Sunday, October 30, 2011

DSC01281We have seen all the monuments in and out of the complex on top of the Vindhyagiri Hill. In the middle of the complex stands the mighty statue of Gomateswara. According to Jainism, Bahubali, called Gomateshwara, was the second of the hundred sons of the first Tirthankara, Rishabha. The Adipurana, a 10th century Kannada text by Jain poet Adikavi Pampa (941 AD.), deals with the ten lives of the first Tirthankara, Rishabha and his two sons, Bharata and Bahubali.

The colossal image of Bahubali marks the culmination of the artistic excellence achieved by the Ganga sculptors. The magnificent sculpture installed by Chavundaraya in around 982 AD. said to have been carved by Arishtanemi is the tallest monolithic image in India. Hewn out of uniformly fine-grained grey granite, it is finished in the round from head to knees. The depiction of ant-hills with snakes (Kukkuta Sarpa) peeping out and the ascending Madhavi creeper hide the fact of bold relief on the lower limbs. This north facing sculpture measures about 18 metres (588’’) in height. Believe it or not, this statue is visible from a distance of 30 kms.

DSC01282Exhibiting all Mahapurusha lakshanas Bahubali DSC01302stands erect in Kayothsarga posture on a full-blown lotus pedestal flanked by ornate but dwarf chauri bearers of Hoysala period on either side. The head decorated with Dakshinavrutha curls, the sublime face, the half closed and long conDSC01295templative eyes with gaze turned towards the tip of the sharp nose and the well shaped lips bearing a serene smile, can be visualized from any angle. The rounded face, the slightly projected and dimpled chin, the imperceptibly high cheek, the long lobed ears, all enhance the grace of the sculpture. The broad shoulders, the long arms. dangling on the sides, the fold-lines on the front of the neck, faithful delineation of the joints etc. attest to the skill and mastery of the artist in executing the anatomical details in the stone medium.

The stark nudity of the sculpture indicates the absolute renunciation of a Kevalin (one who attains supreme knowledge) and the stiff erect stance (Prathimayoga) itself suggest the firm determination and self control. The Dvarapala images on either side of the Bahubali colossal carved in src013schist, are among the finest of the well preserved guardian deities carved by the Hoysala artists of the 12th Century.

There are 3 other monolithic statues of Bahubali in Karnataka erected centuries ago at Karkala in Udupi District (42 feet erected in 1432 AD), Venur in Dakshina Kannada (35 feet erected in 1604 AD) and Gommatagiri in Mysore District (20 feet erected in the 12th Century).

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 recent anointing last took place in February 2006, and the next ceremony will occur in 2018. As the ceremony begins, consecrated water is sprinkled onto the participants by devotees carrying 1,008 specially prepared vessels. The statue is then bathed and anointed with libations such as milk, sugarcane juice, and saffron paste, and sprinkled with powders of sandalwood, turmeric, and vermilion. Offerings are made of petals, gold and silver coins, and precious stones. Most recently, the ceremony's finale has included an enormous shower of flowers from a waiting helicopter.

I was on top of this hill for about 2 hours and then moved on to the Chandragiri hillock which is opposite to this one.


Nikita Vhora said...

Hey I'm a Jain myself and seems nice to know people visiting and writing about this wonder of India. :) This place is one of my favourites and the Gomteshwar statue is overwhelming and leaves one awestruck!

If you like reading, you could read a book called 'Nine Lives- In Search of the Sacred in Modern India' by William Dalrymple in which there is a story based on Shravanbelgola as well. It is well researched and beautifully written! :)

Keep traveeling! Keep writing! :)

Hari Narayana said...

@Nikita - Thanks for liking it..

William Dalrymple is my most favorite travel writers and i have all his books.. I have read Nine lives and after that, personally met Jains who are following Sallekhan.. Keep reading my blog..

And i have read one of your posts and its awesome.. left a comment as well.

Nikita Vhora said...

Oh :) Then that's great! I'm reading him for the first time and totally loving it! :) Yes, I personally love travelling so I will read you and you can read me too! :)

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