Jain World

Sub-Categories of Passions - The Sacred Sravana - Belagola






After the rule of the Mauryas, in the 1st century A.D. Karnataka did not remain under the political control of one dynasty. On the contrary, several dynasties of king ruled for a short or long period over different areas of Karnataka as follows :

1. Satavahanas of Pratishthana :

(1st to 3rd Century A.D.)

2. Kadambas to Banavasi :

(3rd to 6th Century A.D.)

3. Gangas to Talakad :

( 350 to 999 A.D.)

4. Chalukyas of Badami :

(500 to 757 A.D.)

5. Rashtrakutas of Malkhed :

(757 to 973 A.D.)

6. Chalukyas of Kalyan :

(10th to 12 Century A.D.)

7. Kalachuris of Kalyan :

(1156 to 1183 A.D.)

8. Hoysalas of Halebid :

(1006 A. D. to 1345 A.D.)

9. Vijayanagara Empire :

(1336 to 1565 A.D.)

10. Wodeyars of Mysore :

(1399 to 1950 A.D.)

11. British Rule :

( 1800 to 1947 A.D.)

The sacred Place of Sravana-Belagola was under the rule of these dynasties from time to time. Out of these dynasties Sravana-Belagola came into prominence under the Ganga dynasty, which made Jainism as its � state religion� and whose period is regarded as the �golden age of Jainism�. In fact the very foundation of the Ganga Kingdom is attributed to the great Jaina sanit Acharya Simhananda who also acted in the capacity of an adviser to Kongunivarman I, the first Ganga King. Obviously, the Ganga dynasty, which owed its origin to the help of a Jaina Acharya, remained staunch to the Jaina religion. As a result, numerous inscriptions dating from the 4th to the 12th century A.D. testify to the building of the Jaina temples, consecration of Jaina images of worship, hollowing out caves for Jaina ascetics and grants to Jaina Acharyas by the rulers of the Ganga dynasty. That is why Mr. Lewis Rice, the authority on Mysore history, considered them to be the principal Jaina of the south and remarked that �with Nandagire ( i.e. modern Nandi Hills ) as the fort, Kuvalala (i.e. modern Kolar ) as theeir city, Jinendra as their god and the Jain mata as their faith, dediga and Madhava ( i.e. Ganga monarchs ) ruled over the earth.� ( vide �Mysore Gazetter,� Vol. I, p. 308) Mr. Rice also thinks that there must have been a considerable Jaina element in the population of Mysore at the time over when Acharya Simhaandi exerted his influence to gain their acceptance of the Ganga rule.

In the several inscriptions and writing we get various reference to the royal patronage extened to Sravana-Belagola by Ganga monarchs. The earliest of the Ganga records refer to the erection of a Basti or Jaina temple by King Sivamara II, the son of Sripurusha ( 726 � 776 A.D.). Many inscriptions also refer to king Marashimha ( 961-974 A.D.,) the doyen of the Ganga family. He was monarch in every sense of the term and he has been described in the inscriptions with many a sonorous title like, �Dharmavatara� ( i.e. religion incarnated), �Ganga-Chudamani� (i.e. crest-jewel of the Gangas), �Gangasimha� ( i.e. lion among the Gangas) , etc. All these indicate the respect the commanded in his own life-time, and the seems to have fully deserved all these appellations. He also performed the anointing ceremony of the Rashtrakuta king, Indara, III, thereby indicating his political power. The inscription mentions that he always maintained the doctrine of Jaina and erected Basti and Manas tembhas at various places, and the inscription ends with the statement that he relinguished the sovereignty and, keeping the yow of �Sallekhana� for three days in the presence of Ajita-Bhattaraka died at Bankapura in 974 A.D. Thus he exhibited the classic example of singular devotion to his faith and fully evoked the admiration of his contemporaries. The result is seen in the erection in the year 981 A.D. of the colossal image of Gommatesvara by his general Chamunda-Raya at Sravana-Belagola, which is in itself a monument to the zeal of the Jainas during that great age.

Marasimha�s successor King Rajamalla IV ( 974 �984 A.D. ) continued the royal patronage to Jainism and his minister and general Chamunda-Raya also continued to build religious structure at Sravana-Belagola,

Further, there are some epigraphs at Sravana-Belagola which contain references to the Gangas, without mentioning any particular Ganga king. Inscription No. 37 merely refers to the illustrious Ganga family and in the inscription No. 378 there is a reference to a fierce battle between the Ganga and the Cholas. Inscription No. 69 states that Gopanandi caused the Jaina religion, which has become weak, to attain the prosperity and fame which his formerly enjoyed during the time of the Ganga kings. The inscription No. 67 mentions in a poetical way the help received by the founder of the Ganga dynasty from the Jaina teachers Acharya Simhanandi in establishing his power. There are also other inscriptions and literary works which refer to Acharya Simhanandi as the founder of the Ganga kingdom. In an old commentary on the Jaina work �Gommatasara� it is stated that the Gang family proposed by the blessing of Acharya Simhanandi.


The Rashtrakutas were great power in South India for more than two centuries, and like Gangas of Talakad, they were zealous platrons of jainsim; Jaina literature, in particulars, had its golden age under theior patronage. The Gangas had set up this tradition before the Rashtrakutas rose to power, and the Chalukyas, who were another important dynasty sandwitched almost between the Gangas and the Rashtrakutas, were also inclined to patronise Jainism. Although they were votaries of the Vedic religion, they were greatly interested in Jainish, and supported it with a big heart.

The most famous of the Rashtrakuta kings was Amoghvarsha Nripatunga (814 � 878 A.D.). Although involved in wars almost incessantly he was by inclination a pacifist; he was more scholarly than militant, an author by choice and a warrior by necessity. His � Kavirajamarge�, one of the oldest Kannada works available today, is a work on poetics and master-piece on the subject. He also wrote in Sanskrit a book entitled �Prasonttara Ratnavali� dealing with Jaina ethics. His teacher was Acharya Jinasena, the celebrated author of �Adipurana�, and �Parsvabhyudya�. During Amoghavarsha�s regin only �Jayadhavala�, the great commentary on Jaina doctrines,was prepared.

King Indra IV (966 � 973 A. D. ) , the last monarch of Rashtrakuta dynasty, was also a patron of Jainism and great warrior as seen from the various titles aplied to him. But unfortunately with his defeat in 973 A.D. by the Chalukya King Tailp II, the Rashtrakuta dynasty�s rule came to an end. After this defeat Indras IV retired to Sravana-Belagola and is per Inscription No. 133 he died at Sravana-Belagola by the Jaina rite of �Sallekhana�.