In politics, timing is everything. Months ahead of the Karnataka state elections, political parties are divided on whether the powerful Lingayats, who constitute 17% of the state’s population should be given the status of a minority religion. In the hope of winning favours, the ruling Congress government in the state has said yes while others in the opposition are asking, ‘But aren’t they Hindus?’
The answer is complex and to understand it you have to trace the history of the Lingayats. It all started with Basava a visionary reformer who didn’t just question orthodoxy but also set in place a creed of personal faith that championed equality and openness , long before it became fashionable to, anywhere in the world. He did this over 850 years ago.
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