It was on the 21st January 2019 that ShivKumarama Swamiji breathed his last. He was 111 years old. He was born in a small village near Mysore. He was named Shivanna by his parents. He was the youngest child of his parents. He had twelve brothers and sisters. He was only eight when he lost his mother. He would frequently visit the places of religious importance with his parents. He frequently visited Shivgange. He finished schooling from Siddaganga Math. He finished his graduation with physics and maths. He also knew Kannada and Sanskrit very well.
ShivKumarama Swamiji decided to join the Siddagnga Math in 1930. ShivKumarama Swamiji was a prominent religious leader of modern India. However, he believed that education is also equally important for the progress of a person. He was the founder of 132 institutes all across the country. These institutes focus on training and education. The institutes also focused on vocational training and management courses as well. He was respected a lot for the amazing philanthropic work that he had done all through his life.
ShivKumarama Swamiji believed that education is the most important step to empowerment. He welcomed political leaders into his ashram but he never thought of joining politics. He was respected and loved by many for the amazing job he did all his life for the benefit of the people. The Guru kula of ShivKumarama Swamiji houses 10,000 children between the age of five and sixteen. These children are not selected as per caste or creed. They are just given food and shelter.
ShivKumarama Swamiji was awarded with Padma Bhushan and Karnataka Ratna. He had a long history of illness that was primarily cause due to old age. His liver was not working properly. Finally on 21st January he could not be revived. ShivKumarama Swamiji headed the Siddaganga math for a very long time. The importance of ShivKumarama Swamiji can be imagined from the fact that the state Government of Karnataka has declared three days of state mourning.
ShivKumarama Swamiji was known as the walking god by the people of Tumkur. They called him “nadedaduva devaru”.
He was a Lingayat and followed all the teachings of Basavanna. The Lingayat set believes in “Shikshana” meaning education and “Dasoha” which means mass feeding. The small mutt in Tumkur was completely transformed by ShivKumarama Swamiji. Many celebrities and politicians ensured that they regularly visit ShivKumarama Swamiji and get blessed by him.
The mutt today is a powerful place and one of the most recognised educational institutes in the country thanks to the efforts of ShivKumarama Swamiji. Like most of the stories of religious leaders the life of ShivKumarama Swamiji was also filled with ups and downs. ShivKumarama Swamiji was very clear that the mutt does make a lot of money from various sources but the main aim of the mutt was to serve the society in whatever way possible.
When ShivKumarama Swamiji joined the mutt there were only 500 students. Today there are more than lakh students. Students who are enrolled irrespective of caste and religion, some of them are studying to be doctors and some are studying to be engineers.
Even at the age of 111, ShivKumarama Swamiji woke up at 4 in the morning. He believed that one should live a simple life and whatever excess they have it should be given back to the society. For 80 years he collected money from the rich and distributed it to the poor. He had a lot of devotees and some were not even religious. Many of his devotees strongly feel that there was a very strong charm about ShivKumarama Swamiji. He had an amazing aura and people would feel a sense of peace and calm around ShivKumarama Swamiji.
ShivKumarama Swamiji was a very learned person. He spoke very little and heard a lot to whatever was told to him. It is a fact that the students who are studying at the mutt are provided free food and shelter. Shelter we can understand but providing free food to 9000 students is not easy. Well the villages around the mutt send grains and other supplies every day to the mutt. These are used for feeding the children. ShivKumarama Swamiji was so powerful and respected that these villages have been willingly providing these supplies for years. ShivKumarama Swamiji knew that he will not live for long so he made it clear to all his devotees that the free food supply to the villages should never stop at any cost. The villagers have continued this practice out of love and respect for him and will continue to do it.
We will now move on to how he spent the rest of the day and what was the routine after waking up at 4 in the morning. He used to worship Lord Shiva. He had an ishta linga , which is a small linga that can fit into the palm. ShivKumarama Swamiji prayed for three hours every day using this shiv linga. This was done at three different times of the day. Inside the mutt there were many temples and some are as old as 500 years but ShivKumarama Swamiji never went to these temples and prayed using this small shiv linga.
ShivKumarama Swamiji was asked why he did not go to temples. He replied that there was no need for him to go to the temple as his lord was in his palm. His lord was in his heart. This form of prayer was enough for him to concentrate and for the peace of his mind. He did not need a mediator or a priest to convey his messages to the lord. He followed this simple method of praying till the end of his life.
ShivKumarama Swamiji was a progressive person. He became a monk and joined the mutt at the age of 25 and he always ensured that he followed his principals. He never allowed anyone to come between him and his duty towards the mutt. He believed that women were same as men and must be given equal opportunity. He never discriminated women during the time of mensuration. He was religious but he also knew till what extent religion must be respected and allowed to rule our lives.
ShivKumarama Swamiji always said that humanity was the most important thing for him and it was the dharma that all humans must follow. The message was clear that humanity is the most important thing. Politics and religion comes much later. He was buried in sitting posture. It is called “kriya Samadhi”. His body was covered with cakes of vibhooti, salt and bilva leaves. How the last rites will be performed was already decided by the late swamiji.
His wishes were followed during the rituals to ensure that his soul rests in peace. The body of ShivKumarama Swamiji was placed on a chariot that was made of rudrakshi and was called the rudrakshi mantapa. This chariot was used to carry the mortal remains to the spot where he was buried. During the procession slogans were recited by the disciples. These slogans were in praise of Swamiji.
Siddalinga Swamiji who will soon take up the position of ShivKumarama Swamiji said that the rituals were followed as per the instructions given by ShivKumarama Swamiji during his life. ShivKumarama Swamiji knew that death is inevitable as a result he ensured that he made his diciples well aware of how his final journey must be.
The mutt sources also say that ShivKumarama Swamiji wanted to enter Sajeeva Samadhi as soon as he turned 100 years. Sajeeva Samadhi means a process in which one enters his own grave. But ShivKumarama Swamiji was told by his devotees not to take Samadhi. The mortal remains of ShivKumarama Swamiji will be placed in a glass box at the Gosala Siddeshwara stage in the mutt from Monday that is 28th January 2019. Devotees will be allowed to visit this and pay their tributes. All the devotees who came to pay their respect to ShivKumarama Swamiji were offered food by the mutt. ShivKumarama Swamiji was very clear that no one should go without food no matter what. ShivKumarama Swamiji was a great saint and this is our way of paying a humble tribute to this great leader. We hope that the mutt and the successors of ShivKumarama Swamiji continue to follow ad preach all that ShivKumarama Swamiji had been preaching all his life. His life is indeed an inspiring story that must keep encouraging people all across the world.