Bengaluru: Dismissing claims that Lingayats and Veerashaivas are the same, a section of pontiffs and elected representatives have demanded minority status for Lingayats as well as separate religion status on par with Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism.
With this, the Veerashaiva-Lingayat community is set for a clear division in the state. Thursday’s meeting had gained importance in the wake of strong opposition to the Akhila Bharata Veerashaiva Mahasabha' s contention that Veerashaivas and Lingayats are the same and like two faces of a coin. Several pontiffs had expressed their ire over this and wanted to float a separate Mahasabha for Lingayats.
However the meeting was not attended by the seers of Suttur in Mysuru and Siddaganga of Tumakuru-considered two powerful mutts in South Karnataka.
Briefing reporters after the five-hour marathon meeting, Water Resources Minister M.B. Patil said the meeting had a free and frank discussion in which several elected representatives and pontiffs gave suggestions. The meeting was apolitical as leaders from all political parties attended it.
Mr Patil quoted the pontiffs saying that just like Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, even Lingayats had different customs and traditions. The seers also stressed on unity among Lingayats without taking their fight to the streets and demanded minority status plus a separate religion tag besides all rights and duties as enshrined in Article 25, 28, 29 and 34 of the Constitution.
The meeting pointed out that Lingayats were mentioned as minorities along with Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs in the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 and the Hindu Succession Act 1956. Though they were not against Hindu religion, what they wanted was a separate religion tag and the minority status for their community. The speakers pointed out that while Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs had earned minority status long ago, Lingayats were still fighting over it .
The speakers also stressed that Veerashaiva was a sub sect of the Lingayats and not a separate entity. All those who practice the ideology of 12th century social reformer Basavanna are Lingayats, they said while also demanding a separate code number for Lingayats in the next national census.
- Dharma, Siddantha and Vachanas penned by Basavanna and other Basavadi Sharanas must not be used by Veerashaivas.
- The Viraktha mutts established for the propagation of Basava principles must switch over immediately to Lingayat names. The pontiffs not ready to accept this, must be ready to renunciate their positions. Those who are ready to dedicate their lives for the propagation of Basavanna principles and ideology must be appointed as the seers of Viraktha mutts.
- Pressure must be exerted on the state and union governments to give separate religion status to Lingayat dharma started by Basavanna.
- The vachanas written by Basavanna are the dharma grantha.
- Efforts must be made to implement two recommendations adopted in a meeting in 1941-to rechristen Akhila Bharata Veerashaiva Mahasabha as Akhila Bharathiya Lingayat Mahasabha and give a separate religion tag to Lingayats. These resolutions were moved by the pontiffs of Naganur and Bhalki way back in 1941.
CM: We can only recommend
Not ready to take any chances, CM Siddaramaiah has sought time to act on the memorandum on the separate religion tag for the Veerashaiva-lingayat community. Speaking after receiving the memorandum from water resources minister M.B. Patil and others seeking minority status as well as separate religion status here on Thursday, the CM said he had received three memorandums - from Akhila Bharathiya Veerashaiva Mahasabha president Shamanur Shivashakarappa, Mathe Mahadevi and from Mr Patil. He would consult experts on the legal, constitutional and religious aspects of the issue before arriving at a decision. He would then take a decision on forwarding the memorandum to the Centre for action.
The delegation comprised higher education minister Basavaraja Rayaraddi, medical education minister Sharan Prakash Patil, mines minister Vinay Kulkarni, JD(S) MLC Basavaraj Horatti and Congress chief whip Ashok Pattan.