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Shivakumara Swami
Shivakumara Swami.png
Shivakumara Swami on 12 June 2007, aged 100

(1907-04-01)1 April 1907
Died(2019-01-21)21 January 2019
(aged 111 years, 295 days)[2]
Tumkur, Karnataka, India
Other namesSiddaganga Swamigalu, Nadedaduva Devaru, Kayaka Yogi, Trivida Daasohi, Abhinava Basavanna[3]
EducationDoctor of Literature (honorary, 1965)
Years active1930–2019
OrganizationSiddaganga Education Society
AwardsPadma Bhushan (2015)[2]
Karnataka Ratna (2007)[4]

Shivakumara Swami (born Shivanna; 1 April 1907 – 21 January 2019)[5] was an Indian humanitarian, spiritual leader, educator and supercentenarian. He was a Veerashaiva Lingayat religious figure, he joined the Siddaganga Matha in 1930 Karnataka and became head seer from 1941.[6] He also founded the Sri Siddaganga Education Society.[7] Described as the most esteemed adherent of Lingayatism(Veerashaivism),[8] he was referred to as Nadedaaduva Devaru (walking God) in the state.[2]

In 2015, he was awarded by the Government of India the Padma Bhushan, India's third highest civilian award.[2]

Early life

Shivanna was born on 1 April 1907 in Veerapura, a village near Magadi in the erstwhile Kingdom of Mysore (in present-day Ramanagara district of Karnataka state) in a Vokkaliga[9] family. He was the youngest of thirteen children of Gangamma and Honne Gowda. Having been devoted followers of the deities Gangadhareshwara and Honnadevi, Shivanna's parents took him to the shrines in Shivagange, alongside other religious centres around Veerapura.[10][11] His mother Gangamma died when he was eight.[12]

Shivanna completed his elementary education in a rural Anglo-vernacular school in Nagavalli, a village in the present-day Tumkur district. He passed his matriculation in 1926. He was also a resident-student at the Siddaganga Math for a brief span during this time. He enrolled in Central College of Bangalore to study in arts with physics and mathematics as optional subjects,[13] but was unable to earn the bachelor's degree as he was named successor of Uddana Shivayogi Swami to head the Siddaganga Matha.[14] Shivanna was proficient in Kannada, Sanskrit and English languages.[15]

After losing his friend and the heir to head the Siddaganga Matha, Sri Marularadhya, on 16 January 1930, Shivanna was chosen in his place by the incumbent chief Shivayogi Swami. Shivanna, then renamed Shivakumara, entered the viraktashram (the monks' order) on 3 March that year upon formal initiation, and assumed the pontifical name Shivakumara Swami.[16][17] He assumed charge of the Matha on 11 January 1941, following the death of Shivayogi Swami.[18]

Social work

The Swami founded a total of 132 institutions for education and training, that range from nursery to colleges for engineering, science, arts and management as well as vocational training.[19] He established educational institutions which offer courses in traditional learning of Sanskrit as well as modern science and technology. He was widely respected by all communities for his philanthropic work.[20] As other Lingayats, he adhered to a strict vegetarian diet.[21]

The Swami's gurukula houses more than 10,000 children from ages five to sixteen years at any point in time and is open to children from all religions, castes, and creeds who are provided free food, education, and shelter (Trividha Daasoha).[19][3] The pilgrims and visitors to the mutt also receive free meals.[19] Under the Swami's guidance, an annual agricultural fair is held for the benefit of the local population. The Government of Karnataka announced the institution of Shivakumara Swamiji Prashasti from 2007, the centennial birth anniversary of Swamiji.[20] A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, the former President of India, visited him at Tumkur and praised the initiatives of Swami in education and humanitarian work.[20]

Illness and death

In June 2016, Swami was hospitalised with jaundice and discharged later after treatment.[22] He was again hospitalised in May 2017 and was diagnosed with various infections[23] but completely recovered after treatment. In September 2017, he was hospitalised again.[24] In January 2018, he was diagnosed with pneumonia and a gallbladder infection, but made a full recovery after a brief hospitalisation.[25] In June 2018, he was hospitalised again for a recurrence of the gallbladder infection.[26] All of these treatments happened in BGS Hospital Bangalore and was treated by Dr. Ravindra B.S., chief of medical gastroenterology at the BGS Gleneagles Global Hospitals.[27]

The Swami returned to hospital on 1 December 2018, after developing a liver tube infection.[28] Although he was initially discharged, he was admitted again two days later. On 8 December, he underwent liver bypass and gallbladder removal surgeries, performed by Mohamed Rela.[29] The surgeries were successful and the Swami was discharged after various days spent in the intensive care unit. On 29 December, he was diagnosed with a lung infection[30] and on 3 January 2019, he was hospitalised again.[31] On 11 January, he was placed on life support as his conditions deteriorated.[32] On 16 January, despite a complete lack of recovery, the Swami was shifted back to Siddaganga Matha as per his own will.[33] On 21 January, it was reported that he was in a critical condition after his pulse and blood pressure dropped. Attempts to revive him failed and he was pronounced dead at 11:44 a.m. (IST) that day.[34][35]

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Swami on 24 September 2014
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Swami on 24 September 2014

The Government of Karnataka declared a public holiday on 22 January as part of the three-day state mourning period in a mark of respect.[36]

Awards and recognitions

In recognition of his humanitarian work, the Swami was conferred with an honorary degree of Doctor of Literature by the Karnataka University in 1965.[37] On his centenary in 2007, the Government of Karnataka awarded Swami the prestigious Karnataka Ratna award, the highest civilian award of the state.[4] In 2015 the Government of India awarded him the Padma Bhushan.[2]

In 2017, the Government of Karnataka and his followers sought Bharat Ratna for him for his social service.[38][4]


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  2. ^ a b c d e Bhuvaneshwari, S. (21 January 2019). "Siddaganga Mutt head Shivakumara Swamy passes away". The Hindu. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Shivakumara Swami's 111 years will be remembered as a life dedicated to simplicity, learning and service to society". Firstpost. 21 January 2019. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  4. ^ a b c "Seer turns 110, devotees seek Bharat Ratna". The New Indian Express. 1 April 2017. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
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  38. ^ "Bharat Ratna sought for Siddaganga seer". The Hindu. 15 October 2008. Archived from the original on 18 October 2008.