The contribution of Lingayats to the cultural heritage of Karnataka is significant. Kannada literary historians have identified some 1,148 Kannada writers between the eighth and the end of the nineteenth century; of these, there are 453 Lingayats, 377 Brahmans, and 175 Jains, while the rest represent other groups. Basava, the founding father of Lingayat religion, was also in some ways the first to lead a successful crusade in the early part of the twelfth century A . D . against domination by the Sanskrit language in order to make Kannada, the language of the common man, the medium of literary expression. He set an example by recording his Vacanas (sayings) in Kannada and the tradition set by him continues to flourish in modern Lingayat writings. The ideology of the Lingayat culture also begins with Basava, who rejected the feudal orientation of Hindu Brahmanism and substituted for it a new social order similar to Gandhian populism and based upon the principles of individuality, equality, and fraternity. The cooperative, communitarian movement initiated by Basava continues to flourish in the modern political life of Karnataka. The Lingayat monasteries, spread across contemporary Karnataka's small and large towns, run schools and colleges with free room and board for needy students. These monasteries serve not only as centers of religious culture but also as centers of education; they can claim a record of fifty years of contribution to the educational progress of the state, unrivaled by other educational institutions. The Shiva worshiped by the Lingayats does not belong to the Hindu pantheon. He is formless, qualityless, and an embodiment of love and compassion. Lingayats worship him as a symbolic manifestation of the universe and call him their personal God, istalinga. For them Sanskrit (like church Latin) is the vehicle of feudal values, inherited inequalities, and priestly prerogatives; so they identify with Kannada and contribute to its literary richness and variety. Their cultural heritage therefore follows neither the marga (way of seeking) nor the desi (way of instruction) traditions; it rejects the institutions, cultural prescriptions, notions, and values characteristic of both these Hindu traditions. It represents, in fact, partly a selective blending and partly a selective conflict Between the two. It comes very close to a populistic tradition, with its own institutions and values rooted in the 27,000 Villages and some 300 towns of Karnataka.