Jain World

Sub-Categories of Passions - The Sacred Sravana - Belagola






The Hoysalas, whose kingdom included modern Mysore, were staunch Jainas and their rule which spread over a period of more than three centuries ( 1006 to 1345 A.D.) forms the brightest chapter in the history of medieval Karnatka. The rulers of Hoysala dynasty steadfastly followed Jainisim and actually patronised it because the vary foundation of the Hoysala rule was laid by the efforts of a Jaina ascetic teacher. It is recorded in the inscriptions at Sravana-Belagola that the progenitor of the Hoysala dynasty was Sala, an eponymous hero, who was a dvout Jaina. On a certain occasion, we are told, he went to worship at the temple of his family deity at the temple of his family deity at Sosavura. After worship he came to his ascetic teacher, Sudatta Vardhamana, to receive religious instruction. While he was receiving instructions, a fierce tiger came out of the forest and flared at them with rage. At this sage said to Sala with reference to the fierce tiger �Poy Sala� ( i.e. strike it, Sala): and from this circumstance Sala adopted the Sage�s words as his name, i.e.� Poysala or Hoysala, as also the tiger crest. In this way the utterance of the Guru Hoy (Poy) Sala� itself became the name of the dynasty and this dynasty succeeded in expelling the cholas from Mysore region and in establishing its rule in the 11th century. Thus, just as the great Jaina saint Achaya Simhanandi helped in establishing the Ganga Kingdom in the 4th century A.D. and used to give advice to kongunivarman I, the first Ganga king, siomilary the renowned and politically conscious Jaina saint Acharya Sudatta guided the foundation of the Hoysala Kingdom in the 11th centry A.D. and took a prominent part in the administration of the Hoysalas.

From the inscriptions it is clear that the first three Hoysala rulers, viz., Sala, the founder, his son Vinayaditya I ( 1016-1022 A. D. ) and the latter�s Niripa Kama ( 1022-1047 A.D.) were under the spiritual guidance of Acharya Sudatta. The fourth Hoysala ruler Vinayaditta II ( 1047-1098 A.D.) was a staunch devotee of the Jaina saga Santideva who had been respectfully mentioned in Inscription No. 67 dated 1128 A.D. at Sravana-Belagola in the following terms : � Who is able to describe �such and such� is the ability of the ascetic Santideva, having worshipped whose pair of feet, the Hoysala king Vinayaditta brought the goodess of wealth to the territory under his rule?� What King Vinayaditta II did as a Jaina, obviously on the advice of his preceptor Santideva, is described ion a stone record found in the Gandhavarana-Basti ( Viz. Inscription No. 143, dated 1131 A.D.) at Sravana-Belagola, in the following words, � King Vinayaditta glady made any number of tanks and temples, any numbers of Jina shrines, any number of nadus ( or districts, ), villages and subjects�. The erection of Jaina temples by Vinayaditta, the great builder, is thus described: �The pits dug for bricks became tanks, the mountain s quarried for stone became level with ground, the roads by which the mortarcarts passed became revainess; thus did King Poysala caused Jaina temple to be built. � There are many inscriptions found at other places that reveal the utmost care with which King Vinayaditta II, looked after Jaina interests.

Ereyanga ( 1098-1102 A.D.), the son and successor of Vinayadata II, was the devoted disciple of Jaina Saint Gopanandi whose qualifications was achievements are graphically described in s stone inscription at Hale-Belagola dated 1094 A.D. King Ereyanga granted village Rachanahalla and the Belagola 12 for the repairs hill, i.e., temples in the holy place round the Kalbappu hill, i.e., the Katavapra or Chandragiri hill at Sravana-Belagola. It is also mentioned in king Ereyanga �caused the Jaina religion, which had for a long time been at a stand still, to attain the prosperity and fame of the Ganga Kings�.

King Ballaia I ( 1102-1108 A.D. ), the eldest son of King Ereyanga, was disciple of Jaina gure, Panditadeva Charukirti, whose accomplishments are mentioned in stone inscriptions dated 1938 A.D. and 1432 A.D. These are the Siddhesvara basti records of Sravana-Belagola and they depict gure Charukirtis�s proficiency in medicine as well. It is stated therein that �When King Ballala was verily in a moribund condition through severe illness, he quickly restored him to health�. Even the air that had but touched his body cured diease; was it much (then) that his medicine cured King Ballala of his disease?�

Bitti-deva ( 1108 � 1142 A.D.), who later adopted the name Vishnuvardhana, was one the most brilliant monarch of Karnataka. He was a great king and his achievements both in war and in peace were very remarkable. Many of the notable victories which marked his rule were son by his great Jaina generals. King Vishnuvardhana�s reign was also important from the point of his continued support to Jainism inspite of his alleged conversion from Jainism to Vaishnavism in 1116 A.D. under the influence of the great Acharya Ramanuja, whi, to escape presecution at the hands Acharya Ramanuja, who, to escape persecution it appears unfounded as none of the numerous inscriptions of this king contains any reference to this event and even mentions the influence of Acharya Ramanuja on the king. Even after about 1125 A.D., when Acharya Ramanuja is supposed to have left Mysore region, king Vishnuvardhana made grants to Jaina teachers like Sripala Vishnuvardhana made grants to Jaina teachers like Sripala Travidyavrati and saw merit in the consecration of the image of Parsvantha. Another stone inscription at Belur dated 1129 A.D. commemorates a gift to the Basti named � Malli Jinalaya� by the same king Vishnuardhana. Further, it is recorded that when the famous Parsvantha Jaina temple was built in the Hoysala capital city by one his many great Jaina generals, King Vishnuvardhana christened his sonprince Vijay Narasimhadeva after the god Vijaya Parasvadeva and granted the village of Javagal for a Jaina temple in the capital Dorasmudra near Halebid. All these records cleary reveal that King Vishnuvardhana, whatever his patronage to Vaishnavism may have been, continued till the end of his rule to be pious �Bhavya�, ( Jaina house-holder.)

Queen Santala-Devi, the eldest and principal wife of King Vishnuvardhana, was undoubtedly of Jaina enthusiast and played a prominent role in the history of Jainism in Karnatka. The inscription No. 132 of Sravana-Belagola records the erection in 1123 A.d. of the famous temple �Savatigandhavarana-Basti� on the Chandragire Hills by Queen Santala-Devi. The same inscription eulogises Queen Santala-Devi thus: The eldest daughter of Marasinga and Machikabbe, she was to king Vishnu the Goddness of victory in battle, the Godness of Fame spreading to the remoting points of the compass the greatness of his valour.� Among the epithets applied to her are : � a Brihaspati in discrimination, a Vachaspati in ready wit, the cause of the elevation of the four �Samayas� or creeds, an expert in singing instrumental music and dancing, a rempart to the Jaina faith a rutting elephant to ill-mannered co-wives ( �udvritta-savatigandhavarane�)�. The last epithet is interesting as the temple founded by her on the Chandragirei hill was named after it, i.e., �Savati-ganhavarana Basti�. She endowed the temple with a village and certain lands, which she lpresented to her Jaina teacher, and saind Prabhachandra, after washing his feet. She died in 1131 A.D. at Sivaganga. Her mother Machikabbe, resolving not to survive after the death of her daughter, went to Sravana-Belagola and, fasting for one month, died by the Jaina rite of �Sallekhana�, in the presence of her teachers, the saints Prabhachandra, Vardhamana and Ravichandra. In the Inscription No. 143 several verses are devoted to glorifying her self-sacrifice and severe penance.

King Narasimha I ( 1142-1173 A.D.), the third son and successor of Vishnuvardhana, carried on the tradition of Hoysala kings. King Narasimha gave the name �Bhavya-Chudamani-Basti� to the famous �Chaturvimsati- Tirthankara-Basti� built by his General Hulla-Raja in the village of Sravana-Belagola in the year 1159 A.D. and granted for its upkeep the village Savaneur. The temple is popularly known as �Bhandari Basti�, since Hulla-Raja was also �Bhandari� or treasurer of King Narasimha I.

King Ballaia II or Vira-Ballala I ( 1173-1220 A.D.) oranised the Kingdom upon a footing of peace and prosperity and like his predecssors showed marked favour to the spread of Jainism. His titles an achievements are given in Inscription Nos. 327 and 335, at Sravana-Belagola. It is evident from Inscription No. 240, dated 1175 A.D. that the king gave his conformation to the grant of three villages made by his father King Narashimha I for temples of Gommatta, Parsvanatha and the twenty-four Tirthankaras. Thus King Ballaja II gave the village Bammeyanahalli for the temple of Parsvanatha set up by Achladevi, granted the village Bekka for the worship of Gommatervara, and continued the gift of village Savaneru for the upkeep of the Chaturvimsati-Tirthankara-Basti at Sravana-Belagola. Further, in 1176 A.D. a Jaina temple was built by a Jaina merchant who collet iot �Vira-Ballala Jinalaya� in honour of the king, and King Vira-Ballala I granted it a village. About twenty years later, in 1195 A.D. , Nagadeva, the minister and �Pattana-Swami� of Ballala II, built the Nagara Jinalaya as a disciple of Nayakirty, King Ballala II made a grant to this temple built at his own capita Dwarasamudra �for feeding Jaina ascetics and bringing on the eigh-fold worship of the temple.�