Oct 15, 2009

Chamundraya and Shravanbelagola | Karnataka History

Dr. H.A. Parshwanath

Chamundaraya1, the minister of the Gangas, has carved an indelible record in the glorious history of Shravanabelagola. He was a politician, commander-in-chief, religious patron and generic writer who enriched the culture of the place and Karnataka. He played an important role in the history of Shravanabelagola.

It is said that he hailed from the southern part of Madurai. His mother Kalaladevi was instrumental in all his religious contributions to the land. His wife Ajithadevi, son Jinadevanna, sister Pulavvae and brother Nagaverma proved to be the earnest devotees of Jina and adorned Gangas. He was born probably in A.D. 940. The guidance of Acharya Simhanandi stood as the rock stone in his achievements and moulded the personality. The association of Chavundaraya with Marasimha III has blended together in a harmonious way. Chavundaraya was a Brahmakshatriya by inheritance. His grandfather Govindamayyiah laid the foundation of religious fervour. Govindamayyiah and his younger brother Ishwaraiah lived together like Bhima and Arjuna and served under Marasimha. Mahabalaiah, the father of Chamundaraya was known for his generosity, ability and virtuosity. Chavundaraya fought for Marasimha and defeated Chaladanka Ganga and also Madurachayya. He fought bravely against Nolambas and supported Marasimha. He was called Veramarthanda due to his valour and bravery. He also defeated Rajaditya and Vajvala.

He developed interest in the Jaina religion by studying the works of Acharya Jiansena and Acharya Gunabadhra. He propagated Jainism through his meritorious works. He was a prolific writer in Kannada and Sanskrit languages. He wrote Chavundarayapurana (A.D. 978), also called as Trishashtishalakapurusharu. He adopted the gist of Mahapurana in this work. He wrote Charitrasara in Sanskrit and the work deals with Jaina ceremonies and rituals observed by Gruhastas and Munis. He had a great patronage for the poets Nagaverma and Ranna. Ranna composed Gadayuddha and Ajithanathapurana. Ranna named his son as Raya as an index of his affection for Chavundaraya. Nagaverma wrote Chadombudhi.

He was an ardent disciple of Ajithasenacharya of Bankapur and Nemichandracharya who inspired him to serve the cause of Jaina religion. He was called by various titles such as Veeramarthanda, Ranarangasinga, Samaradurandara, Samyaktva Ratnakara, Vairikulakaladanda, Bujavikrama, Chaladankaganga, Samaraparashurama, Pratipaksha Rakshasa, Bhatamari, Subatachudamani, Brahmakshatra Shikamani, Gunaratnabhushana, Bhujavikrama, Ripukulasamhari, Sandivigrahi, Tribhuvanaveera, Chamupathi, Kavijanashekara, Shauchabharana, Devaraja and Satya Yudishtira. He has etched his image in the fields of literature, religion, politics and art and architecture. He was the great son of Karnataka. Nemichandracharya also influenced him immensely and hence Chavundaraya constructed a temple in his name. The Acharya dedicated Gommatasara, the amalgamative work of Dhavala and Mahadhavala as a recognition of his devotion and dedication to Jaina heritage. He called him Vera Marthandi and immortalised his name.

Engraving Of Bahubali Idol
The magnificent monolithic statue of Lord Gommateshwara atop the Indragiri was the greatest contribution of Chavundaraya. His revered mother Kalaladevi was greatly influenced by the narration of Bahubali's meditation and sacrifice imparting the value of indefiniteness of life as depicted by Siddantha Chakravarthi Nemichandra Swamiji in his discourse. Bahubali stood as a symbol of sacrifice and Bharatha as that of possessiveness of wealth and pleasure of the kingdom. She dreamt the vision of Lord Gommateshwara and had expressed here desire to have a darshan in Paudanapura where the statue of Bahubali was installed by Bharatha. She gave up taking food and water till she had the glimpse of Lord Bahubali. But it was a difficult task to travel to Paudanapura and also she learnt that the statue of Bahubali was encircled with serpents and thick forests. Furthermore it was an arduous task to have the glimpse of Lord Gommateshwara situated in the thick forests of Paudanapura. In order to fulfill the desire of his mother he proceeded towards Paudanapura and stayed in Kalvappu2 for some time on the way. Goddess Padmavathi, appeared and blessed him in his dream and advised him to bow the arrows towards Indragiri from Chandragiri to have the darshan of Bahubali, according to Panchabanas Bhujabalacharita. Eventually the collasal statue of Bahubali was engraved by Chavundaraya spreading the message of sacrifice, nonviolence and truth to the world.

According to Govinda Pai the National poet the installation ceremony was held on Monday, 14th March, A.D. 981. The sculptor of this mega statue is said to be Arishtanemi (Bharatoja). Chavundaraya himself conducted the first mahamasthakabhishekha on 14-3-981. He donated 88 villages generating 96,000 varahas and its utility for the pooja celebration of Lord Gommateshwara.

Tyagada Brahmadeva Pillar
Tyagada Brahmadeva pillar on Indragiri goes in the name of Chavundaraya. The pillar measures about ten feet and is encircled with artistic flowers and tendrils. There is engraving of Sri Chavundaraya with Chamaradharis and his guru Nemichandracharya in the lower portion of the pillar. The northern side of the pillar contains the inscription narrating the valour of Chavundaraya.

Akhanda Bagilu
This was also said to be the contribution of Chavundaraya and it is a good piece of art and architecture of the Gangas. The lintel portion of it shows the GajaLakshmi in sitting posture which is a beautiful piece of art with the devi holding flowers in her hand.

The other sculptural and architectural contribution of Chavundaraya include Sri Kushmandini devi in the form of Gulakayajji, Bhadrashale, Patala Kamba, Yaksha Kamba and also the steps to Indragiri.

Chavundaraya Basadi
This temple is a two storeyed structure and was constructed with Lord Neminatha as the main deity during the period A.D. 982-85. This occupies a unique position among the 14 jinalayas spread out on the Chandragiri. The temple resembles Pallava style of architecture and however it also resembles the influence of Gangas style of architecture. One can see the inscription, 'Sri Chavundaraya Madisidam' (constructed by Chavundaraya) near the main entrance. This temple is called Trailokyaranjana and Boppa Jinalaya in Hoysala inscriptions. It has two sanctum sanctoria with simple walls and artistic lintels. The inscription (A.D. 1138) found at the pedestal of Neminatha Tirthankara describes that it was installed by Eachana the son of Gangaraja who was in the court of Hoysala Vishnuvardhana. It was carved by Gangachari (Vardhamanachari), the son of Hoysalachari. The Yaksha and Yakshi of Sri Neminatha Tirthankara were also carved by Gangachari. His son Jinadevanna added some portion of this temple i.e. the upper portion of it. Chavundaraya basadi is flourished with exquisite art and is one of the master pieces of Jain temples.

Establishment of Dharmapeetha
He intended to establish a Dharmapeetha to guard the religious values and as a result Siddanthachakravarthi Nemichandracharya became the head of Dharmapeetha. It was later called Charukeerthi Peetha and in the later days it was considered as the seat of Shravana culture of Jainism in Karnataka.

Eventually he sacrificed his immense wealth and pleasure and also relinquished political power near the Tyagada Kamba and attained salvation through sallekhana in A.D. 989.
1. Chamundaraya - A controversy was raged regarding the use of the name Chavunda and Chamunda and only to conclude that both the forms can be used.
2. Kalvappu - It is the primitive name of Shravanabelagola.
1. Shravanabelagola Ondhu Samikshe: Ed. Dr.G.S.Shivarudrappa (Bangalore University Publication, 1983)
2. Gommateshvara Commemoration Volume: Ed. Dr.T.G.Kalghatgi (S.D.J.M.I. Managing Committee Shravanabelagola, 1981)
3. Veeramathanda Chavundaraya: Ed. Dr.S.P.Patil (1993)

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