Bengaluru: The churning in the dominant Lingayat community over religion status is gaining momentum with Higher Education Minister and Lingayat leader Basavaraj Rayareddy voicing his support for a separate religious identity for Veerashaiva Lingayats.
Mr Rayareddy told reporters here on Monday that Veerashaivas need to get out of the clutches of Hindu religion and gain the benefits of minority status. According to him, Hinduism is a culture which evolved during the Indus Valley civilization while Veerashaivas have different practices as compared to the ‘feudalistic’ practices of the Indus valley culture.
Mr Rayareddy defended Chief Minister Mr Siddaramaiah, saying that a separate religious status for Veerashaiva Lingayats was never his brainchild. “I know Mr Siddaramaiah for more than 30 years, he does not believe in caste or religion-based politics. After the government ordered that portraits of Basavanna be installed in every office, members of the Veerashaiva Mahasabha went to thank him. We submitted a memorandum, seeking separate religious status for Lingayats, who are present in neighbouring Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. I am also a signatory to the memorandum and the CM was reacting to this,” he explained.
Mr Rayareddy claimed that even the Pancha Peetas wanted separate religious identity for Lingayats. When a statement made by the Rambhapuri Mutt seer that Mr Siddaramaiah was trying to divide Lingayat Veerashaivas was pointed out to him, Mr Rayareddy said that he, along with other Veerashaiva ministers - Mr Eshwar Khandre, Mr Sharanprakash Patil and Mr Vinay Kulkarni- will tour the state and visit all mutts to gather support for their demand.
Taking a dig at BJP State President Mr B.S. Yeddyurappa, Mr Rayareddy claimed that Mr Yeddyurappa had a RSS background and did not know about Veerashaiva practices. “He says that Veerashaivas are part of Hinduism when they are not,” Mr Rayareddy said. Hindu was not a religion as it does not have a founder. As time progressed, it fell into the clutches of feudalistic elements, who wanted to control it. This resulted in the mushrooming of superstition but Veerashaiva Lingayats do not believe in superstition. Like Jainism and Buddhism, even Veerashaivas came out of Hindu religion, this is the reason why Veerashaivas and Hindus are different, Mr Rayareddy said.
On why he was silent about this aspect for the last four years after the Congress government was formed, he said there is no time frame in which such an idea should emerge. He denied charges that the Congress was trying to derive political mileage from the issue and was trying to woo Lingayat votes....