Lakhs bid tearful adieu as Siddaganga pontiff Walking God’ Shivakumara Swami Ji laid to rest with full state honours

Pramesh Jain

Lakhs bid tearful adieu as Siddaganga pontiff Walking God’ Shivakumara Swami Ji laid to rest with full state honours :
Highlights :
* ‘Walking God’ Shivakumara Swami Laid to Rest at Siddaganga Mutt.
* Trivida dasohi” for his triple sacraments among his followers, the swamiji, who passed away on Monday, was buried in a sitting posture at the Samadhi with cakes of viboothi (sacred ash), salt, sand, bilva leaves (Aegle marmelos) and rudrakshi, among other things .
* Among those present at the burial ceremony were chief minister HD Kumaraswamy, former chief ministers Siddaramaiah and BS Yeddyurappa, Union Minister DV Sadananda Gowda, state Home Minister MB Patil,along with pontiffs of various prominent mutts in the state.
* Former prime minister HD Deve Gowda, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who attended the ceremony on behalf of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, also paid their last respects to the revere seer in Tumkur on Tuesday.
* Swami Ji’s last journey began at 5.00 pm in a flower-bedecked wooden chariot from the open ground in the Mutt
* Junior seer Siddalinga Swami of the 600-year-old Mutt performed the last rites
* HD Kumaraswamy handed over the Tricolour the seer’s body was draped with to Siddalinga.
* Police personnel manage the crowd as the mortal remains of 111-year-old pontiff of the Siddaganga Mutt Shivakumara Swamiji are being taken for final rites at Siddaganga Mutt in Tumakaru.
Lakhs of people bid a tearful adieu to their “Walking God”,as the mortal remains of 111-year-old Sree Shivakumara Swamiji of Siddaganga mutt,was laid to rest on tuesday with full state honours at the premises of the seminary he headed for over seven decades.The most revered Swamiji,who left an indelible imprint with his stellar contributions in the education sector and philanthropy targeted at children in whom he saw the Almighty, was buried as”Kriya Samadhi,according to Veerashaiva/Lingayat traditions, amid chanting of hymns.
The demise of Karnataka’s 111-year-old revered seer, Shivakumara Swami of Siddaganga Mutt at Tumakuru, has plunged lakhs of people across the State into grief.They say that the seer’s contributions across sectors are unparalleled.A midst a sea of humanity, Karnataka’s iconic Lingayat seer Shivakumara Swami was on Tuesday laid to rest with state honours in the Siddaganga Mutt after about 10 lakh people paid homage to his mortal remains here.
The crowd also shouted slogans demanding that ‘Bharat Ratna” be conferred on the seer.Among those present at the burial ceremony were Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, former Chief MinistersSiddaramaiah and B S Yeddyurappa,S M Krishna,Deputy CM G Parameshwara,Union Minister D V Sadananda Gowda, state Home Minister M B Patil,along with pontiffs of various prominent mutts in the state, including Shivarathri Deshikendra Mahaswamiji of the Sri SutturMutt.After a three-round gun salute by the state police as a mark of respect, playing of the National Anthem and sounding of bugles by a music band, the seer’s frail body clad in saffron robes was lowered in the ground in a sitting posture as per the customs in the Mutt’s newly-built temple.
The 111-year-old popular and influential seer of the powerful Lingayat community died on Monday in the Mutt after a protracted illness.Though ceremonies related to the last rites began earlier in the day with the purification of the final resting place and special rituals, the last journey began at 5.00 pm in a flower-bedecked wooden chariot from the open ground in the Mutt where Swami’s body was kept in a glass showcase for public viewing since Monday afternoon.
According to Mutt’s head priest MN Chandrashekharayya, Swami had wished to be buried in the temple, as it was located facing the Vedic-cum-Sanksrit school in the heart of the Mutt.”The body has been buried in the 6-by-6 feet dug up area in the Rudrakshi mantap, with about 1,000kg of sacred ash, 900kg of salt, 50kg of river sand and one sack of herbal (Bilva) leaves,” a Mutt’s official told reporters.Junior seer Siddalinga Swami of the 600-year-old Mutt performed the last rites, amid chanting of the Vedic hymns and religious mantras of Shaivas by about 50 priests.
About 100 seers and swamis of various Lingayat and Vokkaliga Mutts from across the state were present on the occasion along with thousands of the seer’s devotees from all over the country.As the temple premises could not accommodate more than 100 people inside, the last rites, including seer’s burial, was beamed live on giant screens erected in and around the Mutt for viewing by thousands of people.
State Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy handed over the Tricolour the seer’s body was draped with to Siddalinga before the last rites.Baba Ramdev, former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, Union Minister DV Sadananda Gowda, state Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara, state Home Minister MB Patil, state BJP’s unit President BS Yeddyurappa and former Congress chief ministers Siddaramaiah and SM Krishna were among the several prominent leaders present on the occasion.
Elaborate security arrangements were made around the Mutt and about 3,000 police personnel were deployed in the town to ensure peaceful movement of people for the last glimpse of the seer and divert vehicular traffic from the Mutt area.Defence Minister Nirmal Sitharaman flew to Tumakuru, about 70km northwest of Bengaluru, in a military helicopter from the state capital and paid her respects to the seer by laying a floral wreath on behalf of the President, Prime Minister and the Union Government.Chants of “Swamiji ki jai” and “Bharat Ratna beku” (we demand Bharat Ratna for Swami) by hundreds of devotees and students of the Mutt’s schools rent the air.
No religion, no caste, no politics, only humanity.That’s was the secret of Walking God life.
Shivakumara Swami Earned the sobriquet of ‘Nadedaduva Devaru’ or ‘Walking God’ for his pioneering social, educational and philanthropic activities spread over eight decades and was an embodiment of Basava Tatva’s two primary qualities – ‘Kayaka’ or work and ‘dasoha’ or duty.
He started with 500 children at his mutt. Today, seven lakh-plus students who studied there are doctors, lawyers and engineers. That was what Shivakumara Swami had dedicated his life to – the education of the poor and the marginalised. There was no bar based on caste, creed or religion.He earned the sobriquet of ‘Nadedaduva Devaru’ or ‘Walking God’ for his pioneering social, educational and philanthropic activities spread over eight decades and was an embodiment of Basava Tatva’s two primary qualities ‘Kayaka’ or work and ‘dasoha’ or duty.
He would start his day at 4 am, because Basava believed you should always work for your living and never live on another’s earning. Secondly, whatever you earned, keep what you need for a simple life, the rest has to be given back to society, it is not ‘daana’ or charity, it is ‘dasoha’.
For 80 years, he collected ‘Dasoha’ from others and used it for poor people.
I’m not a religious person, but when I first met Swamiji more than a decade ago as officer in charge of developing the Kudalasangama Kshetra (the pilgrim centre of the Lingayats, where the 12th century saint Basaveshwara grew up), there was something about his sincerity, his personality and his aura that stuck me.
He was a very learned man – he listened intently and spoke less. After nearly one and half hours of listening to our plans on restoration of the temple, he told us three things — one, that simply rebuilding a temple or a set of gardens won’t work, what we need is a library with the best collection. That if we couldn’t find some books of Basavanna’s, we should even access photocopies of them and keep them in the library.
Second, that there must be a place for people to come and do some service or ‘kayaka’ – so we reserved 200 acres for this. Thirdly, ‘dasoha.’ That everyone who comes there must get free food. So we made arrangements where nearly 2,000 people can come and eat, and even today, clean, hygenic food is served just as it has been served for the thousands of kids at his mutt every day.His mutt is more like a monastery. There are nearly 9,000 children who study in the Siddaganga institutions every year. And he gives free accommodation, free food and free education. The hostels he has built look like buildings in the North Block, and how do you think free food is provided?
Decades ago, he would go around asking people to donate rice or grains or vegetables. At that time, this was a small mutt. Most of the development (of 100-plus educational institutions) has happened during Swamiji’s lifetime. Once it became a routine and people realised what he promised and what he did at the mutt, they started giving food grains and other essentials every day willingly.Today, if these 9000 children are fed, it is because villages around the mutt have organised themselves into providing for them. There are around 3,000 villages around here – Tumkur, Hassan and Bangalore (rural) districts. Everyday three villages send truck-loads of supplies – like vegetables and foodgrains and oil – to the mutt to be delivered in the mornings.
Different dates are fixed for different villages by people themselves. They give out of love, it has become a routine for them. And people of all religions, all castes give. Such was his aura and the respect they have for him.
He started his day with a prayer at 4am to his ‘ishta linga,’ a small areca-sized linga held in his palm. He prayed for an hour thrice a day and though there were half a dozen temples within the mutt premises – ancient ones, more than 500 years old – he never felt the need to go there and pray.
He did not disrespect the temples, but for him, his god was in his palm, his heart. The linga icon too was just an emblem used for concentration. There is no temple, no archaka (priest), no mediator between him and God. He lived by that until his last breath.
And he has done this day in and day out for 111 years. He was ordained (to become a monk at the mutt) by the age of 25, and he lived by these principles, shown to the world by his actions. He has never discriminated between religions and castes, and never gone by such Vedic norms of impurity of women during menstruation. Women are equal in all respects, and his mutt was open to children of all castes.
He was progressive, and while other religious seers may have wanted to forward their religion, he considered humanism more important than religion. Today, when I heard about his demise, I couldn’t control my tears. But I’m glad that even in his death, people are talking about what he did and what he lived for. Even in death, he is spreading Lingayat ideals further.
At a time when seers made their political inclinations clear, he was one seer known for never taking sides with any political party. He wielded considerable political influence that made leaders from all parties flock to his mutt, 70 km from Bengaluru, to seek his support and advice over decades. Today too, all politicians are there, but he never sided with anyone.
Politicians would go seek his blessings because they thought they would get votes that way, but he never took sides.
When the separate religion status for Lingayats became an issue, he realised it took political overtones. So all he said was, it doesn’t matter whether government gives (the religion tag) or not.
Indian community in UK pays tribute to Karnataka seer Shivakumara Swamiji.
The Kannada community in Britain held a candle vigil condolence prayer for Shivakumara Swamij, who passed away in Karnataka on Monday after a prolonged illness.The candlelight vigil was organised in collaboration with the Lambeth Basaveshwara foundation on Monday.Swamiji, known as ‘Walking God’ among his countless followers, had donated the foundation stone for the Basaveshwara statue in London. According to Dr Neeraj Patil, the former Mayor of the London Borough of Lambeth, the foundation stone is embedded at the base of the statue.
Dr Patil said Swamiji’s contribution to social work and eradication of child poverty in India is unparalleled and will always be remembered.
Chief Minister of karnataka HD Kumaraswamy told media persons that the last rites of the great humanitarian, educator and revered seer Shri Sri Shivakumar Swamiji were held today with full state honour amidst prayers of thousands of devotees, who had gathered to pay their final respects to the pious soul.I thank everyone for their cooperation, especially our DCM @DrGParameshwara & Home Minister @MBPatil, who coordinated the arrangements for a peaceful procession to pay last tributes to the great Seer, the dist admnstrtn,police officers &police force,seers frm various mutts&the devotees HD Kumaraswamy said.