Karnataka’s 111-year-old revered Lingayat seer, Shivakumara Swamiji of Siddaganga Mutt at Tumakuru, who was in a critical condition and had been put on life support, died on Monday morning.
The news was broken by Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy.
“His holiness, Swamiji passed away at 11.44 am. at the Mutt during his treatment for lung infection. The cremation will be done on 22nd January at 4.30 pm,” Kumaraswamy told the media in Tumakuru, about 70 km from the state capital Bengaluru.
The CM’s office tweeted: “India has lost a divine soul. #ShivakumaraSwamiji”.
— CM of Karnataka (@CMofKarnataka) January 21, 2019
The Shivakumara Swamiji had been in and out of hospitals over the last few years due to the various ailments ascribed to his advanced age.
The Lingayat seer, known among his followers as a “walking god” and an incarnation of the 12th-century social reformer Basava, headed the Sree Siddaganga Education Society which runs about 125 educational institutions in Karnataka, including engineering colleges and business schools.
Many of the institutions offer free education and boarding facilities to poor students.
The Swami, who was said to be one of the oldest persons living in India, was suffering from a lung infection for the past few weeks.
Security has been tightened at the Mutt as hundreds of followers had gathered to pay their respects to the departed soul.
He was born on April 1, 1907, in Veerapura village of Ramanagara district in Karnataka and was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2015 in recognition of his humanitarian activities.
Last week, CM Kumaraswamy had demanded the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award, for the seer as recognition of his service to the society.
Paying his tributes to the seer Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “His Holiness Dr Sree Sree Sree Sivakumara Swamigalu lived for the people, especially the poor and vulnerable. He devoted himself to alleviating ills like poverty, hunger, and social injustice. Prayers and solidarity with his countless devotees spread all across the world.
“I have had the privilege to visit the Sree Siddaganga Mutt and receive the blessings of His Holiness Dr Sree Sree Sree Sivakumara Swamigalu. The wide range of community service initiatives being done there are outstanding and are at an unimaginably large scale.”
Meanwhile, Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy has announced a three-day state mourning and one-day holiday for all schools, colleges, and government offices on the demise of Siddaganga Math seer Sri Shivakumara Swamiji.