The funeral of Dr Shivakumara Swami, head seer of the Sree Siddaganga Mutt in Karnataka's Tumakuru,was conducted with state honours on the temple premises today. Shivakumara Swamiji, the 111-year old head of the Siddaganga Math in Karnataka, known as 'Walking God' among his countless followers, died Monday after prolonged illness, the seminary said.
The senior pontiff who had undergone a surgery at a hospital in Chennai recently for liver complications, had shown signs of improvement but his condition deteriorated in the past few days, said doctors who attended on him. Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy and the education society run by the Swamiji announced the demise of the seer, plunging lakhs of his followers across the state into grief.
"I am deeply saddened to announce that the walking God, Parama Poojya Siddaganga Sri, has passed away. It is an irreparable loss to the state. "His contribution to the society transformed lakhs of people from across the state. He shaped future of many people," said Kumaraswamy as he announced the seer's passing away in Tumakuru where the math is based.
The Siddaganga Education Society founded by the seer said, "The seer left for the heavenly abode leaving his mortal body at 11.44 am." The highly revered pontiff of the influential Lingayats, the major community in Karnataka, is a recipient of Padma Bhushan and Karnataka Ratna, the highest state civilian award. Kumaraswamy announced a three-day state mourning and government holiday on Tuesday.
The last rites of the seer will be performed Tuesday at 4.30 pm at Tumakuru, the math said. According to the math website, the swamiji was born on April 1, 1908 in Veerapura village in Karnataka.
The website of Sree Siddaganga College of Education, founded by him, mentions his date of birth as April 1, 1907. The seer was considered by his followers as an incarnation of social reformer Basaveshwara, the founder of Lingayat sect in the 12th century AD.
Shivanna, the premonastic name of Shivakumara Swamiji, was the youngest among the 13 children, including five sisters, of his parents, Honnappa and Gangamma. At the age of eight, he lost his mother and that made him spiritual. The seer, who remained a celebate throughout his life, founded the Sri Siddaganga Education Society that revolutionised the education scenario in Tumakuru district.
His philanthropicactivities helped thousands of people get foodeveryday. The Gurukula he had founded provides free shelter, education and food to thousands of children. He has a huge following in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and borderregions of Maharashtra.
In 1930, the Swamiji became the successor of the prestigious Siddaganga Math, which was founded in the 14th century AD by Haradanahalli Gosala Siddeshwara Swamiji to promote theteachings of Basaveshwara.
The seer with a saffron turban used to perform the daily ablutions and worship 'Ishta Linga', a small Shivalinga which he held close to his heart, till his condition worsened. Chief ministers and governors of Karnataka and of other states, politicians of all hues, educationists and eminent scholars used to visit him and seek his blessings.
The then president A P J Abdul Kalam had participated in the 100th Birthday and Guruvandana Celebrations of the Swamiji held on April 8, 2007 at the math.
(With agency inputs)