Lingayat - Sociopolitical Organization



Social Organization. The Lingayat system of social stratification is built largely around wealth, power, and prestige in both secular and religious spheres. Occupational and social mobility are open to everyone. Lingayats are therefore involved in all sectors of the economy. Their work ethic flows directly from their ethic of kayaka (rites and observances performed with the body, hence the spiritual value of labor); their role in community building comes from their practice of dashoha (community sharing of one's own labor), and their identification with society at large from their notion of aikya (being with the linga is being with society). Lingayat Economic behavior therefore stems from the values enshrined in their ideology.

Political Organization. Lingayats are actively involved Politically through participation in the democratic establishment in Karnataka. Its political history records the successful mobilization of Lingayats in achieving power at the village level, in unifying a single united Karnataka that was divided among several adjoining states prior to 1956, and in promoting village links with the center. In carrying this out, they have long been aware that social mobilization could not be achieved without a political orientation. The hundreds of biographies of successful Lingayats (published by the Gadag Tontadarya monastery) provide ample evidence of this awareness. The secular and religious leaders steer their community, mediated by its middle- and lower-middle-class core, well beyond communal polities into the universal polity, and from premodern polities to a modern, liberal one.


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