The history of Veerashaivism (Lingayatism – the Lingayat sect of Hindu Dharma) is explained here. It is to be highly noted that from pre-Vedic time to the last phase of 11th century, Veerashaivism was successfully born out of Shaivism which directly because of little differentiation.
It is to be remembered that during the early phase of 12th century the decline of Shaivism happened and the world witnessed the rise of Vaishnavism and Jainism. On the other hand, under the nourishment of Basavanna, Veerashaivism in Karnataka sprouted in the middle of 12th century.
Shaivism had noted five great prophets (Panchacharyas) even before 12th century. They are Panditaradhya, Vishvaradhya, Revanaradhya, Ekoramaradhya and Marularadhya. It is to be strongly believed that they directly arose out of five great Sthavaralingas under different names in different yugas and they are Kashi or Benares (UP), Shrishaila (AP), Kedar (UP), Ujjain (Karnataka) and Balehonnur (Karnataka).
The initial Veerashaiva pontification throne was that of Allamaprabhu, it is called as the Shunyasimhasana. In Karnataka, 200 Sharanas (saints) and among them 30 were women mystics during 12th century. Many poets contributed to Veerashaiva literature during 13th and 14th centuries. Among them the noted personalities are Harihara, Bhima Kavi and Raghavaka. An important role in promoting this religion was played by Emperor Immadi Devaraya of Vijayanagara during first half of 15th century. They also supported prominent Veerashaiva saints like Chamarasa (Prabhulinga Leele), Saptakayada Gurubasava, Kallumathada Prabhudeva and Karasthala Nagideva.
Tontada Siddalinga Shivayogi belonged to the end of 15th century and Shanmukha Shivayogi belonged to 17th century. In recent years, Sharanas are Shaivaganaprasad Gummalapurada, Mahadevaiah, Muruge Shantaveera, Siddalinga, Guluru and Siddaveeranna Odeyar, etc.