Jain World

Sub-Categories of Passions - The Sacred Sravana - Belagola





Moreover, a number of eminent philosophers, historians, art crtitics and archaeologists, both Indian and foreign, have expressed their expert opinions about the sublimity of the sculpture and the specific features of the image.  For instance, the great western philosopher  Heinrich Zimmer remarks: � It is human in shape and features, yet as in human as an icicle; and thus expresses perfectly the idea of successful withdrawal from the round of life and death, personal cares, individual destiny, desires, suffering, and events.�  Similarly, the well-known historian          Dr. A. L. Basham, states, while referring to the colossal rock-cut medieval image of the Jaina saint Gommatesvara, �He stands both upright in the posture of meditation known as �Kayotsarga�, with feet firm on the earth, and arms held downwards but not touching the body, and he smiles faintly.  The artist must have tired to express the soul almost set free from the trammels of matter, and about to leave for its final resting place of everlasting bliss at the top of the universe. Whatever the intentions of the artist, however, Gommatesvara is still an ordinary young man of his time, full of claim vitality.�

          On the same lines, the international authority on Indian arts, Dr. Anand K coomaraswamy is impressed by immovable serenity of the image and says, �The great image of Gommatesvara is the most remarkable and one of the largest freestanding  images in the world.  The saint, who was the son of the first Tirthankara, and resigned his kingdom to become an ascetic, is represented in the immovable serrenity of one practicing the �kayotsarga� austerity, undisturbed by the serpents about his feet, the anthills rising to his things, or the growing creeper that has already reached his shoulders.�   

          Further, the distinguished authority on Indian  architecture, Mr. Percy Brown consider this image as profoundly revealing and says, � But the earliest and most stupendous of all the great figures is the example on the Indrabetta hill depicting which is a most astonishing production.  This gigantic image stands over fifty-six feet high, (scarcely ten feet lass than the height of the Great Sphinx in Egypt), and was carved in situ, during the reign of the Ganga king Rachamalla II, to the order of minister Chamunda Raya in about 983 A.D. The story of its creation is quite clear. Originally the granite antcrop forming the hill was crowned by the conspicuoulsy lofty rock or to, and it occurred to the imaginative mind of the Jains to fashion this solid block of gneiss into a statue of their saint.  Entirely nude, as he is of the Digmabara or �sky-clad� sect, and representing the ideal ascetic who stood in abstract mediation while the ant-hills arose at this feet and the creeping plants wound themselves around his limbs, this Indian colossus, in spite of defects in its proportions, is profoundly revealing.  Through the surge and stress of over a thousand years this solemn and impassive figure has defied the elements, and the high finish of its workmanship still remains.�

          Moreover, Dr. Calambur Shivaramamurti, the most reputed art-critic and author of India, praises the sculptural skill in volved in carving out such a lofty statue and gives his opinion thus : �This huge colossus is one of the finest image of its kind in India and is a tribute to the fine workmanship of the Ganga sculptor.�

          Hence, in consideration of the unique importance of this statue of Gommatesvara, it is classed as a National Monument and it protection and maintenance rests with the Department of Archaeology of the Government of India.


          From the detailed study of Sravana-Belagola it is evident that the sacred complex of Sravana-Belagola has played a dualistic part of spiritual as well as secular importance in the history of Jainism.  Its message to mankind is of great significance.  It proclaims the equality and unity of all living beings on the spiritual basis and calls one and all to come near it for the adoration of Bahubali, great saint of Ahimsa, whose colossus on the Vidhyagiri hills stands smiling and looking with half-shut eyes on the earning world.  He warns the people to stop the race for material gains and to consider over the value of life.  Saint Bahubali experienced the havoc of �Himsa�, i.e., �violence� the barbarian of an aggressor and ultimately realised the fruitlessness of the material pursuits of life.  In view of this realisation, Bahubali renounced he world and gained eternal joy and happiness within his own Soul.  It is said that even the celestial beings, who enjoy the comfort in heaven did covet the peace and joy of Bahubali and came down from heaven, to worship the glorious feet of Bahybali.  But on the other hand, the man of this world, who has listened to the message of Bahubali and has been a hero of both the material and spiritual realms of life, has the occasion only to rise higher and higher towards the goal of the Final.

          On the whole, the history of Sravana-Belagola may be considered as the history of man�s progress in life.  Here the blessed spirit and scholarship of Truth and Non-violence ever guided man towards the Right Path of Emancipation.  Commencing with Bhadrabahu Swami, the Jaina monks of Sravana-Belagola have been the leaders of Thought and Culture.  Great monks like Pujyapada, Prabhachandra, Sridharadeva, Mallishena, and many others strove to achieve distinction and devoted their precious lives to the persuit of scholarship in Grammar, Poetry, Prosody, �Siddhanta, i.e., Philosophy, Medicine, Logic, Polity, Prosody, �Siddhanta�, i.e. Philosophy, Medicine, Logic, Polity and Literature.  They incessantly rendered valuable service by their sound advice and universal leadership to the people.  Following their teaching kings, queens, General, Ministers, Merchants and even common people endeavored to lead of life of self-control practising �Satya and Ahimsa�, i.e. Truth and Non-violence.  It was at the instance and advice of Siddhanta-Chakravarti Acharya Nemichandra that the great General Chamunda-Raya got the blessed colossus of Bahubali carved and installed on the Vidhyagiri hill.  Such were the men of action who, deriving inspiration from the example of Bahubali, devoted their time and energy in the service of humanity and sacrificed their best for the good of all.  This utmost spirit of sacrifice for the welfare of the entire humanity is the central message of Sravana-Belagola.

          Owing to this sublime message of self-sacrifice for the common good given by Sravana-Belagola�s saints and monuments throughout its long period of history. Sravana-Belagola has ceased to be merely of sectarian interest and has become, in the real sense, a national treasure.  Like and Taj Mahal of Agra and Kailasa Temple of Ellora, the colossal image of Bahubali at Sravana-Belagola has attracted universal attention.  It is good to bear in mind, however, that without underestmating the value of the magnificent Agra monument and marvellour Ellora excavation, the significane of the Jaina monuments of Sravana-Belagola is greatly deeper than the proud memories evoked by either the exquisite and the enduring fossil of a doting Emperor�s dreams, or the granite efflorescence of the artistic and architechtural genius of the medieval Hindus.  Great as those and other antiquties undoubtedly are, the meaning of the Sravana-Belagola monuments is grater still as they enshine the ultimate triumph of sprit over matter, show the path of Liberation based on the practice of non-viloence and renunciation, and stress the values of self-sacrifice and service for the benefit of not only mankind but of all living beings.

          Of couse, among all the Sravana-Belagola monuments, this meaning is well represented by the gentle calm of the colossal image of Bahubali.  The basic reason for this fact is that Indian art is essentially a religious art and is considered as a mere translation into material form of the inspiration man recives from God.  From this standpoint the statue of Gommatesvara is crowing achivement of Indian Art, the noblest creation of man in praise of God and a supreme embodiment of man�s devotion, industry and patience.  The statue impresses one tremendously with its clear out outline and striking pose, and it stands there defying time and weather.  In this way Gommatesvara stands with an experssion wonderfully calm, serene and rediant, looking down upon humanity as though preaching to sinning world the basic spirtual values of non-volience, self-sacrifice and universal love-values necessary for attaining happiness in this world and beyond.

          Thus we see that at Sravana-Belagola the torch of Ahimsa and universal love was ketp burning by the jainas during all these centuries.  In this effort the image of Lord Gommatesvara has been the becon light of Jaina culture, proclaiming to the world the ideals of  self-sacrifice, renunciation, tolerance, truth and Ahimsa, which are milestones in the establishment of war hanging over the length and breadth of the universe.

          This human message of Sravana-Belagola, the message of non-volience and universal peace, should be spread all over the world today still reuires education and traning in Ahimsa.  It is absolutely necessary to bring home to the people of the world that Ahimsa or non-volience is not merely a theoretical princiapl but also a practical way of lilfe which can solve various problems clamoruing for solution in the world and can thus help in estblishing for solution inj the world and can thus help in establishing universal peace and goodwill among the nations.  For realising this purpose International Institutes for studies in Ahimsa and Gomparative Religion will have to be started.  Obviously, Sravana-Belagola is an ideal sacred place for carrying on this work on international scale, as it has got the noble tradition of doing this kind of work continuously for the last several centries. Sravana-Belagola is destined to play this in the international field in the years to come and it has already started the work in this direction under the spiritual guidance of the Preceptor of World Religion and the Great Saint of India, Elacharya Munishree Vidyanand Maharaj.  It is hoped the Sravana-Belagola�, will soon become the �Visva-Tirtha� �The world�s Sacred Place.�