Jain World

Sub-Categories of Passions - The Sacred Sravana - Belagola






Just as Chamunda-Raya was superb as a warior, he was equally great as a scholar and author, It appears that he received thorough education during his early career in life and that he specially maintained his interest in academic and literary pursuits throughout his life. He had gained mastery over Kannada language and was equally proficient in classical language like Sanskrit and Prakrit. He was awarded the title of �Kavijana-sekhara� by his contemporaries.

As an author, Chamunda-Raya has to his credit some of the celebrated works in Sanskrit and Kannada as follows :

(i) Charitrasara : It is a scholarly treatise written in Sanskrit on the subject of the practices of ascetics. This book has recently been published.

(ii) Commentary on Gommatasara : Acharya Nemichandra, the preceptor of Chamunda-Raya, wrote in Prakrit an authoritative work on Jain Philosophy and titled it as �Gommtasara in token of his love for his disciple Chamunda-Raya who was affectionatly known by the term �Gommata�, i. e., the beautiful. Chamunda-Raya worte a commentary on �Gommatasara� in the Kannada language and it is reported that he did so in the presence of Acharya Nemichandra who was popularly known by the honorific title �Siddhanta Chakravarti�. In the last verse of �Gommatasara� there is reference to the fact that Chamunda-Raya wrote in the popular language a commentary named �Vira-martand�. One of the titles of Chamunda-Raya being �Vira martanda�, he named his commentary �Vira Martandi�, meaning �composed by Viramartanda�. This commentary of Chamunda-Raya seems to have been lost. It is stated that the famous commentator Kesava Varni had based his �Commentary on Gommatasara� on Chamunda-Raya�s Kannada Commentary. This is clear from the fact that in the opening Verses of this �Kesavavarniya Vritti� the author says : �I write the �Vritti on Gommatasara� from the Karnataka Vritti�.

(iii) Trishashilakshana-Mahapurana : Chamunda-Raya wrote in Kannada the prestigeous book entitled �Trishashtilakshana- Mahapurana� which is better known as �Chamundaraya- Purana�,. This Kannada masterpiece gives in beautiful language a biographical sketch of sixty three celebrated persons of Jaina faith. This work is mostly in Kannada prose and occasionally verses in Sanskrit, Prakrit and Kannada also occur. This work is of special interest and importance in the history of Kannada literature as the work of the great Minister and General who erected the famous colossus of Gommatesvara at Sravana-Belagola, and also as the oldest extant specimen of a book written in continuous prose, enabling us, therefore, to gain a knowledge of the language as spoken in the 10th century. A.D. since this prose classic was written in 978 A.D. Apart from the point of view of the subject also, as it is the oldest work in Kannada literature depicting the lives of sixty-three great celebrities of the Jaina faith. Further, this work is also interesting from the historical point of view, as we find reference to Chamunda-Raya�s own life and to his contemporary saints, kings and poets. Both the opening and concluding chapters of this �purana� give a few important and valuable detailed imformation. In this work Chamunda-Raya has paid his heartfelt regards to his esteemed teacher Acharya Ajittasena. He has also shown very high respects to his another teacher Acharya Nemichandra, who was a great voluminous writer in Prakrit language.

It is really significant to note that in all his writings Chamunda-Raya invariably adopted the prose style in perference to verse because the very aim of his writings was to convey to common masses the basic priniciples and important personalities of Jaina faith in as simple and easy terms as possible. It is stated by many critics of Kannada literature like Govinda Pai and others that Chamunda-Raya had no desire to establish himself as a poet but on the contrary wanted to be a popular writer on religion. That is why Chamunda-Raya�s personality as a literary figure has commanded respect by his successors. Many other Kannada writers have paid their high tributes and respectful reverence to him. Chamunda-Raya has also influenced a good number of Kannada writers.

In addition to his literary character, Chamunda-Raya has also helped other writers and poets like Ranna, one of the triumvirate of the poets of Kannada literature. Out of Pampa (the author of �Adipurana�), Poona (the author of �Santinatha-purana�) and Ranna (the author of �Ajitanatha-purana�), the three great Jaina poets of the 10th Century A.D., who are also called �Ratnatrayas� (i.e., the three jewels) and �Jinasamayadipakar� (i.e., the beacon light of Jaina philosophy), the poet Ranna got full support and encouragement from Chamunda-Raya. When Ranna or Ratnakara ,migrated from his native place in North Karnataka to Talakada, the capital of the Ganga Kingdom, in search of help for his higher education and encouragement for his poetic talents, Chamunda-Raya was very much impressed by Ranna�s literary abilities and keen desire for learning. Since Chamunda-Raya had always cherished a high regard for learning, he extended all help to Ranna. As a result, Ranna developed into a great poet and was considered as one of the �Kavi-ratnatrayas�, The Ganga King Tailapa was so much moved by Ranna�s poetic works that he awarded to poet Ranna the coveted title of �Kavi-Chakravarti�, In this way poet Ranna�s eminent position in Indian literature was mainly due the constant patronage of minister Chamunda-Raya. That is why it is aptly said that Chamunda-Raya made two great and lasting contributions to Indian culture : one, the statue of Gommatesvara and, two the poet Ranna.


Apart from being a courageous warrior, a benevolent minister, a brilliant scholar, a patron of learning and a reputed author, Chamunda-Raya was also a devout Jaina. He had firm faith in the Jaina religion and he always tried to lead his life strictly according to its tenets. He used to perform scrupulously the six essential duties like worship of God, service of saints, reading of scriptures, etc., prescried in Jaina religious books for the observance by the Jaina householders. In fact, all the members of his family, viz., his mother Kalala-Devi, his wife Ajita-Devi, his son Jina-Deva, his younger sister Pullava, and his younger brother Naga-Varma, were extremely religious minded and invariably took pride in conducting their entire be haviour strictly in accordance with the rules of conduct laid down in Jaina scriptures. Further, Chamu

nda-Raya had a keen desire from his childhood to have a perfect understanding of the fundamental principles of Janism and to undertake an intensive study of authoritative Jaina sacred books under the constant guidance of the most able Jain ascetic �gurus� of his time. For fulfilling this desire he spared no pains and carried out his religious studies under a number of able and proficient gurus whose names are mentioned in the contemporary inscriptions as follows :

(i) In �Chamunda-Raya-Purana� : Chandrikavata, Dharmasena, Kumara-sena of Mulguda and Kopana, Naga-sena, Vira-sena, Chandra-sena, Arya-nandi, Ajita-sena, the disciple of Naya-sena.

(ii) In �Charitrasara� : Jina-sena.

(iii) In �Gommatasara : Ajit-sena, Arya-sena, Indra-nandi Kanaka-nandi, Abhaya-nandi and Vira-nandi.