GRAND FESTIVAL OF
ï¿½The 14th of March 1887 was the day of anointing for the statue of
Gommatesvara. It was a great day in anticipation of which 20,000 pigrims
gathered there from all parts of India. There were Bengalis, there were
Gujaratis and there were Tamil people in great numbers. Some arrived a
full month before the time and the stream continued to flow until the
afternoon of the day of the great festival. For a whole month there was
daily worship in all the temples, and ï¿½pada-pujaï¿½ or worship of the feet
of the great idol besides. On the great day, the 14th of March, 1887,
people began to ascend the hill even before dawn in the hope of securing
good places from which to see everything. Among them were large numbers of
women and girls in very bright attire, carrying with them brass or earthen
pots. By 10 oï¿½clock all available space in the temple enclosure was
filled. Opposite the idol an area of 40 square feet was streamed with
bright yellow paddy, on which were placed 1,000 gaily painted earthenware
pots, filled with sacred water, covered with cocoanuts and adorned with
mango leaves. Above the image was a scaffolding, on which stood several
priests, each having at hand pots filled with milk, ghee and such like
things. At a signal from the kolhapur Swami, the master of the ceremonies,
the contents of these vessels were poured simultaneously over the head of
the idol. This was a sort of preliminary bath, but the grand bath took
place at 2 oï¿½clock. Amid the great dissonance of many instruments the
thousand pots already mentioned were lifted as if by magic from the
reserved area to the scaffolding and all their contents poured over the
image, the priests meanwhile chanting texts from the sacred books.
Evidently the people were much impressed. There were mingled cries of ï¿½Jai
Jai Maharajaï¿½ and Ahaha, ï¿½ahahaï¿½, the distinctive exclamations of Northern
and Southern Indians to mark their wonder and approval. In the final
anointing fifteen different substances were used , namely : (1) water, (2)
cocoanut meal, (3) Plantains, (4) Jaggery, (5) Ghee, (6) Sugar, (7)
Almonds, (8) Date, (9) Poppy Seeds, (10) Milk, (11) Curds, (12) Sandal,
(13) Gold Flowers, (14) Silver Flowers, and (15) Silver Coins. With the
gold and silver flowers there were mixed nine varieties of precious gems,
and silver coins to the amount of Rs. 500/- completed the offeringï¿½.
10. In 1900 A.D. :
There is a reference in the ï¿½Indian Antiquaryï¿½ to the effect that in 1900
A. D. the ï¿½Mahamastakabhishekaï¿½ ceremony was performed.
3. CEREMONIES IN THE 20TH CENTURY
In the present twentieth century the ï¿½Mahamastakabhishekaï¿½ ceremonies ware
held on the following days :
(1) the 30th of March, 1910,
(2) the 15th of March, 1925
(3) the 26th of February, 1940
(4) the 5th of March, 1953 and
(5) the 30th of March, 1967.
The iast ï¿½Mahamastakabhishekaï¿½ ceremony has been held on the 22nd of
February 1981 A.D. It would be worth while to note the important features
of these six ceromonies.
1. On the 30th of March 1910 A. D. :
There was a grand head anointing ceremony on the 30th of March, 1910 A. D.
On this occasion an interesting event took place, that is, an aerial post
was tried by one Mr. G.F. Edwards who sent a message regarding the ï¿½pujaï¿½
i.e., worship, by a homing pigeon which was received by the ï¿½Madra Mailï¿½,
Newspaper office at Madras within three hours and forty minutes.
His Highness Krishna-Rajendra Wodeyar, the King of Mysore, attended the
ceremony and also performed the ï¿½pujaï¿½ of Gommatesvara.
This ï¿½Mahamastakabhishekaï¿½ ceremony proved a great success from the social
point of view. On this occasion for the first time a special session of
the All-India Digambara Jaina Mahasabha was held on a large scale and
through the various resolutions passed a definite and new direction to
social reforms was given to the society. Among these resolutions the most
important was about the scheme sponsored Seth Manikchand Hirachand Zaveri,
J.P. of Bombay and his ï¿½guruï¿½ Brahmachari Shitalaprasadaji regarding the
imparting of religious education along with the Western of English
education to Jaina student and for this specific purpose establishing
Jaina Boarding schools at various Jaina centres in India. Accordingly new
Jaina Boarding schools were opened at Ahmedabad, Allahabad, Meerut Belagum,
Sangli, Poona and othe important places in India and a new area in
education among the Jainas was ushered in. Such Jaina Boarding schools
were already established at Bombay, Sholapur, Surat, Kolhapur and Hubli.
2. On the 15th of March, 1925 A. D.
: After the lapse of
a decade and a half, very grand ï¿½Mahamastakabhishekaï¿½ was performed on the
15th of March, 1925 A.D. Months before this date a ï¿½Puja-Committeeï¿½ was
formed with his Holiness Charukirti Bhattaraka of Jaina Matha at
Sravana-Belagola as the President and Mr. M.L. Vardhamaniah of Mysore as
the Secretary. On this occasion Mr. Vardhamaniah initiated a new policy of
propaganda for involving large number of Jainas in the festival and
accordingly he toured all over India and invited all ranks of Jainas to
participate in the festival. As a result, an intense attraction was
created, for the first time among the comman people to undertake a
pilgrimage to Sravana-Belagola on this occasion.
The great festival began on the 27th of February, 1925 A.D. with different
preliminary ceremonies and culminated in the grand ï¿½Mahamastakabhishekaï¿½
ceremony on the 15th March, 1925 A.D. Approximately 30,000 people were
present for this grand ceremony. His Highness Krishna-Rajendra Wodeyar,
the Maharaja of Mysore, walked up the hill bare-footed, witnessed the
entire anointment ceremony, personally performed the ï¿½pujaï¿½ offered
donations of Rs. 5000/- to the ï¿½Abhisheka Fundï¿½ and Rs. 500/- to the Jaina
Matha and showed personal regard by offering ï¿½namaskaraï¿½ to His Holiness
Charukirti Bhattaraka, the head pontiff of Sravana-Belagola.
The most remarkable event of this grand festival was the memorable speech
delivered by His Highness Krishna-Rajendra-Wodeyar, the Maharaja of Mysore,
as the President of the All-India Digambara Jaina Conference on the 14th
of March, 1925. On this occasion an address was presented on behalf of the
Jaina community in India to His Highness Krishna-Rajendra-Wodeyar by Shri
M.R. Vardhamaniah under the presidentship of Sir Sarupachandaji
Hukumachandaji of Indore. While welcoming the Jaina community at large to
the land of Mysore symbolighing Gommataï¿½s spiritual empire, the Maharaja
paid a warm tribute to the past Jaina poets and pandits who made a
singular contribution to Kannada literature in its initial stages. The
entire speech of the Maharaja was saturated with a sense of high gratitude
to the selfless services of Jaina authors which stand unparalleled in the
history of Jainas and Jainism in India. The speech was full of love for
Jainism, Sravana-Belagola, and Jaina community alike. To quote from the
speech of the Maharaja :
ï¿½It gives me great pleasure to be with you on a solemn and auspieious
occasion like the present when you have assembled in such large numbers
from all parts of India for a holy purpose.
ï¿½In welcoming this All-India gathering of the Jainas to the land of Mysore.
I cannot forget that this land to them is a land of pilgrimage,
consecrated by some of the holiest traditions and tenderest memories of
their faith. This picturesque rock on an elevated tableland was, as a
thousand yearsï¿½ old tradition has it. The scene where the venerable
Bhagwan Shrutakevali Bhadrabahu leading the first migration of the Jainas
to the Southern Peninsula broke his journey and took up his abode, and
tradition still points to the cave in which he passed away in Sallekhana.
It was in this holy land, the Dakshina Kashi, the Benaras of the South,
that as the same tradition has it, the Mauryan Emperor Chandragupta, the
fame of whose prowess turned away the invincible hosts of Alexander the
Great, doffing the Emperorï¿½s for the asceticï¿½s robe, nursed his master,
the Shrutakevali, in his last moments and worshipped his footprints, since
that day, many a royal prince of the South and many a holy monk of the
North have vowed themselves to death by the rite of sallekhana.