KARNATAKA

Siddaganga Math set for celebrations

A SOCIAL SANCTUARY: A bird’s eye view of the Siddaganga Math near Tumkur.

A SOCIAL SANCTUARY: A bird’s eye view of the Siddaganga Math near Tumkur.  

Shivaraja K.N.

Pratibha Patil to inaugurate the three-day event today

TUMKUR: Sri Siddaganga Math is situated 5 km east of Tumkur. It is in the midst of a range of hillocks. Serenity is its singular speciality. Sri Shivakumara Swamiji, the math’s pontiff, will turn 101 on April 1.

His devotees have planned a three-day celebration to mark his 101st birth anniversary celebration and President Pratibha Patil will inaugurate it at the math on Monday.

History of this ancient math is linked with the 12th century social reformer Basaveswara. Gosala Siddeswara led about 100 “sharanas” out of Haradanahalli (now in Chamarajanagar district) in search of places for pursuing saintly life.

He found the Ketasamudra (now called Kyatsandra) Hill very convenient.

He instantly struck water on the top of the hill, which had come to be called “Siddaganga (meaning ready water) Betta”.

The water on the hill, available to this day in plenty in all seasons, is regarded as “Siddaganga” (meaning holy waters) and worshipped by devotees of the math.

Gosala Shankareswara, Gosala Channabasaveswara, and Tontada Siddalingeswara are prominent among the saints who led religious activities in and around the hill till the 19th century.

Atavi Shivayogi, who came from Koodala of Hanagal taluk in North Karnataka, started the Siddaganga Math at the foot of the hills and launched free feeding of people, calling it “dasoha” and it had become a way of life in the math. The Shivayogi started Samskrita Gurukula in 1902.

His successor, Uddhana Shivayogi, expanded the math’s “dasoha” activity. In 1917, he founded Free Boarding Home for the poor and destitute students and later in 1937, he upgraded the Samskrita Gurukula into a full-fledged Sanskrit College with only 237 students. The home and the college now have nearly 10,000 students.

The credit for throwing open all facilities — boarding, lodging and studying of Sanskrit — to students from all castes and communities, including Muslims and Christians, goes to the late Uddhana Shivayogi. Now, students from over 54 castes and all major religions are studying at the math’s boarding home and Sanskrit College. The Shivayogi is highly regarded as a model for secular service.

Third in the lineage is Shivakumara Swamiji. Born on April 1, 1908 at Veerapura (Magadi taluk) to Honnappa and Gangamma, he had his primary education at Nagavalli, near here, secondary education in Tumkur and higher education at Central College, Bangalore.

Karnataka University conferred on him a doctoral degree in 1965 and Tumkur University did so in 2008.

Shivakumara Swamiji was initiated into holy order on March 3, 1930 and he took over the reins of Siddaganga Math on January 11, 1941 at 11.45 p.m. when his guru Uddhana Shivayogi died.

During these 68 years, the math has grown into a very big service centre providing free food, shelter and education to the poor and the destitute children from across Karnataka and parts of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

He founded 134 educational institutions in rural parts. They include Sanskrit schools, high schools, technical institutes, professional colleges and research centres.

All of them are known for quality instruction and excellence. Striking feature at his institutions is that teachers enjoyed full freedom. A centenarian, his day starts at 2.45 a.m. He is astonishingly alert, active, and agile. He is much sought after at all public events. People crave to listen to his discourses.

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