In July 2017, the Lingayat community of Karnataka conducted a huge rally in Bidar to seek its own religious status separate from the Hindus. The community considers itself different from Hindus and Veerashaivas.
• Lingayats constitute 20 to 25 per cent of the total population in Karnataka.
• Lingayats, who are in the Other Backward Classes, are considered the single largest community in Karnataka.
• Lingayats are politically powerful as their vote is widely believed to be decisive in 110 of the 224 Assembly constituencies.
• Lingayatism was founded by the 12th-century philosopher and statesman Basava or Basavanna.
• Lingayatism was born as a protest against the practice of caste discrimination.
• Lingayat distanced themselves from Veerashaivas, who followed the vedas and supported the caste system.
• The Lingayats are strict monotheists, they worship only one God, namely, Linga (Shiva).
• For them, Linga or Shiva is formless God. They prefer to worship him in the form of ishtalinga.
• They always wear the Ishtalinga held with a necklace.
• Lingayats condemn the performance of rituals and sacrifices which include animal sacrifices.
• Lingayats cannot be accepted as Hindus, they are neither Brahmins, Kshatriyas nor Vaishyas.
• They are not even Shudras as Lingayats have been learning and teaching Sanskrit while Shudras have been forbidden by Manu from learning and teaching Sanskrit.
• Lingayats do not observe some of the Hindu rituals as they have their own and these are performed by their own priests Jangamas.
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