Lakhs of people bid a tearful adieu to their “Walking God”, as the mortal remains of Sree Shivakumara Swamiji of Siddaganga mutt, were laid to rest on Tuesday with fullstate honours at the premises of the seminary he headed for over seven decades. The 111-year-old seer passed away on Monday after a prolonged illeness. The seer was suffering from lung infection for the past few weeks and was put on life support on January 11. He had been in and out of hospitals in recent years due to various health issues.
The Swamiji 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.
Preparations and rituals for the burial ceremony wereon since morning at the place, which, according to sources, was notified by Shivakumara Swami himself. The pontiff had also recorded the proceduresthat needed to be followed for his last rites, according to hissuccessor and junior pontiff of the mutt, Siddalinga Swamiji. Earlier speaking to reporters, the junior swami hadsaid that the last rites would be performed according to the swami’swish.
“He has written about it. He had expressed a desire that the last rites have to be performed as done to his guru (UddanaShivayogigalu),” Siddalinga swamiji said The mortal remains, placed in a “Rudrakshi Mantapa” (chariot made of rudrakshi),was carried from the ground where it was kept for public view to the final resting place (Gadduge) in a procession, amid chanting of slogans by disciples in praise of their revered guru. The crowd also shouted slogans demanding that ‘Bharat Ratna” be conferred on the seer.
Among those present at the burial ceremony were Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, former Chief Ministers Siddaramaiah and BS Yeddyurappa, Deputy CM G Parameshwara, Union Minister DV Sadananda Gowda, state Home Minister MB Patil, along with pontiffs of various prominent mutts in the state, including Shivarathri Deshikendra Mahaswamiji of the Sri Suttur Mutt.
Earlier in the day, lakhs of people thronged the mutt to pay their last respects to the seer, whose mortalremains were placed in a glass box at Gosala Siddeshwara stagein the mutt premises since Monday.
Among prominent people who paid their last respects on Tuesday were former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, former Chief Minister SM Krishna, Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, Yoga guru Baba Ramdev and Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy.
According to mutt sources, Swamiji had wished to enter “Sajeeva Samadhi” (giving up life by entering one’s own grave) on attaining 100 years of age, but gave it up due to legal reasons and pressure from his followers.
Following the path laid down by their guru, the mutt provided food as “prasad” to thousands of devotees who thronged the area to pay their respects. Though shops and establishments remained closed in Tumkuru and surrounding areas as a mark of respect, many civilians, as also hotels and restaurants, distributed food freeof cost to devotees and the needy by setting up food counters at various places.
The Chief Minister and most of his cabinet collagues and also the leader of the opposition, Yeddyurappa, had camped in Siddaganga since the morning.
The seer also headed the Sree Siddaganga Education Society, which runs about 125 educational institutions in the state - from engineering colleges to business schools.
Many of the institutions offer free education and boarding facilities to poor students.
Fluent in English, Kannada and Sanskrit, the seer was widely respected for his secular outlook and the charitable activities he presided over.
Karnataka leaders urged the Union government to confer the highest civilian award, Bharat Ratna, on the seer for his philanthropic work.
Born on April 1, 1907 in Veerapura village of Ramanagara district in Karnataka, the Swami was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2015.
(With inputs from agencies)