New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee today conferred the Padma Vibhushan award on noted social worker, temple connoisseur and head of the Karnataka-based Shri Kshethra Dharmasthala the abode of Lord Manjunathaswamy , Dr Veerendra Heggade, at the Rashtrapati Bhawan here.
A well known visionary of our times, Dr Heggade, 67, a Jain, has always been a keen student of humanity and human behavior, and spent more than four decades wisely guiding a multitude of devotees visiting the Shri Kshethra Dharmasthala and helping them to face the challenges that come up before them from time to time.
Assuming the mantle of Dharmasthala at the very young age of twenty in 1968, Veerendra Heggade, as the chief of the Manjunatha Swamy Temple that is located within the Shri Kshethra Dharmasthala, has acquired considerable fame for implementing several unique socio-economic programs for the welfare of mankind, and has also played a leading role in modernizing temple administration in Karnataka.
The village of Dharmasthala is regarded as the abode of Lord Manjunatha Swamy. The village also has a temple dedicated to Lord Chandranatha Swamy and also has the giant 39-foot monolithic statue of Lord Bahubali, which was erected by Dr. Heggade and his followers in 1982. For this on act alone (the erection of the statue of Lrd Bahubali), Dr Heggade has been conferred the title of “Abhinava Chavundaraya”.
A connoisseur of ancient temple architecture, historical monuments and antiques, Dr. Heggade is also well known for his community charity drives and promotion of literary festivals such as the Kannada Sahithya Sammelana, the Thulu Sammelana and fairs for farmer welfare.
As the promoter of the Dharmothana Trust, he has been at the forefront of renovation drives related to historical buildings in Karnataka. Till date, over 200 temples have been renovated under his guidance. Large museums have also been established to preserve the nation’s heritage.
An outstanding example of his social work has been the marriage of 12000 couples through the Dharmasthala network.
In 1982, Dr Heggade conceived and promoted the public-private partnership Rural Development Self-Employment Training Institute (RUDSETI) and now that concept has acquired national dimensions. Today, there are 26 RUDSETI’s in 13 states that have helped over 200,000 unemployed become respectable citizens.
Another well-known experiment of Dr. Heggade has been the Shri Kshethra Dharmasthala Rural Development Project (SKDRP), a self group initiative that has resulted in the mobilization of 1.8 million families in Karnataka into 170,000 self help groups who have cumulative savings of Rs.410 crores and a loan turnover of Rs.4500 crores.
Dr. Heggade’s other areas of interest include promotion of sustainable energy programs and prevention of alcoholic abuse
Since the year 2000, he has been a recipient of 19 national and global awards, including the Padma Bhushan (2000), the Karnataka Rathna (2009), the Rajiv Gandhi Award (2007), the Nadoja citation from the Hampi Heritage University (2010), the Basavashri Award (2009), the Kannadiga of the Year Award (2004) and others. He is also a recipient of honorary doctorates from Mangalore and Drew Universities.
The Padma awards were announced on the eve of Republic Day this year. It included nine Padma Vibhushan, 20 Padma Bhushan and 75 Padma Shri. (ANI)
A bit too late for the Indian government to recognize this great man but nevertheless well deserved! The entire family has been doing a great job of providing religious service, education, and charitable services for decades and yet have been humble and honest throughout – a rare virtue in India today.
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