He was admitted to the Kasturba Medical Hospital in Mangaluru at around 5 am on December 20, after he complained of breathing problems

news Obituary Sunday, December 29, 2019 - 09:28

Vishwesha Theertha Swami, 88, the revered and outspoken seer of Udupi’s Pejawar Mutt, passed away on Sunday after he was hospitalised on December 20. 

His demise was confirmed by local MLA Raghupathi Bhat who addressed the devotees alongside Deputy Commissioner at around 9:20 am on Sunday.

He was the only seer to have ascended the ‘Paryaya Peetha’ five times since the system of transferring power between the eight mutts surrounding the Udupi Sri Krishna temple began in 1522.

He was admitted to the Kasturba Medical Hospital in Mangaluru at around 5 am on December 20, after he complained of breathing problems. He had been on the ventilator ever since and the daily health bulletins stated that his condition deteriorated over time.

On Sunday morning, the seer was was shifted from Kasturba Hospital, Manipal to the Pejawar mutt. Mutt authorities said arrangements are being made at the for devotees to pay their last respects at the Ajjarkad Grounds from 10 am to 1 pm. Following that his mortal remains will be flown by a helicopter to Bengaluru where devotees can pay their last respects to him at the National College Ground.

A team of doctors from Manipal Hospital in Bengaluru had rushed to Mangaluru to treat the seer. On Saturday, the doctors said that he remained unconscious and that his health had deteriorated drastically. “He continues to remain on life support system. Test showed severe brain dysfunction,” a KMC health bulletin said.

Shri Vishvesha Theertha Swami was born in 1931 at Ramakunja in Puttur and was named Venkatrama by his parents Narayanacharya and Kamalamma, before he took up sanyasa. He was ordained into sanyasa at the age of 8 in 1938. His guru was Sri Vidyamanya Tirtharu of Sri Bhandarkeri Mutt.

He assumed the first paryaya in 1954, and this shaped his path towards organising pro-Hindu gatherings in the coastal region. In 1954, he organised the All India Madhva Conference in Udupi. The seer was an influential public figure and had been closely associated with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Ram Janmabhoomi movement, and Gau Raksha movements in the past.

He had also written a protest letter in 1975 against the imposed emergency and had said he was ready to go to jail.

Known to be a philanthropist, the seer established the The Sri Krishna Sevashrama in Bengaluru and Sri Krishna Chikitsaalaya in Udupi, hospitals which provide free treatment to the poor.

He was also being considered as a candidate to oversee the Ramjanmabhoomi Trust to monitor the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.

Vishwesha Theertha swami has been an outspoken figure in Karnataka and has been embroiled in several controversies too. He had earned praise when he organised Iftar parties and took part in them. He was also accused of discriminating against the Dalit community when members of the Dalit community had held a protests against Pankti Bheda, a practice where members of the upper castes sit in separate halls for meals, while members of the lower castes are made to sit separately.

However, the seer had said at the time that he had stood for equal treatment of all castes and religions. 

"I've always fought for equality and stood with Dalits at all times. Muslims and Dalits love me and call me for all their programmes. However, some people are trying to spoil the relationship between Brahmins and non-Brahmins, in the name of Pankti Bedha and communal harmony and so on. The temples at Dharmasthala, Subramanya, Sringeri and some other places have a separate food-serving system. Why is only the Krishna Mutt being targeted?” he had asked.