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Gommateshwara Bhagawan Sri Bahubali Swamy Mahamasthakabhisheka Mahotsava - 2006

  INSCRIPTIONS AT SHRAVANABELAGOLA

 

HERITAGE OF SHRAVANABELAGOLA > INSCRIPTIONS AT SHRAVANABELAGOLA

Many early epigraphists like Reverend Benjamin Louis Rice, E.P.Rice and Raobahaddur Narasimhachar have thrown much light on the heritage of Shravanabelagola through the innumerable inscriptions found at the place. They have explored the inner core of the place and thus enriched the vision of knowledge about the place. More than about 800 inscriptions related to Shravanabelagola are found at the place covering the period from 600 to 1830 A.D.A large number of these are found in the Chandragiri where as the remaining are found in the Indragiri and the town. Most of the inscriptions found in Chandragiri belong to the period of within 10th century. The inscriptions include Kannada, Sanskrit, Tamil, Marathi, Marwari and Mahajani languages. These are found usually on the rocks, pillars at the pedestal of metal idols. Inscriptions are also found in the surrounding villages of Shravanabelagola. B.L.Rice explored and published 144 inscriptions, the task was continued by R.Narasimhachar who further discovered about 400 inscriptions. Dr.Shadakshara Shettar identified about 40 inscriptions and published them. Dr.B.V.Shiroor also has worked on epigraphy of Shravanabelagola.  The name of Akalanka (A.D. 788), the priest is found here. He was summoned to the court of Himasitala at Kanchi, the place of learning and who confuted the Buddhists in a public dispute. It is said that he was instrumental in expelling them from South India to Celyon. The place abound in the inscriptions that are scattered all around and are Halagannada (Old Kannada) and Purvahalagannada in style. These inscriptions mention the rise and growth in power of Gangas, Rashtrakutas, Hoysalas, Vijayanagar empire and Mysore Wodeyars. These inscriptions have immensly helped in proper understanding the nature, growth and development of Kannada language and literature.    

The eponym Shravanabelagola means a beautiful pond ('Kalyani'). It was constructed in A.D. 1680 as ordered by Chickkadevaraja Wodeyar the king of Mysore. In Kannada language, 'Bel' means white and 'kola', the pond, an allusion to the beautiful pond in the middle of the town. An inscription of A.D. 1129 mentions the name, 'white pond'. White pond is also called 'Shwetha Sarovara' and 'Dhavala Sarovara' in Sanskrit. The earlier inscription mention that this term existed even before the carving of the image of Gommateshwara by Chavundaraya. Furthermore an inscription found on the pillar of Siddhara Basadi (A.D. 1432) mentions the name 'Dhavalasarovaranagara'. This only implies that the eponym Belagola was existing even before the reign of Chikkadevaraya Wodeyar.

The first inscription (600 A.D.) has paid reverence to Bhagwan Mahavira. It also has mentioned the arrival of Badhrabahu Swamy to the place. This inscription has described the social status, wealth, the fertility and generosity of the people.   

Iruguppa the close associate of Srutamuni, the main ascetic and also the commander in chief donated Belagola village for conducting the regular poojas. of Lord Gommateshwara. The place was also called Gommatapura according to an inscription belonging to A.D. 1159 when Hulla, the commander in chief constructed the temple of Twenty four prophets. The income generated from the land was utilised for the renovative purposes of the Jain temples and also for providing food to the assembly of ascetics. It was also called by the epithet 'Dakshina Kashi' and the statue of Lord Ananthanatha was installed in Bhandari Basadi in the year 1857. Shravanabelagola was a great centre for merchandise the 12th century and the people from far and near used to gather here. It is interesting to note that the name Belagola is mentioned in the oldest inscription i.e. A.D. 650. Shanthasena Muni rejuvenated Jainism which found its debacle at times. He attained salvation by observing Sallekhana atop the hill. The name 'Belagola' is also mentioned in an 8th century inscription. An inscription of A.D. 1634 has mentioned the name of the poet Panchabana who wrote Bhujabali Charitre. A copper plate found in Jain Mutt (A.D. 1634) calls the place as 'Devara Belagulam'.       

Inscriptions at Chandragiri      

An inscription found on a rock to the south of the Parshwanatha temple has stated that about 700 saints have paid tribute to the celebrious doctrines of Jina. Another inscription (650 A.D.) describes the beauty of Chandragiri as encircled by the green crops around. Other inscriptions (700 A.D.) have mentioned the gurus of the place and also the nuns such as Guru Gunasena and nun Dhannekuttirevi. The name of Acharya Arishtanemi who hailed from north is also found in an inscription of Chandragiri. The names of Siddhas and Vidyadharas are found in the inscriptions. The names of other Gurus include Akshayakirti (Mathura), Gunadevasuri, Baladeva, Ugrasena, Mahasena Muni and Gunabhushana. Simhanandi Guru attained salvation here. Nagasena Muni observed the vow Sanyasana.

Many inscriptions relating to Sallekhana are found here. The nun Demitamati of Mayuragrama Sangha, Prabhachandra Siddantha Deva and also Meghachandratravidyadeva of Pustakagachha Desiga Gana observed the vow. The other munis who observed Sallekhana include Ajitakirti Deva. In addition to this many Shravakas and Shravikas observed Sallekhana on the hill at the behest of ascetics and nuns. An important inscription among these includes the one of queen  Shanthaladevi who observed Sallekhana. The inscriptions has also mentioned the name of here guru Prabhachandra Siddantha Deva, Vardhamana Deva and Ravichandra Deva. The words Sanyasana, Samadhi and Sallekhana are used in different inscriptions found. Jinanathapura the village nearby Indragiri also was the abode of ascetics and Shravakas.     

An important inscription bearing the pen name Sri Kaviratna denotes Ranna, the Kannada poet who scribed Gadayuddha and Ajitanathapurana (10th century). He was sheltered by Sri Chamundaraya. An inscription found at the foot of Manasthambha of Marasimha mentions the valour and sanctified life of Marasimha the Ganga king. 

Inscriptions at Indragiri

In an inscription of 12th century A.D. found at the left entrance of Suttalaya has mentioned Chamundarayas determination to get the statue carved and has narrated the history of Bahubali. An inscription found on a rock to the right of Akhanda Bagilu has mentioned the performance of Panchakalyana to the Bahubali statue in 12th century. 

The inscriptions found in Kannada, Tamil and Marathi languages on the anthills near the feet of Lord Bahubali mentions that Chavundaraya was instrumental in carving out this great statue. Another inscription found on the other side of the feet mentions that Gangaraja was instrumental in constructing the temple structure (suttalaya around Bahubali.

Boppana's inscription (1118 A.D.) situated at the entrance to the main quadrangle of Lord Gommateshwara gives a succinct and traditional account of the Lord. It narrates the story of Bharata and Bahubali who fought each other vigorously.

An attempt to give a succinct account of the inscriptions in Shravanabelagola is made in this article mainly considering the important inscriptions of the place. It is worth mentioning that many more inscriptions are found in the place which require equal attention and study.     

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Bibliography:

1. Kalyananda Haadi: Ed.Dr.Siddalinga Pattanashetty (1999)

2. Shravanabelagola Srigalavara Bashana Sangraha: Ed. A.Shantharaja Shastry (1932)  

3. Shravanabelagola Ondhu Samikshe: Ed. Dr.G.S.Shivarudrappa (Bangalore University Publication, 1983)

4. Gommateshvara Commemoration Volume: Ed. Dr.T.G.Kalghatgi (Published by: S.D.J.M.I. Managing Committee Shravanabelagola, 1981)

5. Dhavala Teertha - 1995: Ed.Sri Jeevandharkumar Hotapeti  (Published by: S.D.J.M.I. Managing Committee Shravanabelagola, 1981)

5. Dhavala Teertha - 1996: Ed.Sri Jeevandharkumar Hotapeti  (Published by: S.D.J.M.I. Managing Committee Shravanabelagola, 1981)

 

 

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