Third Panchamasali Peetha set for launch

Mahadeva Shivacharya swami

Mahadeva Shivacharya swami

In February 2008, Panchamasalis, the largest subsect among the Veerashaiva-Lingayat community, got their first Peetha (religious chair) at Kudalasangama in Bagalkot district and within a week their second Peetha at Harihara in Davangere district. Thirteen years later, the community is witnessing the launch of the third Peetha in Bagalkot district on Monday. The politics behind the initiative has left the community divided.

While a lack of consensus on religious ideology and geographical location led to formation of two Peethas in less than a week in 2008, the third Peetha is being seen more as a fallout of the political manoeuvring for Panchamasali leadership.

Industries Minister Murugesh Nirani’s role has been questioned though he has vehemently denied any involvement. Interestingly, his brother Sangamesh Nirani was actively seen in the parleys before the third Peetha was announced and now he is overseeing arrangements of the anointment ceremony on Monday, as chairman of the Reception Committee.

Insiders of this numerically strong subsect believe that the current development is over the leadership claim of Mr. Nirani, who was seen as a devotee of Sri Basava Jaya Mruthyunjaya swami of Kudalasangama Peetha till recently but is learnt to have fallen out.

Interestingly, some believe that the third Peetha is Mr. Nirani’s effort to endear himself to Sangh Parivar.Last year, burying differences, the seers and devotees of the two Peethas had come together to seek 2A reservation for the Panchamasali community, when the Kudalasangama seer launched the padayatra to Bengaluru. This had caused embarrassment to the B.S. Yediyurappa-led BJP Government, and Mr. Nirani in particular, whose attempts to cut it short failed.

Congress gain?

As the jockeying for leadership role in this whole process continues, some also believe that the Congress could be the ultimate gainer. For, while Mr. Nirani and his brother are said to be behind the third Peetha, the other BJP legislators Arvind Bellad and Basanagouda Patil Yatnal are believed to be backing the Kudalasangama seer Sri Basava Jaya Mruthyunjaya swami. Congress leaders from the community Vinay Kulkarni and Vijayanand Kashappanavar are also supporting the seer.

Sources in the Akhila Bharatha Veerashaiava Mahasabha say that there are more than 20 MLAs, MLCs and MPs who arePanchamasalis. “They are the largest block in the Veerashaiva-Linagayat sect and have backed BJP well. However, the larger community is already upset at the way B.S. Yediyurappa’s leadership was handled and any division among Panchamasalis will affect BJP’s fortune in North Karnataka,” sources said.

Only convenience

However, supporters of the new Peetha at Alaguru in Jamkhandi taluk of Bagalkot district, to be headed by Mahadeva Shivacharya swami of Babaleshwar, insist that the mutt has no political backing. “Two seers cannot physically go around when the devotees invite them for rituals and marriages. This is only a convenience and not any attempt to divide the community,” a senior BJP leader from the community said.

The Akhila Bharatha Veerashaiva Mahasabha is keeping a tab on the development. “We will respond at an appropriate time,” said mahasabha secretary H.M. Renuka Prasanna.

A divergent version

Some Panchamasali leaders feel that the entire development is an attempt by the Pancha Peethas to reclaim their lost following in North Karnataka.Earlier, Panchamasalis formed a major chunk of the devotees of Pancha Peethas led by Veerashaiva Panchacharyas, and now they owe allegiance to the two Panchamasali Peethas.

In fact, during the Lingayat movement, a majority followed the Kudalasangama seer who staunchly believes that Basavanna is the founder of “Lingayata Dharma”, which is contrary to what Panchacharyas believe.

Fourth one in the offing?

There appears to be yet another attempt to set up a fourth Peetha for the Panchamasali at Koppal with a woman as its religious head. However, this is still at a preliminary stage.

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Printable version | Jun 30, 2022 11:22:38 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/third-panchamasali-peetha-set-for-launch/article38420723.ece