Pejawar Math head Sri Vishwesha Theertha Swamiji, one of the prominent religious leaders of South India, died at the Math in Udupi on Sunday after a brief illness.
Udupi/Bengaluru: Pejawar Math head Sri Vishwesha Theertha Swamiji, one of the prominent religious leaders of South India, died at the Math in Udupi on Sunday after a brief illness. The body of the 88-year old swamiji, a prominent face of the VHP’s Ramjanmabhoomi movement, was interred at the Poornaprajna Vidyapeetha in Bengaluru as per the Hindu tradition amid Vedic hymns late in the evening.
The seer had expressed his wish to be buried at Vidyapeetha, a Vedanta learning centre, which he had founded in 1956. Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, deputy chief minister Govind Karjol, revenue minister R Ashok, BJP leaders Uma Bharti, Ram Madhav and several others were present when the state honour was given ahead of the last rites.
The Karnataka government announced a three-day state mourning. Vishwesha Theertha, the most senior pontiff of the Ashta (eight) maths here, established by Dvaita philosopher Sri Madhwacharya 800 years ago, was admitted to KMC Hospital in nearby Manipal with respiratory problems on December 19.
On Saturday night, he suffered multi-organ failure following which he was shifted to the Pejawar Math here this morning as per his wish expressed earlier, the sources said. From there, the mortal remains of the swamiji were taken in a bamboo basket to the eight centuries old Udupi Sri Krishna Math, where a bath was given in Madhawa Sarovara (holy tank).
After a darshan of Lord Krishna, the body of the swamiji kept in the bamboo basket was taken in a procession in an open jeep amid chants of “Govinda” “Govinda” to Ajjarakadu stadium where a large number of people gathered.
Yediyurappa paid his respects to the departed seer at Udupi and placed a national flag on the body, wrapped in saffron colour cloth and adorned with Tulsi garlands, even as police personnel gave a gun salute at the stadium. A host of state ministers and senior BJP and Sangh Parivar leaders were among those who offered floral tributes at the Ajjarakadu ground.
Later, the body was flown to Bengaluru in an Indian Air Force chopper and was taken to the National College Ground for his followers to offer their tributes. Thousands of people flocked to the National Ground to get a last glimpse of the Swamiji.
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, a Rajya Sabha member from Karnataka and former chief minister Siddaramaiah were among those who paid tributes to the departed seer in Bengaluru.
In the evening, the body was taken in an open vehicle decked up like a chariot and bedecked with flowers, with portraits of the seer on the front and on all four sides. It was followed by a convoy of vehicles to Vidyapeetha as thousands of people stood on both sides of the road to pay their last respects to the departed soul. Yediyurappa, Uma Bharti, deputy chief minister Govind Karjol and several others laid wreaths on the body. Again at Vidyapeetha, a gun salute was given to the seer before he was interred.
The junior pontiff Vishwa Prasanna Teertha performed rituals along with a battery of priests. Prime Minister Narendra Modi joined thousands of mourners in condoling the death of the seer, who was the 33rd swamiji in the lineage of the Pejawar Math heads.
“Udupi will remain in the hearts and minds of lakhs of people for whom he was always a guiding light. A powerhouse of service and spirituality, he continuously worked for a more just and compassionate society. Om Shanti,” Modi tweeted, condoling the death of the swamiji. Yediyurappa said: “Hindu religion has lost a major guide in the passing away of the seer. He had held ‘sahabhojana’ with Dalits, which was a step to lower the voice of inequality in Hindu religion.
“His contribution to the upliftment of Hindu dharma is immortal. It is saddening that he did not live to witness theconstruction of Rama mandir in Ayodhya,” the chief minister said in his message. Union Home Minister Amit Shah too mourned the demise of the Swamiji.
“Deeply pained to learn about the demise of Sri Sri Vishwesha Teertha Swami ji of the Pejawar mutt, Udupi. He was an epitome of humanity, kindness and knowledge. His selfless contribution towards the welfare of people and society has no parallels,” Shah tweeted. Pejawar Swamiji was born at Ramakunja to a Shivalli Madhwa Brahmin family on April 27, 1931.
He was ordained into Sanyasa in 1938 under guru Sri Vidyamanya Tirtharu of Shri Bhandarkeri Mutt and Palimaru Mutt. He was the 32nd in the lineage of the Pejawar Mutt, starting from Sri Adhokshaja Tirtharu, who was one of the direct disciples of Sri Madhvacharya. Vishwesha Theertha had completed five Paryaya titles in Udupi Sri Krishna temple starting from 1954 and the only Swamiji to complete five Paryayas after Shri Vadiraja Swamiji of Sode Mutt. He started his fifth Paryaya on January 18, 2016 and completed it on January 18, 2018.
The ‘Paryaya’ system denotes transfer of power of exclusive rights of worshipping the presiding deity at the famous Lord Krishna temple here and management of Sri Krishna Mutt from one seer to another of the Astha (eight) Mutts once in two years by turns. Pejawar Swamiji had earlier appointed Sri Vishwaprasanna Theertha, as his successor as the chief of Pejawar Mutt.
After the Supreme Court verdict in the Ramjanmabhoomi case, the seer attended a peace meeting along with Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders and others last month. For communal amity, he had hosted an Iftar and Namaz for Muslims at a dining hall just outside the Udupi Sri Krishna Math during the holy month of Ramzan in 2017. The seer also championed the Dalit cause by taking up several social initiatives, including visits to Dalit colonies.