According to practices, Lingayats have shunned most practices of the Veerashaivas who thrive on the Vedas and Agamas.
Despite fighting against temple worship, statue worship, discrimination among people of different strata and men-women, Lingayats ended up joining the pack of Veerashaivas, who practiced everything mentioned above.
Here is the possible reason for this development. In the 12th Century, after Basavanna was killed, the Vachanas written by Basavanna and his disciples were destroyed by the King Bijjala, as he did not want Basavanna's prominence to overpower his own rule and power. Even believers of Basavanna's preachings were threatened. Thus most of the literature was either lost or hidden.
This left the Lingayats with little knowledge about their ancestors and lived on whatever was passed on orally from their elders. However, Veerashaivas took this opportunity and professed that both Lingayats and Veerashaivas believed in Shiva and both should come together as one community. Though the Lingayats were not happy with it, they did not have a proper argument to shun this offer.
Thus, as against the popular notion that the cry for Lingayat's separate religion started just last year, research states that Lingayats have been fighting for this for the last 80 years. It is said that during the formation of the Constitution, Lingayat leaders like S Nijalingappa and others had demanded a separate religious status for Lingayats.
According to a report by The Wire, Head of the Hangal Mutt established the All India Veerashaiva Mahasabha, which was formed at a convention in 1904. A resolution was passed stating Lingayats and Veerashaivas were Hindus. After internal frictions in 1940, the mahasabha passed a resolution saying Lingayats were not Hindus.
Actually, Phakirappa Gurubasappa Halakatti in the 20th century collected 22,000 Vachanas written on palm leaf manuscripts and reprinted them. These Vachanas were read profusely and researched deeply by scholars like MM Kalburgi, Veeranna Rajur, TR Chandrashekar and others. These studies revealed how Lingayats were way different from Veerashaivas. As more people started studying it, the cry for the need to separate from the Veerashaivas grew enormously.
Now, with elections nearing, the Karnataka government has said yes to the demand for a separate religious status for Lingayats. But this has disappointed Veerashaivas, who will lose a large chunk of the population of Hindus.
Will the Centre propagating Hinduism agree to the demands of separating Lingayats from their Hindu religion?