Shivakumara Swami (born Shivanna; 1 April 1907 – 21 January 2019) was an Indian supercentenarian, humanitarian, spiritual leader and educator. He was a Lingayat religious figure, he joined the Siddaganga Matha in 1930 Karnataka and became head seer from 1941. He also founded the Sri Siddaganga Education Society. Described as the most esteemed adherent of Lingayatism, he was referred to as Nadedaaduva Devaru (walking God) in the state.
Shivakumara Swami in June 2007, aged 100
1 April 1907
|Died||21 January 2019|
(aged 111 years, 295 days)
Tumkur, Karnataka, India
|Other names||Siddaganga Swamigalu, Nadedaduva Devaru, Kayaka Yogi, Trivida Daasohi, Abhinava Basavanna|
|Education||Doctor of Literature (honourary, 1965)|
|Organization||Siddaganga Education Society|
|Awards||Padma Bhushan (2015)|
Karnataka Ratna (2007)
Before his death at the age of 111 years, 295 days, he was one of the oldest people living in India. In 2015, he was awarded by the Government of India the Padma Bhushan, India's third highest civilian award.
Shivanna was born on 1 April 1907 in Veerapura, a village near Magadi in the erstwhile Kingdom of Mysore (in present-day Ramanagara district of Karnataka state). He was the youngest of thirteen children of Gangamma and Honne Gowda. Having been devoted followers of the deities Gangadhareshwara and Honnadevi, Shivanna's parents took him to the shrines in Shivagange, alongside other religious centres around Veerapura. His mother Gangamma died when he was eight.
Shivanna completed his elementary education in a rural anglo-vernacular school in Nagavalli, a village in the present-day Tumkur district. He passed his matriculation in 1926. He was also a resident-student at the Siddaganga Math for a brief span during this time. He enrolled in Central College of Bangalore to study in arts with physics and mathematics as optional subjects, but was unable to earn the bachelor's degree as he was named successor of Uddana Shivayogi Swami to head the Siddaganga Matha. Shivanna was proficient in Kannada, Sanskrit and English languages.
After losing his friend and the heir to head the Siddaganga Matha, Sri Marularadhya, in January 1930, Shivanna was chosen in his place by the incumbent chief Shivayogi Swami. Shivanna, then renamed Shivakumara, entered the viraktashram (the monks' order) on 3 March that year upon formal initiation, and assumed the pontifical name Shivakumara Swami. He assumed charge of the Matha on 11 January 1941, following the death of Shivayogi Swami.
The Swami founded a total of 132 institutions for education and training, that range from nursery to colleges for engineering, science, arts and management as well as vocational training. He established educational institutions which offer courses in traditional learning of Sanskrit as well as modern science and technology. He was widely respected by all communities for his philanthropic work.
The Swami's gurukula houses more than 10,000 children from ages five to sixteen years at any point in time and is open to children from all religions, castes, and creeds who are provided free food, education, and shelter (Trivida Dasohi). The pilgrims and visitors to the mutt also receive free meals. Under the Swami's guidance, an annual agricultural fair is held for the benefit of the local population. The Government of Karnataka announced the institution of Shivakumara Swamiji Prashasti from 2007, the centennial birth anniversary of Swamiji. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, the former President of India, visited him at Tumkur and praised the initiatives of Swami in education and humanitarian work.
Illness and deathEdit
In June 2016, the Swami was hospitalised with jaundice and discharged later after treatment. He was again hospitalised in May 2017 and was diagnosed with various infections but completely recovered after treatment. In September 2017, he was hospitalised again. In January 2018, he was diagnosed with pneumonia and a gallbladder infection, but made a full recovery after a brief hospitalisation. In June 2018, he was hospitalised again for a recurrence of the gallbladder infection. All of these treatments happened in BGS Hospital Bangalore and was treated by Dr. Ravindra B.S., chief of medical gastroenterology at the BGS Gleneagles Global Hospitals.
The Swami returned to hospital on 1 December 2018, after suffering from a liver tube infection. Although he was initially discharged, he was admitted again two days later. On 8 December, he underwent liver bypass and gallbladder removal surgeries, performed by Mohamed Rela. The surgeries were successful and the Swami was discharged after various days spent in the intensive care unit. On 29 December, he was diagnosed with a lung infection and on 3 January 2019, he was hospitalised again. On 11 January, he was placed on life support as his conditions deteriorated. On 16 January, despite a complete lack of recovery, the Swami was shifted back to Siddaganga Matha as per his own will. On 21 January, it was reported that he was in a critical condition after his pulse and blood pressure dropped. Attempts to revive him failed and he was pronounced dead at 11:44 a.m. (IST) that day. The Government of Karnataka declared a public holiday on 22 January as part of the three-day state mourning period in a mark of respect.
Awards and recognitionsEdit
In recognition of his humanitarian work, the Swami was conferred with an honorary degree of Doctor of Literature by the Karnataka University in 1965. On his centenary in 2007, the Government of Karnataka awarded Swami the prestigious Karnataka Ratna award, the highest civilian award of the state. In 2015 the Government of India awarded him the Padma Bhushan.
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