The Heggade

“Whatever is noble, glorious, powerful and magnanimous, know that to have sprung from a spark of my splendour” Thus spoke Lord Krishna in the Bhagvad Gita. And the Heggade of Dharmasthala fits the description perfectly.

The position of the Heggade of Dharmasthala is a unique one, unknown in any other religious center in India. In the tradition of this Kshetra, he represents Lord Manjunatha. He is a pious grahastha or house holder with numerous religious, social and cultural responsibilities. After assuming the responsibility of the Heggade, his religious duties include propagating the tradition of Dharma in accordance with the command of the Daivas, who accept him as their foster son and ensure that the traditional rituals are observed regularly in the temple of Lord Manjunatha.


Discharging his responsibilities true to his conscience and acting on the precepts of religion, the Heggade acquires an aura of divinity which enables him to function as a representative of Lord Manjunatha and other Dharma Daivas. He executes his social responsibilities as a pious grahastha through the four traditional Daanas – Anna Daana, Aushadha Daana, Vidya Daana and Abhaya Daana. These are the traditionally observed charities of granting food, medicine, education and ensuring freedom from fear. The Heggade is regarded as the voice of Lord Manjunatha. He is expected to dispense justice, advice and munificent to whoever approaches him with his problems and needs.

Twenty generations of the Heggade lineage have devoted their lives to manage and develop the Dharmasthala kshetra. Sheer dedication, selfless service and pious devotion to God and man have been the foundation of the revered religious center, Dharmasthala.


Heggade's Duties




Shri Veerendra Heggade, at the age of 20, was Coronated as the Heggade  to take forward the awe inspiring legacy of tremendous responsibility of his predecessors had left behind for him. He became the guardian of faith for all humanity that come to him for comfort and solace. As the chosen representative of Lord Manjunatha, the Dharmadhikari (dispenser of justice), the Heggade, has to oversee that all the religious rituals, functions and ceremonies of the temple are carried out as per the enshrined norms. Similarly he also has to ensure that the religious rituals and functions are performed diligently as per the Jain tenets in the temple of Lord Chandranath Swamy, the Jain Thirthankara. As the Dharmadhikari, he has to dispense justice to those who come to redress their disputes. He has to become the caring counselor for the throng of devotees who come to him in search of answers to their troubled minds. He has to be a benign host to the thousands of pilgrims who visit this beautiful temple town. As the Heggade, he has to ensure smooth administration of the temple town and peace is maintained . He has to grace every important function that needs his presence or is invited to. His life is not a bed of roses. However demanding it may be, he still has to become the friend, philosopher and guide to those who seek him.



While the duties of a Heggade are enough to fill the hours of the day, Shri Veerendra Heggade still manages to carve out time to devote to his passionate love for the people around him.

Through divinity, charity and guidance he has managed to give Dharma a new meaning. In his insatiable quest to uplift mankind, he has put into practice awe inspiring programs that have transformed the lives of thousands and thousands of people who were caught in the web of poverty and disillusionment.

Many villages have become emulative examples of co-operative movement. What sets him apart is that his vision is not limited to being a head of a revered, religious institution. His farsighted vision has helped him to take measures to mitigate social imbalances like illiteracy, rampant poverty and religious intolerance. Other current issues like upliftment of women, especially the rural women, employment of rural youth, energy conservation, de addiction, renovation of old temples, preservation and propagation of indigenous art and culture and affordable educational and medical facilities have been addressed by this great visionary. Inspired by the works of Dr Heggade, many organizations feel it an honour to have him grace their functions. His opinion is treated with great respect.

For many this would take a life time to achieve, but not so for Shri Veerendra Heggade. It is only a part of his daily life which also includes being a loving husband, a caring father and a compassionate patriarch. Nothing misses his eye in all this plethora of responsibilities.

Abhaya Daana

Abhayadana



The unique duty of the Heggade involves Abhaya Daana, granting freedom from fear, to people in need of solace. Every morning and evening, irrespective of caste or creed, people line up to meet the Heggade and share their troubles and sorrow to seek out a solution. Majority of these people are those who have vowed in the name of Lord Manjunatha and want to take it back because of the consequent events. They confess their mistakes before the Heggade who tells them to give Tappukanike, the offering of repentance, and seek forgiveness from the Lord. After they do so, the Heggade assures them that their mistakes are forgiven. People with psychological problems and those who are troubled by evil spirits also consult him. He advises them to take the Thirthasnaana, the holy bath at the temple, as a cure for their ailments. People with different diseases too take the Thirthasnaana after consulting him. People with various personal problems also visit the Heggade and seek his guidance since they believe that the Heggade's words are the words of Lord


Manjunatha. He keenly listens to all of them and gives suitable suggestions. For childless couples and individuals with health problems, he advises the Tulabhaaraseve.Those who are badly in need of financial assistance, are given aid on the spot, depending on the nature of their need. As an extension of this Abhaya Daana, he has started the Saamuhika Vivaha, annual mass marriage programme, to help the poor couples to get married. Shri Kshethra Dharmasthala Rural Development Project (SKDRDP) which works for the holistic development of villages and Rural Development and Self Employment Training Institute (RUDSETI) which aim at training the unemployed rural youths have extended his Abhaya Daana beyond the borders of Dharmasthala.
 

Anna Daana

Annadaana



The tenets of "Athithi Devo Bhava", hospitality to all laid-down by Shri Birmanna Pergade and his wife Smt. Ammu Ballalthi 800 years ago, are still religiously followed by Shri Veerendra Heggade in Dharmasthala. Even today, every one of the thousands of pilgrims who enters the portals of this holy center to seek the blessings of Lord Manjunatha, is offered free food and subsidized shelter. Every one is a welcome guest irrespective of caste, creed, culture or status. With the flow of pilgrims rising exponentially over the years, the old Dharmashala’s choultries- Ganga, Kaveri and Narmada have been augmented by modern guest houses-Netravathy, Vaishali, Sharavati, Gayathri, Gangothri, Saketha, Rajathadri, Sannidhi and sahyadri.

As Heggade, his duty is to feed all the people who visit Dharmasthala. “Athithi Devo Bhava” is literally observed here by him.

Annapoorna, a huge dining hall has the capacity to feed 3000 people at a time and in rotation up to 50,000 people a day are served here. Recently National Geographic Chanel telecasted the cooking & feeding process at this place. The highlights were the hygienic cuisine and unique serving of food with affection and love.


Shri D Harshendra Kumar, brother of Veerendra Heggade supports him in all his administrative responsibilities. He has contributed by way of modernizing Annapoorna dining hall and kitchen, developing unique waste management

Aushadha Daana

Aushadha daana



As ‘Aushada Daana’ is one of the four charities of shri Kshetra Dharmasthala, Veerendra Heggade continued the tradition with some novelty. When Dr Heggade took over the mantle of the Heggade, little did he realize the stupendous task he would be taking on in the years to come. Destiny perhaps had already mapped his journey. While empowering the children with education through a broad net work of schools and colleges, he realized that like


education, health too was an important aspect of human right. His visits to the hinterland of Belthangady opened a huge vista of pitiable health conditions. He realized that people living in these areas had no access to good health-centers. He knew his next and immediate task was to provide them the basic health protection. Thus began yet another quest for this great visionary. He realized that Sarve Janah Sukhino Bhavantu would have no meaning if this fundamental need was not taken care of. The various indigenous therapies and treatments; the need for mobile hospitals and well equipped hospitals catering to the needs of both outpatients and inpatients drew the attention of Heggade to establish naturopathy, Ayurveda hospitals.

Shri Heggade realized that if the villagers in these inaccessible areas could not reach hospitals, which incidentally were far and few, then he had to literally bring the Hospital to their door step. This is what he did in the form of the Mobile Hospital. The Mobile Hospital is staffed by experienced doctors and qualified support staff. It is equipped with a laboratory and a fully stocked pharmacy.

In the course of time, in order to provide quality health care to the needy, Dr Heggade established hospitals like Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Dental, Medical, Physiotherapy and Eye hospital.
 

Vidya Dana

Vidyadaana



 

Vidya Viheenaha Pashu Samanaha”, says the Subhashitha. This means that a person without education is just like a beast. Education decides the future of a child and lays the foundations for his professional skills. When basic education was a dream and also a costly affair for the people of remote areas like Ujire and Belthangady, Sri Rathnavarma Heggade started the SDM College at Ujire in 1966 and made higher education affordable to all. Realizing that illiteracy was the root cause for most social evils, Dr Veerendra Heggade ensured that almost every child in the nearby villages surrounding Dharmasthala had access to a professionally staffed school with all the basic infrastructure. Elders of the villages were encouraged to attend evening classes to get basic education. Continuing this tradition of Vidya Daana, empowerment through education, Dr Heggade established numerous schools, colleges and professional institutions all over Karnataka. Due to his efforts, Ujire which was once a backward village has turned into an educational hub of schools and colleges. Under his eminent guidance, the SDM Educational Society provides basic and professional education in different fields today. From arts to architecture a child can choose whatever it wants for his higher education. SDM has brought smile in the faces of numerous rural kids who could never dream of studying medicine and engineering. The vision to integrate formal education with life education has given birth to centers like Siddhavana Gurukula and Rathnamanasa where children are imparted with training in agriculture, animal husbandry and other basic life skills. These institutions have empowered the lives of thousands mirroring the quintessence of Dharmasthala “Sarve Janah Sukhino Bhavantu”.

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