Wednesday, September 8, 2010

World’s largest monolithic stone statue !




Set amid the beautiful lakes and the two green hued hills, Chandragiri and Vindyagiri, Shravanabelagola is a major Jain religious centre.

It is well known for the colossal monolithic statue of the awe – inspiring Gomateswara perched atop the Vindyagiri hill, which is 58 feet in height and 26 feet in width. It is considered to be the world's largest monolithic stone statue !

Shravanabelagola is located 13 kilometres from Channarayapatna, 51 kilometres from Hassan and 158 kilometres northwest from Bangalore, and has been a prominent centre for Jain art, architecture, religion and culture for over two millennia. More than 800 inscriptions have been found at Shravanabelagola, dating to various times from 600 to 1830.
Chadragupta Maurya, the great emperor who ruled a large part of India, settled in this region, handing over the reins of his kingdom to his son.

History behind the monolith
According to the legend, Lord Gomateshwara also known as Bahubali took on Bharatha in a duel that involved three forms – Dristiyuddha, Mallayuddha and Jalayuddha. Though Bahubali finally emerged victorious, he was overwhelmed by both the enormity and the futility of the desire for material wealth – a persuit that set brother against brother. He then renounced his kingdom and all other worldly pleasures.

Bahubali stood in deep meditation and radiated the glow of spiritual tranquility. Chavundaraya, the prime minister and commander-in-chief of the Ganga Kingdom, consecrated the statue of Bahubali in a meditative form in 981 AD. Also known as Gommata, the statue represents the highest values of life , renunciation and selflessness. It symbolizes man’s victory over Karma. A saint in perfect peace with himself and with everything else in the universe ! It is of great religious significance because Jains believe Bahubali was the first to attain moksha (freedom from cycle of birth and death)

To reach this majestic status one has to climb 614 steps uphill ! Quite a task. But we did it alongwith our 3 year old daughter.

The naked statue of Gommateshwara was carved out of a single block of granite of the hill and is a picture of serenity and composure.
The image of Bahubali is depicted with curly hair in ringlets and long large ears. His eyes are open, viewing the world with detachment. His perfectly chiseled facial features, with a faint smile, embody calm vitality. There is an anthill in the background which signifies his incessant penance.

Every twelve years, thousands of devotees congregate here to perform the Mahamastakabhisheka, a spectacular ceremony in which the statue is covered with milk, curds, ghee, saffron and gold coins. The next Mahamastakabhisheka will be held in 2018.

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