Last rites to be performed today at Chunchanagiri with state honours

Balagangadharanatha Swami of Adichunchanagiri Mahasamsthana Math in Mandya passed away at a private hospital here on Sunday after a brief illness. The last rites will be performed on Monday at 4 p.m. at Chunchanagiri village in Nagamangala taluk, the headquarters of the math, with full state honours.

The 68-year-old swami was admitted to the hospital on Saturday morning after he complained of chest pain. He died on Sunday evening following a cardiac arrest. “We tried to revive him, but he did not respond. A team of specialists from various other hospitals were also consulted,” vice-chairman of BGS Global Hospitals N.K. Venkataramana told The Hindu.

The body has been kept at the math’s branch here in Vijayanagar for the public to pay their last respects. The cortege will leave the math around 9 a.m. on Monday and is expected to reach Chunchanagiri at around 4 p.m.

The swami, who was among the first to head a non-Lingayat/non-Brahmin math in Karnataka, presided over the ancient math since 1974 after being initiated to the pontifical order by Ramananda Swami in 1968. He was conferred with the Padma Bhushan in 2010.

His devotees had made elaborate plans to celebrate his 69th birthday in Chickballapur on January 18.

Speculations about his health were rife since Sunday afternoon, which compelled the hospital authorities to address a press conference to allay fears about his health. However, the end came soon after.

As the news of his deteriorating health spread, several politicians, cutting across party lines, made a beeline for BGS Global Hospitals, near Kengeri.

Deputy Chief Minister R. Ashok said: “The last rites will be performed at Chunchanagiri with full state honours on Monday. The cortege will reach the math’s headquarters by around 4 p.m.” He also appealed for calm among his followers.

Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar and the former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda were among the leaders, who led a host of Ministers, politicians, businessmen and general public in paying tributes to the departed religious leader at the hospital.

“The swami contributed significantly in the field of education. He was an inspiration to many,” Mr. Shettar told presspersons at the hospital.

Tension

Meanwhile, tension prevailed for some time outside the hospital as several people staged protests against managing director of Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprises Ltd. (NICE) Ashok Kheny for his alleged remarks against Mr. Deve Gowda. Mr. Khenywas heckled by a few persons soon after he came out of the hospital, but the police whisked him away to safety.

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