to support and partake the benefits of their endeavour. In an era where education was not really considered an essential aspect of life, they literally had to go from door to door to convince people to send their children to school. They attended weddings and functions of noteworthy people in the region and appealed to the organizers to contribute to the cause of education.
Life for the founding members was tough but the cause was worth the sacrifice. They for themselves ensured their own subsistence on a combined paltry sum of Rs. 100 out of which Rs. 25/- was spent on rent. While the earnings multiplied with the increase in student numbers, the resolve to support the cause only got stronger and they even moved to stay on the school premises to ensure invaluable savings. The efforts of the seven teachers were aptly rewarded. As if providence would bless the sheer nobility of the cause, students from Dharwad, Bijapur, Sirsi, Siddapur, Shimoga and Belgaum joined the school in large numbers. The support and acceptance from society at large eventually fell into place.
The school which was renamed Gilaganchi Artal High School in 1922 after the two great leaders of the Lingayat community, went on to symbolize the humble beginnings of an educational revolution that would eventually transform life itself in the region of North Karnataka. The Gilaganchi Artal High School continued to function in the rented Bungalow from 1916 until 1930 when it was shifted to the Society’s own premises in the heart of the city.
While the provisions for fundamental education had been made, higher education continued to be a luxury beyond access for people in Belagavi. The seven teachers, “Saptarishis”, having experienced the benefits of an enhanced learning, embarked on a mission to establish a college in Belagavi. The endeavour met with stiff resistance from other institutions beyond the region who considered this to be a threat to their own admissions, but persistence and commitment reigned supreme. The timely intervention of the Education Minister of Bombay Province, Shri Siddappa Kambli ensured requisite permissions. The ultimate dream of providing higher education was realized with the establishment of Lingaraj College, the first Arts College in Belagavi in 1933. Science courses which commenced at the same college in 1934.
KLE Society also established school and collegiate institutions at Dharwad, Soundatti and Belagavi. Recognizing the need to supplement the learning process with the services of skilled and qualified teachers, the S. S. Basavanal Teacher Training Institute was established at Belagavi in 1940. In 1944, the science section at the Lingraj College later became an independent entity as Raja Lakhamgouda Science Institute; named in honor Shri Raja Lakhamgouda who had been a consistent contributor to the mission of the KLE Society. This was inaugurated by renowned scientist Sir. C. V Raman.
The seven visionaries had braved the odds and stood tall amidst adversity. Entwining their destiny with the destiny of others they created a legacy of service beyond self.
When destiny is driven by purpose beyond self, the tale that unfolds is a legacy for generations……