Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat today condoled the death of spiritual guru Bhayyu Maharaj and said the organisation has lost its "very old friend".
Maharaj, who had refused to accept ministerial rank granted by the Madhya Pradesh government over two months back, allegedly committed suicide by shooting himself in Indore on Tuesday, police said.
In a joint statement, Bhagwat and RSS general secretary Suresh Bhaiyyaji Joshi said, "We pray for the peace of the departed soul and pay homages from the entire organisation."
Bhayyu Maharaj, whose original name was Uday Singh Deshmukh, was one of the five saints to whom the Shivraj Singh government in Madhya Pradesh had granted Minister of State rank in April. However, he had refused to accept it saying "a post holds no importance for a saint".
He was very popular in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh because of his spiritual and social works and enjoyed a large following among politicians and film stars.
His ashram is situated in Indore city and top political leaders including Devendra Fadnavis, legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar among others are his disciples.
He also played the role of a mediator when India Against Corruption movement led by Anna Hazare was at its peak.