Jain World

Sub-Categories of Passions - The Sacred Sravana - Belagola





The figure is standing with shoulders squared and arms hanging straight. Its upper half projects above the surrounding ramparts. It is carved in a fine-grained light-gray granite, has not been injured by weather or violence, and looks as bright and clean as if just from chisel of the artist.

Gommateswara has watched over India for only 1000 years, whilst the statues of Rameses in Egypt have gazed the Nile for more than 4000 years. The monolithic Indian saint is thousands of years younger than prostrate Rameses or the guardians of Abu Simbal, but he is more impressive, both on account of his commanding position on the brow of the hill overlooking the wide stretch of plain and of his size.�

Similarly, the famous art historian of India, J. Fergusson, in his celebrated work �History of Indian and Eastern Architecture�, describes the excellence of this image in the world thus :

�The status is the most remarkable the native art in the south of India. This statues attracted the attention of the late Duke of Wellington when, as Sir Arthur Wellesley, he commanded a division at the siege of Seringapatam. He, like all those who followed him, was astonished at the amount of labour such a work must have entailed, and puzzled to know whether it was a part of the hill or had been moved to the spot where it now stands. The former is the more probable theory. The hill is one mass of granite about 400 fee in height, and probably had mass or Tor standing on its Summit-either a part of the adjacent mass or laying on it, This the jains undertook to fashion into a statue of 58 feet in height, and hence achieved it with marvellous succes�. Whether, however, the rock was found �in situ� or was moved, nothing grander or more imposing exists anywhere out of Egypt, and even there no known statue surpasses it in height.�


There had been a great curiosity to know the exact dimensions of the colossal image of Gommatesvara. Different estimates of the height of Gommata were given : 70 feet 3 inches by Buchanan and 60 feet 3 inches Sir Arthur Wellesley. But Mr. Bowing, the then Chief Commissioner of Mysore, put the height as 57 feet by actual measurement and in his book �Eastern Experience� he said that �The colossal statue was measured by my order on the 1st of January 185 and the height then assigned was 57 feet. The measurement was made by the Amildar. A platform was specially erected to ascertain the exact height of the statue, which was found to be 57 feet, and not 70 feet, as generally supposed�.

Later, a serious attempt was made to take the measurements of the different parts of the images by Mr. Scandon, the officer of the Public Works Department in 1871 at the time of the great head-annointing ceremony of the image for which a large platform was specially erected. Unfortunately, before Mr. Scandon could complete the work, some of the priests interfered. Still this was the first and only time when some detailed measurements were taken. These measurements are considered as correct and have been given by Capt. J. S.F. Mackenize of Mysore in his article on �Sravana-Belagola� ( vide �Indian Antiquary� vol. II, May 1873. ) The following were the dimensions obtained:

Feet Inches

1. Total height to the bottom of the ear - 50 - 0

2. From the Bottom of the ear to the crown of the head (not measured), about - 6 - 6

3. Length of the foot - 9 - 0

4. Breadth across the front of the foot - 4- 6

5. Length of the great toe - 2 - 9

6. Half girth at the instep - 6 - 4

7. Half girth of the thigh - 10 - 0

8. From the hip to the ear - 24 - 6

9. From the coccyx to the ear - 20 - 0

10. Breadth across the pelvis - 13 - 0

11. Breadth at the waist - 10 - 0

12. From the waist and elbow to the ear - 17 - 0

13. From the armpit to the ear - 7 - 0

14. Breadth across the shoulders - 26 - 0

15. From the base of the neck to the ear - 2 - 6

16. Length of the forefinger - 3 - 6

17. Length of the middle finger - 5 - 3

18. Length of the third finger - 4 - 7

19. Length of the fourth finger - 2 - 8

These measurements appear to be fairly correct and have been accepted. The height of the statue has been put down at 57 feet.

Further, in the private library of Mr. Aramane Jina-Chand-raya of Mysore there is palm-leaf manuscript which contains 16 Sanskrit stanzas composed by a Jaina poet of the name of Santaraja-pandita, who bore the title of �Kavi-chakravarti�, i.e., emperor of poets. In the last stanza it is mentioned that the poet himself took the measurements of the image by order of his patron, the Mysore King Krishna-Raja-Odeyar III, on the occasion of the anointment of the god caused to be performed by that king. The poet has given the measurements of the different parts of the image in �hastas� i.e. (i.e. cubits) and �angulas� ( i.e. finger-breadths). The poet also states that the measurements are given for the pious contemplation of his co-religionists and for the astonishment of thue adherents of other religions. In these stanzas other names of Gommata, viz., Dorbali, Bahubali and Saunandi ( i.e. son of Sunanda ) are used. There seems to be some mistake in stanza 14. The following measurements are given in these stanzas :

�Hastas� �Anqulas

1. From the foot to the crown of the head. 36.1 /8-0

2. From the foot to the navel 20.0

3. From the navel to the head 16.1/8-0

4. From the chin to the crown of the head 6-3

5. Length of the ear 2.3/4-0

6. From ear to ear 8-0

7. Girth of the neck 10.3/4-0

8. Height of the neck 1.3 /4-0

9. From shoulder to shoulder 16-0

10. The lines around the nipple 4-9

11. Girth of the waist 20-0

12. From the shoulder to the middle finger 18 � -0

13. Girth of the wrist 6 � -0

14. Length of the thumb 2.1/4.0

15. Length of the great toe 4 �

16. Length of the foot 4-1

According to the poet the height of the image in 54 feet and 3 inches. He also gives the dimensions of several parts not given in the previous list.