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Jain deity
The 57ft high Gommateshwara statue at Shravanabelagola, Karnataka, was built in 983 A.D
Successor Prajapati
Dynasty/Clan Ikshvaku
Predecessor Rishabhanatha
Father Rishabhanatha
Mother Sunanda
Children Somakirti (Mahabala)[1]
Kalyanaka / Important Events
Born Ayodhya
Moksha place Kailasa
Height 500 bows (1500 metres)

Bahubali (English: One With Strong Arms) was the son of Rishabhanatha, the first tirthankara of Jainism.[2][3][4] Bahubali is a much revered figure among Jains. He is said to have meditated motionless for a whole year in kayotsarga (standing) posture because of which climbers grew around his legs.[5] After one year of meditation, Bahubali attained Kevala Jnana (omniscience) and became arihant (God in Jainism). According to Jain texts, Bahubali's soul attained moksha (liberation from the cycle of births and deaths) at Mount Kailash.[6]

Bahubali is also called Gommatesh because of the Gommateshwara statue dedicated to him. The statue built by the Ganga dynasty minister and commander Chavundaraya, is a 57-foot (17 m) monolith (statue carved from a single piece of rock) 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 statues in the world.[2][7]


The Ādi purāṇa, a 9th-century Sanskrit poem, deals with the ten lives of the first tirthankara, Rishabhanatha and his two sons, Bharata and Bahubali. It was composed by Jinasena, a Digambara monk. A 10th-century Kannada text based on the Sanskrit text was written by the poet Adikavi Pampa.[8][9]


According to Jain texts, when Rishabhanatha decided to become a monk he distributed his kingdom into his 100 sons, Bharata got the city of Vinita (Ayodhya) and Bahubali got the city of Podanapur (Taxila).[10][11][12] After winning six divisions of earth in all directions (digvijaya), Bharata Cakravartī proceeded for his capital Ayodhyapuri with his vast ocean of army and the all-powerful, divine cakraratna (spinning, disk-like super weapon with serrated edges). But the cakraratna, surprisingly, stopped on its own at the entrance of Ayodhyapuri signalling to the Emperor that there still remain individuals who have refused submission to his supreme authority. Bharata found out that they were no one else but his own younger brothers – ninety-nine of them, all extremely virtuous, full of self-esteem, and not easy to win over.[13] Bharata's 98 brothers became muni (ascetic) and submitted their kingdoms to him. Like Bharata, Bahubali was endowed with the final and superior body of extraordinary sturdiness and strength (vajra-ṛṣabhanārācasaṃhanana).[14] He hurled open defiance at the cakravartī and challenged him to a fight.[15]

Depiction of Bharata-Bahubali fight

But, 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, Bharata.[16]


Sculpture depicting Bahubali's meditation in Kayotsarga posture with vines enveloped around his body (Photo: Badami caves)

After the fight, Bahubali was filled with disgust for the world and developed a desire for renunciation. Bahubali abandoned his clothes and kingdom to became a monk.[17] Bahubali began meditating with great resolve to attain Kevala Jnana but he couldn't succeed as the thought that he is standing on Bharata's land troubled him.[18]

However, Bahubali was adamant and continued his practice unmindful of the vines, ants, and dust which enveloped his body. At last at the end of the year, it occurred to him that "common lands were not capable of exclusive proprietary possession and that saints could use such lands without lowering themselves in any way". About the same time Bharata himself came, in all humility, to him, and worshipped him with veneration and respect. Bahubali was then able to quell the disturbing element in his thoughts, and soon succeeded in his effort to destroy the four kinds of inimical karmas. According to another version, the thought that was disturbing Bahubali's meditation was a kind of painful regret that he had been the cause of his elder brother's humiliation, which was dispersed when Bharata came and worshipped him with reverence and affection. Bahubali was then able to destroy four kinds of inimical karmas including the knowledge obscuring karma because of which he attained kevala jnana (omniscience). He was revered as an arihant (omniscient beings).[19] Bahubali finally attained Nirvana/moksha and became a siddha, i.e.,a soul at its purest form.[20]


Bahubali monolith of Dharmasthala (1973 CE)

There are 5 monolithic statues of Bahubali in Karnataka measuring more than 6 m (20 feet) in height.

The Bahubali Atishayakshetra with Bahubali in standing posture is situated on about 50 steps up and 8.5 m (28 feet) in high at Kumbhoj, Kolhapur, Maharashtra.

A 6.4 m (21 feet) tall statue of Bahubali 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, Shravanbelagola[edit]

Main article: Gommateshwara statue

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.


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. The statue 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. 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.


An ancient Jain temple of Bahubali dated 8th Century AD was discovered in Arathipura, Maddur, Mandya, Karnataka by Archaeological Survey of India. The statue of Bahubali, discovered in the excavations, is 3 feet wide and 3.5 feet tall.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jain 1929, p. 106.
  2. ^ a b Zimmer 1953, p. 212.
  3. ^ Jain 2008, p. xv.
  4. ^ Dundas, Paul; John Hinnels ed. (2002). The Jains. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-26606-8.  p. 120
  5. ^ Jain 2008, p. 105-106.
  6. ^ Jain 2008, p. 107.
  7. ^ Rice 1889, p. 53.
  8. ^ History of Kannada literature
  9. ^ Students' Britannica India, Volumes 1-5, Popular Prakashan, p. 78, ISBN 0-85229-760-2 
  10. ^ Titze 1998, p. 8.
  11. ^ Jain 2008, p. 79, 108.
  12. ^
  13. ^ Jain 2013, p. x.
  14. ^ Jain 2013, p. xi.
  15. ^ Jain 1929, p. 143.
  16. ^ Jain 2008, p. 105.
  17. ^ Jain 1929, p. 145.
  18. ^ Jain 2008, p. 106-107.
  19. ^ Jain 1929, p. 145-146.
  20. ^ Jain 1929, p. 146.
  21. ^ Express News Service (7 January 2015), Eighth Century Jain Temple Discovered in Maddur, The New Indian Express 


External links[edit]