1. Who Are Lingayats?
Although the exact numbers are not known, Lingayats constitute almost 20 percent of Karnataka’s population.
In the 12th century, social reformer Basavanna introduced the Lingayat community, distancing themselves from Veerashaivas who followed the vedas and supported the caste system.
The new Lingayat community, instead of temple worship and casteism, were taught to worship Shiva with great rigour, and give up the ritualistic brahmin practices. Yeddyurappa, although a Lingayat leader, has been seen performing Vedic Yagas.
The progressive nature of the new community attracted many followers from across the society. Following the death of Basavanna, over centuries, the two communities –Veerashaiva and Lingayat – merged again riding on the common thread that both worshiped Shiva, notwithstanding differences.
In the 21st century, the terms Lingayat and Veerashaiva have been used synonymously.
Although there is a movement to get religious status for the Lingayat community, Yeddyurappa is believer of the idea that both communities are same and a part of the Hindu religion.