Shivakumara Swamiji, the revered Lingayat seer known as the "Walking God" of Karnataka, had survived many health scares in the past. On Monday, the head of the Tumakuru-based Siddaganga Math died on after several days on life support.
Shivakumara Swamiji was considered by his followers as an incarnation of 12th century social reformer Basaveshwara, the founder of Lingayat sect.
He was born on April 1, 1907 at Veerapura village in Karnataka. Shivanna was the youngest of 13 children. According to legend, he turned to god after his mother died when he was eight.
A celibate throughout his life, Shivakumara Swamiji sert up the Guru Kula that houses more than 8,500 children between 5 and 16 years and provides them free food, education, and shelter.
"India has lost a divine soul," said Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, adding that the seer had transformed the lives of lakhs of people and shaped the future of many.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called on the seer in September, 2014, months after coming to power with an outsized victory. Before the Karnataka polls in May, both BJP president Amit Shah and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi visited the seer.
A recipient of Padma Bhushan and Karnataka Ratna awards, the seer had been in a serious condition for the past two months and had gone through surgery in Chennai about two months ago for liver-related complications.
The Lingayat seer was so influential that leaders across the spectrum, from BJP president Amit Shah to Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, visited him to seek his blessings.
Cutting short their engagements, Mr Kumaraswamy, Congress leader Siddaramaiah and BJP state president BS Yeddyurappa all travelled to Tumakuru on learning of his deteriorating health.
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