Was saved from drowning by boy from oppressed caste

Pejawar seer inspects the baskets made by members of Koraga community. DH File Photo

Vishwesha Theertha’s decision to denounce untouchability raked up a controversy initially. However his determination that untouchability was an insult to our dharma finally opened the eyes of even conservatives.

Throughout his monastic life, he not only made regular visits to Dalit colonies but also did not hesitate to reach out to them during crisis. In 2010, when the then Beltangady tahsildar demolished the huts of six tribal families, Malekudiyas, Swamiji had visited the
colony in Naydaguri near Kuthlur in Belthangady taluk and had instilled hope in their hearts.

Ganesha Malekudiya, a resident of Girijana colony, says if the Swami had not visited the colony, many members in the families would have become naxals. In 2015, nearly three dozen houses in Mundagaru tribal colony near Mudigere, 72 km from Udupi, were electrified by the mutt.

The Swami, as a child, had fallen into a well. His cries for help were finally heard by a boy residing close by. However the boy who was from a lower caste initially hesitated to rescue him. The boy then plunged into the well and rescued the Swami after the latter’s assurance. The incident helped him gain a rare insight into untouchability.

The senior most pontiff’s simplicity, discipline, affection to God, humanity and frugal lifestyle inspired many swamis in the Ashta mutts.

This Karmayogi also doubled as an environmentalist (who went on a fast against Nagarjuna Project), an activist (who successfully staged a protest against denotification of 200 acres of land acquired for Mangalore Special Economic Zone (MSEZ) and opposed merger of banks. 

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