The Congress leader had in July 2013 stated that Veerashaivas and Lingayats are one and the same.

Ktaka Minister MB Patils flip flop over separate religion status for Lingayats exposedFIle image:PTI
news Politics Monday, July 31, 2017 - 19:30

The debate about Veerashaivas and Lingayats being separate entities has intensified in Karnataka with Water Resource Minister MB Patil’s change in stance over the issue coming to the fore.

On July 29, the senior Congress leader, in a letter to the pontiffs of the Veerashaiva Mutts said that there is a necessity for Lingayats to obtain a minority religion status. He went on to urge the pontiffs of various Lingayat and Veerashaiva Mutts to organise a meeting and discuss the technicalities of the matter.

The latest letter, however, comes in stark contrast to MB Patil’s stance in 2013 and exposes his flip flop on the issue in a matter of four years. The Congress leader had on July 31, 2013 written to the Mahasabha’s president Shamanuru Shivasharanappa stating that Veerashaivas and Lingayats are one and the same and they should be considered a separate religion.  

But in January this year, Patil, who belongs to the Lingayat community, changed his position and noted that Veerashaivas and Lingayats are separate entities. In a letter dated January 29, Patil wrote to the President of the Akhila Bharata Veerashaiva Mahasabha stating that he “felt it was wrong to sign for a cause in a previous letter” written in 2013.

“Over the years, I have realised that the followers of Basavanna adhere to the Vachanas. There are differences between Veerashaivas and Lingayats. I believe in the writings of Dr Hiremallur Eshwaran. In his books, he writes that Lingayatism needs to be considered as a separate religion. Even scholar MM Kalburgi has written extensively about this issue. Lingayatism was recognised as a religion started by Basavanna in the British gazettes before independence. Hence, Lingayatism should be considered a separate religion and Veerashaivas are different from them,” Minister Patil had written in his January letter.

Protests continue

Meanwhile, on Monday, the Lingayat Samanvaya Samithi, Mate Basavanjali and supporters of Mate Mahadevi protested in Mysuru, stating that Lingayats and Veerashaivas are different.

“The Veerashaiva Mahasabha was created in order to conceal the identity of the Lingayats. To counter it, we are planning to set up Lingayat Mahasabha. What the Veerashavia Mahasabha is doing is wrong and I urge all Lingayats to unite and demand for a separate religion,” Mate Basavanjali told the media.

Countering the protest in Mysuru, supporters and pontiffs of the Veerashaiva Mutts and followers of the Rambhapuri Seer, Jagadguru Prasannarenuka Veera Someshwara Rajadeshikendra Shivacharya Mahaswamiji, hit out against Mate Mahadevi for criticising the seer and the community in Davangere.

The pontiffs of various Veerashaiva mutts, led by Omkar Shivacharya, the seer of Shri Chousastha Grama Purvarga Mutt in Davangere, stated that Veerashaivas and Lingayats are the same and urged the community to stand united.

On Saturday, supporters of Mate Mahadevi belonging to the Rashtriya Basava Dala and Akka Mahadevi Anubhav Peetha, who took exception to the Rambhapuri seers comments on her “having no knowledge about Lingayat Dharma”, staged a protest at Dharwad.

The protesters called the Rambhapuri seer’s statement as “loose talk”, burnt an effigy of the seer and his palanquin, and demanded an unconditional apology.

Taking exception to this, supporters of the Rambhapuri seer on Sunday, demanded that Mate mahadevi’s followers, who had staged the protest in Dharwad, be arrested.

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