Something grand and unusual was flagged off at Shravanabelagola in Karnataka, 144 km from Bangalore. The event that will continue till February 25, 2018 is a once-in-twelve-year one that draws the faithful and the curious from across the country and globe to its courtyard.
You only need to climb some 600-odd rock-cut steps to reach the top of Vindhyagiri hill to come before Bahubali, also known as Gomateshwara, whose 57-foot-high rock monolith soars into the sky. Fresh as a daisy, the statue owes its pristine purity to the fact that it is a “living statue” hewn out of the hill itself and not created out of separate blocks of harvested “dead” stone.
His visage is eternally peaceful, reflecting the tranquillity of his meditation that, according to mytho-historical accounts, lasted a whole year, in standing position – as he is depicted here – at the culmination of which Bahubali attained to Kaivalya and Moksha.Bahubali was the second son of Rishabdev, the first Jain Tirthankara. The Mahamastabhisheka, grand head anointing ceremony, that commences today and will continue through the next week, will see devotees climb up the recently-constructed scaffolding to reach over the millennia-old Jain monk’s head and pour their offerings from a kalash (pot) – filled variously with water, sandal paste, rosewater, vermillion, turmeric, flowers, milk, honey and more – not only in expression of their faith but also for socio-economic developmental reasons.
Every day, 108 Kalashas’ offerings will be made by those who have paid sponsorship fee ranging from a crore and some lakhs to thousands and hundreds of rupees for the privilege to do so. All funds are being channelled by the Jain Matha Trust here to expand a childrens’ hospital and school whose services are given free of cost to children of not just Shravanabelagola but all the neighbouring towns and villages as well.
After this, through the day, devotees who cannot afford to pay, line up to make free offerings. The current pontiff of the Jain Matha in Shravanabelagola, Charukeerthy Bhattaraka Swami, says, “We believe in twinning jan kalyan, social service, along with devotional practices, so that everyone can benefit from the faith we respose in Bahubali”.
Blessed with handsome features and divine nature, Bahubali resisted waging war with his brother Bharata, who wished to conquer his brother’s kingdom after vanquishing several others’. At Bahubali’s request, to avoid large scale killings, Bharata agreed to wage a three-fold battle with his sibling, one-to-one: Drishti Yuddha – staring at each other without blinking; Jal-Yuddha – throwing water on each other’s face and Malla-yuddha – a wrestling match. When Bahubali emerged victor, an enraged Bharata bid his powerful weapon,’chakra’, to ravage his opponent’s kingdom but legend has it that the chakra did not do his bidding.
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