H.S. Narasimha Kumar

Two groups have decided to set up separate institutions

Swami Siddalingeshwara chosen to head

one peetha

Rebel faction to anoint Jayamruthyanjaya Swami as their leader

DAVANGERE: The Panchamasali community, which is one of the prominent sub-sects of the Lingayat community, is heading for a virtual split over the gurupeetha controversy.

There are over 90 lakh people from the Panchamasali community in the State, and they have had no gurupeetha of their own so far. They have been following the Panchacharya — five swamijis of Balehonnur Math, Kashi Peetha, Kedara Peetha, Ujjaini Peetha and Sri Shila Math.

The Panchamasali people were disappointed when the Panchacharyas approached the then Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee some years ago and submitted a memorandum to him appealing for inclusion of the Jangama community (another Lingayat sub-caste) in the 2-A category to make them eligible for reservation.

Representatives of the Panchamasali community asked the Panchacharyas why their community had not been included in the memorandum. When they did not get a convincing reply, they decided to set up a gurupeetha of their own and appoint a swamiji, who could ensure their welfare.

Now, leaders of the community have purchased five acres of land on the Tungabhadra riverbed near Harihar, where they will set up their gurupeetha called the Veerashaiva Panchamasali Gurupeetha. Bhavi Bettappa, Umpathi, Basavaraj Dindoor and Lokesh are playing a vital role in establishing this institution. Members of the community have nominated Siddalingeshwara, a person well-versed in religious matters, as their swamiji. He will be formally anointed at a function near Harihar on February 17 and 18. A section of the community opposed to the nomination of Siddalingeshwara as their swamiji decided to set up another Panchamasali Peetha at Koodalasangama near Bijapur called Lingayata Panchamasali Jagadguru Gurupeetha and anoint Jayamruthyanjaya Swamiji of the Veeraktha Math as their guru. The rebel group will set up their peetha on February 11 at Koodalasangama. and Jayamruthyanjaya Swamiji will formally be made as the religious head of the new Peetha. This gurupeetha is backed by Prabhanna Hunisikatte, Nilakanth Assoli and many others leaders.