Adi Shankaracharya chose Sringeri in Karnataka to establish the first of his four mathas. Shri Madhvacharya (Kannada: ಶ್ರೀ ಮಧ್ವಾಚಾರ್ಯರು , Śrī Madhvācārya) (1238–1317) was the chief proponent of Tattvavāda (Philosophy of Reality), popularly known as Dvaita or Dualistic school of Hindu philosophy - one of the three most influential Vedānta philosophies. Madhva was one of the important philosophers during the Bhakti movement. He was a pioneer in many ways, going against standard conventions and norms. According to tradition, Madhvācārya is believed to be the third incarnation of Vāyu (Mukhyaprāṇa), after Hanumān and Bhīma.The Haridasa (Kannada: ಹರಿದಾಸ) devotional movement is considered as one of the turning points in the cultural history of India. Over a span of nearly six centuries, several saints and mystics helped shape the culture, philosophy and art of South India and Karnataka in particular by exerting considerable spiritual influence over the masses and kingdoms that ruled South India.
This movement was ushered in by the Haridasas (Kannada: ಹರಿದಾಸರು, literally meaning 'servants of Lord Hari') and took shape in the 13th century - 14th century CE, period, prior to and during the early rule of the Vijayanagara empire. The main objective of this movement was to propagate the Dvaita philosophy of Madhvacharya (Madhva Siddhanta) to the masses through a literary medium known as Dasa Sahitya (literature of the servants of the Lord. Purandaradasa often called "Pithamaha" of Carnatic Music for his immense contribution in simplifying carnatic music, he was the "Guru" of Swamy Haridas (Tansen's guru)who pioneered Hindustani music in North India. )Ramanujacharya, the leading expounder of Viśiṣṭādvaita, spent many years in Melkote. He came to Karnataka in 1098 AD and lived here until 1122 AD. He first lived in Tondanur and then moved to Melkote where the Cheluvanarayana Temple and a well organised Matha were built. He was patronized by the Hoysala king, Vishnuvardhana.
In the twelfth century, Veerashaivism emerged in northern Karnataka as a protest against the rigidity of the prevailing social and caste system. Leading figures of this movement were Basava, Akka Mahadevi and Allama Prabhu, who established the Anubhava Mantapa which was the center of all religious and philosophical thoughts and discussions pertaining to Ligayats. These three social reformers did so by the literary means of 'Vachana Sahitya' which is very famous for its simple, straight forward and easily understandable Kannada language. Lingayatism preached women equalism by letting women wear Linga i.e. god around their neck which was prohibited in those days. Basava shunned the sharp hierarchical divisions that existed and sought to remove all distinctions between the hierarchially superior master class and the subordinate, servile class. He also supported intercaste marriages and Kaayaka Tatva of Basavanna bases itself on Karma Siddhanta (Philosophy of Karma). This was the basis of the Lingayat faith which today counts millions among its followers.
The Jain philosophy and literature have contributed immensely to the religious and cultural landscape of Karnataka.
Islam, which had an early presence on the west coast of India as early as the tenth century, gained a foothold in Karnataka with the rise of the Bahamani and Bijapur sultanates that ruled parts of Karnataka. Christianity reached Karnataka in the sixteenth century with the arrival of the Portuguese and St. Francis Xavier in 1545.Buddhism was popular in Karnataka during the first millennium in places such as Gulbarga and Banavasi. A chance discovery of edicts and several Mauryan relics at Sannati in Gulbarga district in 1986 has proven that the Krishna River basin was once home to both Mahayana and Hinayana Buddhism.
Mysore Dasara is celebrated as the Nada habba (state festival) and this is marked by major festivities at Mysore. Ugadi (Kannada New Year), Makara Sankranti (the harvest festival), Ganesh Chaturthi,Nagapanchami, Basava Jayanthi, Deepavali, and Ramzan are the other major festivals of Karnataka.