Dr Shivakumara Swami, the seer who headed the Sree Siddaganga Mutt in Karnataka's Tumakuru, has died at 111 after weeks of treatment. Shivakumara Swami had been unwell for a while and had been on life support for the past two weeks. Karnataka will observe three-day mourning and schools, colleges and government offices will be closed on Tuesday as a mark of respect for the seer revered by millions. Shivakumara Swami was often known as "the walking god". Top political leaders mourned the death of the Lingayat seer; rivals Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy and former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa united in expressing their grief and addressed the media jointly.
In the run-up to the May assembly elections in Karnataka last year, presidents of BJP and Congress Amit Shah and Rahul Gandhi respectively had visited Shivakumara Swami.
The seer's body was kept on a platform for people to pay their last respects after being brought on a palanquin in a grand procession around the Sree Siddaganga Mutt. A thick security blanket has been thrown all over the district, especially in and around the mutt.
BJP President Amit Shah today grieved the loss of Shivakumara Swami. "His life is a message of humanity and noble-ness. May he continue to bless us with the strength to walk on the path he has shown us," Mr Shah said on Twitter.
Known among his followers as a "walking god" and an incarnation of 12th century renowned social reformer Basava, Shivakumara Swami was the head of the Sree Siddaganga Education Society, which runs about 125 educational institutions in the state -- from engineering colleges to business schools -- providing free education to poor students.
After the death of Shivakumara Swami, senior Congress leader Veerappa Moily, too, requested the Centre to bestow the Lingayat leader with Bharat Ratna. "He (Shivakumara Swami) should be conferred with Bharat Ratna and government of India must not hesitate on that," Mr Moily said. Earlier, senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge requested the Centre to bestow Shivakumara Swami with Bharat Ratna.
The Aam Aadmi Party today tweeted grieving the death of Shivakumar Swami. "He lived his life with the motto 'Service of man is Service of God'. Great loss to the people of Karnataka and our country," the Arvind Kejriwal-led party said.
Shivakumara Swami was suffering from a lung infection for the past few weeks and was put on life support. He had been in and out of hospitals over the last few years due to his age.
Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge has requested the Centre to bestow Shivakumara Swami with Bharat Ratna. "I request the government to give him Bharat Ratna. He is worthy of getting the title. He was a great man from Karnataka and it is worth it to bestow the Bharat Ratna on him," Mr Kharge said.
Massive security arrangements are in place around the Sree Siddaganga Mutt in Karnataka's Tumakuru that was surrounded by hundreds of devotees, hoping to catch a glimpse of Shivakumara Swami.
President Ram Nath Kovind took to Twitter today to express his grief after the death of the head of Sree Siddaganga Mutt Shivakumara Swami. "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," President Kovind said.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi today said that Shivakumara Swami's death has left a "deep spiritual void". "I am sorry to hear about the passing of Shivakumar Swami Ji, Pontiff of the Siddaganga Mutt. Swami Ji was respected and revered by millions of Indians, from all religions and communities. His passing leaves behind a deep spiritual void. My condolences to all his followers," Mr Gandhi tweeted.
Shivakumara Swami, the Lingayat leader, was worshipped by millions, and was awarded the Padma Bhushan. Both Karnataka Chief Minister Kumaraswamy and former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa had said Shivakumara Swami should be awarded the Bharat Ratna, the country's highest civilian award.
Both Karnataka Chief Minister Kumaraswamy and former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa were united in mourning the death of Shivakumara Swami, known as "the walking god".
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his grief today over Lingayat leader Shivakumara Swami's death, remembering how the seer "lived for the people". PM Modi said on Twitter, "He devoted himself towards alleviating ills like poverty, hunger and social injustice. Prayers and solidarity with his countless devotees spread all across the world."
"He (Shivakumara Swami) represents the best of our traditions of compassionate service, spirituality and protecting the rights of the underprivileged," PM Modi added.
After Shivakumara Swami's death, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh expressed his grief on Twitter. "Swamiji inspired people to serve the society and bring positive change. His focus on spreading education and learning transformed many lives. His demise is a great loss for society," Mr Singh said.
Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara expressed his grief after Shivakumara Swami's death. "The state is at a loss today. As I recall my long-term association with Shri Shri Siddaganga Swamiji, I realise we were blessed to be around and guided by the great humanitarian seer who cared for all, irrespective of status, caste or religion," he said. Mr Parameshwara also called Shivakumara Swami's contribution to the society as "exemplary". "...he (Shivakumara Swami) enabled children across the boundaries of caste, creed and religion with free food, shelter and education. He was the guiding light to many and lived what he taught," Mr Parameshwara tweeted.
Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy has announced a one-day holiday tomorrow for all schools, colleges and government offices in the state and a three-day state mourning after the death of Shivakumara Swami.
Shivakumara Swami's cremation will be held on January 22 at 4.30 pm, Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy said today.