Fact Box: Lingayat Community in Karnataka

Jul 28, 2017 16:01 IST

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.

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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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