“We have not been part of Hinduism all these years? What status do we get in Hinduism?” asked a speaker.

Massive show of strength again by Lingayats in Belagavi target RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat
news Religion Tuesday, August 22, 2017 - 18:30

It was a massive show of strength at Belagavi’s Lingaraj College Grounds, with Lingayats from Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra and Kerala gathering to reassert the demand for the status of a separate religion for Lingayatism.

In the last few weeks, the objection to Lingayats being grouped with Veerashaivas and being counted as a sect within Hinduism has been rapidly gathering ground.

At Tuesday’s rally in Belagavi, over 100 representatives of Lingayat Mutts participated in the massive rally that reportedly drew tens of thousands of members of the community.

One of the primary targets of speakers at the rally was RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat, who has urged talks between Lingayat and Veerashaiva seers and for Lingayats to remain within the Hindu fold.

MLC Basavaraj Horatti urged Bhagwat to stay out of the affairs of the Lingayat community. “Why should leaders, like Mr. Bhagwat, poke his nose in our faith?” Horatti was quoted by The Hindu as asking.

Many of the speakers asserted that the argument of Hinduism losing out if Lingayats were declared as belonging to a separate religion was a false argument since it incorrectly assumed that the Lingayats had ever belonged to the Hindu fold.

Former Additional Chief Secretary SM Jamdar, for instance, was quoted as saying, “We have not been part of Hinduism all these years? What status do we get in Hinduism?”

Siddarama Swami stated that the Lingayat religion was fundamentally different from Hinduism. ““Lingayatism is built around caste, class and gender equality, unlike Hinduism. It is different from the Vedic religion that promotes worship of multitude of gods. Lingayats aim at the goodwill earned while doing their daily chores and duties with sincerity, unlike Hinduism that focuses on virtues to be gathered in the afterlife,’’ the seer was quoted as saying.

While the demand for independent minority religion status for Lingayats is not new, it has recently been gathering steam ever since a rally with over 50,000 Lingayats was organised in Bidar in July. What has given the movement impetus in the past few weeks is the tacit support it has received from the ruling Congress, which, analysts say, sees an opportunity to break the Lingayat voter base of the BJP ahead of the 2018 Assembly polls.

Unsurprisingly, the BJP has been strongly against the demands of the Lingayat Mutts, with state party President BS Yeddyurappa accusing Siddaramaiah of “trying to divide and rule”.

“This issue has the potential to hurt religious sentiments and Siddaramaiah is harping on this fact. Let this issue remain a religious one. Politicising it will only create more disharmony. Siddaramaiah is trying to gain Lingayat votes by dividing the community,” the BJP leader said.

The growing movement has also come into conflict with leaders of Veerashaiva Mutts such as the Rambhapuri Seer. Followers of these seers accused those demanding separate religion status for Lingayats of “trying to break unity in the guise of religion”.

 

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