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God in Jainism
The 57ft high Gommateshwara statue at Shravanabelagola, Karnataka, was built in 983 A.D
Successor Prajapati
Dynasty/Clan Ikshvaku
Predecessor Rishabha
Father Rishabha
Mother Sunanda
Siblings Bharata Chakravarti
Children Somakirti (Mahabala)[1]
Kalyanaka / Important Events
Birth place Ayodhya
Moksha place Kailasa
Height 500 dhanusa

Bahubali (English: one with strong arms) was the son of Rishabha (first tirthankara and founder of Jainism).[2][3][4] Bahubali is a much revered figure among Jains. After the nonviolent duel with Bharata, his elder brother, Bahubali abandoned his kingdom and clothes to became a Jain monk.[5] Bahubali meditated motionless for a whole year in kayotsarga posture because of which climbers grew around his legs.[6] After one year of meditation, Bahubali attained omniscience (kevala jnana). According to Jain texts, Bahubali attained moksha (liberation from the cycle of births and deaths) at mount Kailasa and became a Siddha (liberated soul).[7]

Bahubali is also called Gommatesh because of the statue dedicated to him. "Gommateshwara" statue, built by the Ganga dynasty minister and commander Chamundaraya, is a 57-foot (17 m) monolith (statue carved from a single piece of rock) and is situated above a hill in Shravanabelagola, in the Hassan district of Karnataka state, India. It was built in around 983 A.D. and is one of the largest free standing statues in the world.[2][8] On August 5, 2007, the statue was voted by Indians as the first of Seven Wonders of India; 49% of the total votes went in favor of it.[9]


  • Legends 1
    • King 1.1
    • Renunciation 1.2
  • Statues of Bahubali 2
    • Gommateshwara statue, Shravanbelagola 2.1
    • Karkala 2.2
  • Temples 3
  • See also 4
  • Notes 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


The Ādi purāṇa, a 9th-century Sanskrit poem, deals with the ten lives of the first tirthankara, Rishabha and his two sons, Bharata and Bahubali. It was composed by Jinasena, a Digambara Jain monk. A 10th-century Kannada text based on the Sanskrit text was written by the poet Adikavi Pampa.[10][11]


According to Jain texts, when Rishabhdeva decided to become a monk he distributed his kingdom into his 100 sons, of whom Bharata got the city of Vinita (Ayodhya) and Bahubali got the city of Podanapur (Taxila).[12][13][14] After returning from the world conquest, Bharata demanded submission from his own brothers.[15] Bahubali defied Bharata and challenged him for a fight.[16]

Depiction of Bharata-Bahubali fight
Fight with Bharata

The ministers on both sides gave the following argument to prevent war-

The brothers themselves, cannot be killed by any means; they are in their last incarnations in transmigration, and possess bodies which no weapon may mortally wound in warfare! Let them fight out the issue by themselves in other ways.

It was then decided that to settle the dispute, three kinds of contests can be held between Bharata and Bahubali. These were, staring at each other (eye-fight), water-fight (Jala Yudh) and wrestling (Mala Yudh). Bahubali won all the three contests from his elder brother, Bharata.[17]


Sculpture depicting Bahubali's meditation in Kayotsarga posture with vines enveloped around his body (Photo: Badami caves)

After the duel, Bahubali was filled with disgust for the world and developed a desire for renunciation. Bahubali abandoned his clothes and kingdom to became a Jain monk.[5] Bahubali began meditating with great resolve to attain Kevala Jnana but he couldn't succeed as the thought that he is standing on Bharata's land troubled him.[18]

However, Bahubali was adamant. He continued his practice unmindful of the vines, ants, and dust which enveloped his body. His sisters Brhami and Sundari were concerned and asked Tirthankar Adinath about their worldly brother Bahubali. Tirthankara Adinatha said, although just moments away from enlightenment, Bahubali could not achieve it because he didn't realise that he was standing on 'the elephant' - Ego. Now understanding his folly, the sisters approached him and said, Oh my dear brother, at least now get down from the elephant. These words from his sisters led Bahubali to question "Am I really standing on any kind of elephant?". From this question he soon realised that the elephant he was standing upon was his pride and ego. Bahubali realised his mistake and shed his pride and ego, thereby destroying four kinds of inimical karmas to become an arihant. A human being who has destroyed all inner passions like anger, attachment, greed and pride and possess kevala jnana is revered as an arihant.[19] Bahubali finally attained moksha and became a siddha, i.e.,a soul at its purest form.[20]

Statues of Bahubali

Bahubali monolith of Venur (1904 CE)
Bahubali monolith of Dharmasthala (1973 CE)

There are 5 monolithic statues of Bahubali in Karnataka measuring more than 6 m (20 feet) in height.

The Bahubali Atishayakshetra with Bahubali in standing posture is situated on about 50 steps up and 8.5 m (28 feet) in high at Kumbhoj, Kolhapur, Maharashtra.

A 6.4 m (21 feet) tall statue of Bahubali was built at Gommatgiri, 14 kilometres north of Indore, on the Airport road. It is a good miniature copy of the original statue at Shravanabelagola.

Gommateshwara statue, Shravanbelagola

Gommateshwara statue, Shravanabelagola

The colossal monolithic statue of Bahubali at Shravanabelagola is 158 km away from Bangalore. This gigantic statue of Bahubali is carved out of a single block of granite and stands majestically on top of a hill. For centuries, Shravanabelagola has remained a great tirtha (pilgrimage center) and thousands of pilgrims flock to see the magnificent, gigantic statue. It is 17 m. (55 ft) high and is visible from a distance of 30 km.

This statue is regarded as one of the largest monolithic statues in the world. It was created around 983 AD by Chavundaraya, a minister of the Ganga King, Rachamalla (Raachmalla SathyaVaak IV 975-986 AD). Neighboring areas have Jain temples known as basadis and several images of the Tirthankaras. One can have a beautiful view of the surrounding areas from the top of the hill. An event known as Mahamastakabhisheka attracts devotees from all over the world.[21] The Mahamastakabhisheka festival is held once in 12 years, when the Gommateshwara statue is anointed with milk, saffron, ghee, etc. to maintain its freshness.[2] This statue is now proposed as World Heritage Site by the Government of India.[22]


Bahubali monolith of Karkala (1432 CE)

Karkala is a town and also the headquarters of Karkala Taluk in Udupi District of Karnataka, India, and is located about 38 km from Udupi and about 480 km from Bangalore. About, 52 km. North-east of Mangalore, is known primarily for the statue of Lord Bahubali (Gomateshwara).

Karkala is well known for its massive 42 feet monolithic statue of Gomateshwara Bahubali, believed to have been built around 1432 AD. This is a male figure in a kayotsarga posture approached by a number of rock-cut steps. Veerapandya Bhairava Raja built this monolithic statue in his honor. A festival with all mighty known as Maha Masthakaabhisheka, sacred bathing of the statue with saffron paste, milk and water, held in every 12 years. During this period thousands of Jain devotees visit this place to carry out the Mahamastakabhisheka. This statue is an awesome sight and is the second tallest in the State.

The towering 41.5 ft. granite monolith of Bahubali, also known as Gommateshwara, is built on an elevated platform on top of a rocky hill, known locally as Gommata Betta. Gommateshwara is also known as Gommata, Gomata and Gomateshwara. The colossus was consecrated on 13 February 1432 A.D. by Veera Pandya Bhairarasa Wodeyar, scion of the Bhairarasa Dynasty, feudatory of the Vijayanagar Ruler.


An ancient Jain temple of Bahubali dated 8th Century AD was discovered in Arathipura, Maddur, Mandya, Karnataka by Archaeological Survey of India. The statue of Bahubali, discovered in the excavations, is 3 feet wide and 3.5 feet tall.[23]

See also


  1. ^ Jain 1929, p. 106.
  2. ^ a b c Zimmer 1953, p. 212.
  3. ^ Jain 2008, p. xv.
  4. ^ Dundas, Paul; John Hinnels ed. (2002). The Jains. London: Routledge.   p. 120
  5. ^ a b Jain 1929, p. 145.
  6. ^ Jain 2008, p. 105-106.
  7. ^ Jain 2008, p. 107.
  8. ^ Rice 1889, p. 53.
  9. ^ "And India's 7 wonders are...".  
  10. ^ History of Kannada literature
  11. ^ Students' Britannica India, Volumes 1-5. Popular Prakashan. p. 78.  
  12. ^ Titze 1998, p. 8.
  13. ^ Jain 2008, p. 79, 108.
  14. ^
  15. ^ Jain 1929, p. 141.
  16. ^ Jain 1929, p. 143.
  17. ^ Jain 2008, p. 105.
  18. ^ Jain 2008, p. 106-107.
  19. ^ Jain 1929, p. 145-146.
  20. ^ Jain 1929, p. 146.
  21. ^ Official website Hassan District
  22. ^ TNN Dec 31, 2011, 03.05AM IST (2011-12-31). "Bahubali may get world heritage tag - Times Of India". Retrieved 2012-05-18. 
  23. ^ Express News Service (7 January 2015), Eighth Century Jain Temple Discovered in Maddur,  


  • Jain, Champat Rai (2008), Risabha Deva (Second ed.), India: Bhagwan Rishabhdeo Granth Mala,  
  • Fisher, Mary Pat (1997). Living Religions: An Encyclopedia of the World's Faiths.  
  • Zimmer, Heinrich (1953), Joseph Campbell, ed., Philosophies Of India, London, E.C. 4: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd,  
  • Jain, Champat Rai (1929). Risabha Deva - The Founder of Jainism.  
  • Rice, B. Lewis (1889). Inscriptions at Sravana Belgola: a chief seat of the Jains, (Archaeological Survey of Mysore). Bangalore : Mysore Govt. Central Press. 

External links

  • Shri Bahubali

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