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Census Reports of Mysore and Madras States from 1871 to 1901.


✍ Dr S. M. JAAMDAR IAS (Retired.)

Evidence from the Census Reports of Mysore and Madras States from 1871 to 1901 on Lingayat Religion

Census is nothing but a counting of every item to be studied. Here census refers to the population census, i.e., head counting of every person in a given area at the time of such counting. Population Census is not just a head count, it is much more. During such counting, every person and his family members (if he/she has a family) is asked to state the name, sex, age, education, any skill, working/not working, income, religion and caste (if any), married/divorced/separated, relation to the head of the family, and so on. This information is aggregated for each village/town/city. Village/urban information is further totalled for the administrative units like taluks, districts, division and the state. Such information is very important and useful for many administrative, economic, political, social and cultural purposes and there lies its importance.

Population Census gives raw information. Such information is classified and each class or category is labelled. It is this labelling of different information categories which is often problematic. We are concerned here with such labelling in respect of religious information. We need to know what questions were asked to obtain information on religion and caste, how those questions were asked, how was that information classified and how those classes or categories labelled or named. These actions are not as simple as they appear to the laymen. It is possible to manipulate and change the nature of information just by changing the questions, by the way the questions are asked, by the way the information is classified and by the way classes were labelled or named. It is this kind of manipulation of information in the population census that is problematic. We examine here how the information about Lingayat religion was manipulated in the past to suit certain political, economic and social purposes of the rulers of the period.

For the first time in the known history of five thousand years of India, a comprehensive and nation-wide population census was started by the British in the late 19th century. First such census was conducted in 1871 in entire south India. Ten years later, the simultaneous census operations were extended to the entire country in 1881. These are called synchronous censuses because all over the country the head count begins on the same day, date, month and the year. Ever since then census operations are done once in every ten years. Census is a vital necessity for so many purposes of modern day management of the nations in the world.

The Census records are the most authoritative and authentic documents of the government. The information of the Census forms the basis of many important decisions of the government

(1) 1871 Census of Mysore

The first population census was conducted in the princely state of Mysore in the year 1871. During that period the Maharaja of Mysore was not in power. The British ruled Mysore state directly for fifty years from 19 October, 1831 to 25 March, 1881. Consequently, the first ever Census of Mysore was done directly by the British administration. A.W.C. Lindsay was the officer in charge of that Census.

The Mysore Census of 1871 classified all people living in Mysore state into four religious categories as follows:

i. Hindus
ii. Mussalmans
iii. Christians and
iv. Parsees.

Under "I. Hindu' category all castes within Chaturvarna system of Hindus were listed into four groups as A, B, C and D, respectively representing Brahmin, Kshatria, Vyshya and Shudra castes. Lingayat is not included in that Hindu Chaturvarna scheme.

Another group “E. Other Orders" under very broad non Vedic Hindu Category was also created for those Indian castes or religions which fall outside Sanatan or Vedic Hindu system (i.e., outside the Chaturvarna System). Eight different groups including Nomadic Tribes, Wild Tribes, Mendicants, etc. were also identified further.

i. "(E) Other Orders” had: “1.Jains and 2. Lingayats”. As explained in the second para on page 28 of that Census Report, Buddhists were included within Jains. Accordingly, Category 'E' had three religions in it: Jains, Buddhists and Lingayats.

ii. Population Census Report of 1871 of Mysore reveals that Lingayat was clearly treated as a Separate Religion in itself. It was clarified that Lingayat should not be confused as a caste of Hindus. The superintendent of Census has clearly stated the reasons for treating Lingayat as a separate religion in para 22 on page 4; para 42 on page 27; para 173 on page 78 which are quoted in subsequent sections of this chapter.

iii. From the above arrangement, it is obvious that placing Jains, Buddhists and Lingayats outside the Chaturvarna system of Vedic Hinduism clearly demonstrates that they are treated as different faiths in their own right.

iv. Placing the Category “(E) Other Orders" after Categories (A), (B), (C), and (D) within the overall Hindu fold was only with the purpose of grouping all religions of Indian Origins together. In this context, the word 'Hindu' is NOT to be construed as a religious group. It is rather a category indicating the original inhabitants within the geographical area of Bharat or India. Hindu in that sense refers to geographical area rather than to a religion. Also our Supreme Court in the same sense defined Hinduism as a way of life' - not a religion. Therefore, religions of foreign origin were assigned further categories II for Musalmans, III for Christians and IV for Parsis.

v. Finally it may be concluded that 1871 Census Report of Mysore clearly separates Jains, Buddhists and Lingayats from the Sanatan or Vedic Hindu Religion.

Sikhs were however listed under the Kshatriya group of Chaturvarn Hindus. (Details are given in Annexure 1 at the end of this chapter).

In the year 2001 and 2011 while rejecting the proposal to recognize Lingayat as a separate independent religion for the Census purposes, the Registrar General and Commissioner of Census of India stated falsely “that the first ever Census of 1871 treated Lingayat as a sect of Hinduism”! Unfortunately, The National Commission for Minorities also had agreed with the opinion of the Census Commissioner on this issue. The above mentioned facts reveal that the reply of the Census Commissioner was not correct logically and factually. It goes without saying that the National Commission for Minorities concurring with the opinion of the Census Commission without verifying the records and facts was also not correct.

Going by the logic of the Census Commissioner, it must be reiterated that Jains, and Buddhists were grouped together as "Other Orders" under 'E' category. If Lingayats are a sect of Hinduism, then Jains and Buddhists were also sects of Hinduism. If it is so, how is that Buddhists and Jains are now declared as Minority religions?

More interestingly, the Sikhs were treated as a Kshatriya group among Chaturvarna Hindus in the 1871 Census. How were then the Sikhs declared as a Minority religion?

Further, it is not just the listing or classification but in the detailed report of the Mysore Census of 1871 Lingayat has been clearly held to be a separate religion in its own right. Those observations are quoted verbatim below.

1. Para 22 on Page 4 of the Main Report of 1871 Census reads as follows: "Lingayat: This is a numerous class, or rather a religion composed of nearly all castes, but is so commonly used by ignorant people as a caste name that some care will be necessary to obtain the individual's proper caste-division and to enter him as a Lingayat in religion. The indiscriminate way in which the term was used in the schedules of the last census obliged the compiling office to show as a caste of Lingayats which is clearly incorrect.”

2. Para 42 on Page 27 is as follows: "The religion of Hindus may be said to consist of only two divisions, viz. Vishnuvites and Sivites, under one or the other of which all castes may be grouped. Lingayats are a sect of Sivites who wear suspended from their necks or fastened to their arms the image of Siva in the form of the Linga. In compiling the returns the word Lingayat is used in the enumerators' forms as a caste and as a religion and sometimes as a religion only. Properly speaking there is no Lingayat caste, but many castes are Lingayat in religion; the word, however, occurred so often as a caste that it was found impossible to avoid inclusion as a caste under this appellation"

3. Para 173 on Page 78 is as follows: "Lingayat: This cannot be termed a caste. It is a religion to which many castes belong. In the returns, however, the term is common both as a religion and a caste."

Based on the above facts, it is obvious that in 1871 Census Lingayat was classified outside the Chayurvarna system of Hindus and it was clearly treated as a religion.
Secondly, in the 1871 Census Lingayat was treated on par with Jains and Buddhists.

Thirdly, in 1871 Census the word Hindu was used both as the Vedic religion when it referred to Chaturvarna System and as a generic term to refer to all people living in India other than Musalmans, Christians, Jews and Parsis.

In the light of these facts, the RGI's understanding that Lingayat was treated as a sect of Hindus since 1871 is not correct.

(2) 1881 Census of Mysore

The second decennial census of Mysore in 1881 coincided with the restoration of power to the Maharaja of Mysore after fifty years of direct British rule. This event in a way is related to the fact of changing the status of Lingayat as a religion to that of treating it as a lower caste in the Shudra category of Hinduism (discussed later in this chapter).

The Introductory Chapter of the Census Report of 1881 records the general importance of the rendition of power from the British to the Maharaja in the following words: "Another circumstance that lends an interest more than the ordinary to the Census now under review is found in the rendition of Mysore to the Native rule, which took place on the 25th of March 1881; whence in this Census comes to be the final enumeration of the people after fifty years dating from the 19th of October 1831, during which the country was under British administration; while it no less serves as a record of what was the number and what the social condition of the subjects now handed over to His Highness, the Maharaja."

1881 Mysore Census was also delayed to coincide with the rendition of power to the King. The Final Census of Mysore took place on 17 February as against 1st January 1881 elsewhere in the entire country (page 4 of the Census Report).

The Officer in-Charge of the Census prior to Rendition, Sri C.Rangacharlu, became the Dewan of Mysore under the Raja after Rendition. This ensured continuity of the Census operations.

But the new Dewan of Mysore had made certain changes in the 1881 Census in departure from the 1871 Census. He was in charge of the Census operations in Mysore even before assuming charge as the Dewan. Mr. Gordon, the then Commissioner of Mysore had appointed him as Comptroller of Palace Accounts in 1868 and later he was promoted as Secretary to Government in Mysore. Of the changes he made to the Census of 1881, more important ones are noted as under:

(1) As against Five Categories of Religions in the 1871 Census, the Census of 1881 made Eight Categories: Hindus were Category I, Mussalmans were category II, Christian’s category III, Buddhists Category IV, Parsis Category V, Sikhs Category VI, Jews Category VII and Others were Category VIII (Please see Annexure 2 at the end of this chapter).
(2) In 1871 Census, Sikhs were shown as a Hindu caste under Kshatriya group. But the Dewan put it as a separate religion in the 1881 Census.
(3) In 1871 census, Buddhism was shown as a separate religion along with Jainism. The Dewan separated Buddhism from Jainism. He showed Buddhism as a separate religion in 1881 Census.
(4) But surprisingly, he merged Jainism with Hindu upper castes below Brahmins but above Kshatriyas. In 1871 Census Jains were treated as a separate religion.
(5) In 1871 Census, Lingayat was treated as a separate and independent religion on par with Jains and Buddhists. The New Dewan liquidated Lingayat as a religion and merged its sub-groups as castes in the Shudra Category of Hindus.
(6) For these important changes, nowhere in the Census Report any reason or explanation or justification was given!
(7) The biggest blow to Lingayats in the 1881 Census of Mysore was that not only Lingayats lost their status as a separate religion but also they were humiliated by their placement as a caste group under the Shudra class of Hinduism. Jains also lost their status as a separate religion but they still enjoyed the new placement as an upper caste above Kshatriyas but below Brahman’s.

Systematic Plan to Eliminate Lingayat as Religion

The Dewan from the very beginning of the Census operations eliminated Lingayat as a religion in a very systematic manner. For instance:

(a) In the Preliminary Instructions to Enumerators, clear instructions were given on how to ask questions and fill the correct answers relating to each and every religion in columns 6 and 7 of the questionnaire. But no such instruction was given in respect of Lingayat religion deliberately.
(b) Identically, separate Instructions for Tabulation of Religious Data were given on 8 May, 1881 by the New Dewan. (as on page 7 of the Report). These instructions also explained the procedure for each religion but Lingayat was again left out. This may be contrasted with the related Instructions given in 1871 Census for Lingayat religion only.
(c) In all other stages of the Census also, the Dewan totally avoided Lingayats while explaining in respect of all other religions, namely, Hindu, Muhammadan, Christian, Sikh, Brahmo, Jain, Buddhist, Jews and Parsis.
(d) Much against the 1871 Census, in 1881 Census both Jains and Lingayats were not treated as religions in the classification of religious data.
(e) Surprisingly, in the instructions for collection as well as tabulation of religious data Jainism was treated as a religion for all practical purposes. But NOT Lingayats. The Dewan made it a point to ignore Lingayats and avoid any explanation about merging them with Shudras deliberately.
(f) While there were only 10,760 Jains (0.25 per cent of the population), the Lingayats were 4,70,267, the second largest population group (11.23 per cent) after Vakkaligas (20.25 per cent) in the then State of Mysore. This was a negative point for the Dewan in his ill-intentioned venture to humiliate Lingayats.
(g) In the detailed Report of the 1881 Census one may see Table 35 (break up of population according to religion) and Table 39 (Differential growth of population according to religion) and explanation of the comparative loss of population according to religion (on page 40), Jain was treated as a separate religion inspite of it having been merged as a caste in Hinduism. Such action was justified by stating that since Jains were considered as a separate religion in the 1871 Census comparative tables were provided for it. But identical was the case of Lingayats also who were treated as a separate religion in the 1871 Census. Normally, one would expect that comparative details such as those of Jains may also be given for Lingayats also. They are totally missing as also any reason for those lapses.

Treating Jain as a religion practically in every respect but showing it as a higher caste only in the classification scheme, was perhaps a ploy, the late Dewan used to camouflage his real intentions before the public for denying Lingayats the status of a religion.

After completing all the Census Operations of 1881 but before writing the Report himself, the Dewan died in January, 1883. Based on the data tabulated by the deceased Dewan, Mr. B.L.Rice, the successor Secretary to Mysore Government, just wrote the Report. -

The facts mentioned by Mr.B.L.Rice in the first two paras on page 1 of the Census Report regarding the role and responsibility of the Dewan are very significant in respect of the Lingayat issue. It reads as follows:

"The task of writing the Report on the results of the Mysore Census of 1881 had been reserved for his own hand by the deceased Dewan, the late Mr. C. Rangacharlu, C.I.E. As coming from him it would undoubtedly have been invested with special interest as well as authority. But up to the time of his death in January 1883, no commencement, it would seem, had been made by him in committing to paper any of the views, such as it can hardly be questioned, his active mind must have formed regarding the various important problems which would arise out of the subject"..........” I had not previously been in any way connected with the Census, but at this late stage (middle of 1883) little time was left for the deliberation; due allowance, will therefore, it is hoped, be made for any marks of hasty or imperfect execution should such be found, which yet, I trust may not be the case".

The above cited quote of Mr. Rice implies that he perhaps noticed certain problems in the approach of the Dewan to the Census of 1881 compared to the Census of 1871. Lingayat issue is certainly one of those problems.

Certain statements of fact in the Report of the 1881 Census written by Mr. B.L. Rice openly contradict the decision to abolish Lingayat as a religion and to merge it as a cluster of castes in Hinduism. These contradictions are mentioned below.

(1) On page 65 of the Report it is stated: “Lingayat arose in 12th century. Its founder was Basava, the Prime Minister of Kalachuri King Bijjala of Kalyan, whose rule extended over northern parts of Mysore. Basava was an Aradhya Brahmana, but he refused to wear the Brahmanical thread, and rejected the authority of the Vedas and the Brahmans, together with the observances of caste, pilgrimage and penance" Vedas are the foundation of Hinduism. And Brahmans are the bedrock of that faith; Caste System sustains Hinduism perpetually. Along with caste come the theories of Karma and Punarjanma; Punarjanma siddhant in turn, undoubtedly brings in the elements of hell and heaven. All these are totally rejected by Lingayats. Then what else remains in Sanatan Hindu Dharma? In these circumstances, do the above cited facts justify merging Lingayat into Hinduism?

But the Dewan of Mysore, who was a devout Vaishnava Brahman, was obviously hurt by the staunch anti Brahmanical stance of Lingayatism. He did what all other subsequent Brahman Suprintendents of Mysore Census did, namely, cut the influence of Lingayats in any way possible. No better way than extinguishing Lingayat as a religion and humiliating them as a Shudra Caste group within Hinduism!

(2) Another more interesting point in the same Report (page 65) states: "Lingayat faith was the state religion of the Wodeyars of Mysore till 1610, and of the Nayaks of Bednur till 1763". To that list one may add Kings of Keladi, Royals of Punganur, Rulers of Kittur and the Ruler of Belavadi who also were Lingayats. Also, the brave queen of Keladi Chennamma who faced Aurangajeb's wrath by protecting Rajaram, the second son of Shivaji, Rani Chennamma of Kittur who fought against the British, Rani Mallamma of Belavadi who fought against Maratha army were Lingayats. It was the freedom and equality granted to women in Lingayat religion which made them brave!

If all these rulers were Lingayats, were the Wodeyar Kings of Mysore, Nayakas of Keladi, Kings of Coorg, and other Lingayat Kings and queens Shudras? If so, how did the Brahman priests preside over the coronation of these Shudras as kings, since the king must be a Kshatriya according to Hindu Shastras? Or did Lingayat religion change its nature after 1871 census within ten years?

(3) Mr. B.L.Rice in this Census Report has observed (on page 73 of the Report) in respect of Kannada literature that: "Down to about 1300 AD (Kannada) language was cultivated entirely by the Jains; from that period to A.D.1500 the Lingayits continued its use in literature, and thenceforth Brahmanas and other sects took part in its cultivation".

The above cited statement of Mr. Rice implies many things: (i) Lingayats have produced a large body of literature on par with that of Jains and Brahmans; (ii) that Lingayat religious literature in Kannada is also vast; (iii) If Lingayats in the 13th and 15th centuries were Shudras how did they create such large body of excellent literature since Shudra were not allowed access to education in Hindu society?

(4) After totalling the Lingayat population in the entire Mysore state at 1,137,558 (on page 66), there is the following observation: “But these figures perhaps understate their real numbers, as there has always been a confusion in the census notation in distinguishing between Lingayit as a caste and Lingayit as a sect of religious dissenters, under their various names Jangama, Lingadhari, Lingavanta, Sivachara etc…".

In this context, it may be appropriate to point out that instead of using the word “religion' the word 'sect' is used so that it fits well into the attempt to make it look like a sect of Hinduism.

Religious dissenters need NOT be a sect. It can also be a separate religion if it largely rejects the fundamental tenets of the religion they sprang from. For instance, Jesus, Christ founded Christianity out of Hebrew religion and it is not a sect of Jewish religion; Prophet Mohammed created Islam from the pagan nomadic religions of Arabia and religion of Jews and Islam is not a sect of Jewish faith or pagan Arabian religion. Such are also the cases of Lingayats, Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs who broke away from Hinduism. But the Brahman Pundits find it hard to digest these simple truths. And they are ever ready to undermine the new faith that emerges on the Indian soil. Consequently, Buddhism virtually disappeared from India. Jainism got reduced to the miniscule size. Sikhism is truncated largely to the Punjab. Lingayat is struggling hard to retain its original tenets against the onslaught of Vedic Hinduism.

(5) Another observation in the Mysore Census Report of 1881 relates to classifying Lingayats according to their occupations. On page 65 it is stated that: “Lingayits are placed at the head of the Argicultural class but they are also largely engaged as traders and form a very important feature of the population. Their divisions are indicated in the margins". The figures in the margins indicate that traders are also too numerous amongst Lingayats.

This observation creates a suspicion whether Lingayats were shown as Agriculturists and NOT as Traders deliberately just to avoid placing them under the Vyshya Category of Hindus instead of the downtrodden Shudra Category

(6) Absence of Justification: The total absence of any justification for abolishing Lingayat as a religion and treating it as a group of castes under Shudra Category of Hindus leaves scope for suspicion. This suspicion grows stronger when Jains were also taken out from the status of religion and merged with higher Castes of Hindus were treated as a religion during Preliminary Enumeration, during Tabulation and in the later presentation of the Report.

Further, the systematic exclusion of Lingayat at every stage from the beginning of the 1881 Census operations, as explained before, indicates a resolute determination to undermine the status of Lingayats in Society. This becomes more ominous when Lingayats are placed under the lowest of Hindu Categories, the Shudras. Occupationally, Mr.B.L. Rice was rather surprised to find that Lingayats, who were largely traders, were shown as agriculturists. It may be perhaps by design not to include them under a slightly higher Vyshya Category of Hindus.

On the one hand, it is possible to believe that some Shudra castes existing among Lingayats may perhaps have compelled the Dewan to treat Lingayats as Shudras in the 1881 Census.

On the other hand, Buddhism and Sikhism also have Shudras in good numbers amongst them. But both of them have been treated as separate religions. Why only Lingayat was merged with Hindu Shudra group of castes? Thus the declassification of Lingayats as a religion is not justified either logically or factually. There is no satisfactory answer. The untimely death of the Dewan makes it permanently unanswered as rightly stated by Mr.B.L.Rice in the Introductory Chapter of the Census Report.

(7) Other Probable Reasons: As indicated above, the 1881 Census coincided with the restoration of power to the Maharaja of Mysore. The main reason for the Maharaja of Mysore to lose power in October, 1831 was the Lingayats rebellion in Nagar and Shivamogga region When the Maharaja could not control Keladi Lingayat rebellion, the British had to step in under the 1799 Treaty of Srirangapatna. On this pretext, the British took back the power from the Maharaja (as recorded in the Report of Investigation into Nagar Rebellion, 1829 by the British). When the Maharaja got back his power, it was probably felt necessary to keep Lingayats under check. One of the means was to curtail their religious freedom and to undermine their social status by placing them under Shudra class of Hindus. The Census came very handy for that purpose!

The second reason probably is that Lingayats as a community have been staunch opponents and vocal critics of everything Brahmanical. Lingayats reject the Vedas, the primacy of Brahmans, Chaturvarna caste system, idol worship and temple culture, pilgrimages and penances. They also permit conversion of anyone to Lingayat religion, as mentioned in the Census Report itself. Neither Jains nor Buddhists nor Sikhs criticize Brahmans as badly as do the Lingayats. These facts had hurt him as a proud Brahman himself and his Brahman fraternity for a long time. Using his power in a Chanakyan style the Dewan did what he did: it was better to put down Lingayats socially by making them Shudras.

Thirdly, role of Lingayats in Mysore state was a volatile one. More than once Lingayats had opposed the administration of the Rajas of Mysore. First of all, as recorded in the 1881 Census, the Rajas of Mysore, being Polegars under the Vijayanagar empire, had embraced Lingayatism (the religion of their overlords) from 1399 AD to 1610 AD. But Raj Wodeyar embraced Vaishnavism in 1610 when he was recognized as a king by the Vijayanagar overlord Venkat II ruling from Chandragiri. Since then the fortunes of Lingayats began to fade.
Later in 1678 when Chikkadevaraya was ruling Mysore, Lingayat Mathadheeshas led an organized agitation against the imposition of excessive and exploitative taxes on the farmers. The King suppressed the rebellion known as "Jangam Kranti” by deception. He invited 487 Lingayat heads of Mutts in the guise of negotiating with them. Instead, he got all of them beheaded in Nanjanagud town and dumped their skulls in a well now known as 'sirobavi' (well of skulls). Thereafter, he let loose the reign of terror against the Lingayats most of whom escaped by emigrating to Nilgiris and other states. These facts suppressed for a long time were aptly recorded by Col. Mark Wilks's in his book - the History of Mysore. It was also reported in the Gazetteer of Mysore and Gazetteer of India.

The Nagar Rebellion of 1829 was the last organized movement against the Raja of Mysore. The leaders of the rebellion were Lingayats claiming to be the successors of Keladi Kingdom which was annexed by Hyder Ali in 1753 to Mysore.

Dewan Rangacharlu while serving the Maharaja of Mysore from 1868 to 1881 very well knew the history of the state and role of Lingayats in it. When the Maharaja got his power back and the Dewan was to ensure its continuance, it was but natural that Lingayats must be kept under check. For this purpose, Mr.Rangacharlu used 1881 Census of Mysore, as a tool to suppress Lingayats, who were the second largest population segment in Mysore Kingdom. He did it quietly and without ASSIGNING ANY REASON WHATSOEVER. The other Details of Census Report explained above bear testimony to the obvious bias of the Dewan against Lingayats. The same bias continued in all later Censuses which were headed by Brahman Superintendents of Census operations (for more details on this point, one may refer to V.K.Boratti's book Mysore Censuses and Lingayats, 2019, JLM). Consequently, Lingayat as a separate religion disappeared from the 1881 Census of Mysore State.

(3) 1891 Census of Mysore

Report of 1891 Census of Mysore records important developments in Lingayat community following the publication of 1881 Census Report in 1884.

Lingayat Community of Mysore got agitated that their religious freedom was abrogated in the 1881 Census. They felt humiliated at the fact that Lingayats were shown as Sudra castes among Hindus. They planned huge awareness campaign in the community to mobilize people for the protest against the Government. Their own newspaper - "the Star of Mysore” was established under the editorship of one Mr. Virasangappa. Funds were raised and Lingayats began protesting against the injustice done to them in the 1881 Census.

As soon as the preparations began for the conduct of next census in 1891 the Lingayat agitation grew too formidable for the Government to resist. The Census Report of 1891 aptly described it in the following words: “In the graduated scale of the caste system, Lingayats used to be classed up to 1881 among the Sudra.* This was the cause of much irritation to them. And subsequent to the Census of 1881, there was much discontent smouldering in their breasts. As soon therefore as the instructions for the enumeration of 1891 census were issued, a strong agitation was started, the head centre of which was in Mysore city, in which some of the caste are employed in the private services of His Highness the Maharaja of Mysore, and radiated into the neighbouring provinces of Bellary, Dharwar &c......... Lingayat mutts also entered into the movement with much zest, and threatened with excommunication any and every person who did not describe himself in the manner prescribed in a printed manifesto promulgated for the purpose.......... And they were not slow in sending their petitions and telegrams to all the authorities likely to have a voice in the settlement of the question. They also interviewed His Highness the Maharaja, and begged that their registration as Virasaiva Brahmins may be directed.

At one time the work of the census enumeration threatened to come to a dead stop, as Lingayats all over the Province - the element is a very ramified one, — refused to be censused altogether, except in their own way. The fear of prosecution under the Census Act had no impact on them; the utmost legal penalty thereby imposed did not weigh against the dire consequences of congregational ban and the anathema of their church. And the personal influence of the district and other officers did not succeed, in moving them from their position" (pp 238-239 of Part-I of 1891 Census Report).

Order of the Government

Considering the seriousness of the issue, His Highness the Maharaja's Government issued an order acceding to the demands of the Lingayats. A special order in the form of Circular No. 20 dated 5th January 1891 directed all Deputy Commissioners: "(1) not to use the epithet (Shudra) to any people or individual”. Para 5 of that Circular ordered that "5. The word Sudra should be scored out in the Rules and Instructions, and in the Specimen Schedule prefixed to the Enumerators' Book."

Most importantly, para 3 of that Circular in respect of Lingayats issued instructions to the effect that: “3. In enumerating Lingayats, they should be entered by that name both in the Creed and Caste in column 3 and 4. But in column 5 the sub-division of the caste should be clearly entered as Sada, Banajiga, Nonaba, Kori Setti, &c &c. The enumerator should ask the enumerated Lingayat whether the latter is or not a member of that sub-sect or sub-caste to which he may be known to belong, should be distinctly stated in column 5".

1891 Census Reports describes the above cited fact in these words: “The crisis was removed by His Highness the Maharaja's Government passing orders to the effect that the Lingayats should not be classed as Sudra any more than other non-Brahmans, but should be separately designated by the own name, and while they were at liberty to call themselves Virashaiva Brahmanas, they should specify the name of the particular and well-known sub-division to which each censused unit belonged. In the spirit of this rule, each caste and subcaste was allotted its appropriate niche in the caste edifice. As the name Sudra seemed to be offensive to many of sects hitherto tabulated under that category, it was altogether eliminated from the census literature". (pp. 238-239 of Part-I of the Report of 1891 Census given as Annexure 3 at the end of this chapter).

Effects of the Government Order

In compliance to the above cited order of the Government, the 1891 Census authorities stopped the usual classification of castes under Bramhana, Kshatriya, Vyshya and Shudra categories.

Secondly, instead of presenting census data of each caste under age-old Chaturvarna order, an Index of Castes was prepared alphabetically.

Thirdly, once the odium of Sudra was removed by the Government in the Census Operations of 1891, more and more people came forward to identify themselves as Lingayats. It may be noted that in the 1871 Census when Lingayat was a separate religion, 22 sub-groups of Lingayats were identified. This number had come down to just six in the 1881 Census when Lingayat was branded as a Sudra caste group. With the removal of Sudra label the number of Lingayat sub-groups jumped to 38 in the 1991 Census. At the present time there are 98 sub-groups within the Lingayat community.

The 38 Sub-groups of Lingayats included in the 1891 Index of Castes are: Aradhya, Ayya, Badagalava, Banajiga, Bannadava, Basale, Bavane, GadaLingayat, Gaddigeyava, Ganadhisya, Gaudamane, Gauliga, Gurusthala, Hirehasube, Jangama, Jotibanajiga, Kannadiga, Kanthapawade, Kaikola, Korisetti, Lingayat, Malava, Melpawade, Nirumelinana, Nonaba, Panchacharadgauda, Petemane, Sada, Sajjana, Shatsthala, Silvanta Sthaladava, Tamiljangama, Tammadi, Togasetti, Turukanebanajiga, Vader and Virasaiva. This indicates the social sensitivity attached to the Chaturvarna categories of Hindu Castes. People of all lower castes desire to rise to the level of Bramhans but nobody or no other caste would like to be called Sudra for the reasons too obvious to explain.

Fourthly, The Order of Mysore Government dated 5th January, 1891 in respect of Lingayat community clearly instructed the Census enumerators: “In enumerating Lingayats, they should be entered by that name both in the Creed and Caste columns 3 and 4". This instruction, only in case of Lingayats, to fill in column 3 intended for religion, as Lingayat (instead of as Hindu) made it clear that the Government considered Lingayat as a separate religion in itself. Second point was to fill in column 4 (for caste) as Lingayat, (instead of the real name of the Lingayat caste), implied that the Government wanted to call Lingayat as a caste also. Only column 5 (intended for sub-caste) would reveal the specific name of the caste to which the censused Lingayat family belonged.

Thus it is clear that the first Lingayat agitation of 1880s did achieve its much wanted success, though a decade later, by getting Lingayats again treated as a separate religious community and not as a part of Hinduism.

Fifthly, it is strange that the Government gave permission to Lingayats to call themselves "Virashaiva Bramhans". But much later they came to regret that label, as it was neither historically correct nor good for the Lingayats as a separate religion. On this point, the Census Report of 1891 states that: “It is further noteworthy that as soon as the clamour of Lingayats was set at rest, some of their leaders seem to have become ashamed of their own previous vehemence, while the movement seemed to have lost the spring imparted by sincerity. Their feelings were brought to the test when the question of permitting the wonted periodical procession of their religious flagstaff, the Nandi dhwaja, came on for consideration by the Police Department. The Lingayats' application for license was opposed by other castes on the ground that since they had become Bramhans and have ceased to belong to right hand faction, they had no right to parade the Nandi-dhwaja. The Lingayats showed themselves glad to regain their status quo ante" (page 239 of the Report).

During the agitation there was a stiff opposition from the saner elements among the Lingayats against the demand for the status of Bramhans. On this point, the 1891 Census Report states: “It is true that the more aged and thoughtful of the community viewed with dislike and suspicion an agitation which aimed not only at transforming them, if only on paper, into equivocal Bramhans, but which would also destroy their recognized independence among the various religious Hindu communities in the land. These far-reaching people exclaimed with charming naivete that it was not honourable to them to descend from one set of parents and to own another. But the voice of such descent was too feeble to be audible in the prevailing outcry" (page 239 Part-I of the Report).

Lingayats in their overenthusiasm to re-achieve their lost independence of religion and to overcome the disability and ignominy of being labelled as Sudras, also additionally demanded to be considered as "Virashaiva Brahmins" which folly they soon realized after getting it. Luckily, they gave it up themselves. Having openly rejected Vedas and Bramhans, Lingayats could not have demanded the status as Virashaiva Brahmans! That was the handiwork of a few misguided and disgruntled Aradhya pundits (such as P.R.Karibasavashastri and Virasangappa).

Such attempts simply imply that Lingayats were fed up of the dominance and unsubstantiated sense of superiority of Brahmans. They wanted to show to Brahmans that they were not inferior to them.

Equally important in the Report of the 1891 Census are the observations about the features of Lingayat religion. These are quoted hereunder:

"As a religious movement, the original conception of Lingayatism was anti-Brahmanical."

"It is actively proselytizing, and throws its mantle on all castes, although the differentiating social barriers are not altogether thereby levelled”.

"The most current account of it traces it to a renegade Brahman, who out of revenge for excommunication started the new cult in subversion of the Brahmanical Theogony and caste supremacy".

"As a community, the Lingayats are intelligent, sober, industrious, thrifty and clannish”.

"They have brought some department of Kannada literature to a high degree of culture, and as tradesmen their place is in the van of Hindu society".

"As a race, some of their divisions are unmistakably Aryan in descent, their women being as a rule, object lessons in female loveliness and grace".

"To them as a body also belongs the credit of maintaining the strictest sobriety and non-alcoholism".

“But its independence seems to have been short-lived; for, while crowning Siva as the Supreme deity, and subordinating the inferior gods to Basava, Lingayatism closely hugs the Bramhanical system of exclusivism, rituals and strictness of diet." (From page 238, Part-I of the Census Report of 1891)

The same Report on page 239, by citing the observations of Sir C. Lyall highlights how the influence of Hinduism is destroying the other native religions like the Lingayatism: “The first of these modes is the gradual Brahmanizing of the aboriginal non Aryan or casteless tribes. The clans and races which inhabit the hill tracts, the outlying uplands, and the un-cleared jungle districts of India are melting into Hinduism all over India by a process much more rapid and effective than individual conversions. Among all these aboriginal or non-Aryan communities, a continued social change is going on; they alter their modes of life to suit the improved conditions of existence; their languages decay and they gradually go over to the dominant Aryan rituals. They pass into Brahmanists by a natural upward transition, which leads them to adopt the religion of the castes immediately above them in the social scale of composite population among which they settle down. And we may reasonably guess that this process has been working for centuries; though it is likely to have been much more rapid than ever under the British rule. The ethnical frontier described in the Annals of the Rural Bengal is an over-breaking shore of primitive beliefs which tumble constantly into the ocean of Bramhanism”. This quote reflects the true picture of the impact of Hinduism on the Lingayat community like its impact on other non-Hindu Communities in India so far.

The organized agitation of Lingayats in the 1880s succeeded in restoring status quo ante to Lingayat as a separate religion as it was before the Census of 1881. The ghost of late Mr. C.Rangacharlu which was haunting Lingayats for ten years was thus exorcised by His Highness the Maharaja of Mysore.

These decisions of the Government and the actions of Lingayats as well facts and the situation must be taken note of whenever any decision has to be made on the question whether Lingayats are a separate and different religion or not.

(4) 1901 Census of Mysore

The census of 1901 continued the trend set by the 1891 Census. It identified Hindu, Jain, Sikh, Buddhist, Musalman, Christian, Parsi, Jew, Brahmo, Atheist and Animists religions. It also mentioned the 1891 Index of Castes but added some new ones returned in this Census. It also gave comprehensive information on Tattoing, Widowhood, and a huge list of caste specific sample of names of males and females.

In the 1891 Census the word Virashaiva was inserted for the first time as a sub-group in Lingayat religion. It was the last entry in the list of Lingayat sub groups. That was a way of pacifying vociferous arguments of some disgruntled Aradhyas of Mysore.

1901 Mysore Census incorporated a detailed write up on the Lingayat-Virasaiva divisions among Lingayats. Through this write up, for the first time, the Virashaiva vs Lingayat issue figured in the 1901 Census Report in a big way. This was the confusion created by the Aradhya leaders of Lingayat agitation of Mysore who were keen on getting the Virashaiva Bramhan tag to themselves. To this day the same confusion confounds the Lingayats and haunts its claim to be a separate religion. Its validity is examined in later chapters. (Glossary of Castes in the 1901 Census Report Part-II pp.529 to 535 is given as Annexure 4 at the end of this chapter).

(5) Madras Census of 1871

Madras state then comprised of not only the present Tamilnadu but also entire Andhra Pradesh of today, parts of the present day Telangana and some districts of Kerala. Bellary, Dakshin Kannada, and Udupi districts and Kollegal taluk of Mysore district were also then in Madras state. There are a large number Lingayats living in these regions.

Madras census of 1871 takes a very different approach towards Lingayats. Before discussing the way Lingayats are treated in the Madras census, it may be relevant to note certain observations in that Report about Lingayat and its founder Basavanna. They help us to understand the subject much better. These observations are presented below:

i. “The chief teachings of Basava are that there is but one God, that all men are equal and holy in proportion as they are temples of God. That caste distinctions are inventions of Brahmanas and consequently, unworthy of acceptance. That woman should be respected and treated as the possessors of immortal soul, permitted to teach the creed as well as men; while any neglect or incivility to a woman would be an insult to the God whose image she wears and with whom she is one." (page 98 of the Report).

ii. "The intolerance of the Brahmanical priesthood had caused a revulsion amongst Vaishnavites in Bengal just as it had done in Western India some centuries before when Lingayat sect arose in opposition to the institution of caste which enslaved people" (page 100 of the Report).

iii. "The revolt of the disciples of Basava and Chaitanya against the hard and cruel institution of caste and religious systems is significant indication that the social and religious systems of Brahmans never found universal acceptance in the hearts of the people. The Brahmanas did their best to root out Buddhism from the land and except in a few districts they succeeded. Their chief reformers Sankar Achary, Ramanuja and Madhvachari attempted to engraft on their old stock theology doctrines but these reformers never attempted to meddle with the caste system which exalted their own order at the expense of many. It was left to Basava and Chaitanya as reformers of Siva and Vishnu worship to declare the equality of man in the sight of the Supreme; to enunciate the noble doctrine that the soul of the Pariah outcaste is as dear to the Supreme One as that of the twice-born teacher of Vedas; that in his sight all men are temples of the living God. For a time these new ideas—the germs of a sublime faith—flourished, they have never completely died out, but they have been overlaid with the rank weeds and noxious vegetation of later heresies and their free growth has been stifled." (page 102 of the Report).

These vital differences between Lingayats and Hindus were better known in Madras state than in Mysore state. These matters were thoroughly studied by the foreign scholars like Pietro Della Velle of Portugal (16th century), Abbe Dubois of France (in early 1800), Fransis Buchanan of England (in early 1800), Reverend Wurth, H.H.Wilson, Ferdinand Kittel, Mogling, Wurth of Switzerland (since 1830s). From 1840s the British officers and scholars such as P.C.Brown (a judge), C.R.R. Carr (Collector of Bellary), Enthoven (I.C.S officer) had done the painstaking studies comparing Lingayatism to Hinduism. Those scholars had published many well-researched books which were read with great interest and widely circulated in Madras province. Such literature had created a very different and proper understanding of Lingayat as a progressive and universal faith. Consequently, Madras Censuses were much closer to the factual truth about Lingayats than all census reports of Mysore. For the same reasons, the first ever Census of Mysore State done in 1871 by the British officers (A.W.C. Lindsay) of the Madras Administration had treated Lingayat as a separate religion (as discussed before). In Madras state there were no local prejudices against Lingayats unlike those in the Mysore state.

Madras Census of 1871 listed all castes within Hinduism under three categories, namely,

i. Shaivites
ii. Viashnavaites and
iii. Lingayats

This arrangement presumes that all Hindus belong either to Vaishnavite sect or Shaivite sect. Siva and Vishnu are two of the three Hindu Gods (trinity: creator, preserver and destroyer). While Brahma, the Creator is forgotten the destroyer (Siva) and the Preserver (Vishnu) are highly feared and worshipped. Brahma is not worshipped by Hindus. There are only one or two Brahma temples (e.g.Pushkar) in India as against lakhs of temples of Siva or Vishnu.

As described in the paras quoted above, Madras Census puts Lingayats on a higher pedestal than Hindus since Lingayats do not believe in Brahmin priest-craft, temple culture and idol worship; that Lingayat worship only one god unlike Hindus worshipping crores of gods; that Lingayats reject Vedas and Caste system which are foundations of Hinduism; that Lingayat treat all men and women as equal whereas Hinduism believes in hierarchy and basic inequality among human beings. Thus in Madras census, Lingayatism is a very different order compared to Hinduism.

Madras census takes for granted that among Lingayats also there are castes. And the Census would find out how many in different castes are there among Lingayats. Except this common feature, it does not treat Lingayats as Hindus.

Apparantly, Madras Census 1871 seems to treat Lingayatism as a sect in Hinduism just as Saivites and Vaishnavites, Jains and Buddhists. Perhaps the distinction between sect and religion was not very clear then. Further, most foreigners are confused over the clear definition of Hinduism. They mix geographical aspect with the Vedic religious aspect while referring to Hinduism. Besides, the British officers were under the wrong impression that Lingayatism was a sect in Hinduism just like Protestantism within Christianity. Many scholars like P.C. Brown have indeed compared Protestantism to Lingayatism. But the traits of Lingayatism they describe indicate the features of a religion rather than a sect since they reject the main principles of Hinduism altogether.

In Madras census all the censused families were asked to say whether they are Shaivites, Vaishnavites or Lingayats. Their responses were aggregated caste-wise for each village, taluka, district and the state. Since all castes were to be listed under these three categories the Caste and Religion Data occupied huge space as there were hundreds of castes - a sample of the tabulated information from the Madras Presidency Census of 1871 is given as Annexure 5 at the end of this chapter.

The Hindu Shaivite Category did NOT include Lingayats and Lingayat did not include Hindu Shaivites as a part of it. Lingayats were considered as an exclusive and separate category and not as a part of mainstream Hinduism. If not, there was no reason to create a third item of information for Lingayats. While there are castes among Lingayats, they do not practice segregation, untouchability, non-commensality which are very common among Hindus. Lingayats reject Vedas and Brahmans, idol worship and inequality of women, concepts of pollution and purification. They also reject polytheism, hell and heaven, Karma and re-birth. These go against the basic tenets of Hinduism. Therefore Lingayatism is not a sect but a religion in itself.


The foregoing discussion of the Censuses of Mysore from 1871 to 1901 and Madras Census of 1871 may be summed up as follows:

(1) In the first ever census of Mysore state in 1871 Lingayats were not considered as a part of Chaturvarna Hindus (within A,B,C,D groups). They were classed separately with Jains and Buddhists outside the Chaturvarna system (as E category). But to separate all Indic religions from religions of foreign origin, Jains, Buddhists and Lingayats were put under larger Hindu Category more as a geographic term rather than as a homogeneous religious category.

(2) In the 1881 Census of Mysore, without a single word of explanation, Lingayats were merged within Shudra class of lowest castes of Hindus and Jains were merged as an upper caste among Hindus. But Sikhs who were a caste in 1871 and Buddhists who were merged with Jains as a religion were separated in 1881 and treated as separate religions outside Hinduism.

(3) In the 1891 Census of Mysore, compelled by the groundswell of opposition of Lingayat community, the Maharaja of Mysore by an order dated 5th January, 1891, removed the whole category of Shudra from the Census Vocabulary. Thus Lingayats were no longer considered as Shudras.

(4) The same order of January 5, 1891 also directed Census Enumerators to record all Lingayats as Lingayat in Religion and Lingayat in Caste and note their sub-caste. Jains were also shown as a separate religion. The injustice done to Lingayats and Jains was largely undone by the order of the maharaja in the 1891. But in the final report, however, this Census while listing nine religions (Musalman, Christian, Parsi, and Jew as foreign religions, and Hindu, Jain, Sikh, Buddhist, Brahmo, and Atheist as Indian religions) surprisingly, did not treat Lingayat as a religion inspite of the orders of the Mysore Government to treat Lingayats as a separate religion. This shows the bias of the Census Superintendents of Mysore state. Incidentally, all superintendents of census of Mysore after 1881 were Brahmins! (Narasimhaiyyengar in 1891, T. Anand Rao in 1901, V.R.Tyagaraj Aiyar in 1911 and 1921 and Masti Venkatesh Ayyangar in 1931).

(5) The 1901 Census of Mysore, largely, continued the trends of 1891 Census. It however, added Animism as another religion to the nine religions already listed in 1891 Census. But Lingayat was left out although the 1891 order of Mysore Government to treat Lingayat as a religion was still in effect. It simply showed Lingayats as a separate group of castes because after 1891 census, classifying castes on the basis of chaturvarna system was abandoned. The same position continued till 1931 after which date the Caste census was stopped all together.

The 1901 Census deliberately included a highly questionable write up on the history and principles of "Virasaiva-Lingayats” in the Glossary of Castes after four decades of Census history.

Secondly, for the first time word Virasaiva was prefixed to Lingayat which shows a deliberate distortion. Fortunately, by quoting Sir.C.Llyall, this Census Report brings home the negative impact of Hinduism on other religions including Lingayat.

(6) The description of Lingayat in the report of the Mysore Census of 1901 is exactly opposite of the description of Lingayat religion in the Census Report of Madras in 1871.It implies how the true nature of Lingayat religion was distorted by the Virasaiva scholars of Mysore (notably P. R. Karibasavashastri and Virasangappa).

(7) The same persons were responsible for totally reversing the basic principles of Basavanna's Lingayat in 1891 census. These scholars misused their clout with the Maharaja and got themselves recognized as "Viramaheshvar Brahmins”.

(8) Although the Maharaja ordered the restoration of Lingayat as a separate religion, it was not carried through in the Report of the Census of 1891 by the Brahman officers in charge of the Census operations. But they did not fail to include a new group called Virasaiva in the list of Lingayat sub-groups. Similarly, in the next census report of 1901 the Brahman Officers in charge of Census of Mysore deliberately included a highly questionable note of P.R.Karibasavashastri in the glossary of castes which totally distorted the teaching of Basavanna and the Sharanas. On this point the observations of R.E.Enthoven in his article 'Lingayats' in the Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics are worthy of note:

"In dismissing the question of the origin of the Lingayat history, it seemed desirable to give an instance of the claims advanced by learned members of the community for greater antiquity for their religion than historical evidence would afford it. Mr. Karibasavashastri, professor of Sanskrit and Kanarese in the State College of Mysore contends that the Saiva sects of Hindus have always divided into two groups, one comprising the wearers of the Linga, and other those who do not wear it. The former he designates as Virasaiva and declares that Virasaiva consists of Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaisya and Sudra, the four fold divisions of Manu. Quoting from the 17th century Parameshvaragama, he declares that the Virasaiva Brahmans are also known as Shuddha Virasaiva, Virsaiva Kings as Marga Virasaiva, Virasaiva Vaisyas as Mishra Virasaiva and Virasaiva Shudra as Anteve Virasaiva........ The importance of this summary of his views lies in the fact that it is completely typical of the claims that many members of Lingayat community have recently commenced to advance to be included, in a sense, within the fold of orthodox Hinduism with a mistaken notion of thereby improving their social standing. They endeavour to divide themselves into Manu's fourfold scheme of Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaisya, and Shudra, regardless of the fact that theirs is in origin a non-caste religion and that Manu's scheme, which can only with great inaccuracy be applied to the more orthodox Hindu castes, is totally unsuited to Lingayats. A sign of this movement towards Brahmanic Hinduism among Lingayats is to be found in the organized attempt made by certain Lingayats at recent censuses to enter themselves as Virasaiva Brahmans" (1926,pp. 71-72).

(9) The census treatment of information on religions and castes in the seven censuses from 1871 to 1931 is a problematic one. From the treatment of Lingayats, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs in the first four Censuses of 1871, 1881, 1891 and 1901 one may even say that the census information relating to castes and religions was deliberately manipulated to suit the interests of the ruling class and the personal whims of census authorities. In 1871 Census Jains and Lingayats were shown as separate religions outside the Hindu Varnashrama Dharma and Sikhs were shown as a caste within Kshatriya category of Hindus. In 1881 Census, Jains and Lingayats were made castes among Hindus and Sikhs and Buddhists were shown as a separate religion outside Hindu fold. In 1891 Census, Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs were shown as separate religions. Lingayat was also ordered to be shown as a religion but how it was not shown as such is still a mystery. 1901 Census continued the same trend of 1891 Census. In spite of the Government Orders still being in force Lingayat was NOT treated as a religion. Does it NOT show a negative bias of Census Authorities of Mysore state from 1881 to 1931 against Lingayats?

In spite of all these confusing facts, Sikhs became a Minority Religion in 1963 even before the enactment of NCM Act of 1992. Buddhists were declared as religious minorities in 1993 and Jains in 2014. Obviously, Lingayats are hurt and agitating.

(10) The 1871 Census of Madras adds another dimension to the confusion. It claims that all Hindu Castes can be grouped only under four categories, namely, Saivites, Vaishnavite, Lingayats and Others. In this classification the most interesting point to be noted is that Lingayats are NOT treated as part of Saivites or Hindu Saivism. This is the true and factually correct position.

(11) Although the Madras Census of 1871 describes Lingayat as antithetical to Vedic religion, it still considers Lingayats, Jains, Buddhist as sects of Hinduism. It indicates the confusion over the clear definition of Hinduism: it is used as a geographic term to refer to all religions of Indian origin as well as a Vedic or Sanatan religion. Now the separation of Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs paves the way for the consideration of Lingayats also on the same footing

(12) The most common error of judgement of most people is the syllogismic assumption that the Lingayats worship Siva, and Siva is a God of Hindus, and therefore, Lingayats are Hindus. The very concept of Siva for Lingayats is totally different from that of Hindu Siva. Lingayats worship only one God, Siva. They do not worship any other god or goddess nor do they recognize the Siva pantheon comprising of his wives, sons and disciples like Nandi, Bhringi, Vir, etc. Lingayat Siva is formless, infinite, and invisible. Consequently, the Hindu Siva described in Siva puranas (such as Siva Purana, Linga Puran, Skand Purana, Vayu Purana, Devi Purana) is totally rejected by Lingayats since they treat all these and other puranas as “a discourse of scoundrels.” There is nothing like Kailas and Naraka, the heaven or hell; there is no punarjanma or rebirth. Lingayats do not accept Hindu Trinity. Siva is all three in one: the creator, preserver and destroyer. They reject the Vedas and their authority as ultimate truth. Lingayats do not worship idols in the temples. They reject Brabmans’ primacy and authority. There is no need for a Priest as a mediator between God and Man as god lives in each person. All Siva bhaktas are equal since there is no caste among Lingayats; and all Lingayat women are equal to men: women also wear Ishtalinga, they do all Pujas, there is no menstrual pollution, widows remarry, child marriage generally is not allowed women can adopt children in their own right

All these facts need to be taken into account while examining the status of Lingayat as a separate religion.

1. Report of the Census of Mysore, 1871,A.W.C. Lindsay, (1873) Government of Mysore, Bangalore
2. Report of the Census of Mysore, 1881, B.L.Rice, (1884), Government of Mysore, Bangalore.
3. Report of the Census of Mysore, 1891, V.N. Narasrnmiyengar, Government of Mysore, Bangalore.
4. Report of the Census of Mysore, 1901, T. Anand Rao, Government of Mysore, Bangalore.
5. Report of the Census of Madras State, 1871, C.W. Cornish, Government of Madras, Madras.
6. Boratti V.K. Mysore Census Reports and Lingayats, 2020, JLM, Bangalore. 46 Lingayatas an Independent Religion (Volume-I)

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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