Ask the Swamiji what in life he enjoys most and pat comes the reply - “Being with children.” His love for children is writ large on his face even when he speaks about them. He also makes it a point to enquire after each one of them personally. Concerned about their well-being, he is eager to make them feel at home in the math.
“His favourite pastime is to sit amidst children in the dining hall. He even admonishes children who, he feels, are not eating enough,” says Mr Renukaradhya.
The selfless love he showers on them and the deep concern he has for them brings most of these children back to the math, even long after their education. To this day, many employees at the math are beneficiaries of the math’s largesse, who have returned to willingly offer their service to the math to which they owe their very being.
In the words of Mr K S Shankaraiah, “I was nothing before I came to the math. Belonging to a poor family, education was just a dream, a mirage. Fortunately for me, my admission in the math meant admission to the world of literates.”
Mr Shankaraiah, who finished his education at the Siddaganga First Grade College, served as a lecturer in the college and retired as a professor. So are Mr P N Chandrashekaraiah, Mr P V Hucchaveeraiah and many others who are actively into the various administrative tasks of the math, long after their retirement.
The daily routine of students at the mutt is a healthy blend of education, spirituality and service. Waking up at 5.30 in the morning, these students have a mass prayer at 6 am. Then follows their Sanskrit class that begins at 7.30 am. Sanskrit classes are compulsory for all the inmates of the mutt as Swamiji considers it every Indian’s birthright to learn the ‘language of the Gods’. Their regular classes are held between 10.30 am and 5.30 pm. Post-school, these children engage themselves in various activities of the mutt, before assembling for their evening prayers at 6.30 pm. After their prayers is the study time.
Both the prayer sessions, officiated by the Swamiji, ends with a discourse on good morals and principles that is generally related in the form of stories.
“My endeavour is not just to provide them with shelter and education, but to make them into good citizens too, as the future of our country depends on them,” says the Swamiji.
The Swamiji’s commitment to the spread of good values is ably supported by over 128 educational institutes operating under the banner of Sree Siddaganga Education Society. These educational institutions, mostly established in the rural areas of the State, ranging from kindergarten to advanced technical education.
“Education is the only tool that empowers a human being. It is only through education that people can gain awareness,” says the Swamiji, who emphasises the fact that social awareness is what frees a man from the shackles of blind beliefs, superstitions and, above all, social evils.