Legends and Stories. Shravanabelagola, Karnataka
The story of Shravanbelagola is one of humility and peace: a touchstone for the Jain faith. The first Jain thirthankara, Lord Adinatha had two sons vying for the throne and as in such cases do, the desire culminated in battle. Bahubali, the bigger and stronger of the two, succeeded over his brother Bharatha. But no sooner did he win the battle, was he overcome by grief and shame that he had fought his own sibling for something as material as a kingdom. He renounced the throne and undertook a severe penance and attained enlightenment.
Bharatha, in turn, had an effigy of his brother erected, which a few years later, was covered by ant hills and serpents. As the story goes, only the truly pious could see the image - to the others, it was just mud and clinging vines. The general Chavundaraya came to place we now know as Shravanabelagola in search of Bahubali’s (Gometeshwara) statue. But to no avail. This is where Goddess Kushmandini Devi, who watched over Bahubali intervened. She visited Chavundaraya in a dream and instructed him to shoot an arrow from the Chandragiri Hill to find what he sought. Upon doing so, the arrow hit the Indiragiri Hill and the image of Bahubali flashed from the hill. Under the instruction of sage Arishtanemi, Asia’s largest monolithic statue was carved in the image of Bahubali and the place was named Sravana Bela Gola which translates into The white pond of the monk.
The once in 12 years Mahamastabhisheka will take place on the 17th to the 25th of this month. This visual spectacle will have the 57 ft statue being anointed in milk, vermillion, sandalwood paste, purified water, petals and turmeric by the bucketfuls.