1. CONSCRATION OF THE IMAGE
From all the available and reliable evidences of a historical nature it is quite clear that the colossal image of Bahubali or Gommata we caused to be erected by Chamunda-Raya and that the image was carved out a great rock which stood on the top of the Vindhyagiri hillat Sravana-Belagola. When the entire work of installation of the image was completed the ï¿½Pratishtapana Mohostsavaï¿½, i.e., the Consecration Ceremony, according to strict religious rites, was performed on an suspicious day by Chamunda-Raya on a very large scale and in a manner feftting his extremely high political statues and the extra ordinary size and special location of the image at a renowned sacred place of great antiquity and historical significance. But unfortunately the exact date of the consecration of the image was not known for a long time as it has not been specifically mentioned in any of the innumerable inscriptions found at Sravana-Belagola and at other important places in Karnataka. Still continuous efforts were made by various research scholars in the fields of literature, ceremony on the basis of other kinds of evidence. As a results, different dates were suggested in this connection for acceptance by reputed scholars as follows :
Gommatesvara Image of Sravana-Belagola
||Prof. S. Shrikantha Shastri
||Shri. S. C. Ghoshal
||Shri. Manjeshvara G. Pai
||B. Lewis Rice and R. Narsimhachar
||Dr. R. Shama Shastri
Out of these scholars, B Lewis Rice, the Director of Archaeological Researches in Mysore, was the first to suggest the year 983 A.D., as the year of the consecration of the image in his well-known books, Inscriptions at Sravana-Belagola, published in 1889 A.D., and inscriptions from Mysore and Coorg published in 1908 A.D., For a considerable period, this year, i.e., 983 A.D., was treated as the year of consecration. But serious doubts were expressed about the year 983 A.D. and, during the last 50 years, others dates were suggested. Out of these dates, now the date Sunday, the 13th of March, 981 A.D. has been generally accepted. It is really educative and interesting to know how this date is arrived at.
Chamunda-Raya, the great Jiana warrior, scholar and devotee, served as the prime minister and commander-in-chief under the three famous kings of the Ganga dynasty of Talakad, Viz., i) Marasimha (961-974 A.D.), ii) Rajamalla ( 974-984 A.D.), and iii) Rakkasa-Ganga. It was during this period of service that Chmunda-Raya installed the gigantic colossus of Bahubali or Gommata at Sravana-Belagola and it was in recogonition of that unmatched and unmatchable pious act of his that the king conferred upon him the title of ï¿½Rayaï¿½, which means a king or prince, and which finds a modern equivalent in thatof ï¿½Princeï¿½ conferred upon Count Bismarck by the German Kaisar. With a view to fixing the date during this period of service, the following facts can be asserted on the basis of the investigation of relevant sources :
i) Date not before 974 A.D. : It is a fact that during the reign of King Marasimha ( 961- 974 A.D.) , Chamunda-Raya distinguished himself as a valient warror, and that in an instcription in which he gives and account of himself he only makes mention of the victories which he had won. There is no mention at all any religious work done by him, and had it been the fact that he eracted the colossal image during the reign of King Marasimha, he would have mentioned the same, it being a monumental work which has immortalised his name. King Marasimha died in 974 A.D. at Bankapura, after having taken a vow of ï¿½Sallekhanaï¿½ at the feet of his ï¿½gureï¿½, Ajita-Sena, who was also the gure of Chamunda-Raya. It means that the Gommata Image was not consecrated before 974 A.D.
ii) Date not before 978 A.D. : a) Chamunda- Raya, in his kanada prose work entitled ï¿½Trishashthi-lakshna Mahapurnaï¿½, which he finished on Monday, the 18th of February 978 A.D., refers to almost all his great deeds, whether performed in the service of country of Dharma, and also enumerates almost all the military and spiritual titles that accrued to him, but still does not utter even a syllable as regards the greater act of his life, viz., the installation of the colossal image of Bahubali, which more than any, nay more than all else put together, would surely transmit his name to the remotest posterity. b) Further, amoung his many titles that have been mentioned in the above work, that of ï¿½Rayaï¿½, which was conferred upon him by King Rajamalla only on account of, and, therefore, only subsequent to the installation of the colossus, is conspicuous by its absence. It is clear that in all later writing by his protï¿½gï¿½ poet Ranna and by his ï¿½guruï¿½ Acharya Nemichandra, the minister was often called by the name ï¿½Rayaï¿½. But this title and fond name, Viz. ï¿½Rayaï¿½ has not been mentioned in his work. ï¿½Trishashthi-lakshana-Mahapurana, even though practically all other titles are mentioned. In view of these it can be safely asserted that Chamunda-Raya had not installed the colossus when in 978 A.D. he finished this Kannada work.
iii) Date not after 984 A.D. : In inscription No. 234 at Sravana-Belagola, it is specifically stated in clear terms that the colossus was installed by Chmunda-Raya in the year reign of King Rajamalla. As the year 984 A.D. , is the year King Rajamallaï¿½s death, it means that the colossus was installed before 984 A.D.
Thus putting these three facts together it is clear that the colossus was installed during a period of seven years between 987 A.D. and 984 A.D.
iv) Date mentioned in ï¿½Bahubali Charitaï¿½ : In a Sanskrit poem called ï¿½Bahubali Charitraï¿½ occurs a verses, No. 64 in Canto V, which purports to contain the exact date and moment of this consecration. This verse is as follows :
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This verse categorically states that ï¿½Chamunda-Raya performed the consecration of Lord Gommata in the city of Belagula ( i.e. Sravana-Belagola ).
i) in the Kalki year six centuries,
ii) in the praiseworthy ( cyclic ) called Vabhava,
iii) In the month of Chaitra,
ii) on the fifth day of the bright half (of that month )
v) on Suday,
iv) when the ï¿½Lagnaï¿½ or Zodiacal sign of Kumbha ( i.e. Aquarius ) was in
vii) with the ï¿½Yogaï¿½ called Saubhagya, and
v) the lunar constallation being ï¿½Mastaï¿½, ( i.e. the constellation of ï¿½Mrigashiraï¿½ or Orionï¿½s headï¿½. )
In the light of this verse the period of seven years between 978 to 984 A.D. was scrutinised and it was found that only in the year 981 A.D. the date consecration viz., the lunar date of Chaitra Sukla Panchami( i.e., the fifth lunar day of the bright half of the lunar month Chitra ) fell on a Sunday as recorded in the verse, that was on Sunday, the 13th of March, 981, and that on this day all the other specific astronomical conditions mentioned in the verse were present. On the basis of this scrutiny Shri Manjeshwara Govinda Pai, the great research in this verse lead us to the only conclusion that the great Jaina devotee Chamunda-Raya had the Gommatt Colossus installed at Sravana-Belagola in the small hours of the night of Sunday, the 13th of March, 981 A.D.ï¿½
Hence the date, the 13th March, 981 A.D., has now been accepted as the date of ï¿½Pratisthaï¿½, i.e., consecration of the Gommatesvara Image and accordingly the 1000th anniversary of installation is being celebrated on the 22nd of February, 1981 A.D.