The Present Heggade

" I have a commitment to convince my God,
through my deeds and not by my words"

       Shri D.Veerendra Heggade 


     The son of Shri Ratnavarma Heggade was a boy of great dignity and devotion. Nurtured by the piety of his father's administrative skills and dedication to Dharma, the boy showed great maturity at an early age. A maturity that proved itself when the mantle of Heggadeship fell on his young shoulders at the tender age of 20, on 24th October 1968.

     In less than four decades, since he assumed responsibilities in 1968, he has carried his heritage to greater heights. Not only by continuing to protect the essence of the Kshetra, but also by achieving remarkable progress in his service to mankind.

    Befittingly, Shri Veerendra Heggade realized his father's dream by accomplishing the carving and installation of the Bahubali. A feast so wonderful that, for any ordinary man it could suffice as the achievement of a life time.

     But for this far seeking Heggade, this was merely a legacy he had inherited for completion. To him, the duties as a Grahastha and as the Heggade of the Kshetra are unceasing endeavours.

    And his devotion to these responsiblities are evident in achievements without end. The relentless pursuits of a man to uplift mankind by divinity, charity and guidance.

    What distinguishes Shri Veerendra Heggade is that while being the head of a revered religious institution, he is, today, far more than that. His years of practicing 'active' Dharma have given him a vision that combines social issues such as education and environment with religion. This has resulted in him being requested to grace a variety of functions and his opinions treated with immense respect. His advice is sought by the high and mighty on every topic under the sun, bar politics, which he eschews. Amazingly though, Shri Heggade's common touch sees the ordinary supplicant as comfortable in seeking him out as a friend, philosopher and guide.

     While the traditional duties of the Heggade itself would fill the hours of the day for most, Shri Veerendra Heggade has found the energy to do much more. His commitment to "Dharma in Action" and the superhuman zeal have resulted in initiatives and programmes that have given a new meaning to Dharma. The true visionary, he has broadened the scope of the Kshetra's role as can be seen in the multifarious activities it is engaged in today.


Shri Veerendra Heggade & Smt. Hemavathi Heggade

Shri Heggade counseling the devotees


  October 24th, 1968

     On this day, a young collegian, set his date with destiny. Shedding the fun loving age of a collegian, Shri Veerendra Heggade, at the age of 20, was consecrated as the Heggade, to take forward the awe inspiring legacy of tremendous responsibility his predecessors had left behind for him. He became the guardian of faith for all humanity that came to him for comfort and solace. He took on the mantle of Dharmadhikari …dispenser of justice …in the name of Lord Manjunatha.

      This day was the beginning of a glorious chapter in the memoirs of Dharmasthala. History was ready to be rewritten by a young man, who knew what he had to do…not only carry forward the 600 year old legacy of the Pergades, but also transform into reality the vision nurtured by his father, the illustrious Shri Ratnavarma Heggade… himself a great visionary of his time.

     His multifaceted role was clearly defined… the chosen representative of Lord Manjunatha, the Dharmadhikari (dispenser of justice), the Heggade, and a caring family man.

      As the Chosen Representative of Lord Manjunatha, he 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 diligently performed 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 him with reverence and faith, from far and wide, rich and poor, 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 that the peace of the temple town is protected and the daily administration carries on peacefully. He has to grace every important function that needs his presence or is invited to. His life is not a bed of roses.

      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. Be they high and mighty or just a poor commoner .Because they see in him the divinity of God.

    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. Entire 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 relentless drive to redefine Dharma, has helped him interweave religion with social imbalances like illiteracy, rampant poverty and religious intolerance. This has resulted in eradication of poverty and illiteracy in the villages around Dharmasthala and beyond. Other Social issues like uplift of women - especially the rural folk, employment of rural youth, affordable educational and medical facilities, religious intolerance and hatred have all been addressed to by this great visionary. Small wonder therefore that many organizations feel it an honour to have him grace their functions. His opinion is treated with great respect.

Lord Bahubali's Statue installed and 19 consecrated by Shri Veerendra Heggade
 During  Ashden Award Ceremony at London
Shri Heggade & Swamy Ramdevji inaugurating
the Rajatadri Guest House
Shri Heggade sharing a lighter moment with
Shri Shri Shri Ravishankarji & Dr. Abdul Kalam
Shri Heggade with Prince Charles during
the Ashden Award Ceremony at London

Receiving the Rajarshi Award

     The relentless efforts of Shri Veerendra Heggade have made Dharmasthala a glowing inspiration to many organizations that seek to redress the problems in their respective back yards. Be they government bodies or well meaning NGOs.

     Having said all this, one would wonder if Shri Veerendra Heggade finds time for his family. This is what sets him apart. In spite of a packed day he still finds time to be a caring husband, a doting father and a loving patriarch. Children are the apple of his eye. He just becomes a child among the children. No familiar responsibility misses his eye.

 Shri Heggade - the patriarch
of the family

      For many this would take a lifetime 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 doting father and a caring patriarch. Nothing misses his eye in all this plethora of responsibilities and duties. Children are the apple of his eye. He just becomes a child among the children.

Shri Veerendra Heggade addressing the Self-help Group meeting Shri Veerendra Heggade accepting the MOU signed with MORD, Govt. of India for Monitoring Cell of RUDSETI
Shri Heggade & Shri Surendra Kumar
along with Smt. Maneka Gandhi

Shri Heggade & Smt. Hemavati Heggade
along with Shri Jairam Ramesh

      For a man who is held in so much awe and reverence, he proves that he is as human as any of us. He finds time for his hobbies that include a passion for driving and collecting cars. Some of the rarest vintage beauties can be found in his beautiful collection…each one ready to rev at the turn of the ignition. These vintage beauties rub shoulders with some of the most powerful cars of the modern era.
Being a very keen and enthusiastic photographer, his collection of antique cameras is breathtaking. He loves to travel and explore the world. His travels have been beautifully captured through his camera. Most of his photographs are so beautiful that one would think they are paintings by a man who wants to live life to the full. His travels to the various countries in the world, helped Shri Heggade to implement what he observed and studied, in the development of the Institutions governed by Shree Kshetra Dharmasthala.

      One visit to Manjusha, the museum and you will find part of history unraveled before you. His love for art, heritage and culture comes alive in this rare Exhibition of bronze and stone sculptures, paintings and articles used daily by generations that have become history.

     He is like the silent river, deep and unfathomable. The more you unravel the deeper goes his reach. Even as he wraps his day late in the night, he perhaps must be echoing Robert Frost…

   The woods are dark and deep, and I have miles to go before I sleep.

     In short , Shri Veerendra Heggade, the Dharmadhikari of Dharmasthala, is a man who defies definition.



     Setting up educational institutions for the learning youth was in itself a trail blazing effort. That too it began almost 4 decades ago, a time when education was still the preserve of the few.

Shri Heggade in discussion with the architect

Sri Sannidhi VIP Guest House

      However what any visitor to any of these institutions will witness is the profound generosity and the extreme concern of Shri Veerendra Heggade for students. It is mirrored in the ambience of each institution.

      Even more awe inspiring is the fact that architecture and the setting of each institution is not replicated. The reason being each is designed to complement the branch of education it offers. Each little detail is over seen with great care. Fine examples being the visitors quadrangle in the Dental College, the beautifully landscaped gardens and auditorium in the Medical College, the elements of Ayurveda portrayed in the precincts of the Ayurveda College at Hassan, the beautiful patch of garden in the inner court of the Engineering College at Dharwad, the Japanese garden at the Law College … to name a few.

     For Shri Heggade, these institutions are not just acts of a social commitment but a passionate belief that nothing is impossible if the will is there. How else a religious head as busy as him, could still find time to spend on these little details, which many would term as trivial?



    The spin offs of the phenomenal service rendered by Shri Veerendra Heggade to Humanity at large needs no recognition. It is reflected in the smiles of the people who have experienced the renaissance or have been part of the great co-operative movement that transformed the lives of thousands of farmers. The pride of self achievement is echoed in the chatter heard at community centers for the rural women. The giggles and laughter of students emanating from the playgrounds of the various schools and colleges dotting this beautiful stretch of Dakshin Kannada, warms the heart of every beholder.

Receiving the Honorary Doctorate award from
Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences

Receiving the Padma Bhushan Award

Receiving the Ashden Gold Award for global green energy 2012

Receiving the Jindal International Award
from Sri Sri Sri Ravishankarji

Receiving the FICCI Award

Receiving Padmavishushan Award-2015

    Such a huge transformation cannot go un-noticed. It does get the recognition it deserves. From the among the plethora of awards and accolades that were conferred on Shri Veerendra Heggade.

  • 'PADMAVIBHUSHANA' Award from Government of India by His Excellency Sri Pranav Mukherjee, the then President of India in 2015
  • 'PADMABHUSHANA' Award from Government of India by Shri K.R.Narayanan,the then President of India in 2000
  • 'RAJARSHI' title from the then President of India, Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma during the Silver Jubilee of Pattabhisheka in 1993
  • D.Litt Honoris Causa Award from Mangalore University in 1994
  • Honorary FRCPS Award from Glasgow University, UK in 2005
  • Hon. Doctor of Science from Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences in 2007
  • Honorary Doctorates from Drew University, U.S.A – 2010.    
  • Samaja Rathna and Dharma Rathnakara at Udupi Paryaya Festivals in 1978 and 1991
  • Honorofic title of Dharmayogi from Akhila Bharatha Digambara Jaina Mahasabha, New Delhi in 1982
  • Rajyothsava Award from the Government of Karnataka in 1985
  • Vatica Varshada Kannadiga Award presented by E-TV Kannada Channel in 2004
  • Lalitha Kala Academy Award in 2008
  • Karnataka Rathna the highest civilian award from the Government of Karnataka in 2009
  • Nadoja Citation by Hampi Heritage University in 2010
  • Jindal International Award in the field of health including druglesshealing through Naturopathy, Yoga and Ayurveda in 2011
  • Devraj Urs Award for service to backward community by the Government of Karnataka in 2011
  • Basavashri Award – 2009 by the Govt. of Karnataka.

Awards won by the Institutions managed by Dr. Heggade. 

     Shri Ksetra Dharmasthala Rural Development Project (SKDRDP)
  •  FICCI Award for skdrdp in 1995.
  •  Indian Merchant Chambers Award - 1999
  •  NABARD SHG state Award – 1999 and 2000
  • Changemakers award for Microfinance & Micro insurance in  2008 BY ASHOKA FOUNDATION
  •  Microfinance institution of India award 2010.
  •  Ashden International Gold Award for Intitiatives in Renewable Energy awarded by the Ashden Foundation, London in 2012. This award is also considered as the Green Oscar
  • Devi Ahalyabai National Award 2012 for religion, Culture, education, Social Service, Rural Development and Health Protection.
  • SKOTCH AWARD-2014 for having shown excellence in implemented innovative micro products for the economic empowerment of the poor.
  • FICCI Award for RUDSET Institute given by Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the then Prime minister of India in 1999.
  • SIDBI award -2011 for promotion of small and micro enterprises.