Warring politicians unite to seek Bharat Ratna for Karnataka’s ‘walking god’, Shivakumara Swami

Fondly called Nadedaduva Devaru or ‘the Walking God’, his influence on politics was visible when HD Kumaraswamy of JD(S) announced his death along with BJP’s BS Yeddyurappa and Congress leaders.
In this file photo, Shivakumara Swami is seen with Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy.(PTI FILE PHOTO)
In this file photo, Shivakumara Swami is seen with Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy.(PTI FILE PHOTO)
Updated on Jan 21, 2019 06:41 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Bengaluru | By

Shivakumara Swami, the 111-year-old pontiff of Siddaganga mutt in Karnataka’s Tumakuru, died after being on ventilator support for two weeks. Fondly called Nadedaduva Devaru or ‘the Walking God’, he was followed by millions. He was one of the most revered leaders of Lingayats, the largest community in Karnataka.

Shivakumara Swami had been conferred the Padma Bhushan and Karnataka Ratna. Soon after his death, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge joined the chorus of leaders in demanding a Bharat Ratna for the revered seer.

“I request the government of India to give him Bharat Ratna. He is worthy of getting the title. Such a great man from Karnataka, it is worth to bestow the Bharat Ratna on him,” Kharge said, according to ANI.

In a statement, Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy recalled that his government had urged the Centre to confer the Bharat Ratna on him.

“Swamiji’s selfless services to mankind are replicable. Hence, once again, the government will urge Union government to confer him Bharat Ratna,” he said.

Earlier, BJP state president BS Yeddyurappa had also demanded a Bharat Ratna for the seer. 

Shivakumara Swami’s influence on politics was visible when chief minister Kumaraswamy of JD(S) came together with Yeddyurappa and Congress leaders to announce his death.

However, the late pontiff had refused to endorse any single party although he welcomed and met with leaders of all hues, be it Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi or BJP’s Amit Shah. The list also includes former PMs, Indira Gandhi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, former presidents of India, Sahankar Dayal Sharma and APJ Abdul Kalam and a host of others.

Instead of using his influence on politics, the seer, through his mutt, runs several educational institutions in Sanskrit and Kannada that impart education, give food to poor students free of cost. And this is no mean achievement, considering that running the mutt and feeding the thousands costs an average of 30 lakh, according to Deccan Herald. This is met by generous donations from the public.

The seer preaches and practises the philosophy of Basavanna,a 12th century social and religious reformer, whose works are revered in the Lingayat community.

He was staunchly opposed to all kinds of discrimination prevailing in the society. He was of the opinion that India will not progress until the caste system was abolished.

He put this into practice by taking in poor and needy students from all kinds of communities, irrespective of their caste or religion, into his mutt’s institutes. It currently has around 8,500 students in ages of 5-16. The Swami loved to be with children and concerned himself with their well-being and education.

Besides social upliftment works, he involved himself in cultural activities, which he felt could bring about effective social transformation. Among these are the cattle fair during the Mahashivaratri and the annual Basavanna Jayanthi.

Even at the age of 111, the swami had a sharp eyesight and had little health problems. He used to read his daily newspapers and have his routine meal.

Born in Veerapura near Magadi Taluk, Ramanagara district of Karnataka, he was schooled at Government high school in Tumkur and went to Central College Bangalore.

He took over as Siddaganga mutt’s chief in 1941 after demise of Sri Uddhana Shivayogi and continued its vast philanthropic activities, ensuring its growth and sustenance.

In his death, he has left a void that cannot be filled easily.

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