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The Walking God 

Written by Storyteller: SUNITHA M.R. [SUNITHA]   Comments: 3

India has one of the most ancient and rich cultures in the world and there have been many great religious and social reformers who have impacted the population. Even today no matter how far India advances in science and technology the strong personal sense and spiritual base of the Indian people is very strong.


Some Indian people are truly worshipped as gods - people who have solved the sorrows of the people. Although all the science and technology is still unable to firmly prove whether there is a real God there or not, Indians in general believe that God will send somebody as humans to solve the problems of people… we can name many names in this list….


I am here by introducing one such human being, known in India as “Walking God,” a man who has reached his 100th year on the 1st of April of this year living a life relentlessly serving needy people and humanity.


He chose a special path to serve & uplift humankind. Children were his target group and he believed that providing food and education to poor children who otherwise would have nothing and making them self-reliant and helping them realize that they too own society would prove to them that that they too have a duty and obligation to uplift the other poor and underprivileged children, and finally transforming the whole society a better place to live. What a great Vision………. What a great Idea….. to serve mankind.


His name is SRI SHIVAKUMARA SWAMY of SREE SIDDAGANGA MUTT. The “Mutt” is a place where religious heads live and from where they operate. Like Churches or monasteries, it also includes, educational Institutes under it, hostels, and all the facilities under it. The Siddaganga Mutt is situated in Tumkur District, of Karnataka State, India.





He was born on April 1, 1908, in Veerapura, a tiny Village in Magadi Taluk, Bangalore District, Karnataka, India. The village in fact is surrounded by all holy places, full of sacred hills & caves - an enchanting environment. Born to very religiously-minded, devotional parents, Sree Honnappa and Gangamma, they had 13 children - 8 male and 5 female. He was the youngest among the males, named Shivanna who later became, Sree Sivakumara Swamiji and took reins of the Sree Siddaganga Mutt.


He imbibed his father's qualities and always desired to follow them with devotion. His mother in fact had identified in his childhood the characteristics of a shining persona and a human being who would be a cause for total change and would one day be considered a deity.




He had his primary schooling in his village and from 7th grade to 10th grade in Tumkur, now a district headquarter. In 1926 he passed the entrance examination and joined Central College in Bangalore and completed his Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1930, with Physics and Mathematics as Optional Subjects. This was especially noted because at that time India was ruled by the British, and very few had the opportunity to achieve higher education like this.


But this boy, even though not from a very rich and prominent family, has known the importance of education and since his childhood days was very attracted to religious theme and Sanyasa (Sanyasa means leaving all worldly comforts and living like a sage He will not get marry he will not have any bonding with any body) and knew from early on that he wanted to do something to better society….





A defining moments of his life that made him a Seer (head) of SREE SIDDAGANGA MUTT by adopting Sanyasa are two occasion during his college life…


In 1926, when he completed his 12th grade, for a short period of 4 months he was a resident student of Sree Siddaganga Mutt, and received spiritual blessings of Sree Uddana Shivayogigalu (His Guru) who was head of the Mutt then.


While he was studying at the Central College, Bangalore, a tragedy struck. On January 16th, 1930, he heard the heartbreaking news of death of his close friend Sri Marularadhya at Siddaganga Mutt, who would have been the next head of the Mutt. With a heavy heart, he completed the last rites of Sree Marularadhya.


When Sri Shivanna was attending the last rites to be performed at the Samadhi (tomb) of Sri Marularadhya, Sree Uddana Shivayogigalu announced that Sri Shivanna will going shoulder the responsibility by becoming the successor to the Mutt and Sri Shivanna was told to be a representative of Sree Siddalingeshwara (The God) to carry forward the work of the this Sacred place. He blessed him by touching his head. Sri Shivanna accepted the divine role offered to him by his Guru, attiring himself in the Saffron costume of a Virakta (monk/Arch Bishop) in the true spirit and tradition of Veerasaivism (a sub sect of Hindu religion). He was renamed as "Sree Sivakumara Swamiji". Swamiji is a title given to those who take up monk. Like bishop in Christianity



He was formally initiated into the holy order as a successor on March 3rd 1930 and thus he joined the generation of sages.





On hearing this sacred news, of his being made as the successor to head Sree Siddaganga Mutt, his teachers and mates showered their wishes upon Sree Sivakumara Swamiji to wish him success in his chosen path. However, it was a rude shock to his father, who had chalked out a life of a high ranked official. But destiny had something in store for Sree Sivakumara Swamiji, and this son would never return to that subjective world, which every parent wishes for their children. He tried to persuade his son to change his decision, but he was rock solid in his decision and he would never change the Almighty's wish that he enter into a life of a sage towards a new path that is not for one family, but to serve the entire world as his family as in Sanskrit it is said: "Vasudaiva Kutumbakam".









Thus it began in the year 1937. First He upgraded a small Sanskrit School of the Mutt into a Sanskrit College. It began offering degree courses in Logic and Grammar, Linguistics and Literatures and admitted students from all castes and communities.


By providing "Dasoha" (free food), the school continued to grow with his student wealth increasing day in day out.


Then he had another shock when his GURU Sree Uddana Shivayogi, who was the inspiration and support for all his deeds, breathed his last breath on January 11, 1941.


Now that he was the sole head of the Mutt, his responsibilities increased vastly. There was a serious dearth of financial resources, and what he had in hand was just Rs. 300/- , But he didn’t lose heart; he continued his mission. His motto of work is worship, love and compassion started increasing in him day by day. It started spreading throughout the length and breadth of the state like a miracle, and donations started pouring in, the balance sheet of income and expenditures started bulging.


He expanded the Dasoha (free food), Sanskrit College, and the construction of new hostels for the students. There are hundreds of incidents that have been narrated about how poor and rich alike thronged to the Mutt and made their contributions without any return expectations.


Now this is what I was telling you in the beginning, the God will come in the form of Man…… many feel this situation has been realized here…. once depleting financing conditions and dire circumstances bean improving, Sree Sivakumara Swamiji found that his inner self confidence was his great treasure.


His journey continued persistently - it marched forward against all odds.


At present the number of children who are given the facility of food, shelter and schooling is around 8000. The Mutt takes in about 2000 visitors per day.


Now Mutt runs following educational institutions under his supervision:



Institute of Technology



Institute of Business Management






College of Pharmacy



College of Nursing



Industrial Training Institutes (ITI)



College of Education (B.Ed.)



Teachers Training Institutions (D.Ed.)



First Grade Colleges



Pre-University Colleges



Composite Junior Colleges



High Schools



Sanskrit College



Veda and Sanskrit Schools



Kannada Pandit Training Centre



Higher Primary School



Primary and Pre-primary Schools (Nursery)



Blind Children School



Handicapped Cooperative Education Centre



College of Physical Education


Total Institutions




These institutions are imparting a free education to those who can’t afford the same.





As he visualized, the students who have studied under the benevolent shelter of the Mutt have now occupy respectable and high profile positions in Government, Public, Private Sectors and Educational Institutions. To get themselves actively involved in all the functions and activities the Old Students of the Mutt, with the gracious consent of their Guru, formed an "Old Students' Association" in the year 1954. At the request of the students, Sree Sivakumara Swamiji has been its guiding spirit as its President. The Association volunteers to take up the entire responsibility to organize any program at the Mutt, and they are in turn giving back to society what they themselves received in kind from it - and this was the main concept of Sree Sivakumara Swamiji




Sree Sivakumara Swamiji is now 100 years of age. People say that although he has shed tears for the world, they have not affected his eyes, which are bright and with sharp with vision. He meticulously maintains his routine and attends programs on schedule.


He attributes his good health to his food and his life style.


His meal intake is very scientific. Foods with sourness, spices or with hot chili powder, and fried items are not to his liking. He keeps them away from his pan. He takes his curry made out of Green Gram dal (Pulses) with a pinch of salt.


He walks without support, and very agile and brisk in his steps.


He climbs stairs without an iota of tiredness in his body or legs. His hearing is sharp and he talks in low tones. People are accustomed to his exceedingly poised gestures.


For him the day begins in the early morning at 2:30 am. Sree Sivakumara Swamiji maintains a diary and records his appointments and work himself. After completing morning chores and taking bath he sits for performing pooja (kind of prayer with some rituals which every Hindu does) which finishes by 5:30 or 6 am. Immediately he then attends to his office and receives visitors and devotees. He goes through his diary to look at which programs to attend for the day, and finishes pending files. If the newspapers have already arrived he will also go through them.


Sree Sivakumara Swamiji still engages classes for SSLC and PUC students, teaching the subjects of English and Sanskrit. He has been in this routine of teaching classes for the last 60-65 years.  


Then he returns to his office, then to the kitchen to confer with the workers, and then back to office to see to the day's mail and give dictations and distributes the mail to different sections and offices. He works without break from 2.00 am until 2.30pm. He’ll take his lunch and then make trips to the buildings around the Mutt or go to fields and gardens. By evening around 6pm he gets ready to be present for the mass prayer conducted every day with all the guests of the Mutt Hostels, and that is a site to watch. He still makes visits to dining halls to make inquiries of the students. Returning to his office, he does more paperwork until 9 pm. He finally goes to bed around 11 pm, and the very next day the routine begins again at 2:00am.

Amazing isn’t it?




As a sage, he does not expect anything from anybody, but it is the satisfaction of the people who love him and who worship him that rewards him just by acknowledging his effort.


In the year 1965, he was granted an Honorary "Doctor of Letters" Degree by Karnataka University.


The prestigious "Karnataka Ratna" award for 2006 was conferred upon His Holiness Dr. Sree Sivakumara Swamiji in recognition of his yeoman services for promoting education in the state.


The state Govt. has proposed his name for ‘BHARAT RATNA” award also.


Now he has lit the candle of educating poor rural children and making them asset to this nation. His one remaining dream is that this effort and vision should be carried forward to further distances.


If anyone who reads this story has any intention of contributing in his efforts, please let the writer of this story know….

Thank you Dr. Sree Sivakumara Swamiji , for sharing your Story with us.


Our Stories and pictures are the sole copyright of their Authors and may not be reprinted or used without their permission.
© 2008 by Sunitha M.R. Story of My Life


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Member Since
Aug 2008
Adara Bernstein said:
posted on Sep 18, 2008

What a wonderful life you've lived and done so much for the people of India to educate them.

Member Since
Aug 2007
Megan Caufield said:
posted on Sep 20, 2008

For your life of giving and sacrifice so that so many other good people in the world have a fighting chance.

Member Since
Aug 2007
SUNITHA M.R. said:
posted on Sep 24, 2008

thanks for your comments. Really I too feel his life a real worth.