No religious minority tag to Lingayat/Veerashaiva community

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    28th Dec, 2018

Context

  • The Union government has rejected the recommendation of the State government to grant religious minority status to Lingayat and Veerashaiva community.

About

  • The community has been demanding status of a separate religion for a long time.
  • Certain section of the community is demanding the minority status for both Veerashaiva and Lingayats considering them to be same, while other wants it only for the Lingayats as it considers Veershaivas to be Hindus.
  • The Karnataka government, in March 2018, decided to declare Lingayats as a religious minority and include the Veerashaivas who follow Basavanna as a group within the community.
  • The state government accepted suggestions of Nagamohan committee under section 2D of the state Minorities Commission Act.
  • The Nagamohan committee has recommended minority status for only the Lingayats and has kept Veershaivas out.

Lingayats:

  • They are followers of 12th-century social reformer Basavanna and his vachana (verses) philosophy.
  • 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.
  • Lingayats are a dominant community (numerically and politically strong) in Karnataka and are classified as Other Backward Classes.
  • There are over 90 sub-castes among Lingayats and Veerashaivas are recognized as one among them.

Veerashaivas:

  • They 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.
  • Veerashaivas do not worship any god other than Shiva.
  • They can be found spread across Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

Basavanna:

  • He 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.
  • He introduced ‘Anubhava Mantapa’, which welcomed men and women from all socio-economic backgrounds to discuss spiritual and mundane questions of life, in open.
  • Basavanna had declared “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.

Constitution on religion:  The Constitution neither establishes a religion nor contains provisions for creating one. It only ensure the right to all to practice and profess their faith under Article 25 (All persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practice, and propagate religion subject to public order, morality and health.) 

Constitution on minorities: Though the Constitution of India does not define the word ‘Minority’ and only refers to ‘Minorities based on religion or language’, it lists the rights of the minorities under Article 29 and 30. 

Recognition of minorities: Under National Minorities Commission Act 1992 and National Minorities Educational Institutions Act 2004, the Central Government can declare a community as minority at the national level.

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