or the anointing ceremony of 16-foot-tall Bahubali was conducted amidst
Jain religious ceremonies at Gommatagiri, about 20 kms. from Mysore,
on September 30.
The 52nd annual big bath to the Jain king turned seer was held in
the presence of Sri Devendra Keerthi Bhattaraka Swamiji, the Jain
Guru of Hombuja Jain Math. The offering of the holy water kept in
108 ‘kalashas’ or vessels was taken up first followed
by liquids like milk, honey, Chandana (sandal paste) and other sacred
items. It lasted over two hours, giving different hues to the solid
rock statue, thrilling the large number of pilgrims as they kept shouting
‘Bahubali Maharajki Jai’.
The holy bath to the monolith statue concluded with Archana and Pushpabhiseka,
followed by Mangalarathi offered by the Swamiji. He also addressed
the gathering. The Jain pilgrim centre is located near Hunsur. The
statue stands on a small hillock having about 80 rock cut steps. It
is visible to the visitor from a distance. From atop the hillock,
the backwater of Krishnarajasagar reservoir provides an enchanting
view. At the bottom, near the foothill, are located the ‘Padakoota’
of Neminatha, the 24th Jain Theerthankara, Kailasagiri and Jina Mandira.
Though no clear record about the date and the person who had it carved
is available, it is believed that the statue is of 12th century, when
Gommatagiri was an important Jain religious centre. There are a number
of Jain Basadis or temples at Hale Beedu Grama, near the hillock.
Similarly Bettaduru, Bilikere, Mallinathapura and other surrounding
villages had Jain population. The hillock and the statue remained
neglected for a long period, after Jains lost their prominence in
these areas. A lightning had split the hillock with a huge gap, making
it almost impossible to climb it for worshipping Bahubali, which fortunately
had suffered no damage.
The place had become almost inaccessible with no proper road and other
facilities. The Jains of Mysore formed a committee, the Gommatagiri
Kshetra Seva Samithi, in 1924-25 and undertook its restoration, including
carving of steps to reach the statue. In 1950 the committee conducted
the first anointing ceremony and since then it is being organized
every year. In 1952, Maharaja Sri Jayachamaraja Wodeyar of Mysore
participated in the Mastakabhiseka. The committee has built a Mahaveer
Bhavan and provided other basic facilities for pilgrims visiting Gommatagiri.
There is scope to develop the place further and make it an important
Jain pilgrim centre in Mysore district.
The 57-foot monolith statue at Sravanabelagola in Hassan district
is the tallest statute of Bahubali, also called Gommateswara. There
are smaller statues at a few other Jain pilgrim centres in Karnataka
including Karkala and Gommatagiri.