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Jain World

Sub-Categories of Passions - The Sacred Sravana - Belagola

FOREWORD
 
PREFACE
 

SIGNIFICANCE OF SRAVANA BELAGOLA

 
SHRINES OF SRAVANA BELAGOLA
 
EARLY HISTORY OF SRAVANA – BELAGOLA
 
  ROYAL PATRONAGE OF SRAVANA-BELAGOLA
 
  CHAMUNDA-RAYA AND SRAVANA-BELAGOLA
 
  BAHUBALI COLOSSUS OF SRAVANA-BELAGOLA
 
  GOMMATESVARA IMAGE OF SRAVANA-BELAGLA
 
  GRAND FESTIVAL OF SRAVANA-BELAGOLA
 
  GLORY OF SRAVANA-BELAGOLA
 
  CONTRIBUTIONS OF SRAVANA-BELAGOLA

GRAND FESTIVAL OF SRAVANA-BELAGOLA


�The 14th of March 1887 was the day of anointing for the statue of Gommatesvara. It was a great day in anticipation of which 20,000 pigrims gathered there from all parts of India. There were Bengalis, there were Gujaratis and there were Tamil people in great numbers. Some arrived a full month before the time and the stream continued to flow until the afternoon of the day of the great festival. For a whole month there was daily worship in all the temples, and �pada-puja� or worship of the feet of the great idol besides. On the great day, the 14th of March, 1887, people began to ascend the hill even before dawn in the hope of securing good places from which to see everything. Among them were large numbers of women and girls in very bright attire, carrying with them brass or earthen pots. By 10 o�clock all available space in the temple enclosure was filled. Opposite the idol an area of 40 square feet was streamed with bright yellow paddy, on which were placed 1,000 gaily painted earthenware pots, filled with sacred water, covered with cocoanuts and adorned with mango leaves. Above the image was a scaffolding, on which stood several priests, each having at hand pots filled with milk, ghee and such like things. At a signal from the kolhapur Swami, the master of the ceremonies, the contents of these vessels were poured simultaneously over the head of the idol. This was a sort of preliminary bath, but the grand bath took place at 2 o�clock. Amid the great dissonance of many instruments the thousand pots already mentioned were lifted as if by magic from the reserved area to the scaffolding and all their contents poured over the image, the priests meanwhile chanting texts from the sacred books. Evidently the people were much impressed. There were mingled cries of �Jai Jai Maharaja� and Ahaha, �ahaha�, the distinctive exclamations of Northern and Southern Indians to mark their wonder and approval. In the final anointing fifteen different substances were used , namely : (1) water, (2) cocoanut meal, (3) Plantains, (4) Jaggery, (5) Ghee, (6) Sugar, (7) Almonds, (8) Date, (9) Poppy Seeds, (10) Milk, (11) Curds, (12) Sandal, (13) Gold Flowers, (14) Silver Flowers, and (15) Silver Coins. With the gold and silver flowers there were mixed nine varieties of precious gems, and silver coins to the amount of Rs. 500/- completed the offering�.

10. In 1900 A.D. : There is a reference in the �Indian Antiquary� to the effect that in 1900 A. D. the �Mahamastakabhisheka� ceremony was performed.


3. CEREMONIES IN THE 20TH CENTURY

In the present twentieth century the �Mahamastakabhisheka� ceremonies ware held on the following days :

(1) the 30th of March, 1910,

(2) the 15th of March, 1925

(3) the 26th of February, 1940

(4) the 5th of March, 1953 and

(5) the 30th of March, 1967.

The iast �Mahamastakabhisheka� ceremony has been held on the 22nd of February 1981 A.D. It would be worth while to note the important features of these six ceromonies.

1. On the 30th of March 1910 A. D. : There was a grand head anointing ceremony on the 30th of March, 1910 A. D. On this occasion an interesting event took place, that is, an aerial post was tried by one Mr. G.F. Edwards who sent a message regarding the �puja� i.e., worship, by a homing pigeon which was received by the �Madra Mail�, Newspaper office at Madras within three hours and forty minutes.

His Highness Krishna-Rajendra Wodeyar, the King of Mysore, attended the ceremony and also performed the �puja� of Gommatesvara.

This �Mahamastakabhisheka� ceremony proved a great success from the social point of view. On this occasion for the first time a special session of the All-India Digambara Jaina Mahasabha was held on a large scale and through the various resolutions passed a definite and new direction to social reforms was given to the society. Among these resolutions the most important was about the scheme sponsored Seth Manikchand Hirachand Zaveri, J.P. of Bombay and his �guru� Brahmachari Shitalaprasadaji regarding the imparting of religious education along with the Western of English education to Jaina student and for this specific purpose establishing Jaina Boarding schools at various Jaina centres in India. Accordingly new Jaina Boarding schools were opened at Ahmedabad, Allahabad, Meerut Belagum, Sangli, Poona and othe important places in India and a new area in education among the Jainas was ushered in. Such Jaina Boarding schools were already established at Bombay, Sholapur, Surat, Kolhapur and Hubli.

2. On the 15th of March, 1925 A. D. : After the lapse of a decade and a half, very grand �Mahamastakabhisheka� was performed on the 15th of March, 1925 A.D. Months before this date a �Puja-Committee� was formed with his Holiness Charukirti Bhattaraka of Jaina Matha at Sravana-Belagola as the President and Mr. M.L. Vardhamaniah of Mysore as the Secretary. On this occasion Mr. Vardhamaniah initiated a new policy of propaganda for involving large number of Jainas in the festival and accordingly he toured all over India and invited all ranks of Jainas to participate in the festival. As a result, an intense attraction was created, for the first time among the comman people to undertake a pilgrimage to Sravana-Belagola on this occasion.

The great festival began on the 27th of February, 1925 A.D. with different preliminary ceremonies and culminated in the grand �Mahamastakabhisheka� ceremony on the 15th March, 1925 A.D. Approximately 30,000 people were present for this grand ceremony. His Highness Krishna-Rajendra Wodeyar, the Maharaja of Mysore, walked up the hill bare-footed, witnessed the entire anointment ceremony, personally performed the �puja� offered donations of Rs. 5000/- to the �Abhisheka Fund� and Rs. 500/- to the Jaina Matha and showed personal regard by offering �namaskara� to His Holiness Charukirti Bhattaraka, the head pontiff of Sravana-Belagola.

The most remarkable event of this grand festival was the memorable speech delivered by His Highness Krishna-Rajendra-Wodeyar, the Maharaja of Mysore, as the President of the All-India Digambara Jaina Conference on the 14th of March, 1925. On this occasion an address was presented on behalf of the Jaina community in India to His Highness Krishna-Rajendra-Wodeyar by Shri M.R. Vardhamaniah under the presidentship of Sir Sarupachandaji Hukumachandaji of Indore. While welcoming the Jaina community at large to the land of Mysore symbolighing Gommata�s spiritual empire, the Maharaja paid a warm tribute to the past Jaina poets and pandits who made a singular contribution to Kannada literature in its initial stages. The entire speech of the Maharaja was saturated with a sense of high gratitude to the selfless services of Jaina authors which stand unparalleled in the history of Jainas and Jainism in India. The speech was full of love for Jainism, Sravana-Belagola, and Jaina community alike. To quote from the speech of the Maharaja :

�It gives me great pleasure to be with you on a solemn and auspieious occasion like the present when you have assembled in such large numbers from all parts of India for a holy purpose.

�In welcoming this All-India gathering of the Jainas to the land of Mysore. I cannot forget that this land to them is a land of pilgrimage, consecrated by some of the holiest traditions and tenderest memories of their faith. This picturesque rock on an elevated tableland was, as a thousand years� old tradition has it. The scene where the venerable Bhagwan Shrutakevali Bhadrabahu leading the first migration of the Jainas to the Southern Peninsula broke his journey and took up his abode, and tradition still points to the cave in which he passed away in Sallekhana. It was in this holy land, the Dakshina Kashi, the Benaras of the South, that as the same tradition has it, the Mauryan Emperor Chandragupta, the fame of whose prowess turned away the invincible hosts of Alexander the Great, doffing the Emperor�s for the ascetic�s robe, nursed his master, the Shrutakevali, in his last moments and worshipped his footprints, since that day, many a royal prince of the South and many a holy monk of the North have vowed themselves to death by the rite of sallekhana.