Widely-revered Karnataka seer and spiritual leader, Shivakumara Swami of the Siddaganga Mutt at Tumakuru near here, passed away today at the age of 111 due to age-related illnesses, sources said.
He was suffering from a lung illness and was in a critical condition for more than two weeks. His condition took a turn for the worse yesterday and he had been put on health support. He breathed his last at 11.44 am today, they said.
The Karnataka government has declared three days of state mourning and announced a holiday tomorrow, when his last rites will be conducted.
Karnataka Chief Minister H. D. Kumaraswamy, BJP leader B. S. Yeddyurappa and Union Minister D V Sadananda Gowda were amongst those who visited the Mutt in recent days to enquire about his health.
Last week, Kumaraswamy demanded the nation's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, for the seer in recognition of his service to society.
Shivakumara Swami was the head of the Sree Siddaganga Math which has a recorded history of 600 years and is located about 63 km from Bengaluru on the highway to Pune.
The Sree Siddaganga Education Society has established more than 130 schools and colleges, mostly in rural areas.
Born on April 1, 1907, Shivakumara Swami was initiated into the holy order in 1930 He assumed full responsibility of the Mutt in 1941 after the death of Uddana Swami. He was described as the most esteemed adherent of Lingayatism and was often referred to as the "Walking God".
Then President A P J Abdul Kalam had visited the Siddaganga Mutt in 2008 to celebrate the 100th birthday celebrations of Shivakumara Swami.
The Union Government had honoured him with the Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian honour in 2015 and the state government had honoured him with Karnataka Ratna in 2007.
Shivakumar Swami had studied English in college and was proficient in Kannada and Sanskrit. In recognition of his humanitarian work, the Swami was conferred with an honorary degree of Doctor of Literature by Karnataka University in 1965.
Thousands of poor students received free education, food and stay at the many institutions founded by him. Among them was the Guru Kula, which housed more than 8,500 children at any point in time and provided them free food, education and shelter.
The seer had been in and out of hospital for the past many months for treatment of various illnesses.
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