Aug 31, 2009

The Kadambas of Banvasi

Author : By Dr. P. N. Narasimha Murthy, Head, Department of Historyand Archaeological Museum, Sri Bhuvanendra College, Karkala( Karnataka )

The Kadambas of Banvasi
The Shatavahana rule gave place for two important dynastics ofKarnataka viz., the Kadambas of Banavasi and the Gangas of Talakad.The first one began to rule over the western and northern parts andthe other southern and eastern parts of Karnataka, Under their ruleJainism gets a clear picture with an expanding theatre of activities.

The Talagunda and Gudnapur inscriptions have totally set to restthe problem of the origin of the Kadamba royal house. ThoughBrahmanical in their origin the Kadambas paved the way forrejuvination of not only the Vedic religion but also of that of theSramanas. Their inscriptions provide us a vivid picture of thevarious sects of Jainism, Many a times we get a doubt whether some of the Kadamba were jains.

In the very first year of his rule Kadamba Kakusthavarma makes a landgrant to Senapti ( a Jaina) Srutakirti as a reward for savinghimself. The copper plate which informs us of this begins withSalutations to Bhagavan Jinendra and ends with Salutations toRishabha, The gifted field was called 'ba(lo) Vara-kshetra'. Thevillage of Kheta where the field existed' belonged to the holy Arhatswho are stated to be 'the Saviours of the three world', The king madethis grant while camping at Palasika (mod, Halasige in Belgaum Dt).On the basis of the dates assigned to each Kadamba King by B.R. Gopal(19) this copper plate may be placed in the year C. 405 A,D.

The Halmidi inscription forms an important landmark in thehistory of Kannada language. However, from the point of view of ourstudy it is still more important. All those who have read theinscription so far have committed a mistake of reading wronglyline number 9 of the epigraph as- "namadheyan=asarakk=EllabhataryaPremalaya". But the correct reading should be "namadheyan=asarak-Kella-bhatariya premahiya". What had been read as Ella-bhatari isnow corrected as Kella-bhatari. 'Kella' happened to be a veryimportant subordinate ruling family under Alupas of Alvakheda, Kellaswere Jains. The earliest Kannada inscription provides us informationabout one of the earliest Jaina ruling families of Karnataka. Thereare a number of families among the Jainas in South Kanara who eventoday possess the surname 'kella'. There is a village by name KellaPuttige in Karkala taluk of the South Kanara District which was oncea strong hold of the Kellas.

Halmidi inscription has been assigned to C. 450 A.D. and belongs toKadamba Kakusthavarma. It we are to accept the date assigned C 405-430 AD(24) to Kakusthavarma by Dr. B.R. Gopal then the date ofHalmidi epigraph also has to be re-adjusted, Tentatively its date maybe fixed at C.425 AD instead of the present C 450 AD. It is thusclear that a small Jaina ruling family existed in the Kanara coast inthe early part of the 5th century or at least by the second half ofthe 4th century A.D.

Mrigesavarma (C455-80AD) grandson of Kadamba Kakusthavarma was a verygreat patron of the Jaina religion. In his 3rd regnal year he made agrant of land for the worship of Arhats and the upkeep of the basadiat Brihat Paralur(25) (C 458 AD). His second Devagiri plates issued during his 4th regnal year (C 459 AD) from Vaijayanti(Banavasi provides us a very important information regarding thestate of Jainism in Karnataka. There existed the two important sectsof Jainism viz. Svetapata-Mahasramana Sangha and NirgranthaMahasramana Sangha. The King made a grant of the village Kalavangawhile dividing it into three parts and gave one each to holy ArhatGod Jinendra, Svetapata maha Sangha and Nirgrantha maha Sangha.

In his 8th regnal year (C463AD) Mrigeshavarma built a Jinalaya atPalasika, as an act of merit for his father and granted 33 nivartanasof land for the Jaina ascetics of Yapaniya, Nirgrantha and kurchakasects. The recipients of this grant were the Bhojaka Damakirti andthe ayukta Jiyanta.

This inscription informs in very clear terms that the kingconstructed the Jinalaya for the merit of his deceased father-Shantivarma. Though there is no source for' us to conclude thatShantivarma was a Jaina, the pious act of his son Mrigeshavarmaindicates the leanings of his father towards Jainism.

Basadis existed at Palasika either before or right from the beginningof the Kadamba rule. And, the Kadamba kings, though of Brahmanicalorder, providing them with gifts and grants had been an usual affair.But constructing a basadi, that too in the name of their deceasedone, is a matter of importance and for consideration.

The added importance of this Halsi copper plates is that it informsus of the existance of two other Jaina sects besides Nirgranthas suchas Yapaniya and Kurchaka. The earlier record has mentioned about theSvetapata (Svetambara) sect. It is not correct here to sit injudgement on dividing a religion into several sects. However, nothingprevents us to know about the complete freedom that existed inKarnataka even in respect of religious thinking and following. Itseems not only the Kadamba kings but also the royal family hadintimate contact with the jaina society. Jaina munis and theirChaityalayas. Bhanuvarma younger brother of King Ravivarma (C485-519AD) made a gift of land of 15 Nivartanas at Palasika for theanointment of God Jina on the full moon days without fail. The giftedfield was caIJed 'Kardamapati'. It was made during the 11th regnalyear (C. 495-496 AD) of King Ravivarma.

It seems that due to over enthusiasm, Dr. B.R. Gopal has tried to putthings wrongly of Davanagere plates of Ravivarma of his regnal year34. (29) Dr. Gopal has idendified Sarvajna and Sarvalokanath found inthe invocatory, part with Buddha. Hence says: "the grant of land madeby the King, at the instance of Haridatta, for the worship in' theSiddhayatana and for the increase of the Sangha both of which areBuddhist (and not Jaina as suggested by M.H. Krishna) institutions,according to Sircar".

The relevant portion in line 16 of the Davanagere Copper platesreads "Asandyam=Aparajitah Siddhayatana-Pujartham SanghasyaParivriddhaye". Here both Aparajita and Siddhayatana are Jaina. Inthe Jaina religion we come across sixteen 'Svargas' alsocalled 'Kalpas'. Above these exist nine 'Graiveyakas'. And above thisexist five 'Kalpatita deva Vimanas' i.e., the heavenly stages. Thefourth one of this is the stage of Aparajita. Above this exists thestage of "Sarvaitha Siddhi". This is the abode of the pure andliberated soul.

Similarly 'Siddhayatana', which is nothing but the abode of Siddhas.(32) 'Siddhayantana puja' happens to be an important item of worshipin the basadis. Many Jaina inscriptions from South Kanara Districtspeak of grants made for 'Siddha-Chakra aradhane' in the basadis.(33)Also we come across the term Siddha-Chakrada nompi.(34) 'NamoSiddhanam' is an important step of the famous 'Panchaparamesthistotra mantra'. Further line 2 of this record reads­
"devanam = makuta-mani prabha = abhishiktam
Sarvajnassa - Jayati Sarva loka-nathah"

This may only mean victory (Salutations) to that pure and liberatedsoul which has attained the stage of 'Sarvarth Siddhi', the final ofKalpatita stage.

On this basis we conclude that the Devanagere plates of Ravivarma ofthe year 34 is a Jaina record, very unique in its way of expression.

This inscription refers to Asandya. It is same as Asandyaluru whichhas been mentioned as a centre of Jainism in the two Kadamba Copperplates of 5th century A.D. from Mudigere.(35) Asandyaluru wassituated in Sendrakavishaya.

There are a few more records mentioning about the munificent grantsto the basadies of Halasi and elsewhere and also to lay Jainas by thekadamba Kings . However, the Gudnapur inscription of Ravivarma becomes very important in respect of our studies. Theinscription mentions that king Ravivarma built a Kama Jinalaya. Theking's palace existed to the right side of this temple and on itsleft existed two nrityasalas (Dancing Halls) facing the Queens palace(antahpura). It also refers to a Kamadevalaya (Jinalaya) atHakinipalli and to a temple of Padmavati at Kallili. This indicatesthat if not the king, at least the member of royal family, as we haveseen above, were followers of Jainism.

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