Political leaders from across the spectrum mourned the death of Dr Shivakumara Swami, the 111-year-old seer from Karnataka and a prominent face of the influential Lingayat community.
President Ram Nath Kovind expressed his condolences. "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 tweeted.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid a moving tribute along with a picture of Shivakumara Swami. "His Holiness Dr. Sree Sree Sree Sivakumara Swamigalu lived for the people, especially the poor and vulnerable. 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 tweeted.
I have had the privilege to visit the Sree Siddaganga Mutt and receive the blessings of His Holiness Dr. Sree Sree Sree Sivakumara Swamigalu.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) January 21, 2019
The wide range of community service initiatives being done there are outstanding and are at an unimaginably large scale. pic.twitter.com/wsmRp2cERd
Congress president Rahul Gandhi said the seer's passing had left a "deep spiritual void".
Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy and BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa were united in grief as they addressed a joint press conference announcing the seer's death.
"I am deeply saddened to announce that the walking God,Parama Poojya Siddaganga Sri, has passed away. It is an irreparable loss to the state. His contribution to the society transformed lakhs of people from across the state. He shaped the future of many people," Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy told reporters in Tumakuru, where the seer died.
"The passing away of seer has caused me unbearable pain personally. I have lost a Guru who always guided me," Mr Yeddyurappa said in a statement.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said Shivakumara Swami's focus on spreading education and learning transformed many lives.
Shivakumara Swami, who headed the Siddaganga Mutt in Karnataka, is known among his followers as "the walking god" and an incarnation of 12th century social reformer Basava. He also headed the Sree Siddaganga Education Society which runs about 125 educational institutions in the Karnataka - from engineering colleges to business schools.
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