Q: How important is the Lingayat Community? Why are they trying to get out of the Hindu fold claiming they are not Hindus? Is it a ploy to get minority rights or something else? Is it a move against the BJP and the RSS?
A: There are some people among the Lingayats who want their community to be recognized as a minority community that stands apart from the Hindu community. It is a reformist movement started by Basavanna, whom they call Lord Basavanna. The Lingayats are an inclusive community. Basavanna wanted a community that was not divided on caste lines and had values that are very close to the biblical values. We can directly worship God. You don’t require rituals. Everybody can worship God through work. He worked for an egalitarian society where all sit together as equals and God communicates to all, not just to a few. After all, God is one. He can reveal Himself to one and all. They started their struggle first to keep their identity and secondly to gain recognition as a minority community. They already have got certain special benefits from the government. They are the People who have suffered a lot due to the degrading, dehumanizing caste system, and so want to get rid of it. We see them everywhere, even in the Church. The Identity of a Lingayat is not prescribed; it is acquired through reflection, thought and prayer. The Lingayat movement is a great and noble movement. It is a spiritual movement with humanist passion. I salute them. They are wonderful people.
Bp Henry D’Souza