|Other names||Gommateshwara (ಗೊಮ್ಮಟೇಶ್ವರ)|
|Height||525 bows (? metres)|
|Children||Somakirti (also known as Mahabala)|
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Bahubali (English: One With Strong Arms), a much revered figure among Jains, was the son of Adinath, the firsttirthankara of Jainism, and the younger brother of Bharata Chakravartin. He is said to have meditated motionless for one year in a standing posture (kayotsarga) and that during this time, climbing plants grew around his legs. After his year of meditation, Bahubali is said to have attained omniscience (Kevala Jnana). According to Jain texts, Bahubali's soul was liberated from the cycle of births and deaths (moksha ) at Mount Kailash. He is revered as a liberated soul (Siddha) by the Jains.
Bahubali is also called Gommateshwara because of the Gommateshwara statue dedicated to him. The statue was built by the Ganga dynasty minister and commander Chavundaraya; it is a 57-foot (17 m) monolith (statue carved from a single piece of rock) situated above a hill in Shravanabelagola in the Hassan district, Karnataka state, India. It was built in around 981 A.D. and is one of the largest free-standing statues in the world.
According to Jain texts, Bahubali was born to Rishabhanatha and Sunanda during the Ikshvaku dynasty in Ayodhya. He is said to have excelled in studying medicine, archery, floriculture, and the knowledge of precious gems. Bahubali had a son named Somakirti (also known as Mahabala). When Rishabhanatha decided to become a monk, he distributed his kingdom among his 100 sons. Bharata was gifted the kingdom of Vinita (Ayodhya) and Bahubali got the kingdom of Asmaka from South India, having Podanapur as its capital. After winning six divisions of earth in all directions (digvijaya), Bharata proceeded to his capital Ayodhyapuri with a huge army and divine chakra-ratna—spinning, disk-like super weapon with serrated edges. But the chakra-ratna stopped on its own at the entrance of Ayodhyapuri, signalling to the emperor that his 99 brothers have yet not submitted to his authority. Bharata's 98 brothers became Jain monks' and submitted their kingdoms to him. Bahubali was endowed with the final and superior body of extraordinary sturdiness and strength (vajra-ṛṣabhanārācasaṃhanana) like Bharata. He hurled open defiance at the chakravartin and challenged him to a fight.
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 between Bharata and Bahubali would be held. These were eye-fight (staring at each other), water-fight (jala-yuddha), and wrestling (malla-yuddha). Bahubali won all the three contests over his elder brother, Bharata.
After the fight, Bahubali was filled with disgust at the world and developed a desire for renunciation. Bahubali abandoned his clothes and kingdom to become a Digambara monk and began meditating with great resolve to attain omniscience (Kevala Jnana).
He is said to have meditated motionless in a standing posture (kayotsarga) for a year, during which time climbing plants grew around his legs. However, he was adamant and continued his practice unmindful of the vines, ants, and dust that enveloped his body. According to Jain text Ādi purāṇa, on the last day of Bahubali's one year long fast, Bharata came in all humility to Bahubali and worshiped him with veneration and respect. A painful regret that he had been the cause of his elder brother's humiliation had been disturbing Bahubali's meditation; this was dispersed when Bharata worshipped him. Bahubali was then able to destroy the four kinds of inimical karmas, including the knowledge obscuring karma, and he attained omniscience (kevala jnana). He was now revered as an omniscient being (Kevali). Bahubali finally attained liberation (moksha) and became a pure, liberated soul (siddha). He is said to be the first Digambara monk to have attained moksha in the present half-cycle of time (avasarpini).
There are five monolithic statues of Bahubali measuring more than 6 m (20 feet) in height in Karnataka:
- 17.4 m (57 feet) at Shravanabelagola in Hassan District in 981 AD
- 12.8 m (42 feet) at Karkala in Udupi District in 1430 AD
- 11.9 m (39 feet) at Dharmasthala in Dakshina Kannada District in 1973 AD
- 10.7 m (35 feet) at Venur in Dakshina Kannada District in 1604 AD
- 6 m (20 feet) at Gommatagiri in Mysore District in 12th Century AD
These statues will be briefly discussed in order now.
The monolithic statue of Bahubali at Shravanabelagola, located 158 km (98 mi) from Bangalore, was carved from a single block of granite. The statue was built by the Ganga dynasty minister and commander Chavundaraya; it is 57-foot (17 m) tall and is situated above a hill in Shravanabelagola, in the Hassan district of Karnataka. It was built in and around 981 A.D. and is one of the largest free-standing statues in the world. The statue is visible from 25 kilometres (16 mi) away. Shravanabelagola has remained a centre of pilgrimage (tirtha) for the Jains.
Karkala is known for its 42 ft (13 m) monolithic statue of Gomateshwara Bahubali, which is believed to have been built around 1432 and is the second-tallest statue in the State. The statue is built on an elevated platform on top of a rocky hill. It was consecrated on 13 February 1432 by Veera Pandya Bhairarasa Wodeyar, scion of the Bhairarasa Dynasty, feudatory of the Vijayanagar Ruler.
Venur is a small town in Dakshina Kannada district, Karnataka state, situated on the bank of the Gurupura River. Thimmanna Ajila built a 38-foot (12 m) colossus of Gommateshwara there in 1604 AD. The staue at Venur is the shortest of the three Gommateshwaras within 250 km (160 mi) around it. It tands in an enclosure on the same pattern as that of the statue at Shravanabelagola. The Kings of Ajila Dynasty ruled here from 1154 to 1786.
Gommatagiri is an acclaimed Jain centre. The 12th-century granite statue of Bahubali, also known as Gomateshwara, is erected atop a 50-metre (160 ft) tall hillock called 'Shravana Gudda'. The Jain centre attracts many pilgrims during the annual Mahamastakabhisheka in September. The statue at Gommatagiri is very similar to the 58-foot (18 m) Gommateshwara statue in Shravanabelagola, except that it is smaller. Historians attribute the statue to an early Vijayanagar period.
Kumbhoj is the name of an ancient town located in Kolhapur district, Maharashtra. The town is about eight kilometers from Hatkanangale, about twenty seven kilometers from Kolhapur. The famous Jain pilgrimage centre where a 28-foot (8.5 m)-high statue of Bahubali is installed is 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) from the Kumbhoj city.
In 2016, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) excavated another 13 ft (4.0 m)-high statue of Bahubali made in the 3rd – 9th centuries in Arthipura. ASI has also excavated an 8th-century statue of Bahubali in Arthipura, Maddur, Mandya, Karnataka, that is 3 feet (0.91 m) wide and 3.5 ft (1.1 m) tall.
The life-story of Bahubali has been discussed in many works.
- A 10th-century Kannada text based on the Sanskrit text was written by the poet Adikavi Pampa.
- A poem dated 1180 was composed by a Jain poet named Boppanna (also known as Sujanottamsa), in praise of Bahubali.
Pictured below are some of the images depiciting Bahubali that are located at various places in India.
Bahubali statue at YSR state Archaeology Museum, Hyderabad, 12th century
Bahubali monolith of Halebidu
Gomateshwara at Kalugumalai Jain Beds, 8th century
Bahubali at Andimalai Caves, 10th century
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