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Karnataka's 111-year-old seer dead

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Bengaluru: Karnataka's 111-year-old revered seer, Shivakumara Swami of Siddaganga Mutt at Tumakuru, is dead, Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy announced on Monday.

"His holiness Swamiji passed away at 11.44 a.m. at the Mutt during treatment for lung infection," Kumaraswamy told the media in Tumakuru, about 70 km northwest of here.

The seer was suffering from lung infection for the past few weeks and was on life support. He had been in and out of hospitals over the last few years due to advanced age.

The last rites will be held with state honours on Tuesday, Kumaraswamy said.

"Swami did great service to the poor by providing hundreds of children education and food," he added.

Known among his followers as a "walking god" and an incarnation of 12th century social reformer Basava, the Lingayat seer also headed the Sree Siddaganga Education Society, which runs about 125 educational institutions in the state -- from engineering colleges to business schools.

Many of the institutions offer free education and boarding facilities to poor students.

Deputy Chief Minister G. Parameshwara, other Karnataka Ministers and BJP state president B.S. Yeddyurappa also mourned the death of the state's most popular seer.

They urged the Union government to confer the highest civilian award, Bharat Ratna, on the seer for his philanthropic work.

Born on April 1, 1907 in Veerapura village of Ramanagara district in Karnataka, Swami was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2015.

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