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A Comparative Picture of Lingayatism and Hinduism


✍ Dr S. M. JAAMDAR IAS (Retired.)

A Comparative Picture of Lingayatism and Hinduism

Basic facts

# Particulars Lingayatism Hinduism
A1 When was it founded?In the second half of twelfth century No one knows. Claims to be primordial
A2 Who founded it? Basavanna and Sharanas No body knows
A3 Where was it founded? In Karnataka (Basava Kalyan:Capital of Western Chalukyas)No one knows: Some say in Central Asia, Some say in Indus basin area.
A4 Names of Holy books Vachanashatra of Sharnas and Basavanna. Vedas, Shastras, Puranas, Upanishads, Agamas, Ramayana and Mahabharat etc. Vedas are final authority and immutable.
A5 Name of GodInvisible Shiva: Monotheistic 33 crore gods: Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh and their wives and children and followers etc. Polytheistic.
A6 Nature of GodGod is Formless, Invisible, Infinite; No image worship/ no idolatry.God/s in the human form, animal form, as well as formless. No single concept. Personal God and impersonal God: anything ok. Idol worship maximum.
A7 Where do God/s live?God pervades whole universe:No Heaven, No Hell; He lives in every living being. No concept of several lokas/worldsGod lives in Heaven: (Kailas or Vaikuntha); God of death and his followers live at the entrance to Hell: there are fourteen lokas or worlds.
A8 Creation Myth Single story of creation by God Siva: First, he created the sky, galaxies of stars, planets and other stellar bodies; second, he created earth (Bhumandal) and then Jalamandal with Oceans and Seas; third, he created 84 lakh life forms. Multiple and varying stories of creation: there are six different creation myths: Nasadiya Sukta, Purush Sukta, Hiranyagarbha Sukta, Brahmanspati Sukta; Atman creating Vishvakaraman the universe etc.
A9 Dissolution of the Universe (pralaya, apocalypse) The creator is beginningless and endless, neither born nor would ever die; but the created universe is subject to perish. The process of dissolution is the reverse of the process of creationThe Creator (Brahma) the preserver (Vishnu) are subject to cycles of birth and death. During destruction by deluge or inferno the three of the fourteen lokas are only destroyed.
A10 Relation between man and God Only one God: He lives in every living being; There is no need to search for him outside one's own body and no need for an intermediary priest. It is direct. Only devotion can help attain God. Four different schools exist: Advait, Dvait, Qualified Advait and Charvac: according to the first, Man can unite with god; according to the second, the two shall always be separate; according to the third, man can reach God by certain actions only; Charvakians do not bother about life after death. Knowledge, Devotion and Karma all are necessary to attain god.
A11 Relation between man and the environment and other animals No killing of animals for destruction of environment; Strict Vegetarianism, no intoxicating liquor or smoking of any type; compassion to all living beings is basic.Killing other animals for food is permitted (jeevo jeevasya jeevanam) Drinking wine (Soma rasa) is permitted; smoking occasionally is not wrong: many are taken to opium and ganja; sexual indulgence, meat and wine essential in certain tantrik practices.
A12 Relation between man and woman Egalitarian: man and woman being worshippers of Ishtalinga are equal in everything. No child marriage, no dowry, widow marriage permitted; no menstruation taboo; woman has all religious rights that man has: she wears Ishtalinga on the body; She can inherit property and adopt children in her own rightWoman is unfit for freedom; she is a temptress; she is unclean; menstruation is a taboo; woman is not given religious intiation or has no right to perform obituary or Shraddha and pinda; No right of inheritance; no right to adopt children; widows cannot remarry. Dowry is common; child marriage necessary. Sati was practiced.
A13 Relation between man and man All are born equal: no hierarchy among men. Men and Women are also equal.Men are born unequal as they are made from different parts of God's body. Those born from mouth are the highest, those born from shoulders next; those born from thighs the third. Those born from the feet the lowest and they must serve the three above them.
A14 Social status Achieved by one's merit (purnya) Ascribed by birth in a caste.
A15 Occupational mobility Open and occupation can be changed at will. All occupations are equal; No work is mean or great. Occupation inherited from parents belonging to a caste and it cannot be changed. No occupational mobility. Religious pursuits are the best occupation; kingship and trade better ones; dirty and manual occupations are the lowest.
A16 Idea of Justice, Fairness and FairplayAll are equal before god and law; equal opportunity, and equal protection. No slavery, no untouchabilty, no exploitation. No discrimination. No caste bias since there is no caste.Justice as per the caste-specific roles, status and duties. It is highly discriminatory, despotic and exploitative. Punishments for the same wrong act varies according to one's caste position.
A17 Means of livelihoodWork is worship, parasitical existence is sin; while at work, ignore even if god comes; All types of work are equal: dignity of labour. Karma is replaced by Kayak.Work is sin; Brahmans not to do manual work; Kshatriyas to protect the country, fight war, keep army and deliver justice; Vaishyas do business/trade; Shudras must do manual labour and serve other three Varnas.
A18 Wealth and its use Fruits of one's honest and pure work is wealth. It should be used to the extent of need and the balance must go to the society as a duty withoutexpecting merit, name and fame: It is called Daasoha not daan. Dasoha is of three types: education, food and religious guidance.One can enjoy what one earns. Wealthy are blessed ones due to Karma; Some part of wealth may be given as daan. It should be given to the deserving especially to Brahmans, beggers, and the sick and the old. Dann earns merit, name and fame.

Major beliefs

# Particulars Lingayatism Hinduism
B1 Belief In Rebirth / Metempsychosis / reincarnation No rebirth: after death the person merges with the God in him. There is no soul. So there is no transmigration of soul! After death, the soul is lodged in a temporary hell or heaven based on karma. Thereafter the soul goes through endless cycles of birth and death as many as eighty four lakh times
B2 Belief in Karma No belief in Caste based Karma and vice-verca. Believes in Caste based Karmas in the previous lives which decides how and in what form one may be born.
B3 Sin and Merit Each person to decide what is sin and merit. Truthful conduct, good and considerate manners, compassion, respect to fellow beings are meritorious and give happiness; the opposites of merit are sins. Karma theory in line with four-fold system of castes decides what is sin and what is merit. Violation of Varnashrama dharma is sin, compliance is merit. Karmic sin and merit decide future birth, hell and heaven.
B4 Consequences of Sin and Merit Consequences of sins and merit are to be enjoyed or sufferred in this life and in this world itself due to guilty mind, social ridicule and humiliation. There is no hell and no heaven and no rebirth in Lingayat Suffering in hell or enjoying in heaven according Karma doctrine. Rebirth in bad form or bad caste, bad occupation, illhealth, poverty, or adverse life.
B5 Belief in Pilgrimage No pilgrimage since god is in ones body itself and no use in searching for him outside. Pilgrimage is meritorious conduct, highly recommended and practiced.
B6 Belief in Fasting and Penance No need to punish the body as it is the temple of godFasting is good. It cleanses the soul and expiation is merit.
B7 Belief in Japa or counting of beads a million times No need for any Japa or counting of beads; instead pray god devoutedly.Japa is good and meritorious. It helps concentration or diversion of mind from the mundane.
B8 Idol worship in temples and doing Abhishek (anointing idol with milk, honey, water) No Abhishek is necessary. Idols are not god. God is in one's body. Desist from evil thoughts and deeds. Abhishek is good. God would be happy. Idol is god's icon and by worshipping idol one can reach god
B9 Belief in the efficacy of Yajna and Homa No Yajna and No Homa: They are sheer waste of food, clothes and cause pollution of environmentYajnas are necessary to obtain boons from gods for begetting a son, winning a war, destroying enemies, causing rains etc.
B10 Superiority of Brahmans No one is superior or inferior by birth; Brahmans cannot be trusted; they practice double standards; They do not do what they say (as per Vachanas) Brahmans are the most blessed; ones, superior to kings; owners of all world; embodiment of knowledge etc. (as per Manusmriti Shlokas)


# Particulars Lingayatism Hinduism
C1Auspicious time, day, month, Panchang, Gurubala, Chandrabala. All times are auspicious. There is nothing like good or bad timesRahukal, Gulikal, Yamagand Kal are bad; Auspicious muhurta necessary for happiness, success and good life.
C2Vastu and Astrology No Vastu and No astrology are follewed / acceptedVastu and Astrology are necessary for happy life. Palmistry, Astrology, foretelling are scientific.
C3 Pollution Nothing pollutes except wicked mind Raja sutaka, ucchista Sutaka, Janana Sutaka, Marana Sutaka, Jati Sutaka are real and true (menstruation, death, birth, untouchables, half eaten food pollute).
C4 Purification No purification is necessary. Every sutaka dosha or pollution should be got purified by following specific rites and procedures.
C5 Omens No omens are accepted / trusted Not good to see a widow in the morning; cat crossing way is ominous; death in panchak is bad; birth on Mula Nakshtra is bad, etc.


# Particulars Lingayatism Hinduism
D1 Birth rites Not polluting, tying Ishtalinga to the newborn Birth is polluting; no contact with others;
D2Death Rites Dead body is burried fully naked and in sitting position body smeared with vibhuti and Ishtalinga is placed in the left palm. Dead body burnt and the ashes strewn in the streams. Death is polluting for a specified period varying among four Varnas
D3 Naming Rites Named by the Guru and five women within two weeks of birth Naming is done according to Vedic rites
D4 Puberty rites The girl is bathed, decked, given sweets to eat, and women sing songs sitting around herPuberty rites are done according Vedic Rites
D5Marriage Rites No homa, no fire, no sapta padi. No taking oath. There is water, and the priest gives advice on how to be a good couple, Mangal Sutra is tied. Various rituals take three to four days or finished in one day. Homa, Agni, seven time circumambulation around fire, marital oath taking essential.

Source: Lingayat as an Independent Religion - DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE (Volume-1); Written by: Dr S.M. Jaamdar, IAS (Retired); Published by : Jagatika Lingayata Mahasabha, No, 51, 3rd Cross, Chakravarthi Layout, Palace Road, Bengaluru – 560 020. Ph: 080 2336 7799 e-mail –

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