Veerendra Heggade – About
The name when one think about ‘Dharmasthala’ then the next name come to one’s mind is Veerendra Heggade. He is born to Ratnavarma Heggade and Rathnamma Heggade as the eldest son on 25th November, 1948, he took over the reign as guardian of the world famous Dharmasthala Temple at the tender age of 20 and he took over the reign on 24th of October, 1968, and he is the 21st Dharmadhikari of Sri Kshethra Dharmasthala.
On becoming Dharmadhikari his major act was to make it a reality which his father has dreamt about carving and installation of Lord Bahubali statue at Dharmasthala, which is about 39 feet and with 170 ton weight.
The Integrated Village and Welfare Program which is literally called as ‘Grameenabhivrudhi Yojane’ in Balthangadi Taluk, this program includes giving agricultural credit to poor farmers, technical training to selected young people under RUDSET Institute program, an effort of money management and temperance effort training to rural women, this program was started on the eve of taking over the reign as Dharmadhikara in the year 1982 the most famous Sri Dharmasthala Manjunatheshwara Group, which is in short term called as ‘SDM’ and this group manages around 30 types of educational institutions.
The Pattabhisheka of this reign was celebrated in the year 1993, and on this auspicious occasion he was conferred the title as ‘Rajarshi; by the then President Dr. Shankara Dayal Sharma and in the same year he conferred the most prestigious Padma Bhushana from the Government of India, this award was conferred in recognition of his services to education, religion and social welfare. He is conferred with an honorary doctorate of Mangalore University, Gulbarga University and also from Karnataka University all in recognition of his invaluable services towards mankind and social welfare activities.
Veerendra Heggade – Personal, religious and cultural life
Sri.Veerendra Heggade is married to Smt. Hemavathi, Shraddha is his daugher’s name and he have three brothers Harshendra Kumar, Rajendra Kumar and Surendra Kumar.
Sri.Veerendra Heggade is an avid collector of car and an photography aficionado, one can his collection of cars and his photography skills at Dharmasthala which are at display here.
He is a great and avid supporter of the culture of Tulu and its heritage.
As after the three decades of taking over the reign as Dharmadhikari, he has achieived some remarkable progress in the field of social service and serving the mankind. He has brought down the difference in the castes which were prevailed in those old days as one can find in Dharmasthala there is caste or religion barriers.
To those who in need of help this holy place Dharmasthala is like an oasis. The big and vast sized dining hall ‘Annapoorna’ which easily accommodates around 3000 people can dine at a time comfortably and further six additional guest houses constructed by him which provides a generous hospitality to all kinds of pilgrims.
Few instances for his helpful nature, during the severe drought in North Karnataka, which has crippled almost everybody’s life, he has toured all the districts of that region, he has distributed around 50,000 sarees to the needy people and in the year 1974 when almost the entire district of South Canara was flooded and again in 1992 the heavy floods has damaged the district of Gadag, he took the initiation to help the needy to resettle by donations in the form of cash and building materials, he has donated over two lakh tiles to the people who have suffered with severe floods at Mangalore for rehabilitation, these are just one or two instances of his generosity and helping nature.
Sri.Veerendra Heggade – Achievements
SKDRP literally means Shri Kshethra Dharmasthala Rural Development Project, which has been established by Sri. Veerendra Heggade to eradicate poverty was commissioned in the year 1982 and has adopted over 81 villages in Belthangady taluk which has covered over 18,000 families and according to an survey this project has spent over ten crores for this generous cause, these developmental activities has generated over ninety crores apart from this the project has created rural employment to several thousands of persons which in turn has changed their living standards, in the year 1995 this project has received the outstanding achievements award from FICCI.
The ‘Mass Marriage’ this term was conceived by him and this terminology has allowed several thousands of couples who belongs to different communities got married here at Dharmasthala and in accordance to their rituals, the expenses of the marriages, wedding dress, Mangalasutra and wedding feast to a limited number of people belongs to the married couples will be borne by this Kshethra wholly. Today this ritual become a world famous event and every year 500 couples getting married here, the main motto of this system is to eradicate the social evils like dowry, castiesm, untouchability and moreover the financial debt.
His contribution towards medical field is unlimited, he has established the mobile hospital which is completely equipped with all kinds of emergency devices, immediate medical treatments for the sake of rural people who do not have access to treatment centers, a new kind of T.B. Sanitorium was established by another wing the Kshetra Sri. Dharmasthala Manjunatheswara Medical Trust, which is a boon to the patients who suffers from Tuberculosis, which is a relief center for the patients who suffers from this disease, the Ayurvedic hospitals in Udupi, Hassan were also his services, a nature cure hospital on the banks of the holy river Netravati, SDM Eye hospital near Mangalore and this is the one of the best eye care centre in the state, he is most ardent keen learner and exponent of Yoga which is an ancient system of fitness, he organizes periodic camps where around 250 high school trained teachers were teaching Yoga for over hundred’s of students every year.
His other important interests includes cultural and research foundation established by him which conducts research on religion, literature crafts and arts. His preservation of old horse driven carriages and vintage cars which are still considered as roadworthy which shows his passion towards collection and its maintenance. Another trust established by him called as Shri Dharmasthala Manjunatheswara Dharmothana the purpose of this trust is to preserve old temples.
His another interest is towards the traditional folk art called ‘Yakshagana’ which is ethnic dance and drama unique, for upcoming and budding artists of this folklore he has started school for this purpose.
Another praiseworthy and dedicated service of Sri.Veerendra Heggade is he has started a free hostel with boarding and lodging services to the poor students from High School this hostel is dedicated in his mother’s name called as ‘Rathna Manasa’, like this he has established many contemporary educational institutions.
Veerendra Heggade – Awards and achievements
Sri.Veerendra Heggade has conferred with several honorary doctorate and numerous awards from several organizations from all over the country as well as from overseas also.
Few of them are ‘Rajarshi’ in 1993, Karnataka Rajyotsava award from the Government of Karnataka in the yeart 1985, several religions institutions conferred awards like ‘Dharmarathna; ‘Dharmabhushana’, ‘Paropakara Dhurandhara’ by Sri Dwaraka Peetam, ‘Abhinava Chavundaraya’, and the Public Relation Society of Indian has conferred him the most prestigious award of ‘Man of the year’ in the year 1994, in the same year he conferred with ‘Indira Gandhi Priyadarshini’ award, he has been conferred honorary doctorates from Mangalore University, Gulbarga University and also from Karnataka University.
The Rotary Club and Lions Club have also conferred him with their Honorary Memberships. Uttar Pradesh Government honoured him with the title ‘Vaishnava Marthanda’ in the year 1977, ‘Samaja Ratna’ award from Udupi in the year 1978 the time of Paryaya on behalf of Asht Mutts.