Difference between Veerashaivas and Lingayats

WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, India Published: Mar 21, 2018, 09:09 AM(IST)

People belonging to Veershaiva Community protesting against the Separate Lingayat religion, which was approved by Karnataka Government in Kalburgi. Photograph:( PTI )

Seen as synonymous in public discussions until recent times, the Veerashaivas and Lingayats found formal self-organisation in the early 20th century as the All-India Veerashaiva Mahasabha. Viewing themselves as Hindus, this body asked, in subsequent decades, that Veerashaivism is considered a separate religion. 

As the clamour for separate religious identity grows, the differences between the Lingayats and Veershaivas are becoming clearer. There are distinct differences between their practices, faith, meaning, culture and way of life.

Who are Lingayats

Though Lingayats worship Shiva, they say the concept of ‘Ishta Linga’ (personal god) and rules of conduct prescribed by Basaveshwara cannot be equated to the Hindu way of life. On the other hand, those opposed to the re-categorisation, including sections in the community, say the rebellion was reformist, like the Bhakti movement, and not aimed at breaking away from the Hindu fold.

Who are Veerashaivas 

Veerashaivas are worshippers of Lord Shiva. They precede Basavanna, the founder of Lingayatism. Veerashaivas do not worship any God other than Shiva and can be found spread across India. Pashupatha Shaiva, Soma Shaiva, Dakshina Shaiva, Kala Mukha Shaiva, Lakula Shaiva, Yavala Shaiva, Samanya Shaiva, Mishra Shaiva, Shuddha Shaiva, Adi Shaiva, Anu Shaiva, Avantara Shaiva are some of the sects within Shaivism. Veerashaiva is one such sect and people from the community are found largely in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. Those who consume non-vegetarian food call themselves Kshatriya Shaiva while those who are vegetarians call themselves Brahmana Shaiva. All sects of the Veerashaiva follow the 'Pancha Peeta', five mutts. Kashi mutt, Rameshwaram Mutt, Ujjaini Mutt, Rambhapura Mutt and Srishaila Mutt are the core holy places for the community.

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