Saturday, September 15, 2012

Great Kuruba Gowdas 4 - Balumama

I don't know how many people have heard about the saint of North Karnataka/ Maharashtra called "Balumama"(ಬಾಳುಮಾಮ). i have come across this name several times while reading Kannada newspapers
It was mostly when the big politicians of Karnataka go and tender the sheep of Balumama for a day so that they can win the elections. Recently a lost about him has been posted on Facebook by my friends in Maharastra. So I was curious and did my bit on research on him and here it is.

Balumama was born in 1892 to a Kuruba Gowda couple in a village called Akkol(ಅಕ್ಕೋಳ) in Chikkodi taluk of Belgum district in Karnataka. His father was Mayappa and mother was Satyavva. He spent his childhood with his parents, but was always lost in meditation and was a quite boy. He later went on to live with his sister and was married to her sisters daughter against his will. The marriage did not last long. He was given about 15 sheep's by his in laws which he started to tend.

While shepherding his sheep, he was known to have performed several miracles and help lot of poor and downtrodden people. He used to travel long distances with his sheep including parts of Maharashtra and Karnataka. He was fluent in both Kannada and Marathi. Whatever he said came to pass without fail. So had a huge disciple group among the rural poor, who began to worship him as a saint. The seep which Balumama had were considered as holy as well. If the herd of Balumama's sheep stayed or passed through a persons field, he was bound to have had happiness, health and wealth.

Balumama died at the age of 74 in 1966 at a village called Adamapur(ಅದ್ಮಾಪುರ) in Kohlapur district of Maharastra. A temple was built in his memory in Adamapur which lies between Nipani in Karnataka and Radhanagari in Maharashtra. The Temple is looked after by the "Shri Balumama Sansthana". The sheep numbers have now grown to about 40,000. Which are looked after by the temple trust.

These sheep which are the progeny of the original sheep of Balumama are considered to be auspicious. And groups of these sheep are taken to various places at the request of Balumamas devotees. There is a belief that these sheep brings good luck. Some politicians like Basavaraj Bommai, K S Eshwarapp, Sharad Pawar etc have tended the sheep for a day, which is thought to make them win elections.

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