On Sunday (April 25) morning, the revered Sri Krishna Bhat left for the heavenly abode. He was the priest of the Hampi Badavi Linga temple in Karnataka for over 40 years. The news of his death was shared on Twitter by Vishwa Hindu Parishad member Girish Bharadwaj.
Hampi Badavi Linga Priest Sri Krishna Bhat reached the Feet Of Parameshwara this Morning, The 94 Year old Man who did immense seva to Eshwara for 40 Long Years.— Girish Bharadwaj (@Girishvhp) April 25, 2021
ॐ Shanti 🙏 pic.twitter.com/ui99hp8mD3
Sri Krishna Bhat hailed from a village in Tirthahalli taluk of Shivamogga district. He had come to Hampi to work as a priest at the iconic Satyanarayana temple. Later, he was appointed as the priest of the Badavi Linga temple by the Anegundi royal family. The Hindu priest would come to the temple every day for the past 40 years to attend his duties. He would often greet the crowd and then begin resume his chores. He stayed at the temple till late evenings.
Unlike other priests, Bhat was often seen climbing the 3-metre long Shivalinga and clearing the flowers offered to the deity the previous day. The temple, which is eternally waterlogged, does not have a scaffold or ladder. In the absence of any alternative, the Hindu priest had to cling onto the Shivalinga and apply vermillion and vibhooti on it. However, devotees never considered it as an ‘act of sacrilege’.
While speaking to the New Indian Express about it, senior priest (Virupaksha temple) Shiv Bhat informed, “There is no other way to worship the Shivalinga, without stepping upon it. You cannot say that this amounts to sacrilege. It is about commitment and devotion. You cannot even use a ladder or any support in the water-filled temple.” The temple was built during the Raya dynasty of Vijayanagara of 15th century.
Interestingly, the roof of the sanctum sanctorum of the Hampi Badavi Linga temple has permanent holes in it due to the Islamic invasions of the Bahmani Sultans. As such, worship at the temple premises was stopped for over 500 years. It was only in 1980s that the worship resumed at the iconic temple. Due to the presence of holes in the roof, sunlight illuminates the waterlogged temple. The splendour of the temple in the backdrop of mesmerizing illumination made the temple a major attraction for devotees and photographers alike.
Worshippers are not allowed entry into the temple. Usually, Sri Krishna Bhat would fetch the water from the temple and sprinkle it on them. Now that he has left for the heavenly abode, devotees are mourning his absence.