LINGAYAT (from linga, the emblem of Siva), the name of a peculiar sect of Siva worshippers in southern India, who call themselves Vira-Saivas (see HINDUISM). They carry on the person a stone linga (phallus) in a silver casket. The founder of 1 As the name of the fish, " ling " is found in other Teut. languages; cf. Dutch and Ger. Leng, Norw. langa, etc. It is generally connected in origin with " long," from the length of its body. As the name of the common heather, Calluna vulgaris (see HEATH) the word is Scandinavian; cf. Dutch and Dan. lyng, Swed. ljung.
the sect is said to have been Basava, a Brahman prime minister of a Jain king in the 12th century. The Lingayats are specially numerous in the Kanarese country, and to them the Kanarese language owes its cultivation as literature. Their priests are called Jangamas. In 1901 the total number of Lingayats in all India was returned as more than 25 millions, mostly in Mysore and the adjoining districts of Bombay, Madras and Hyderabad.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)