TUMAKURU: In 1917, the Siddaganga Mutt was restricted mostly to religious activities and a Sanskrit school, with no resources to expand its activities. A few years later, a moneylender, Chikkanna, a native of Cheluru near here, brought 700 in currency notes partially eaten away by termites, to Uddana Shivayogigalu for exchange. The latter handed the money to Sri Shivakumara Swamiji to get it exchanged at a bank, which he promptly did and returned to his guru. The moneylender did not take the money back; instead, he took shelter in the mutt and lived there until his death, serving as a volunteer.
It such this kind of voluntarily help the mutt started to get, especially after Sri Shivakumara Swamiji took over as its sole head in 1941, with a mere 300 in his account. He travelled across the state and raised alms from devotees. Impressed with his determination to serve the masses, the rich, especially traders and merchants, came to help. When traders suffered losses, they would also borrow from the Swamiji and return the money promptly, say sources.
The Swamiji raised major donations from well-to-do coffee planters of Sakleshpur region in Hassan district. Once a year, he would tour the region, and source funds for the great cause of serving humankind.
In his attempt to make the mutt self-reliant, he had even ventured into the manufacture of cement in the 1970s, with the ‘Siddaganga Cements’ factory at Sadahalli at the Tiptur-Chikkanayakanahalli border of the district. He proved himself a quick learner and withdrew from it as soon as he realised it was not going to be a successful venture.
He realised that business was not his cup of tea, but education was. Building the mutt through Sree Siddaganga Education Society from a single Sanskrit school to 125 educational institutions, including the Siddaganga Institute of Technology (SIT) and an MBA school, has been phenomenal.As a successful management guru, the seer is worthy study material — having lost his mother at the tender age of eight, he faced daunting situations, but never faltered in his mission.
The Swamiji, for the cause of the mutt’s children, could tolerate all hardships and did not react to the state’s policies. But there were instances of him raising his voice against policies which affected farmers. When the S M Krishna regime introduced online lottery and the Swamiji learnt that it was affecting farmers who were already reeling under drought, he asked the government to ban it.
In the six decades when he took the reins of the mutt after the demise of Sri Uddana Shivayogigalu in 1941, until he passed on the baton to his successor Sri Siddalinga Swamiji in 2011, the growth of Siddaganga Mutt has been a testimony to his managerial ability.The Swamiji’s handling of the turmoil during the eighties, in the aftermath of the ousting of his junior, late Sri Gowrishankara Swamiji, and keeping the mutt unaffected, was an indication of his grit.
He would volunteer to work on the fields and even at cleanliness programmes. He would cook and serve his disciples, and set himself as an example. Once a system was set up, the Swamiji wouldn’t disturb it, and only leave it to lord Siddalingeshwara, the deity atop the hills. “He was generous in his deeds and trusted his loyalists and supporters. If any of them erred, he wouldn’t punish them, but would leave it to God. This might have helped him build a great institution,” remarked septuagenarian K N Shivaraja, a keen observer of the Swamiji.