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This article is about Jain God. For movie, see Baahubali (film).

Bahubali(English: strong of arm) was the son of Rishabha, the first tirthankara of the present Avasarpani era (see Jain time cycle)[1][note 1][3] Bahubali is a much revered figure among Jains. After winning the nonviolent duel with his elder brother, Bharata, he developed a desire for renunciation. He gave his kingdom to Bharata and became a Digambara monk. Bahubali meditated motionless for a whole year in kayotsarga posture because of which climbers grew around his legs.[4] After one year of meditation, he attained Kevala Jnana (omniscience) and became an arihant. A human being who destroys all inner passions like anger, attachment, greed and pride is revered as an arihant. According to Jain texts, he attained moksha at mount Kailasa and became a Siddha i.e., soul at its purest form (or a liberated soul).[5]

Gommateshwara statue at Shravanabelagola was built in 983 A.D.

Bahubali is also called Gommateshwara because of the statue dedicated to him. "Gommateshvara" statue, built by the Ganga dynasty minister and commander Chamundaraya, is a 57-foot (17 m) monolith[note 2] and is situated above a hill in Shravanabelagola, in the Hassan district of Karnataka state, India. It was built in around 983 A.D. and is one of the largest free standing statue in the world.[1][6] On August 5, 2007, the statue was voted by Indians as the first of Seven Wonders of India; 49% of the total votes went in favor of it.[7] Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims, devotees and tourists from all over the world flock to the statue once in 12 years for an event known as Mahamastakabhisheka.


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.[8][9]

According to Jain texts, when Rishabhdeva decided to became a monk he gave throne to Bharata, eldest of all and made Bahubali, successor to the royal seat.[10]


The ministers on both sides gave the following argument to prevent war-

The brothers themselves, cannot be killed by any means; they are in their last incarnations in transmigration, and possess bodies which no weapon may mortally wound in warfare! Let them fight out the issue by themselves in other ways.

It was then decided that to settle the dispute, three kinds of contests can be held between Bharata and Bahubali. These were, staring at each other (eye-fight), water-fight (Jala Yudh) and wrestling (Mala Yudh). Bahubali won all the three contests from his elder brother.[11]


Statue depicting Bahubali's meditation in Kayotsarga posture with vines enveloped around his body.

The fight with his brother, Bharata, troubled Bahubali. So after much contemplation, he decided to give up his kingdom and became a monk. Bahubali began meditating with great resolve to attain Keval Gyan (enlightenment) but he couldn't succeed as the thought that he is standing on Bharata's land troubled him.[12]

However, Bahubali was adamant. He continued his practice unmindful of the vines, ants, and dust which enveloped his body. His sisters Brhami and Sundari were concerned and asked Tirthankar Adinath about their worldly brother Bahubali. Tirthankara Adinatha said, 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, Oh my dear brother, at least now get down from the elephant. These words from his 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.

Statues of Bahubali[edit]

Bahubali monolith of Venur (1904 CE)
Bahubali monolith of Dharmasthala (1973 CE)

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.

Gommateshwara statue at Shravanbelagola[edit]

Main article: Shravanbelagola

The colossal monolithic statue of Bahubali at Shravanabelagola is 158 km away from Bangalore. This gigantic statue of Bahubali is carved out of a single block of granite and stands majestically on top of a hill. For centuries, Shravanabelagola has remained a great tirtha (pilgrimage center) and thousands of pilgrims flock to see the magnificent, gigantic statue. 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 Jain temples known as basadis and several images of the Tirthankaras. One can have a beautiful view of the surrounding areas from the top of the hill. The statue attracts large number of pilgrims and tourists from all over the world, especially for Mahamastakabhisheka. The Mahamastakabhisheka festival is held once in 12 years, when the statue of Gommateshvara is anointed with milk, saffron, ghee, etc. to maintain its freshness.[1] This statue is now proposed as World Heritage Site by the Government of India.[13]


Bahubali monolith of Karkala (1432 CE)

Karkala is a town and also the headquarters of Karkala Taluk in Udupi District of Karnataka, India, and is located about 38 km from Udupi and about 480 km from Bangalore. About, 52 km. North-east of Mangalore, is known primarily for the statue of Lord Bahubali (Gomateshwara).

Karkala is well known for its massive 42 feet monolithic statue of Gomateshwara Bahubali, believed to have been built around 1432 AD. This is a male figure in a kayotsarga posture approached by a number of rock-cut steps. Veerapandya Bhairava Raja built this monolithic statue in his honor. A festival with all mighty known as Maha Masthakaabhisheka, sacred bathing of the statue with saffron paste, milk and water, held in every 12 years. During this period thousands of Jain devotees visit this place to carry out the Mahamastakabhisheka. This statue is an awesome sight and is the second tallest in the State.

The towering 41.5 ft. granite monolith of Bahubali, also known as Gommateshwara, is built on an elevated platform on top of a rocky hill, known locally as Gommata Betta. Gommateshwara is also known as Gommata, Gomata and Gomateshwara. The colossus was consecrated on 13 February 1432 A.D. by Veera Pandya Bhairarasa Wodeyar, scion of the Bhairarasa Dynasty, feudatory of the Vijayanagar Ruler.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Heinrich Zimmer: "The cycle of time continually revolves, according to the Jainas. The present "descending" (avasarpini) period was preceded and will be followed by an "ascending" (utsarpini). Sarpini suggests the creeping movement of a "serpent" ('sarpin'); ava- means "down" and ut- means up."[2]
  2. ^ Monolith means casted from a single piece of rock.


  1. ^ a b c Zimmer 1953, p. 212.
  2. ^ Zimmer 1953, p. 224.
  3. ^ Dundas, Paul; John Hinnels ed. (2002). The Jains. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-26606-8.  p. 120
  4. ^ Jain 2008, p. 105-106.
  5. ^ Jain 2008, p. 107.
  6. ^ Rice 1889, p. 53.
  7. ^ "And India's 7 wonders are...". The Times of India. August 5, 2007. 
  8. ^ History of Kannada literature
  9. ^ Students' Britannica India, Volumes 1-5. Popular Prakashan. p. 78. ISBN 0-85229-760-2. 
  10. ^ Jain 2008, p. 79.
  11. ^ Jain 2008, p. 105.
  12. ^ Jain 2008, p. 106-107.
  13. ^ TNN Dec 31, 2011, 03.05AM IST (2011-12-31). "Bahubali may get world heritage tag - Times Of India". Retrieved 2012-05-18. 


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Shri Bahubali