Bengaluru, Jan 14: The Lingayat camp fighting for a separate religion has decided to formally break away from the Akhila Bharatha Veerashaiva Mahasabha and create a new Vishwa Lingayat Parishat to carry forward its campaign.
"The decision to create the Vishwa Lingayat Parishat is the result of our unfruitful attempts to make peace with the Akhila Bharatha Veerashaiva Mahasabha," retired IAS officer S M Jaamdar, who is spearheading the Lingayat religion campaign, told reporters here on Saturday. The new forum will be launched in Bengaluru on January 23.
The formation of the Vishwa Lingayat Parishat seeks to challenge the powerful clout of the 114-year-old Akhila Bharatha Veerashaiva Mahasabha, which argues that Veerashaivas and Lingayats are the same. Mahasabha leaders have rejected the Lingayat camp's stake for a separate religion.
"For the past eight months, we tried to work with the Veerashaiva Mahasabha and iron out differences, but it looks like they will not be resolved. Their tone remains the same. We are left with no choice," Jaamdar said.
The Veerashaiva and Lingayat camps, comprising religious leaders as well as members of the ruling Congress, have been at loggerheads over the separate religion issue. Veerashaivas say their religion predates 12th century reformer Basavanna, credited as the founder of the Lingayat faith. Veerashaivas revere a pantheon of holy men (Panchacharyas). The Lingayat camp argues that Veerashaiva and Lingayats are radically different and that the religion must be called Lingayat. This group says it goes by the ideals of Basavanna.
"We want to know if the Panchacharyas accept Basavanna as the founder of the Lingayat religion, that Vachana Sahitya is our only holy scripture and that we do not belong to the Hindu religion. The Veerashaiva Mahasabha has softened its stand on these points, but there are other points where our differences still exist," Jaamdar said.
The Vishwa Lingayat Parishat will be different in that it will have a youth wing (Basava Sene), a professionals cell, a women cell and a platform for Lingayats living overseas. The Parishat will launch a membership drive soon.
Jaamdar refused to comment on an expert committee constituted by the state government seeking six more months to submit its report on demands for the separate religion status for Veerashaiva-Lingayat faith. "We've not fixed any deadline. Let them take time. We're hopeful because we have evidence to prove our case."
Lingayat camp comes out of Veerashaiva Mahasabha, to float new forum