Karnataka Govt. decision to grant Religious minority status to Lingayats:

  • Karnataka government's granted religious minority tag to the Lingayat and Veerashaiva Lingayat community in 2018.
  • In fact, KN Govt. accepted suggestions of Nagamohan committee under the section 2D of the state Minorities Commission Act. 
  • The Lingayat community has been demanding status of a separate religion for a long time. 
Who are Lingayats?
  • Well, the Lingayat/ Veerashaiva community, a politically dominant group in the Karnataka, are devotees of Shiva.
  • However, the Lingayats follow the 12th-century saint-philosopher Basavanna who had rejected the ritualistic worship and also pre-eminence of the Vedas.
  • The lingayats, are currently classified as a Hindu sub caste which is called “Veerashaiva Lingayats”, are often considered to be as Shaivites.
Arguments For:
  • Well, the research by scholars such as Kalburgi into the vachanas or religious-poetic verses which is written by Basavanna 800 years ago, produced evidence to show that the Lingayats will a religious entity separate from the Hindus.
  • In the Lingayatism: An Independent Religion, the Lingayat scholar and also retired professor of philosophy at Karnatak University, Dharwad, N G Mahadevappa, argued the case for looking at the Lingayat religion separately from Hinduism:
  • “The Lingayats are strict monotheists. In fact, they enjoin the worship of only one God, namelycalled Linga (Shiva). However, it should be noted that the words ‘Linga’ here does not mean the Linga which is established in temples, but the universal consciousness qualified by the universal energy (Shakti),”
  • Also in Ratilal Gandhi vs. state of Bombay case, SC held that every person has fundamental right to entertain such religious beliefs as may be approved by his judgement or conscience.
Arguments Against:
  • Tahir Mahmood former chair of National Commission for Minorities held that Pluralism within the broad Hindu Religion is different from sectarian diversity in dogmatic religions like Islam or Christianity.
  • Lingayats claim for separate religion is untenable.
Benefit to Lingayats if granted minority religion status by the Centre:
  • Well, the recognition as a religious minority will make Lingayats " the eligible for rights to open and also manage the educational institutions which is given by the Constitution to religious and also linguistic minorities. 
But, the benefits of reservation under the new status will be available only after the Centre accepts the recommendations and also notifies it.
  • Then the Union Home Ministry in india will examine in the details the Karnataka government's recommendations to grant the religious minority tag to the Lingayat and also the Veerashaiva Lingayat community.
Question Do you think Lingayat community’s demand for a separate a religion is in accordance with the fundamental right to religion. Critically analyze. (250 words)   Read Also: Mahadayi River Dispute