‘Walking God’ Dr Shivakumara Swamiji of Siddaganga Mutt no more

Mortal remains of Dr Shivakumara Swamiji to be kept for public veneration till 3 pm tomorrow; will be laid to rest at 4.30 pm on Tuesday; Karnataka govt declares 3-day state mourning; Chief Minister Kumaraswamy announces government holiday for offices, schools and colleges in the state tomorrow and Kannada cine industry to remain closed tomorrow

Prime News, Karnataka, National, Tumakuru, January 21:-  The ‘Nadedaduva Devaru’ or ‘Walking God’, Dr Shivakumara Swamiji, the seer of the Siddaganga Mutt, is no more. The 111-year-old seer was on a ventilator until recently and was brought back to the mutt on January 16 after undergoing treatment for a lung infection that he developed after a liver bypass surgery in Chennai. Although his condition was stable and was responding to medication, the seer’s health further deteriorated on Monday.

The seer, who passed away at 11.44 am, will be laid to rest at 4.30 pm on Tuesday, officials of the mutt confirmed. The seer’s demise was condoled by senior leaders in the state and by his followers. Many prominent politicians from the state, including Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, Deputy Chief Minister Dr G Parameshwara, Home Minister MB Patil and leader of the Opposition BS Yeddyurappa, among others, visited the mutt upon hearing the news.

The veteran seer was an influential Lingayat seer and had hundreds of followers visiting him every day at the mutt in Tumakuru. Even at 111, he continued to meet devotees at the ‘Hale Mata’ or Old Mutt inside the Siddaganga Mutt until his health deteriorated.

Political leaders cutting across parties would often make a visit to the seer a priority on their visit to Karnataka.

Even though the seer chose to remain apolitical, he remained a constant presence in Karnataka’s political circles. Almost all political figures, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP national president Amit Shah, Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, visited Shivakumara Swamiji in the lead up to the Karnataka elections eearlier this year.

Even when the demand for a separate Lingayat religion flared up this year, Shivakumara Swamiji remained non-committal about his stance on the issue. Pontiffs at the mutt were divided on the issue; however, Shivakumara Swamiji had refused to clarify his stance.

The Congress leaders had claimed that the seer was in support of Lingayat becoming a separate religion. In the past, Shivakumara Swamiji had condemned violence in Ayodhya in connection with the building of a Ram Mandir, claiming that no one deserved to see their place of worship destroyed. He was hailed as a progressive seer for his stance on issues.

Born on April 1, 1907, in Magadi in the present-day Ramanagara District in Karnataka, the seer was initiated as a Lingayat seer in 1930 and assumed responsibilities of the mutt in 1941. He reportedly observed penance for 76 years.

Around 50 years ago, he had opened a free boarding school for poor children at the Mutt. The Gurukul, as it came to be known, houses more than 8,000 children in the age group of 5-15 and accepts students irrespective of caste, creed and religion. The mutt also runs medical and engineering colleges.

The seer used to head the Siddaganga Educational Society, which runs around 125 educational institutions ranging from engineering to business schools/colleges in the state. The society also runs nearly 20 institutions, where the Sanskrit language and the Vedas are taught and students are given free board and lodging.

The humanitarian work of the seer earned praise in 2006 by the then President of India APJ Abdul Kalam, when he visited Tumakuru in 2006 during the celebrations of the seer’s 100th birthday.

The mutt was established to spread the thoughts propagated by Lingayats, followers of the 12th-century philosopher-social reformer Basaveshwara, who rebelled against the established Hindu traditions by defying the caste system and Vedic rituals. Shivakumara Swamiji was also seen among his followers as an incarnation of Basaveshwara.

All government offices, schools and colleges will remain closed on Tuesday, according an announcement made by Chief Minister Kumaraswamy.  (MR, Inputs: Agencies).

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