Lingayat rally in Karnataka: A deliberate attempt to whip up frenzy, a motivated effort to twist history

Religious leaders at Lingayat rally
in Karnataka on July 20
By Deepak Parvatiyar*
It is very unusual of me to get into religious matters. I always try to keep myself away from matters of faith and religion for the simple reason that I respect one's faith and religious beliefs. But this post is quite interesting, and is more political than about religion and faith... So equally interesting is the presence of opportunist politicians in the melee.
I can say that a deliberate attempt is being made to whip up frenzy and this is very dangerous. I read the statements made by the so called Lingayat leaders with great interest and can only laugh at their claims. The way they are twisting their own history is nothing but motivated. And there is no insinuation.
Consider their arguments to prove that they are not Hindus – that they are the followers of Basavanna's Vachan; that the Vaidic religion is polytheistic and that Hindus have 33 crore gods and goddesses while Lingayats are monotheists... so on. They compare their religion with Buddhism too...!
I feel quite disappointed with the way these so-called dharma gurus with obvious political leanings are not just twisting history, but in the process publicly displaying their own ignorance even. Let me begin with Basavanaa. He belonged to Kamme Brahmin community. Kamme Brahmins are also called Aradhyas and Smartha Brahmins. They are half Brahmins and half Veerashaivas.
He was a Kannada poet in the Shiva-focussed Bhakti movement. As a leader, he developed and inspired a new devotional movement named Virashaivas, or "ardent, heroic worshipers of Shiva". This movement shared its roots in the ongoing Tamil Bhakti movement, particularly the Shaiva Nayanars traditions, over the 7th to 11th century.
However, Basava championed devotional worship that rejected temple worship and rituals led by Brahmins, and replaced it with personalized direct worship of Shiva through practices such as individually worn icons and symbols like a small linga.
Lingayat rally: 50,000 strong 
Buddha in contrast was not even familiar with the dominant religious teachings of his time until he left on his religious quest, which is said to have been motivated by existential concern for the human condition. In the Pali Canon, the Buddha uses many Brahmanical devices. For example, in Samyutta Nikaya, Majjhima Nikaya and Vinaya of the Pali Canon, the Buddha praises the Agnihotra as the foremost sacrifice and the Gayatri mantra as the foremost meter: aggihuttamukhā yaññā sāvittī chandaso mukham.
However, Buddha's teachings deny the authority of the Vedas and the concepts of Brahman-Atman. Consequently Buddhism is generally classified as a nāstika school (heterodox, literally "It is not so") in contrast to the six orthodox schools of Hinduism.
Yet, the philosophy of Advait Vedanta from one of the oldest Upanishads and also Shrimadbhavad Gita did influence Buddhism and Jainism, and Hindus do consider Buddha as an avatar of Vishnu. Yet, unlike Buddha, Basavanna was a product of the Tamil Bhakti movement and could well be called a philosopher/reformer than the propagator of an altogether different religion.
Now coming to the other claim that Vaidic religion is polytheistic and that Hindus have 33 crore gods and goddesses: This is again incorrect based on the wrong interpretation of the Sanskrit word Koti. Koti means crore and it also means 'type'. Actually there are 33 types of Hindu gods.
Of them:
  • 12 types are: आदित्य , धाता, मित, आर्यमा, शक्रा, वरुण, अँशभाग, विवास्वान, पूष, सविता, तवास्था, और विष्णु; 
  • 8 types are: वासु:, धरध्रुव, सोम, अह, अनिल, अनल, प्रत्युष और प्रभाष; 
  • 11 types are: रुद्र: ,हरबहुरुप, त्रयँबक, अपराजिता, बृषाकापि, शँभू, कपार्दी, रेवात, मृगव्याध, शर्वा, और कपाली; and 
  • 2 types are: अश्विनी,कुमार. 
So 12+8+11+2 = 33