Lingayats – UPSC Prelims

Who are the Lingayats?
  • Lingayats are classified as a Hindu sub-caste called Veerashaiva Lingayats.
  • They are essentially followers of the 12th-century philosopher Saint Basavanna who was against the caste system and Vedic rituals.
  • They are a dominant community who make up nearly 17% of Karnataka’s six crore population.
Characteristics of Lingayatism:
  • The Lingayats are strict monotheists. They enjoin the worship of only one God, namely, Linga (Shiva).
  • Lingayatism rejects any form of social discrimination including the caste system.
  • The Lingayats always wear the Ishtalinga (a necklace with a pendant that contains a small Shiva Linga). They believe that they will be reunited with Shiva after their death by wearing the lingam.
  • Lingayats are not cremated but are buried in a sitting, meditative position.
Lingayat Reservation Demand:
  • Currently, Veerashaiva Lingayats have been provided 5% reservation under a special category called 3B.
  • However, a sub-sect called the Panchamasali Lingayats are demanding reservations under the category 2A. This category currently provides 15% reservations to backward castes. Panchamasali Lingayats are basically agriculturists who account for nearly 70% of Lingayats.
  • Hence, Karnataka CM has directed the chairman of the Karnataka Backward Classes Commission to conduct a study. The Commission will submit a report on the social, economic, and educational status of the Panchamasali community to determine their inclusion under the 2A category.
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