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Definition of LINGAYAT
: a member of a Saiva sect of southern India marked by wearing of the lingam and characterized by denial of caste distinctions
Origin of LINGAYAT
First Known Use: 1901
Member of a Hindu sect that worships Shiva as the only deity. It has a wide following in southern India. Its followers take their name (linga-wearers) from the small lingas that both men and women wear on a cord around the neck. The Lingayats' belief in a single deity and their concept of bhakti (devotion) as an intuitive and loving knowledge of God show the influence of Ramanuja. They reject Brahma and the authority of the Vedas; their opposition to child marriage and the ill-treatment of widows anticipated the social reform movements of the 19th century.