Following the demise of Shivakumara Swami, chief seer of the 500-year-old Siddaganga Mutt in Tumakuru, the baton of power at the mutt will now pass on to his junior Siddalinga Swami.
Shivakumara Swami has presided over the mutt since 1941. But in 2011, he relinquished day-to-day responsibilities of the mutt and the Siddaganga Educational Society to Siddalinga Swami.
"The transfer was decided over 30 years ago when Shivakumara Swami chose Siddalinga as his successor. This means that he will not only take care of the day-to-day affairs of the mutt but also be responsible for all the educational institutions under the Siddaganga name," said Meenakshi Khandimath, a political science professor at Tumakuru University who has closely followed the affairs of the mutt.
The Siddaganga Educational Society runs around 125 educational institutions ranging from engineering to business schools/colleges in the state. Shivakumara Swami identified Siddalinga as his successor 30 years ago in 1988. Much like Shivakumara Swami, Siddalinga Swami has made it a point to dissociate himself and the mutt from political discussions.
During the movement for a separate Lingayat religion in 2018, Siddalinga Swami refused to take sides even as several high-profile political leaders made it a point to visit the mutt and seek the seer’s blessings.
"The mutt only blesses politicians for their future endeavours and does not make any attempt to influence the voters," claimed Siddalinga Swami, speaking to reporters in April 2018.
Even though there are over 400 Lingayat mutts in Karnataka, the Siddaganga Mutt is considered to be one of the most important mutts. It is also one of the oldest institutions set up to spread Lingayatism and the teachings of its founder Basavanna.
Siddalinga Swami is a junior seer in the Siddaganga mutt. He was the second seer appointed in the mutt after Shivakumara Swami took over. However, Shivakumara Swami chose him ahead of Gowrishankar Swami, who was second-in-command, in 1988.
The seer cited the good behaviour of Siddalinga Swami as the reason for the decision.
There are still a few formalities to be completed including signing the power of attorney – a binding legal document that will cement the transfer of authority. Sources in the mutt confirmed that the formal transfer will be done soon.
(This article was originally published on The News Minute.)