Karnataka government has approved the separate religion tag for the Lingayats based on the claim that Lingayat practices are way different from Veerashaivas. Here are the details of the differences between the two communities, while tracking history of how they came together to form one community.
To start with, let us understand the basics of the both the terms.
Veerashaivas are the ones worshipping Shiva as the Lord. But Lingayats wear an Ishtalinga on their neck and believe in the inner spirit of Lord Shiva.
Founder of Veerashaivas were the Panchacharyas or the five sages. Whereas Lingayat was professed by social reformer Basavanna.
The biggest difference is that Veerashaivas believe in the Vedas and Agamas, which thrive on caste and inequality between people of different strata. But the main principle of Lingayats is anyone who wears Linga belongs to this community and there is no difference between people and all are equal.
ALSO READ: What made Lingayats join the Veerashaivas?
In Veerashaivas, men are given more prominence than women. But in Lingayats, even women can wear Ishtalinga and are equally powerful as men. There is no discrimination.
Veerashaivas go to temples and worship idols. But for Lingayats, Shiva is a formless and timeless entity. The Lord is present within each and everyone, and they are against idol worship.
Veerashaivas call themselves Hindus, whereas Lingayats have denounced all Hindu practices and can't fit themselves into the Hindu religion.