Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah have been accusing the Lingayat agitators in Karnataka of dividing the Hindu community.
His charge is centered on the Congress, which is committed to granting minority status to the worshipers of 12th century philosopher Basavanna.
These allegations of the BJP have been denied from all sides – even the daughter of the deceased Kannada intellectual Dr. MM Kalburgi has denied this.
“While we have never been a part of Hinduism, how are the Lingayats dividing the Hindu community,” Roopadarshi said. She was saying this in the same room where her father was shot three years ago. “I am saying- I am Lingayat. Where does this make me anti-Hindu?”
On August 30, 2015, Dr. Kalburgi was shot dead by unknown people. Kalburgi has stored 22,000 verses of Basavanna. This is the biggest contribution to the literature of the Lingayat community. On May 12, when the votes will be cast in Karnataka, the importance of their written work becomes even more important.
In the year 2017, Jagatika Lingayat Mahasabha had organized a big movement to give the status of minorities to Basavanna supporters. Looking close to the elections, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah urged the State Minorities Commission to prepare a report on the Lingayat community.
It is believed that the number of Lingayats alone will be 15 to 17 percent of the total population of Karnataka. This number is so large that in any election, the dice of any political party turns. Before the demands of the movement were met, two sects were divided within the Lingayat community – Lingayat and Veerashaiva.
In March, the committee’s report suggested giving minority status to Lingayats and Veerashaiva Lingayats. However, Veerashaiva Mahasabha criticized the suggestion that his creed is older than Basavanna (who founded this religion in the 12th century).
Meanwhile, the committee’s report supported Kalburgi’s side. The committee said that the Lingayat creed is not part of Hinduism and Veerashaiva is not a Lingayat.
In 1993, Kalburgi published the first 15 volumes of Vaksh literature. Veerashaiva and Lingayat were used in turn in this. But from 1994-95, he stopped using the word Veerashaiva for Lingayat, Kulbargi’s family said.
A month after his assassination, the vice chancellor of Hampi University completed Kulbargi’s work. He submitted two volumes containing 22,000 pledges to print to the Government of Karnataka. It was published in 2016.
Three years after his assassination, journalists have started coming to Kulbargi’s house again as guests. His wife, Umadevi Kalburgi, 70, keeps distance from journalists as much as possible. His son Srivijay Kalburgi is working as a senior manager in a multi-chain store in Bangalore. When asked about the investigation into the father’s murder, he told Newslaundry, “I have told the government that they are trying their best. They have spent more than two and a half years but there is no progress in the case.”
He added that he trusts the police. In terms of his religious beliefs, Srivijaya says, “I am an Indian, Kannadiga and Lingayat.” When asked if you consider yourself a Hindu, he said, “No. I am a Lingayat.”
In Dharwad, his sister Roopadarshi told Newslaundry that the family’s trust in the case has been lost and they want to concentrate on publishing Kulbargi’s work. The works published by Kulbargi are neatly kept in his room where he was shot.
The first book (a collection of articles and theories) of the Marga series was published in 1988 and was banned, said Umadevi. This has been his favorite book. “I have read all his books. I am his first reader,” he said with a dull smile on his face. “His emphasis was on writing in simple language that everyone could. He used to say – if I understood his writing, other readers will also understand.”
His daughter explains how her religion is different from Hinduism. “We reject the Vedas, she says. We reject the caste system. We do not believe in Kailash Shiva. We accept the formless Shiva.”
Translating Basavanna’s words, he said, “If I say that I am Harua (Brahmin). Jokalsangya will laugh at us.”
Kalburgi’s writing got the family in trouble for the first time in 1980, Roopadarshi said. He said, “The local media fueled controversies over his work in the past. People of a certain class were restless with his writings. His critics used to portray him as anti-Hindu.”
“We knew that those who would not agree with their views and ideology would raise their voice against them,” Roopadarshi said. “We never thought that people could go to the extent of killing them.”
“My father took the responsibility of collecting Basavanna’s words, translated and delivered to the public,” he said. “What happened to Basavanna and his worshipers was repeated with my father.”
No rallies took place in all the rallies that took place in protest against Kalburgi’s murder.
Karnataka is now ready to vote. While the Congress is supporting Basavanna worshipers, the BJP is accusing them of dividing the society. “I don’t think any leader would have read his views,” said Umadevi.
The family avoids taking any political side. “My husband’s job was to read and write, he had nothing to do with political parties. He has worked within all – JDS, BJP and Congress governments. His thoughts were important to him.”