(Eds: Adds more details; quotes) Varkala(Ker), Jul 7 PTI) Former chief of Sivagiri Mutt and one of the oldest spiritual leaders of the state,Swami Prakashananda died of age-related ailments here, mutt sources said on Wednesday.
He was 99.
The saint-scholar breathed his last at the Sree Narayana Mission Hospital here, they said.
Prime MinisterNarendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Governor Arif Mohammed Khan and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan were among those who condoled the demise of the spiritual leader.
In his condolence message, Modi hailed Swami Prakashananda as a beacon of knowledge and spirituality.
'Swami Prakashananda Ji was a beacon of knowledge and spirituality. His selfless deeds of service empowered the poorest of the poor.
He took the lead in popularising the noble thoughts of Sree Narayana Guru. Pained by his demise. Om Shanti,' he tweeted.
One of the longest serving presidents of theSree Narayana Dharma Sangham Trust, Prakashananda had made significant contributions in converting Sivagiri Mutt, established by 20th century saint-social reformer Sree Narayana Guru here, intoa globallyrevered spiritual centre.
Sree Narayana Dharma Sangham was an organisation established by the Guru to propagate his ideologies especially his acclaimed philosophy of 'One Caste, One Religion and One God for man.' Dedicating his entire life to propagatingthe ideals and visions of the Guru, Prakashananda had been known for his simplicity, uncompromising devotion, selfless service and determination.
Attracted to the philosophy of the Guru, Prakashananda, who was named as Kumaran in his earlier life, had joined the Mutt at the age of 23.
He then became the disciple of Swami Sankarananda from whom he had received 'diksha' at the age of 35 years.
He became the general secretary of the Trust in 1970 and then its president for the first time during the period 1995 -97.
He again came back to the revered position in 2006 and led the disciples of Guru for 10 long years since then.
Besides various notable initiatives to propagate the visions of the Guru and the development of the Mutt, Prakashananda was also in news over the vow of silence which he practised for nearly 9 years during 1980s.
During late 1990s, he also shot into limelight by staging days-long hunger strike in front of the Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram, about 45 kms from here, against the state government's decision to take over the administration of the Mutt following power struggle between two groups of sanyasis.
Meanwhile, people from various walks of life including ministers, MLAs and leaders of the ruling and opposition parties paid tributes to the departed spiritual leader.
Union Minister Amit Shah termed the demise of Prakashananda as 'painful'.
'He had dedicated his entire life for the good of humanity. May Swamiji's thoughts and ideals motivate us to serve our motherland and humanity,' he tweeted in Malayalam.
Expressing grief over Swamiji's demise, Governor Arif Mohammed Khan said in his message that 'as a selfless spiritual Guru, he devoted his life to the promotion of Sree Narayana Guru's teachings.May his soul attain Mukti.' Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said Prakashananda was an advocate of a special kind of spirituality which thrusts upon the magnificence of humanness and a role model among monks.
Terming his death as an 'irreparableloss' to progressive Kerala, he said the loss of the Sree Narayana movement is a general loss of humanity.
'His contributions as the head of the Sree Narayana Dharma Sangham Trust are of historical significance.. His life was dedicated to the propagations of the visions of Sree Narayana Guru and the growth of the Sree Narayana movement,' the CM said.
Through his selfless and dedicated life, he was able to take the movement to new dimensions, Vijayan added.
Senior Congress leader and former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said he was fortunate to closely observe and be part of the initiatives of Swamiji, who was committed to propagate the philosophy of Sree Narayana Guru Dev.
BJP state president K Surendran rememberedPrakashananda as a spiritual leader with a strong commitment to the society.
'The departure of a greatsage, who had deep and far- reaching knowledge on Sanatana Dharma, is a great loss to India,' he said adding that Prakashananda was a scholar who had dedicated his entire life propagating the visions of Sree Narayana Guru among common people.
The funeral of Swami Prakashananda would be held later in the evening, mutt sources said. PTI LGK ROH ROH