Bengaluru: Sree Sree Sivakumara Swami, the head of the Sree Siddaganga Math, one of the most prominent religious headquarters for the dominant Lingayat community, died on Monday after his health deteriorated since Sunday night. He was 111. The passing of the seer, referred to reverently as ‘walking god’, brings to an end an era of a religious figure who, unlike several others, was not viewed solely through the prism of political inclinations.

Shivakumara Swami had been suffering from respiratory illness and had been in and out of hospitals in recent weeks.

Karnataka chief minister H.D.Kumaraswamy on Monday announced the death of the seer, who commanded a following from various sections of society and people in high offices, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The seer was critical since Sunday night and security was beefed up in around the Math in Tumakuru, about 70 km from Bengaluru. 

Thousands of devotees poured into Siddaganga Math where children and others offered prayers on Monday.

Kumaraswamy declared that the last rites of the seer would be with full state honours. Karnataka will observe a three-day mourning and a holiday has been declared on Tuesday.

Former Karnataka chief minister B.S.Yeddyurappa reiterated the demand that the seer be conferred a Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian award, for his philanthropic services.

The seer was ordained in 1930 and assumed full responsibility of the Math in 1941 after the death of his guru Sree Sree Uddanda Swami. The Siddaganga Math also runs the Sree Siddaganga Education Society that has established more than 130 schools and colleges.

The Math credits the growth of its education and other philanthropic activities to Shivakumar Swami, who took it from around 200 students to around 45,000 at present, including 9,000 poor children who are provided free food, shelter and education. The education complex consists of schools, a Sanskrit college, and a school for the blind and specially abled children. 

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