Jain World

Sub-Categories of Passions - The Sacred Sravana - Belagola





In addition to these �gurus�, Chamunda-Raya was intensely attached to Acharya Nemichandra, the most renowned Jaina ascetic preceptor of the time. Acharya Nemichandra was awarded the title of �Siddhanta-Chakravarti�, because he had conquered all the realms of the known knowledge of the sacred books. He was called the Chakravarti or Emperor because just as a Chakravarti monarch conquers six parts of the country by his Chakra weapon, similarly he had mastered the six parts of the famous authoritative work entitled �Dhavala� by his weapon of intellect. His title is justified by his well known books (I) Dravya-Sangraha, (ii) Gommatasara-Jiva-Kanda, (iii) Gommatasara-Karma Kanda, (iv) Labdhi-Sara, (v) Kshapana-Sara and, (vi) Triloka-Sara. It has been very specifically stated that out of these books Acharya Nemichandra composed �Gommatasara� according to the desire of his disciple Chamunda-Raya, who wished to learn the exposition of substances as enumerated in the canonical works of the Jainas. Further, Acharya Nemichandra named the book as �Gommata-Sara�, because it was composed fot the reading of Chamunda-Raya who was also known as Gommata-Raya. In fact, Acharya Nemichandra him self, in this work has praised �Gommata-Raya� or simply Raya which is but another name of Chamunda-Raya. This very intimate preceptor-disciple relationship between Acharya Nemichandra and Chamunda-Raya, was so well-known that it was represented in paintings also. In a very old illuminating manuscript of �Trilokasara�, composed by Acharya Nemichandra, we have a picture representing Chamunda-Raya, with several countries hearing the tents of Jainism as expounded by Acharya Nemichandara.

Moreover, in appreciation of his strict religious behaviour and superb moral qualities Chamunda-Raya was awarded the following honorific titles :

(i) �Satya-Yudhishthira�, i.e., Yudhishthira in speaking the truth, for his quality of never telling an untruth even in jest;

(ii) �Gunavam-Kava�, for his steadfastness to good morals and for upholding the brave qualities of others;

(iii) �Samyaktva-Ratnakara�, for his unswerving self-sacrifice and for other virtues;

(iv) �Shaucha-Bharana�, for his not coveting the wealth or wives of others;

(v) �Subhata-Chudamani�, for his being the head of the bravest;

(vi) �Kavijana-Sekhara�, for his being the head of the poets; and

(vii) �Anna� for his fraternal affection to his co-religionists.

Furthermore, Chamunda-Raya is known not merely as a devout Jaina but also as a firm promoter of the Jaina faith. In fact, Chamunda-Raya�s invaluable, enduring and many sided works in the religious field have made him more famous in comparison to his achievements in other fields. There are authentic records to show that with the advance of his age, Chamunda-Raya devoted himself mostly to religion, under his spiritual teachers Ajitasena and Nemichandra, and became immortal as one of the greatest promoters of Jaina religion by erecting images, temples, pillars, doorways, etc. and by devoting the greater part of his wealth to the worship of these images and to the maintenance of these religious structures. Chamunad-Raya�s prominent contributions in this field are :

(1) Gommata Colossus : Chamunda-Raya caused the colossal image of Gommatesvara to be set up on the Vindhyagiri hill at Sravana-Belagola in the year 981 A.D.. Inscriptions of the eleventh century A.D. and of a later date and the evidence of later Jaina writers confirm this fact. (The details about the installation of this monolithic statue and its characteristic features and importance are given in chapters VI, VII and X)

(2) Neminatha Temple : It was on the Chandragiri hill at Sravana-Belagola that Chamunda-Raya erected in 982 A.D. a magnificent temple containing the image of the 22nd Jaina Tirthankara, Neminatha, Subsequently, the upper storey of the building was added by Jina-Deva, the son of Chamunda-Raya and an image of the 23rd Jaina Tirthankara, Parsvanatha, was installed in it in the year 995 A.D.. Both the storeys give a fine idea of the beautiful architecture of that age. This temple is popularly known as Chamunda-Raya-Basti.

(3) Tyagada Brahmadeva Pillar : As per inscription No. 281 this elegantly carved pillar was erected by Chamunda-Raya and is situated outside the enclosure on the Vindhyagiri hill at Sravana-Belagola. This pillar is popularly known as �Pillar of gifts� since at this place on the hill gifts were distributed.

(4) Akhanda-Bagalu : It is a doorway entrance carved out of a single rock and is situated outside the enclosure on the Vindhyagiri hill. According to tradition this door-way was caused to be made by Chamunda-Raya.

(5) Brahmadeva Pillar : This pillar with a pavillion at the top, about 6 feet above the ground level, enshrines a seated figure of Brahmadeva. It is situated just near the enclosure on the Vindhyagiri hill and was caused to be erected, as per tradition, by Chamunda-Raya.

(6) Gullakayaji Figure : Below the pavillion of this Brahmadeva Pillar stands the figure, about 5 feet high, of the old and devoted woman named Gullakayajji. According to tradition this figure also was caused to be made by Chamunda-Raya.

It is clear that these endowments made by Chamunda-Raya for the cause of Jainism have earned for him an undying name in the history of India. His entire life was a saga of dedication for the promotion of Jaina faith. His entire family scrupulously followed the path of Jainism and set an example to be emulated by others. His mother Kalada-Devi and his wife Ajita-Devi were pillars of strength for him and they extended all co-operation to him in his varied religious activities. His son Jina-Deva was also a devoted disciple of Acharya Ajita-Sena and in keeping with the family tradition installed the image of Parsvanatha Tirthankara in the upper storey of the Neminatha Temple on the Chandragiri hill. His younger sister Pullava was a faithful follower of Jaina religion and died by the orthodox Jaina rite of �Sallekhana�, in the Chandranatha temple at Vijaya mangalam in Coimbatore district.

After a very hectic and evenful career Chamunda-Raya died by about 990 A.D., during the reign of the Ganga monarch Rakkasa-Ganga, the successor of Rajamalla IV. It was unfortunate that Chamunda-Raya had to leave this world only after 9 years of his making outstanding contribution to world culture, that is, the installation of the colossal image of Gommtesvara in the year 981 A.D. But it is pertinent to note that Chamunda-Raya�s dedicated service to the cause of Jaina religion did not go in vain. Chamunda-Raya�s monumental works provided continuous inspiration for centuries. As a result we find that renowned Military Generals and Chief Ministers like Ganga-Raja and Hulla-Raja of the Hoysala Empire continued with zeal the work of Chamunda-Raya during the 12th century at Sravana-Belagola.