SHRAVANABELAGOLA > ROYAL
PATRONAGE OF SHRAVANABELAGOLA
Religion and political wisdom
have always prevailed and lived together in the annals of Karnataka.
Religion was the mainstay for the rulers to have administrative control
over them and also to attract them towards the royal attire. There
existed no clear line of demarcation between the two. The dictum of
doctrine between the ruler and the ruled pervaded together.
Jainism has played an important role in
the socio political life of Karnataka. It possess a pan Indian character. Shravanabelagola flourished and cherished in the background of royal
patronage and enjoyed the supremacy of religious fervour. The place was
the key centre for all the activities of Jainism. It was more a religious
capital than the political arena. It laid down the firm foothold for the
spread of Jainism throughout south India. It was the sunshore for the
propagation of religion to every nook and corner of society. Religion
was an inducing factor influencing the effect of religion. It has played
a pivotal role in the political history of Karnataka. The kings,
samanthas, chieftains and palegars have ruled the place with valour and
Shravanabelagola is a place of great
importance from the point of pilgrimage and also archeological and
religious heritage. The place derives its name from the point that
Shravana or Shramana means a Jain ascetic and
Belagola or Biliya Kola means white pond.
Gangas and Shravanabelagola
It is very
interesting to note that the Gangas played an important role by patronising Jainism. Shravanabelagola drew the attention of Ganga
dynasty from 4th century to 13th century. Its glorious past called as
Gangavadi-96000 (Ganganadu) encompassed the frontiers of the kingdom with the
religious compassion of Jainism. The famous rulers such as Shivmara I, Shivmara II
Amoghavarsha, Marasimha II, Rachamalla IV (A.D. 964-999) and the minister Chavundaraya stood as the
golden link between Jainism and Shravanabelagola. The abounding
inscriptions available throw much light on the patronage of these kings
for Jainism. Shivamara II has written Gajashtaka. Simhanandi, the Jain muni was the great inspirant for the
foundation of Ganga dynasty as revealed by an inscription in
Shravanabelagola dated 1179 A.D.. Another inscription of the place (A.D. 1129) has mentioned emphasising the fact that Simhanandi blessed his
disciple Konganiverma with the sword incarnated with the name of
Arahantha to revolt against the gamut of sins. An inscription of 1400
A.D. also mentions the name of Simhanandi Acharya. The inscription found
in other parts of Ganga domain also mention the importance of
Shravanabelagola. According to these Madhava, also called Konganivrma
was the founder of Ganga kingdom. He is described as a great warrior and was blessed
by Arhatbhattakha. Simhanandi also showered his blessings on him to
combat his enemies and attain supremacy.
An inscription of
A.D. 810 mentions that Amogavarsha the first Ganga king associated with
Shravanabelagola built Chandraprabha Basadi. He is described as an
eminent scholar with erudition for culture and poetics and also had
keenness for drama and other performing arts. It is said that he had
written Gajashtaka and Sethubbandha. An inscription found
in Kyathanahalli in Srirangapattana taluk has mentioned about the liberal
donation by Rachamalla II (A.D. 870-919) and Yerayappaarasu (A.D.
Shravanabelagola. He sheltered Gunaverma I who wrote
Shudrakha-Harivamsha. Marasimha II (A.D. 963-975) observed sallekhana at the
abode of Ajithabhattarakha at Bankapura. A brahmastambha was erected in
memory of him in Indragiri in A.D. 974. It is curious to note that this
pillar was emanating a musical vibration signalling the entry of enemies
to Shravanabelagola and the inhabitants of the place were protecting
themselves by closing the doors of houses and temples. Ajithasena was
the main link between the Ganga dynasty and Shravanabelagola. The
pedestal of the bronze idol of about 2 feet found in the Jain Muth of
Shravanabelagola mentions the name of Kundanasomidevi the elder sister
of Marasimha II.
Jaina king who ruled for a period of 40 years had also the patronage for other
religions. He was the disciple of Vijayakeerthi the Jainamuni. He was
called Haracharanaravinda Pranipatha in inscriptions. He donated
lands to Jain temples as recorded in Hosakote inscriptions. Durvineetha
(540-600 A.D.), the disciple of Pujyapada (Devanandi) who wrote
Shabadavathara, the Sanskrit work on grammar.
great minister and commander-in-chief during the period of Marasimha II and Rachamalla IV
occupies the distinct position in the history of Shravanabelagola and
Karnataka. He was praised as Veeramarthandadeva for his valour and
Samyaktva Ratnakara for his patronage for the religion. He has sketched
indelible lines in the field of politics, literature and culture. He is immortalised in the works of Ranna, Nagaverma and Nemichandracharya. He
is described as a great warrior who defeated the enemies by waging war against Vajjaladeva the brother of Pathalamalla.
He fought against Shilasharas, Nolambas, Chalukyas and many Samanthas. Jagadekaveera the king who
commanded Chavundaraya has immensely praised him for the victory in the
war against Nolamba king and Ranasingha. According to an inscription of
T.Narasipur (900 A.D.) Chavundaraya was the son of Mahabalaiah.
Mahabalaiah's father Govindaiah and brother Eshwaraiah served under
Nolamba Kulantakadeva and Marasimha. Chavundaraya's mother Kaladevi,
wife Ajithadevi and son Jinadeva also followed significantly the path of
Jainism. Pulaiappai who spent here last days Vijayamangala was said to
be the younger sister of Chavundaraya. He was the disciple of Ajithasena Bhattarakha and
Nemichandramuni. His greatest achievement was the engraving of the huge
monolithic statue of
Lord Gommateshwara atop the Indragiri (A.D. 981-82) and construction of
Chavundaraya temple in Chandragiri.
Gangas also patronised
mural art (paintings) as found in Jain mutt of Shravanabelagola and Jain
temples of Gubbi and Nittur.
Hoysalas and Shravanabelagola
played an important role in the growth and development of
Shravanabelagola. It is interesting to note that about 80 inscriptions
of Hoysala period are found in Shravanabelagola. Furthermore many
monuments of the place belong to the Hoysalas. The details about the
Hoysala kings namely Vinayaditya (A.D. 1047-1098), Yereanga (A.D.
1098-1102), Vishnuvardhana (Bittideva) (A.D. 1108-1152) and Ballala II are available
from these inscriptions.
Hoysalas came to limelight in the 11th
century A.D.. The monolithic statue of Gommateshwara shows the following
explicitly carved lines at his feet on the right side, "Sri Gangaraja
Suttalayam Madisidam" (i.e. Gangaraja constructed the temple row
around). Gangaraja was the prime minister and commander in chief of
Vishnuvardhana the Hoysala king. It should be noted that Gangaraja cited
here was different from Ganga kings and belonged to Hoysala dynasty.
Echiraja was the father of Gangaraja his mother Pochala Devi has been
mentioned as Pochambike and Pochabbe in the inscriptions. His wife
Lakshimidevi has also donated offerings to Jinalayas. He also
established Jinanathapura near Shravanabelagola and constructed Kattale
Basadi on Chandragiri in memory of his mother Pochabbe, as revealed by
the inscription found at the pedestal of Lord Adinatha of the temple. He
and his son Boppa constructed many temples in Kambadahalli near
Shravanabelagola. Gangaraja was conferred with the title Drohagaratta
in recognition of his sincerity. Boppa called the basadis also as
Drohagaratta Jinalayas in memory of his father. Punisimmiah the commander-in-chief
in the Hoysala period also
Shantaladevi the queen of the Hoysala king
Vishnuvardhana (A.D. 1090-1141) showed adeption for the art of dance and she was a staunch
follower of Jaina
religion with a broad outlook. Traditionally it is believed that Vishnuvardhana
was originally a Jaina but converted into Sri Vaishnavism due to the
influence of Ramanujacharya. But he continued his patronage for Jainism.
He was the son of Eachiraja and Pochikabbe. His royal queens included
Lakshmidevi and Nagaladevi. One of his brothers Bommannaiah has rendered
unique service to Shravanabelagola and is equaled to Chavundaraya in his
philanthropic deeds. His wife Shantala built Savathi Gandavara temple in A.D.
940 in Chandragiri at Shravanabelagola. She donated Mottenavile village
to her guru Prabhachandrasiddanthadevaru for the routine pooja
celebration and offering of food. She also built Yelasanakatte tank for
the temple. She observed sallekhana at Shivagange. Her mother Machikabbe also observed samadhi marana following here.
teacher of Yereanga developed Shravanabelagola. Ballala I
relieved the agony of the Swamiji of the Jain Mutt at Shravanabelagola
and was conferred with the title Ballala Jiva Raksha Pala
according to an inscription of 14th century.
which should be remembered after Gangaraja is Hullachamupa at the time
of Narasimha, the Hoysala minister. He belonged to Vajivamsha and the
parents were Yaksharaja and Lokambike. He lived for a period of 100
years. His wife was Padmavathi. His brother Heggade Lakkiah enhanced the
glory of Shravanabelagola. His son in law Harianna constructed
Paravadimalla Jinalaya in Kumbaiyyanahalli. Hulla's gurus included
Kukkuttasana Maladharideva, Banukeerthideva, Devakeerthimuni and
Nayakeerthisiddantha Chakravarthi. He renovated Jain temples at Bankapura, Kopana (Koppal)
and Kellangere. He constructed the huge Bhandara Basadi
in A.D. 1159 at Shravanabelagola and also installed 24 Tirthankaras in
the temple. Bandhara Basadi is situated very proximal to the Jain mutt.
It derived its name from the fact the Hulla was also a treasurer in the
Hoysala kingdom. The word Bhandari means a treasurer.
Hoysala Narasimha called Bandara Basadi as Bhavya Chudamani due to
its exquisite beauty. Hulla built two houses which were later converted
as Jain muth and thus formed the residence for the pontiffs of the
place. He erected Nishadi stone (memorial stones) in name of Devakeerthi
Panditadevaru in Chandragiri. He also constructed a choultry in
Jinanathapura. He donated Bekka, Savaneri and Keggere villages to
Shravanabelagola which were given to him by Hoysala Narasimha. His
another commander in chief Chandramouli patronised Shravanabelagola.
Chandramouli's wife donated Bammenahalli to Parshwadeva of
Shravanabelagola. She also constructed a Jain temple and she was the
disciple of Balachandramuni of Shravanabelagola.
Ballala II (A.D.
1173-1220) also enriched the religious heritage of Shravanabelagola. Nagadeva the minister
of Ballala constructed the platform for performing dance platform in front of Kammata Parshwadeva
temple at Belagola. He also constructed Nagara Jinalaya. His guru was
Nayakeerthi. Ballala's another minister Reachimaiah installed
Shantinatha idol in Jinanathapura and also installed Sadarananandi
Jinalaya at Shravanabelagola. Akkana basadi and Mahanavami mantap at
Shravanabelagola were also constructed during the reign of Ballala II.
Thus one can conclude that Ballala's regime was the golden period in the
history of Shravanabelagola. Hoysalas role in the history of
Shravanabelagola has remained immortal due to the advent of numerous
Jinalayas after the installation of Lord Gommateshwara. Shravanabelagola
became the abode of Jinalayas during their period. Hoysalas have
also immensly contributed for sculpture. The idols of Tirthankaras,
Yakshas and Yakshis stand as a best example of this kind.
Shravanabelagola and Vijayanagara Kings
Jainism flourished well till the end of
13th century. But it received a severe jolt during the Vijayanagara rule due to the greater influence of Vishnava sect.
Jainism suffered during the reign of the king Proudadevaraya. An inscription of Veera Bukkaraya
I (A.D. 1368) has vividly described the animosity
that existed between Jains and Vaishnavas and Jainism suffered heavily during this
period. Bhimadevi the royal queen of Devaraya I (A.D. 1410) donated
Shantinatha idol to the Mangai temple of Shravanabelagola. She was the
disciple of Panditacharya of Shravanabelagola. Irugappa the minister of
Harihara II and who is the son of Bukkaraya constructed a garden and
tank in name of Gommatadeva.
Shravanabelagola and Rashtrakutas
Among the RashtrakutasKaribhayaindraja
was attracted by the place. Amogavarsha I was a great Jain devotee. The
Jain Siddantha works derive their names Dhavala and Jaya
Dhavala from the titles of Amogavarsha as mentioned in
Shravanabelagola inscriptions. Indraraja (A.D. 982) observed sallekhana according to
an inscription found in
Shravanabelagola and Mysore Kings
Wodeyars of Mysore Kingdom had a high patronage for Jainism since the
time of inception of the kingdom. It is worth to note the relation of
the Yaduvamsha with this holy place.
An inscription of donation (A.D. 1638)
lent to the place is found in the exterior of the corridor of Lord
Bahubali. It describes the solving of the problem of property of
Belagola temple debted and how it was released under the leadership of
Chamaraja Wodeyar. The other side of the inscription pillar mentions the
donations given by Doddakishnaraja Wodeyar (18th century) for the
maintenance. The poet Chidananda has mentioned the visit of Chamaraja
Wodeyar to Shravanabelagola in his work Munivamshabhyudaya.
Doddaraja Wodeyar (1672 A.D.)
donated Kogi Bommanahalli to meet the expenditure of serving of food in
the choultry of Jain Brahmins. During the time of Chamaraja Wodeyar
(1674 A.D.) the priests of Shravanabelagola lost the lands donated to
temples for pooja purpose and proceeded to Ballatakipura. The king
evinced interest to give back the lands to the priests in the presence
of Charukeerthi Panditacharyavarya, the pontiff of Jain mutt. As a
result the priests returned to Shravanabelagola and continued to perform
pooja celebrations. Chickkadevaraja Wodeyar (1723 A.D.) donated seven
villages to meet the expenditure of the choultry near Kalyani and also
for the conduction of pooja of Lord Gommateshwara. The kalyani found in
the centre of the Shravanabelagola town was built in A.D. 1723 in memory
of Chickkadevaraja Wodeyar as he died during the period of its
construction. His minister Vishalakshapandita donated a chariot and
celebrated Mahamasthakabhishekha of Gommateshwara.
In A.D. 1810
dewan Poornaiah gave Kabbala village at the behest of Heggade of
Dharmasthala. In A.D. 1830 Krishnaraja Wodeyar III gave Uthaianahalli,
Hosahalli and Belagola at the request of the scholar Lakshmi Pandita of
Mysore. The income generated from these three villages were spent on the
pooja celebrations of Chandragiri and eight temples of the town.
Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV developed Shravanabelagola and also conducted
Mahamasthakabhishekha in 1925.
greatly indebted to the royal dynasties cited above for their veritable
patronage and contribution for the development of Shramana culture in
1. Samagra Karnataka Itihasa Mattu
Samskruthi - Phalaksha (2004)
2. Jainism And Karnataka Culture: Ed.
Dr.T.G.Kalghatgi (Karnatak University Dharwad, 1977)
3. Shravanabelagola Ondhu Samikshe: Ed.
Dr.G.S.Shivarudrappa (Bangalore University Publication, 1983)
4. Karnataka Mattu Jaina Dharma: Hampa.
Nagarajaiah (Directorate of Kannada and Culture, Bangalore, 1983)
Bashana Sangraha: Ed. A.Shantharaja Shastry (1932)
6. Shravanabelagola (Monograph):
Shadakshara Shettar (1981)
7. Sanmathi (1981)
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