Religion
The meeting concluded with the members penning down a resolution regarding the demand for a separate Lingayat religion.

In the last few weeks, Karnataka has witnessed a massive movement for a separate Lingayat religion with opposition from various quarters, within and outside the community.

On Thursday, the pontiffs of over 20 Lingayat Mutts, their followers, and several political leaders, including Karnataka Cabinet Ministers, met at Bengaluru’s Jnana Jyothi Auditorium to discuss the ongoing Veerashavia vs Lingayat debate.

The meeting, which began at 10.30am, concluded with the members penning down a resolution regarding the demand for a separate Lingayat religion.

Backed by Water Resources Minister MB Patil, Transport Minister Basavaraj Rayareddy and Congress leader Vinay Kulkarni, pontiffs of various mutts including the Tontadarya Mutt’s Siddhalinga Swami, Sirigere Mutt’s Taralabalu Shivakumara Swami along with experts, scholars and activists took part in the seminar.

The members of the meeting decided that they would go ahead with their demand for granting minority religion status for Lingayatism.

“In 2014, the UPA government had given minority religion status to those following Jainism. It is not just the Centre, but also the state government, which has the power to do so. Hence, we are going to demand a separate code for Lingayat religion while collecting census data along with the demand for granting us a minority religion status,” the Tontadarya pontiff said.

The seers announced that a memorandum, in this regard, would be submitted to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah later in the day.

“CM Siddaramaiah has assured that he will set up a special committee to see if there are differences between Veerashaivas and Lingayats. If there is, then the committee will probe these differences and suggest if it would be favourable to grant a minority religion status for the Lingayats,” said retired IAS officer, Jamdar.

However, the heads of the Pancha Peetha mutts in South Karnataka were not present at the meeting.

These seers had strongly rejected the idea of a separate religion and had claimed that the Lingayats and Hindus are the same.

However, amongst the separatists, infighting arose regarding the difference between Veerashaivas and Lingayats.

While the pontiffs of North Karnataka claim that Lingayats and Veerashaivas are different, the Akhila Bharata Veerashaiva Mahasabha claimed that they are the same

The Tontadarya pontiff said that all efforts are being made to convince the heads of the Pancha Petha mutts to join their cause.

“In 1996, the Mahasabha had approached the Karnataka High Court and petitioned for a separate code for Veerashaiva-Lingayats while collecting census data. The High Court had rejected this plea. In 2013, during the UPA regime, the appeal to the Central government had also rejected the Mahasabha’s appeal. The problem is that Veerashaivas are the 38th subsect of Lingayats. Hence, we want a separate religion for Lingayats,” the Tontadarya pontiff added.