The late Sri Vishweshwara Theertha swami of Udupi’s Pejavar Mutt is among those honoured Padma Vibhushan awards on the eve of Republic Day. Eight eminent persons from Karnataka have been awarded the Padma Shri for their contribution to society.
Seer of the Pejavar Mutt Sri Vishweshwara Theertha swami was honoured with the Padma Vibhushan.
Harekala Hajabba, an illiterate man who built a school in his village near Mangaluru; Tulasi Gouda, a woman who contributed to the growth of forests in Uttara Kannada district; MP Ganesh, hockey coach for contribution to sports; Bharat Goenka (Trade and Industry); Vijay Sankeshwar (Trade and Industry); Dr BN Gangadhar, director at Nimhans; and KV Sampath Kumar and Vidusi Jayalaxmi KS for literature/education/journalism,
who publish ‘Sudharma, a Sanskrit newspaper from Mysuru are awardees from Karnataka. A report was published on Sampath Kumar and Vidusi Jayalaxmi on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of ‘Sudharma’ in June 2019. Sri Vishwesha Theertha Swamiji had earned the sobriquet ‘revolutionary seer’ for his ability to transcend the barriers of caste, creed and religion. The seer had pioneered social initiatives including visits to Dalit colonies.
Born as Venkatarama on April 27, 1931, the seer was the second child of Narayana Acharya and Kamalamma at Ramakunja, Dakshina Kannada district. He was given Sanyasa Deeksha (sainthood) by Sri Vishwamanya Theertha of the Pejavar Mutt at the age of a six. In 2016 Sri Vishwesha Theertha became the only seer to head the Paryaya in Udupi for a fifth time. No other Seer of the Ashta Mutts of Udupi has had that opportunity in the biennial paryaya cycle. His connection with national political leaders and spiritual icons always kept him in the news.
Perampalli Vasudev Bhat, a follower of Sri Vishwesha Theertha Swamiji said the seer had contributed to society religiously and spiritually, so the government has recognised his contribution. Harekala Hajabba (64), who has been chosen for the Award in the Social Work category, is an illiterate man who constructed a school for poor and underprevileged children at Newpadpu in Harekala village, 25km from Mangaluru city. The life of Hajabba, a fruit vendor, took a dramatic turn one day 20 years ago when a foreigner couple came to him to buy oranges.
Hajabba could not respond to them as he could not speak English. That incident sowed the seeds of an educationist in this fruit vendor who had never been to school. He first opened a school at a mosque in Newpadpu in Harekala in 1999 with a few children. As the strength of students grew, the school was shifted to a rented building. Later, managed to get a piece of land sanctioned by the government. He used his earnings to level the land and build classrooms. Finally, the Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat Higher Lower School was inaugurated in 1999.
Tulasi Gouda contributed to the growth of forests in Uttara Kannada district. Considered an encyclopaedia on forests, she has been instrumental in growing thousands of trees around Ankola taluk and has wide knowledge about trees and wildlife. Having lost her father at the age of two, she did not have a formal education, but began her life working as a labourer. Despite her low income, she single-handedly planted around 30,000 saplings in various places, and nurtured them.
Considering her committment, former Forest Officer AN Yellappa Reddy helped her get a job to nurture trees at Mastikatte range forest nursery. According to Gopala Krishna Naik, a local Congress leader, she was found weeping when the trees she planted were felled and stolen by timber smugglers. “Her commitment towards greenery is so much that she immediately responds if she sees anybody stepping on an herb or a sapling,” he said.
Inspired by her love for forests, former forest officer AN Yellappa Reddy helped her get a job at Mastikatte range forest nursery. Gopala Krishna Naik, a local Congress leader, says she was once found weeping when the trees she planted were felled and stolen by timber smugglers. Recognising her contribution to the environment, the award has cited her as an ‘encyclopaedia of forests’ due to her vast knowledge of diverse species of plants and herbs. MP Ganesh, a hockey coach who won the award for sports, is a native of Kodagu region and started off as a player in the Indian hockey team. He is also a distinguished coach and sports administrator.
Known as the “Father of the Indian Software Product Industry”, Bharat Goenka is co-founder and managing director of Tally. KV Sampath Kumar who was recognised for literature-education-journalism, is the editor of ‘Sudharma’, the only Sanskrit newspaper. Vijay Sankeshwar was awarded in the trade and industry category started his career with a single truck in 1976 by launching Vijay Transport. He is now the head of VRL Logistics Limited, a multicrore listed company. Dr BN Gangadhar was honoured for his services to medicine. After taking charge as the Director of National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) in 2016, he ensured that is one of the best institutions of its kind.