Dharmasthala, Karnataka – Example of Religious Tolerance

Sri Manjunathaswamy Temple



The temple is unusual in that it is run by a Jainadministration and poojas are conducted byHindu priests of Madhva order. On an average the flow of pilgrims is about 10,000 people a day. A mechanised kitchen provides free food for all pilgrims and there are guest houses with modern amenities, run by the Administration.IMG_20160505_123414

Dharmastala represents religious tolerance. A Jain Tirthankara is worshipped beside Daivas and Lord Manjunatha (Shiva). The priests are Vaishnavite Brahmins and the guardian of the temple a Heggade (Jain). To those who come here for justice, the Heggade dispenses judgements that are said to represent the will of the deities.IMG_20160505_124448

Local legend says that the Shiva Linga in Dharmasthala was brought to Dharmasthala by a local person with great powers, named Annappa. Legend is that he used to work for the Heggade family. Once when the Heggade he was serving wanted to worship Lord Shiva, Annappa had assured him to get one linga and vanished from the sight. Next morning, he had already established the linga in Dharmasthala, a few metres away from Heggade’s house. Later it was known that the Linga was from Kadri near Mangalore, from the Kadri temple. By then, Annappa had vanished and he was never again sighted in the vicinity. Now people in Dharmasthala worship Annappa as Annappa Panjurli, a local god deva and a hero.

Around the 16th century, Shri Devaraja Heggade invited Shri Vadiraja Swami of Udupi to visit the place. The Swamiji gladly came but refused to accept Bhiksha (food offering) because the idol of Lord Manjunatha had not been consecrated according to the vedic rites. Shri Heggade then requested the Swamiji to reconsecrate the shiva linga himself. Pleased by the observance of the vedic rites and Heggade’s charity to all, the Swamiji named the place Dharmasthala the abode of religion and charity. Thus, the roots of charity and religious tolerance established by the Pergades 800 years ago have been nurtured and strengthened by twenty one generations of the Heggade family, (Heggade being a derivative from Pergade).

Mass Marriage
To fight against the dowry system and to cut unnecessary expenses involved in the celebration of marriages, Dr. Veerendra Heggade started free mass marriages in 1972 and the annual mass marriages are held usually during April every year.The expenses of the wedding dress, Mangalsutra and wedding feast for a limited number of the couple’s guests are borne by the Kshetra.


The average flow of pilgrims is about 10,000 people every day. Every one of the thousands of pilgrims who daily visit shri Kshetra Dharmasthala is an honored guest irrespective of caste, creed, culture or status. The “Anna Daana”(free food) is one of the impressive events that takes place in this village. Free food is provided to devotees and the temple has modern machinery and makes quality food continuously throughout the day. The dining hall is known as “Annapoorna”.

Vidya dānām
Shri Kshetra Dharmasthala by the SDMCETSociety manages a 25 institutions ranging from primary schools, Gurukula to teach yoga, Sanskrit, and professional courses in engineering, medicine, and dental sciences in Dharmasthala, Ujire, Mangalore, Udupi, Dharwad, Hassan, Mysore and other places of Karnataka state.

The Siddavana gurukula started by the late Manjayya Heggade has become a model educational institution. Over 250 students are provided free lodging and boarding and learn yoga and Sanskrit in addition to the basic school curriculum. The specialty of this institution is its endeavor to teach values based on Indian culture.


About s.rajah iyer

An MBA.. Interested in writing,Reading..Indian Philosophy
This entry was posted in General, Temples of India and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Dharmasthala, Karnataka – Example of Religious Tolerance

  1. V.SRIDHARAN says:

    Your Blog is worth reading.
    . Musings- contemplation of meditative thought.
    Enjoyed write up on DHARMASTHALA provoking me to plan a visit the place to enjoy religious tolerance. Read with Captive attention about 43rd wedding anniversary blog as I am fast approaching that stage. Thanks once again.
    Sadar Pranam


  2. Anonymous says:

    Hello, Mr. Suryanarayanan,

    I enjoyed reading some of your blogs. I lived on the same street (Vadakku Ratha Veethi) as your family in Ramnad during the fifties, and was a student of your father . I would like to talk to you and reminisce a bit, Please write to me when you have a moment: Thanks.


Tks for your views.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s