Lingayat in India

Joshua Project has identified the Lingayat only in India







Largest Religion

Main Language


Profile Source: Joshua Project

Introduction / History

The Lingayat people are known for wearing a linga, an object representing God; in this case, Shiva. They are a numerous group in India, especially in the state of Karnataka.

This group formed in the 12th century by Basava, a philosopher and a social reformer. He taught against the caste system and its regulations. He envisioned a casteless society, though the resulting society eventually began drawing up lines of caste distinctions again, creating their own hierarchy of social status after Basava's death.

Basava consented to the marriage of a Brahmin woman and a man from an untouchable caste. This story reached the ears of King Bijjala who punished the couple by putting out their eyes and dragging them to their deaths behind an elephant. Basava saw this punishment as unacceptable and left Kayla. He moved on to Kudula Sangama where he died in 1167.

Where are they Located?

They are found primarily in Karnataka, where they comprise a major population. They are also found in significant numbers in Maharashtra and Andrah Pradesh.

What are Their Lives Like?

The Lingyat are vegetarian and refrain from alcoholic drinks. They are known to be a progressive people and there are people from many walks of life and religious expression to be found among them. Most work in government service, but they are from many occupations, including artisans, cultivators and priests.

What are Their Beliefs?

They have a series of initiatory rites, including Lingadharane, the bestowing of the linga. This rite is usually performed within the first week of a child's life. From this day forward, the person will wear the stone as an act of worship of God (Shiva), in a box around their neck. The linga is not seen as a mere representation of God, but rather God himself

They adore Shiva, but Basava taught that his worshipers should worship him alone rather than numerous gods. Lingayats reject polytheism and the Vedas and follow the teachings of the Vachana sahitya instead.


1. K. S. Singh, ed., India's Communities A-Z, Oxford University Press, USA (June 3, 1999) ISBN-10: 0195633547

Profile Source: Joshua Project

People Name General Lingayat
People Name in Country Lingayat
Population in India 9,145,000
Progress Scale 1.1
Least-Reached Yes
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Hugar, Jangam, Jeer, Jir, Kuruhinashetti, Lingangani, Lingawant, Nagartha, Sivabhakta, Veerasaiva
Affinity Bloc South Asian Peoples
People Cluster Kannada
People Name General Lingayat
Ethnic Code CNN23a
Country India
Continent Asia
Region South Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Kannada (7,444,000) Marathi (1,189,000) Telugu (532,000) Tamil (149,000)
Tulu (37,000) Hindi (27,000) Konkani (25,000) Konkani, Goan (11,000)
Gujarati (9,200) Ahirani (3,700) Malayalam (1,800) English (600)
Holiya (100) Khandesi (30)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Kannada 7,444,000 Marathi 1,189,000
Telugu 532,000 Tamil 149,000
Tulu 37,000 Hindi 27,000
Konkani 25,000 Konkani, Goan 11,000
Gujarati 9,200 Ahirani 3,700
Malayalam 1,800 English 600
Holiya 100 Khandesi 30
Largest Religion Other / Small
0.00%    ( Evangelical  0.00% )
Ethnic Religions
Other / Small
Photo Source: International Mission Board-SBC © Copyrighted Used with permission
Map Source: Joshua Project / Global Mapping International
Profile Source:
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more
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