Vishwesha Tirtha Swami, the 88-year-old pontiff of Pejawar Mutt, passed away in Udupi on Sunday. He was 88.
He was admitted to the Kasturba Hospital in Manipal for the treatment of extensive pneumonia on December 20 and was shifted to the Pejawar Mutt in Udupi on Sunday morning on ventilator after his health condition worsened. He passed away hours after being shifted.
Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa who visited the Pejawar Mutt said that there would be a three-day State mourning and the seer would be laid to rest with full state honours.
Raghupati Bhat, MLA, said the seer’s body would be taken to Sri Krishna Mutt and for a holy dip at Madhwa Sarovar pond. His body would be taken in an open vehicle from Krishna Mutt to Ajjarkad ground here for public viewing till 1 p.m. It will be airlifted by an IAF chopper to Bengaluru. His body will be kept for public viewing there from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The seer would be laid to rest at Poornaprajna Vidyapeeth in Bengaluru around 7 p.m. as per his wishes.
The seer was born to M. Narayanacharya and Kamalamma in at Ramakujna in Dakshina Kannada district on April 27, 1931. He was ordained as a monk at the age of eight in 1938, as the 33rd seer in the linage or ‘guru parampara’ of the Pejawar Mutt. He had his spiritual education under late Vidyamanya Tirtha Swami of Palimar and Bhandarkeri Mutts.
Vishwesha Tirtha Swami had made history by becoming the only seer among the seers of the Ashta Mutts (eight mutts) of Udupi, which propagate the Dwaita philosophy, to have performed five biennial Paryayas.
A Paryaya denotes the handing over of the responsibility of running of the 800-year-old Sri Krishna Mutt/Temple and exclusive rights to worship Lord Krishna in turns of two years each among the seers of the eight mutts. The seer ascended the ‘Paryaya peetha’ here for the first time on January 18, 1952. He has performed five Paryayas — 1952-54, 1968-70, 1984-86, 2000-02, and 2016-18.
He was among the religious heads to be in the forefront of the Ramjanmabhoomi movement and was a vocal proponent for the construction of a Ram Temple in Ayodhya. He was present at the disputed site during the Babri Mosque demolition on December 6, 1992.
Seen as a “reformist seer” by many, he visited the Dalit colonies at a time when it was considered a taboo. His solutions to problems within the Hindu faith, such as caste system, were reforms without fully abandoning traditions. His views on faith and politics sometimes sparked controversies.
Hindu religion has lost a guide: Yediyurappa
In his condolence message, Mr. Yediyurappa said: “In the death of the seer Hindu religion had lost a guide. The seer who took ‘sanyasa deeksha’ at a young age, became the pontiff of Pejawar Mutt. He lead the Udupi ‘Paryaya’ of the ‘Astamatha’ tradition for the highest number of times. The seer was involved in social activities in addition to his spiritual ‘sadhana’. He 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 would not witness the construction of a Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.”
“May his soul attain ‘moksha’. I pray to Lord Krishna to give his disciples and his followers the strength to bear the loss,” the Chief Minister said in his message.