Lingayatism is a distinct Shaivite religious tradition in India. Its worship is centered on Hindu god Shiva as the
universal god in the iconographic form of Ishtalinga. The adherents of this faith are known as Lingayats.
Lingayatism was founded by the 12th-century philosopher and statesman Basava and spread by his followers, called Sharanas.
Lingayatism emphasizes qualified monism and bhakti (loving devotion) to Shiva, with philosophical foundations similar to
those of the 11th–12th-century South Indian philosopher Ramanuja
The terms Lingayatism and Veerashaivism have been used synonymously, and Lingayats also referred to as Veerashaivas.
Lingayatism is considered a Hindu sect, but some Lingayats have sought legal recognition as a religion distinct
Lingayatism shares beliefs with Indian religions, such as about reincarnation, samsara and karma
Contemporary Lingayatism is influential in South India, especially in the state of Karnataka.
Today, Lingayats, along with Shaiva Siddhanta followers, Tirunelveli Saiva Pillai, Nadar, Naths, Pashupaths of Nepal,
Kapalikas and others constitute the Shaiva population
The Lingayat iṣṭaliṅga is an oval-shaped emblem symbolising Parashiva, the absolute reality, and is worn on the body by a cord hung around the neck.
Basava is credited with founding Lingayatism and its secular practices.
He was a 12th-century Hindu philosopher, statesman, Kannada poet in the Shiva-focussed Bhakti movement
and a social reformer during the reign of the Kalachuri-dynasty king Bijjala I in Karnataka, India
Basavanna spread social awareness through his poetry, popularly known as Vachanaas. Basavanna rejected gender or social
discrimination, as well as some extant practices such as the wearing of sacred thread, and replaced this with the ritual
of wearing Ishtalinga necklace, with an image of the Shiva Liṅga
Lingayat scholars thrived in northern Karnataka during the centuries of rule by Vijayanagara Empire.
The Lingayats likely were a part of the reason why Vijayanagara succeeded in territorial expansion and in withstanding
the Deccan Sultanate wars. The Lingayat text Sunya sampadane grew out of the scholarly discussions in a Anubhava Mantap,
and according to Bill Aitken, these were "compiled at the Vijayanagara court during the reign of Praudha Deva Raya
Similarly, the scripture of Lingayatism Basava Purana was completed in 1369 during the reign of Vijayanagara ruler Bukka
Raya I Lingayat (Veerashaiva) thinkers rejected the custodial hold of Brahmins over the Vedas and the shastras, but they
did not outright reject the Vedic knowledge.
The 13th-century Telugu Virashaiva poet Palkuriki Somanatha, author of Basava Purana – a scripture of Veerashaivas, for
example asserted, "Virashaivism fully conformed to the Vedas and the shastras
Lingayatism teaches a path to an individual's spiritual progress is viewed, and describes it as a six-stage
Satsthalasiddhanta. This concept progressively evolves the individual starting with the phase of a devotee,
Shunya in a series of Kannada language texts is equated with the Virashaiva concept of the Supreme. In particular, the
Shunya Sampadane texts present the ideas of Allama Prabhuin a form of dialogue, where shunya is that void and distinctions
which a spiritual journey seeks to fill and eliminate. It is the described as state of union of one's soul with the
infinite Shiva, the state of blissful moksha.
This Lingayat concept is similar to shunya Brahma concept found in certain texts of Vaishnavism, particularly in Odiya,
such as the poetic Panchasakhas.
It explains the Nirguna Brahman idea of Vedanta, that is the eternal unchanging metaphysical reality as "personified void".
However, both in Lingayatism and various flavors of Vaishnavism such as Mahima Dharma, the idea of Shunya is closer to the Hindu concept of metaphysical Brahman, rather than to the Śūnyatā concept of Buddhism. However, there is some overlap, such as in the works of Bhima Bhoi.
The Lingayats always wear the Ishtalinga held with a necklace.
The Istalinga is made up of light gray slate stone coated with fine durable thick black paste of cow dung ashes mixed with some suitable oil to withstand wear and tear.
Sometime it is made up of ashes mixed with clarified butter.
The coating is called Kanti (covering)
The Lingayats bury their dead. The dead are buried in the Dhyana mudra (meditating position) with their Ishta linga in their left hand.