HN Nagamohan Das Committee, a seven-member expert committee constituted by Karnataka Government to examine the demand for a separate religion tag for Lingayats, on March 2, 2018 submitted a report recommending “Religious Minority” status for Lingayat community.
However, the implementation of the recommendations of the committee depend on an ongoing case in the High Court of Karnataka related to Lingayat community.
The High Court of Karnataka had earlier put a condition on the process initiated by the State and the Karnataka State Minorities Commission (KSMC) on formation of the panel, saying that it will be subject to the final decision of the court.
Though the committee earlier sought six months time to submit the report, however, it submitted the report within two months of its formation to Karnataka State Minorities Commission.
200-page report submitted by Committee to KSMC
• The committee, headed by former Karnataka high court judge HN Nagamohan Das, went through about 5000 pages of documents related to religious dogma, literature, rituals and practices before arriving at the decision.
• It concluded that there is enough evidence to show that Lingayat religion is different from Hindu religion.
• In its report of around 200-pages, it recommended “religious minority” status to the Lingayats.
• It recommended the nomenclature of “Lingayat” and not “Lingayat-Veerashaiva” as demanded by a section of the community.
• It also mentioned that Veerashaivas too, as a sect, can be part of the larger umbrella of “Lingayat religion”.
• Lingayats constitute 20 to 25 per cent of the total population in Karnataka.
• They are politically powerful as their vote is widely believed to be decisive in 110 of the 224 Assembly constituencies.
• They consider themselves different from Veerashaivas, who followed the vedas and supported the caste system.
• The Lingayats are strict monotheists, they worship only one God, namely, Linga (Shiva) in the form of ishtalinga.
• 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.