Bahubali (Sanskrit: बाहुबली) also called Gomateshwara (Kannada: ಗೊಮ್ಮಟೇಶ್ವರ Tulu: ಗೊಮ್ಮತಾ) was an Arihant. According to Jainism, he was the second of the hundred sons of the first Tirthankara, Rishabha and king of Podanpur. The Adipurana, a 10th-century Kannada text by poet Adikavi Pampa (fl. 941 CE), written in Champu style, a mix of prose and verse and spread over in sixteen cantos, deals with the ten lives of the first tirthankara, Rishabha and his two sons, Bharata and Bahubali. According to the Digambaras he was the first human in this half time cycle to attain liberation.
A monolithic statue of Bahubali referred to as "Gommateshvara" built by the Ganga dynasty minister and commander Chamundaraya is a 60 feet (18 m) monolith and is situated above a hill in Shravanabelagola, in the Hassan district of Karnataka state, India. It was built in the 10th century AD. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims, devotees and tourists from all over the world flock to the statue once in 3 years for an event known as Mahamastakabhisheka. On August 5, 2007, the statue was voted by Indians as the first of Seven Wonders of India. 49% votes went in favor of this marvel.
The fight with his brother, Bharat, troubled Bahubali. So after much contemplation, he decided to give up his kingdom and take up the ascetic life. He took to meditation with a thirst for truth, but - it was for ego that he took to meditation on his own. Among monks who accept monastic vows, one must bow to all others who have accepted ascetism previously, regardless of age. Bahubali knew that if he went to Lord Rishabdev (Aadinath) for permission to take monastic vows, he would have to bow down to all his 98 younger brothers, who had renounced before him. Bahubali began meditating with great resolve to attain supreme knowledge, but did not succeed because of his ego, which stopped him from visiting his father's court, did not allow him to attain Keval Gyaana, enlightenment.
However, Bahubali was adamant. He continued his practice unmindful of the vines, ants, and dust which enveloped his body. Concerned, his sisters Brhami and Sundari asked Tirthankar Adinath about their worldly brother Bahubali. Tirthankar Adinath said that, although just moments away from enlightenment, Bahubali could not achieve it because he didn't realise that he was standing on 'the elephant' - Ego. Now understanding his folly, the sisters approached him and said 'O more bhai, ave to gaj ti utro' (O my dear brother, at least now get down from the elephant). This saying from the sisters led Bahubali to question "Am I really standing on any kind of elephant?". From this question he soon realised that the elephant he was standing upon was his pride and ego. Bahubali realised his mistake and shed his pride and ego. He had just lifted his feet to go and bow, when, truth and enlightenment dawned upon him. Blessed with the knowledge of Truth, Bahubali went to see his father who welcomed him. Bahubali began teaching and showing people the right path.
Bahubali is a major figure in Jain hagiography. His story exemplifies the inner strength of Indian culture. He won everything from his brother and could have become an emperor, but he returned everything to the brother. Bahubali is considered the ideal of the man who conquers selfishness, jealousy, pride and anger.
Statues of Bahubali
There are 5 monolithic statues of Bahubali in Karnataka measuring more than 20 feet in height.
The Bahubali Atishayakshetra with Bahubali in standing posture is situated on about 50 steps up and 28 feet in high at Kumbhoj, Kolhapur, Maharashtra.
One recently carved statue of Bahubali is located at Dharmasthala. A statue is also being carved in Gujarat.
As recently as 20 years ago, a huge statue of lord Gommateshwara was built at Gommatgiri, 14 kilometres north of Indore, on the Airport road. It is a good miniature copy of the original statue at Shravanabelagola.
The Gommateshvara Bahubali statue at Shravanbelagola
The colossal monolithic statue of Bahubali at Shravanabelagola is 158 km away from Bangalore. This gigantic statue of Bahubali, who is considered a Siddha (one who has attained salvation), is carved out of a single block of granite and stands majestically on top of a hill. For centuries, Shravanabelagola has remained a great pilgrimage center and thousands of pilgrims flock to see the magnificent, gigantic statue. The saint is shown completely nude, in the Jain custom. It is 17 m. (55 ft) high and is visible from a distance of 30 km.
This statue is regarded as one of the largest monolithic statues in the world. It was created around 983 AD by Chavundaraya, a minister of the Ganga King, Rachamalla (Raachmalla SathyaVaak IV 975-986 AD). Neighboring areas have Jaina bastis and several images of the Tirthankaras. One can have a beautiful view of the surrounding areas from the top of the hill. At Shravanabelagola, the Mahamastakabhisheka festival is held once in 12 years, when the image of Gommateshvara is bathed in milk, curds, ghee, saffron and gold coins. This statue is now proposed as World Heritage Site by the Government of India.
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