Lingayatism is considered as a Shaivite sect within Hinduism which worship Linga, founded by Basava. This sects rejects everything belonging to Hinduism like Varna system, Vedas and other concepts and considers only Shiva as god. But if you ever carefully examine, we can see Shiva is a Hindu god. He also incarnated as Adi Shankara. Even 63 Nayanmars have attained Lord Shiva. How can this co-exist with Hinduism?
Not all lingayats are demanding Lingayatism as separate religion. Only a few lingayat are demanding and that too due to political reasons.
Let us analyze their supposed philosophical differences:
1) Those who demand Ligayat as separate religion, they say Lingayats accept Shiva which is formless, which is different from other Hindus.
Answer: As per scripture: Now, shiva is formless, but Shankara is the form which dwells in mount kailasha
śivaiko brahmarupatvānniṣkalaḥ parikīrtitaḥ [Shiva Purana - 1.5.10]:
- Shiva alone, being Brahman, is known as formless and quality less.
In the Gita, Shri Krishna says He is Shankara among all the rudras:
rudrāṇāṁ śaṅkaraś cāsmi [BhagvadGita - 10.23] - Of all the Rudras, I am Shankara
So it means Shankara is a Rudra. Hence, although Shiva and Shankara both imply the same deity, Shiva means his formless pure bright light form (meditated upon by Yogis) and Shankara means his commonly known Kailasa dwelling ascetic form (worshiped by devotees).
--> Hence, Lingayat accept Shiva, which is accepted by other sects, but not accept Shankara. So it is not a big difference. Because other sects already accept formless Shiva. In some sects the formless aspect (Shiva) is called "Param-shiva".
Apart from that, Arya samaj of Hinduism accepts "only" formless Ishwar.
There is so much diversification in Hinduism that sankhya etc do not beleive in any God and they are still considered orthodox Hindu and Sankhya also has been propounded in Gita.
2) Supporters of Lingayat as separate religion say that "Lingayats do not beleive in Puranas and any mythological stories about Shiva or any other God"
Answer: Arya Samaj also rejects Purana or any other shashtra as non-authoritative.
3) Supporters of Lingayat as separate religion say that "Lingayats do not beleive in caste"
- additionally, Varkari The Varkari-tradition is a non-Brahamanical tradition . ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaishnavism#Varkari-tradition_and_Vithoba-worship
4) Supporters of Lingayat as separate religion say that "Lingayat only worship Isht Linga"
Answer: Veerashaiva also worship Isht Linga http://www.shivayoga.net/ishta-linga-2/what-is-ishta-linga/ http://www.shivayoga.net/veerashaivism/
Arya samaj(part of Hinduism) do not even beleive in Linga or any other object or idol.
5) Supporters of Lingayat as separate religion say that "Basavanna rejects Vedas"
part 5A) Some Lingayats accept the Vedas and the Vedanta school; there's a Lingayat commentary on the Brahma Sutras called the Shrikara Bhashya. ref: Can Lingayats be considered as a part of Hinduism?
part 5B) Now, few Lingayats reject the Vedas, they base their rejection due to "their claims" that Basava rejected Vedas. For validating their claim we will have to go through Basava vachana text itself
Hence, please see https://hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/23124/13287
At one place Basavanna has used vedas as authoritative/proof. Hence it shows Basavanna was using vedas as proof.
Do not say, out of conceit, that the gods number two or three For He is but one, and to say there are two is a lie The Veda avers: there is none but Kudalasangamadeva
Shall I say that the Sastra is supreme? It glorifies karma! Shall I call the Veda great? It talks about animal sacrifice! Shall I call Smriti great? It is turned towards the future! Since you abide nowhere there Only in the three modes of services You are present Kudalasangamadeva. ref: https://books.google.co.in/books/content?id=kITXAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA211&img=1&pgis=1&dq=%22Since+you+abide+nowhere+there+Only+in%22&sig=ACfU3U2AXarng8LyOyJbZJ4nIzxZh0ZA-w&edge=0
Hence, in this verse he has criticised animal sacrifice part in vedas
Now, here arya samaj also has objected to translations where animal sacrifice have been alleged in vedas. http://www.thearyasamaj.org/articles?=160_Animal_Sacrifice_Before_Deities Arya samaj rejects animal sacrifice interpretation of vedas. Vaishnavas also reject animal sacrifices
I shall sheathe the Vedas, fetter the Sastras, Put Tarka in tongs, deface the Agamas. Look father, most generous Kudalasangamadeva, I am a son of Madara Chennayy’s family. ref: http://lingayatreligion.com/Equality_of_Basava.htm
Hence, in this verse Basava has just said that put vedas in sheathe.
Now, inside other sects in hinduism:
- Sant Mat,Kapalika,Sri Vidya have their own scriptures which they value, and they do not hold Vedas as canonical authority.
- Mimamsa argued that the Vedas could not have been authored by a deity
- Even In Gita, Krishna referred that in certain aspect like Moksha, Vedas don't hold supremacy. e.g. BG 2.45.. refer: Do any Hindu scriptures say that Hinduism is not a religion but simply a way of life?
- regarding few controversial statements in other hindu sects regarding vedas please see Which Pancharatra text has controversial statements on Vedas? . Here even vaishnav agama sects also have statements, which do not uphold vedas supremacy. This was even noted by Adi Shankaracharya himself.
- For other ideologies which rejected vedas of their time, please see Where is Buddhism also considered a Valid Path in Hindu scriptures? "Another popular misconception about 'Buddha' in people is that he rejected the Vedas. But in fact Buddha rejected the Vedas because he considered Vedas avaliable at his time were altered" But even after that rejection of vedas of that time, still Padma Purana(which is vedmoolak literature) itself state that 'uttering' name of Buddha can cleanse the sin of Brahmahatya and hence revers and approves buddha. So Buddha who has rejected (the altered version of) vedas of those times,has been himself been upholded as paap vinaashak by hinduism official mainstream scripture.
6) Supporters of Lingayat as separate religion say that "Lingayat are buried, not cremated"
Answer: in Hinduism, dead are mostly cremated, but yogis/renunciates/still-born dead babies/anchorets are buried. Lingayats wear linga and their tradition believed they are all equalivalent to yogis and therefore buried.
For even more examples and detail - also see Odd way of doing Antim Sanskar ?
7) Supporters of Lingayat as separate religion say that "Basava proposed devotional worship and rejected temple worship"
Answer: There are ingayat temples and lingayat community centres. Now in hinduism, the pure vedic view hindus emphasize that temple is not needed as core of the belief, as it is not mentioned in Shruti(Vedas).
For example: see:
- What do Hindu scriptures say about Hindu temples?
- What is the need of temple in Hinduism?
- Why is it required to visit a Temple?
8) Supporters of Lingayat as separate religion say that "Basava said work is worship"
Answer: The core principle of hinduism is four Purushartha ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puru%E1%B9%A3%C4%81rtha#Discussion ) - ie, four goals of life: Dharma, Artha, Kaam, Moksha Artha – signifies the "means of life", activities and resources that enables one to be in a state one wants to be in. Artha incorporates wealth, career, activity to make a living, financial security and economic prosperity. The morally correct and proper pursuit of artha is considered an important aim of human life in Hinduism. And it is said that out of the above four goals - Dharma is most important and then artha is the next important." ( see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puru%E1%B9%A3%C4%81rtha#Relative_importance_between_four_goals_of_life )
Hence Basava message of work is worship, is the same retelling of core foundational priciple of Hinduism itself.
9) Shakti Vishishtadvaita philosophy of the Lingayata sect is just a small variant of the Vishishtadvaita Vedanta philosophy of the Sri Vaishnava sect
Also see https://hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/6621/13287 . This tells about how lingayat the Shakti Vishishtadvaita philosophy of the Lingayata sect is just a small variant of the Vishishtadvaita Vedanta philosophy of the Sri Vaishnava sect
10) Supporters of Lingayat as separate religion say that "Hindus see Shiva as tamsik, whereas Lingayat do not agree to it"
Answer: Its a false argument, because few vaishnavite sects say that shiva is tamsik, but they say it in sense of destruction (tamsik covers many other aspects). Also, Apart from that 'most of the vaishnavites sects, all the shavities and shaktism sects' do not agree to this views of very few. So this is not Lingayat vs Other hindus dichotomy- its few viashnavites vs all others difference.
for details please see: Do the Trimurti (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva) cleanly map onto the 3 gunas (sattva, rajas, tamas)?
11) Supporters of Lingayat as separate religion say that "Lingayat are vegetarian"
Answer: Vaishnavites, Aryasamaj etc also are strict vegetarian.
12) Supporters of Lingayat as separate religion say that "Lingayat is monotheist, whereas Hindus are polytheist"
Answer: Very few Hindu sects and non-denominational are polytheists, Many of them are Henotheist. Viashnavaism, Shaivism etc are Monotheist. Arya samaj is even more staunch monotheist
rather at https://books.google.co.in/books/content?id=kITXAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA204&img=1&pgis=1&dq=indra+amritavati&sig=ACfU3U1uJPic-9wS0VzUl-c03mKNxjeodw&edge=0 Basava says the following in an attempt to prove that Shiva is supreme:
Indra was born to Amritavati and Somasambhu Brahma was born to Satyarishi and Jyesthadevi Visnu born to Vasudeva and Devaki The Enlightened was born to Nabhiraj and Marutadevi All known to the worlds as fashioned out of the womb Has Lord Kudalasangamadeva, who lives outside The cycle of birth and death Any father and mother?
That is, here Basava is still accepting Indra, Brahma, Vishnu etc.(also see Who are the parents of Indra and Brahma mentioned by Basava? ) and that too as a separate God. (also see Which work of Basavanna contains this statement? )
- but Arya samaj(part of Hinduism) even rejects Indra etc and Trinity(Brahma, Vishnu,Mahesh) they do not even think as some deity, they think it as syllables of Aum, ie A-U-M and think of it also as three gunas only (ref: http://aryasamajhouston.org/resources/articals/veda-sudha/the-meaning-of-om ).
- Poorva mimansa does not accept any independent existence of God other than mantra itself
Hence, it proves that all the proposed logic of separate religion are invalid; and it is just a political game being played time to time by a few lingayats without any philosophical or ritual or conceptual basis. There are thousands of Lingayat mutts(monasteries), and hardly six mutts out of thousands muths are spreadhead supporting this separation, that too on opportunistic background insistence of a particular political party. Again, it may be just plain politics (see also), and definitely has no philosophical or ritual or conceptual basis. This politics was done earlier in case of jains and others earlier also.