Sravana-Belagola, the most ancient and prominent sacred place of the Jainas in South India, has got a unique combination of many distinctive features which are rarely found elsewhere in the world. Throughout its long continuous history, Sravana-Belagola has been known as a spot of scenic beauty, a place of material prosperity and a center of spiritual and educational activities. Sravana-Belagola has also been considered as a place of great historical importance in view of the facts that it has been very closely associated from ancient times with Emperors, Monarch, Military Generals, prime Ministers etc., and that it has very well preserved various reliable sources of history. In fact, Sravana-Belagola has been a veritable treasure- house of all kinds of historical information of an authentic nature which is hardly found at any other single place in South India. Above all, Sravana-Belagola has got the colossal, yet contemplative, monolithic statue of Bhaubali which is regarded as one of the wonders of the world. In addition, Sravana-Belagola has been famous for its lasting contributions to the culture of the world through its classic philosophical works and exquisite sacred monuments.
In recognition of this extra-ordinary significance of Sravana-Beloagola from religious, historical, architectural, sculptural, educational and other points of view, books on Sravana-Belagola have been written mainly in English, Kannads and Hindi languages. But these books are very much limited in number and were published mostly during the first half of the twentieth century. Further, these books belong to two separate categories. They are either books of a specialised nature dealing with particular aspect or aspects of Sravana-Belagola or books of a general nature giving information about Sravana-Belagola, in a cursory manner. In the circumstances a strong need was felt to have a book written in English which would be not large in size but which would, at the same time, be comprehensive, authentic and academic in nature dealing with social, religious and other significant aspects of Sravana-Belagola. It is hoped that the present compendious book entitled ï¿½ The Sacred Sravana-Belagola. : A Socio-religious Studyï¿½ will satisfy this urgent need. The book in brief, gives an account of the environment and the shrines of Sravana-Belagola; depicts the history of Sravana-Belagola from the association of Saint Bhadrabahu and Emperor Chandragupta in the 3rd century B. C. to the present day; delineates the role of Chamunda ï¿½ Raja, Ganga ï¿½ Raja and other ministers in the development of Sravana Belagola; discuss the installation, consecration and complexion of the Bahubali colossus at Sravana-Belagola describes the spread of the practice of erecting on hill tops colossal and open-to- the-sky images of Bahubali stared at Sravana-Belagola; portrays the Mahamastakabhishekaï¿½, i.e., the ï¿½ Grand Head Anothingï¿½ ceremonies of Gommatesvara Image held at Sravana-Belagola upto the 1981 festival; presents map of Karnataka State showing Jaina sacred places and the lay out maps of Chandragiri hill, Vindhyagiri hill and village Sravana-Belagola. It ism therefore, hoped that the book will be useful to the academicians, the general readers and the tourists.
I deem it as moral and sacred duty to mention that His Holiness Elacharya Munishri Vidyananda Maharaja, who has been incessantly guiding the all round development of Sravana-Belagola, inspired me and gave constant encouragement to me to write this book. I am highly obliged to His Holiness for this confidence shown in me.
I am really glad that this book ios being published by the Bharatiya Jnanpitha, the pre-eminent academic institute of India. I am further happy that this book is published on the occasion of the Grand Festival organised to celebrate in February 1981, the 1000th Anniversary of the Installation of the Image of Bahubali at Sravana-Belagola. I am, therefore, immensely grate- ful to the authorities of the Bharatiya Jnanapitha and especially to its enlightened President Shriman Sahu Shreyans Prasad Jain for the publication of this book. I am indebted to Shri Lakshmi Chandra Jain, Director of Bharatiya Jnanapitha, and to Dr. Vimal Prakash Jain, Secretary, for their personal efforts in this work.
I am grateful to my friend and colleague, Dr. Shantinath K. Desai, Professor and Head, Department of English, Shivaji University, Kolhapur for making valuable suggestions after carefully going through the manuscript.
I am greatly indebted to the well-equipped library of Rajaram College, Kohapur. I am indeed grateful to the Principal and Librarian of Rajram College for giving me all facilities to use the rare collection of books and journals in the library. Similarly, I am indebted to the Shivaji University Library.
My thanks are also due to H. M. Jagtap, the Cartographer for drawing the useful maps and to Shri. A. G. Gosavi for preparing the neat typescript of the book.
I would be failing in my duty if I forget to offer my sincere thanks to my several friends and students who rendered to me timely help in one form or another.
Vilas Adinath Sangave
Department of Sociology,
Shivaji University, Kolhapur,
January, 26, 1981