- It was here in this rocky town on the southern plains of Karnataka in the 10th century AD- 981 CE to be precise, a message of ahimsa (non-violence), peace and renunciation of worldly pleasure was delivered. It was in the form of a monolithic statue of Lord Bahubali that Chaundaraya, Commander-in-Chief of King Rachamalla of the Ganga dynasty established.
- The well-known legend has it that Chaundaraya’s mother Kalala Devi had a vision of the Lord Bahubali in her dream which her son realised through establishing the monolithic statue.
- The Chief also saw the vision of himself shoot an arrow standing atop the Chandragiri hill towards the adjacent hill Vindyagiri (also called Indragiri) and on the place where his arrow landed, he had the first vision of Lord Bahubali’s statue.
About Lord Bahubali;
- Bahubali was the son of Rishabhadeva and Sunanda Devi, Rishabhadeva being the first of the 24 Tirthankaras. Bahubali had brother Bharatesh and sister Sundari as siblings. According to the Sanskrit scripture, ‘Adi Purana,’ a Kavya (poem), written by Digambara monk Jinasena, Bahubali was born of the Ikshkvaku dynasty in Ayodhya.
- He fought his brother for supremacy and won the battle. But the violence left him disgusted Bahubali’s life took a turn when he challenged the emperor and his elder brother Bharatesha for supremacy over the clan.
- He defeated his brother in all three types of bout with him.
- Bahubali meditated in the ‘kayotsarga’ posture to attain ‘Keval jnana’ and became the first human to achieve Siddha (salvation also known as Moksha).
- “In this position, he meditated for one ‘Samvatsara’ (what is more or less equivalent of one year in modern calendar) Madhavi Latha (wild vines) grew around him an anthill materialised, inhabited by venomous snakes, but Bahubali never disturbed any of them; though he had no food and water he never wavered from his stance.
- The teachings of the 24 Thirthankaras after the life of Bahubali till the last Thirthankara — Mahaveera — Jainism has given the message of peace and ahimsa, going by the timeline of Rishabanatha Thirthankara.
The inscription on the rocks of Chandragiri:
- The inscription on the rocks of Chandragiri, dating back to the Ganga dynasty of Mysuru, mentions that Bhadrabahu, Jain ascetic, migrated to the South from Ujjain in the fifth century BC along with 12,000 followers and settled in Shravanabelagola, due to famine that was sweeping north India of that time. Among the disciples was the emperor Chandragupta Maurya. Bhadrabahu and 1,200 of his disciples died.
The statue of Gomateshwara:
- The statue of Gomateshwara, about 18 metres high and sculpted in a living rock, is the biggest free-standing monolithic image in the world. Other figures, such as the Buddhas of Bamiyan, or the statues of Ramses II in Egypt are bigger in size, but have been carved in high relief.
- Why is Bahubali, who is not a Tirthankara in the Jain lineage of mahamunis has been bestowed with such an important place in the Jain pantheon? The answer lies in the fact that for the Jains, Bahubali is the first siddha and Mokshagami, the soul that has attained nirvana.
- It is small wonder then that this statue should have inspired more replicas. One of them was set up in Karkala in the present Dakshina Kannada in A.D. 1432.
- In A.D. 1604, Timmaraja, the ruler of a descendant of the famous Chaundaraya, made a 12.6 metre-high image.