Print Friendly, PDF & Email

No religious minority tag to Lingayat/Veerashaiva community

Topics Covered:

  1. Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.
  2. Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.
  3. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.


No religious minority tag to Lingayat/Veerashaiva community


What to study?

  • For Prelims: Religious minority status and its associated benefits, constitutional provisions regarding this.
  • For Mains: Issues and concerns over the grant of religious minority tag, the need and rising demands, need for criteria.


Context: The Union government has told the Karnataka High Court that it has rejected the recommendation of the State government to grant religious minority status to Lingayat and Veerashaiva community.

  • The Union government has reiterated the earlier stand of the Centre that Lingayat/Veerashaiva community is part of Hindu religion.



  • The community has been demanding status of a separate religion for a long time. One part of the community demands the minority status for both Veerashaiva and Lingayats considering them the same, while another wants it only for the Lingayats as it considers Veershaivas to be Hindus.
  • The Karnataka government, in March this year, decided to declare Lingayats as a religious minority and include the Veerashaivas who follow Basavanna as a group within the community.


Who are Lingayats?

Lingayats are followers of 12th-century social reformer Basavanna and his vachana (verses) philosophy. Their beliefs, practices and faith are different. Veerashaivas worship Lord Shiva, the one mentioned in Hindu mythology. However, the Shiva that Basavanna referred to in his vachanas (verses) is not the Hindu god Shiva but the ishtalinga (formless God), which people of the community wear around their neck.


Who are Veerashaivas?

Veerashaivas are a sub-sect of Lingayats and ardent followers of Lord Shiva. They preceded Basavanna, the founder of Lingayatism. Veerashaivism has its roots in the Vedas and Agamas, and Veerashaivas do not worship any god other than Shiva; they can be found spread across Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.


Who is Basavanna?

Basavanna was a 12th-century social reformer. The revolution that Basavanna led came years after the Buddha. It was Basavanna and his contemporary Sharanas who launched a very strong spiritual, social and religious rebellion against Brahminical hegemony. Basavanna had declared that “work is worship”. He gave women equal status in his movement through the vachanas (verses). In order to take the social movement closer to the people, Basavanna and all the other Sharanas voiced their concerns in simple Kannada vachanas so that even lay people could comprehend them.


Sources: the hindu.