Tributes started pouring in as soon as the news of the passing away of Shivakumara Swamiji of Siddaganga Mutt broke out as political leaders, cutting across the party lines, paid homage to the 111-year-old Lingayat seer from Karnataka.

The Lingayat seer was known among his followers as Walking God and an incarnation of the 12th-century social reformer Basava.

President Ram Nath Kovind said in a tweet: “Extremely sad to learn of the passing of spiritual leader Dr Sree Sree Sree Sivakumara Swamigalu Ji. He contributed immensely to society particularly towards healthcare and education. My condolences to his countless followers.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “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.

“HH Dr. Sree Sree Sree Sivakumara Swamigalu remained at the forefront of ensuring better healthcare and education facilities for the marginalised. He represents the best of our traditions of compassionate service, spirituality and protecting the rights of the underprivileged.”

Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted: “I am sorry to hear about the passing of Shivakumar Swami Ji, Pontiff of the Siddaganga Mutt. Swami Ji was respected & revered by millions of Indians, from all religions & communities. His passing leaves behind a deep spiritual void. My condolences to all his followers.”

Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, who broke the news of the death of Shivakumar Swami Ji, while interacting with the media said: “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 the future of many people.”

The Karnataka CM office tweeted: India has lost a divine soul..

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said Shivakumara Swamiji’s focus on spreading education and learning transformed many lives.

In his condolence message, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of The Art of Living, said: “Most Revered Sri Sri Sri Shivakumara Swamiji walked the earth for 111 years. He was an embodiment of Poornatva and one of the greatest Shiva Gnanis that India has seen. He was a leading light of spiritual, social and cultural revolution of this time in Karnataka. His spirit will continue to guide humanity for generations to come.”

Among others who expressed their condolences include former prime minister HD Deve Gowda; Mallikarjun Kharge, the leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha; BS Yeddyurappa, the Leader of the Opposition in the Karnataka Assembly; Suresh Prabhu, Minister of Commerce and Industry, Civil Aviation; JP Nadda, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare; and Randeep Singh Surjewala, MLA and senior Congress leader.