Gulbarga : A massive rally was taken out in Gulbarga on Sunday, seeking a separate religion status for Lingayat. The demand for religion status for Lingayat gathered fresh momentum on Sunday with another large mobilisation of community members in Gulbarga. It was the fourth rally in the last two-and-a-half months after Bidar, Belagavi and Latur (Maharashtra) pressing for the demand.
The organizers expected the participation of over 3 lakh people. over 200 pontiffs of various mutts, including seers of Gadag Tontadarya Mutt, Beli Mutt, Brahanmutt of Chitradurga, Hiremath of Bhalki,Sharanabasappa Appa, Sri Mahant Shivacharya Swamiji of Sulphul MuttMahant Shivayogi Swami of Ilakal and Jagadguru Maate Mahadevi attended the convention.Holding saffron flags and banners, wearing white Gandhi caps imprinted with social reformer Basaveshwara’s image, playing traditional drums, singing Vachana compositions of Basaveshwara and other Sharanas (reformers) of the 12th century and raising slogans, the community members marched from APMC Market Yard through the Supermarket and Jagat Circle to Nutan Vidyalay Grounds where a public meeting was held.
Traffic movement in the area came to a standstill for hours as large number of people filled the streets. Police personnel were found struggling to handle the crowd and vehicular movement. The demand for recognition to Lingayat as a religion reverberated in the air with slogans being raised through loudspeakers installed in a vast area spreading over kilometres of land. Thousands of Lingayats from the Hyderabad-Karnataka districts of Gulbarga, Yadgir and Bidar, and the neighbouring states of Maharashtra and Telangana, prominent political leaders from the region and seers took part in the rally at the N V Grounds.Lingayats from Bidar, Gulbarga, Yadgir, Raichur, Vijayapura and Bagalkot districts of Karnataka and from Solapur and Latur districts of Maharashtra began coming to Gulbarga from Sunday morning. soon the numbers swell and it rendered the spacious NV College ground as a small park.
Addressing the gathering, Water Resources minister M B Patil, who is spearheading the movement for a separate Lingayat religion, said, “If Veerashaivas ask for a separate religion, then it is not a problem. However, they are demanding Veerashaiva-Lingayat as separate religion. As long as the word ‘Shaiva’ is there, we will not get a separate religion status as Shaiva is part of the Hindu religion.” He said that the movement didn’t intend to disrespect Hinduism or Hindus.
Medical Education Minister Dr Sharanprakash Patil said, “If Lingayat becomes a separate religion, then Vachanas will become our holy book.We have been an independent religion since in 12th century. We are now simply demanding for Constitutional recognition. We will not rest till our demand is met”
Mines and Geology Minister Vinay Kulkarni said, “If we don’t get what want we want, then there will be a new revolution in the 21st century.”
Mr. M.B. Patil and Mr. Vinay Kulkarni, one after the other, declared that the next mobilisation of Lingayat would be held on November 5 at the Nehru Maidan in Hubballi, on November 19 at the B.R. Amedkar Stadium in Vijayapura, before a national conference on December 10 in Bengaluru for which over 20 lakh people will be mobilised.
Shivacharya of Sulphal Matt criticized Veerashiva leaders of Gulbarga and Panchacharyas for trying to misguide people of the Lingayat community. “We are not against Veerashivas, our demand is to recognize Lingayat as a separate religion,” said Shivacharya.
S.M. Jamdar, former bureaucrat and key member of the Lingayat Samanvaya Samiti—the group leading the agitation for a separate religious identity—said that the forum will have to ensure that the movement grows in other cities too. Mr. Shivanand Jamdar reasoned how Lingayat was an independent religion. He clarified that the Lingayat mobilisations in the recent times were not directed against any religion or any religious head, but for Constitutional recognition alone.
“Veerashaiva and Lingyayat are not one and the same. Vedas, Upanishats, Agama and other ancient Vedic literature form the basis for the Veerashaiva sect whereas Vachana literature composed by Basaveshwara and other social reformers of the 12th century is the basis for Lingayat religion. We are an independent religion and Vachana literature is our religious text,” Mr. Jamdar said.
The demand for a separate religion status and separation from the Veerashaivas, a sub-sect within the community, is at least a century old, with increased agitations and movements in the last four decades. The latest round is led by Karnataka water resources minister M.B. Patil.
Higher Education Minister Basavaraj Rayareddy, MLC Basavaraj Horatti, seers Sharanabasappa Appa, Peethadhipathi of Sharana Basaveshwara Samsthana, Srishail Sarangadhar Mutt pontiff Sarangadhar Swami and actor Chethan were present.
Mass feeding arrangements have been made at six points in different directions. The rally would commenced from Lahoti Kalyan Mantap at 10 am. A memorandum was submitted to the Union government through the Gulbarga Deputy Commissioner near Basaveshwara Circle requesting separate religion status to the Lingayat community. Volunteers from the Lingayat community had earlier visited door-todoor and invited people to attend the convention.
News: From Various Sources including The Hindu, DHNS, Mint , One India