Gommateshwara Temple is one of the most beautiful temple situated in the district of Karnataka. The status Gommateshwara is devoted to the Jain God Bahubali. The construction of this statue was started in 978AD and completed in 993 AD. This statue is located at Indragiri Hills, Shravanabelagola in Karnataka. The height of this monolithic status is 57 ft; talking more about this granite was used to make this statue. This was commissioned by Chavundaraya, the Prime Minister, and Commander-in-Chief of the Talakad Ganga Kingdom. There are no entry fees to visit this place and it is open for twenty-four seven.
The stone sculpture of Lord Gommateshwara is north facing and it is depicted in the upright posture of meditation which is known as Kayotsarga. This posture is practiced to attain salvation by working renunciation, self-restraint and complete authority of ego. In Jain tradition, the digambara nude form is a typical one which is a symbol of one’s conquest over materialistic attachments and needs that hinder their spiritual incline towards holiness. There are ringlets of curly hair and large elongated ears on the statue. The face shows the perfectly chiseled features and the eyes are open wide. There is a sporting a weak smile present at the corner of the lips. A calm vitality ascetic detachment is embedded by the face, smile, and posture.
The statue shows the wide shoulders with arms prolonged straight down. The base of the statue portrays an anthill and a climber is twisted around both his legs and arms, budding into flowers and berries which are there on the upper arms. The statue is standing on an engraved lotus flower. This is a representation of his sainthood and spirituality and is devoid of hold up from the waist up. The linguistic significance with carved inscriptions in Kannada and Tamil, as well as the oldest evidence of written Marathi, dating back to 981 AD, is there on the statue. The writing is dedicated in honor of the Ganga king Rackham all who funded the sweat, and his general Chavundaraya, who commissioned the statue for the completion of the desire of his mother.
Rishabhanatha was the first of the 24 Tirthankaras in Jainism and Bahubali was his son. Bahubali was also known as Gommatesha. The Gommateshwara statue is dedicated to him. The story of Bahubali is deciphered from a 9th century Sanskrit poem, Adi Purana, written by Digambara monk Jinasena. In the Ishvaku Dynasty in Ayodhya, Bahu Bali was born. Bharat was the elder brother of Bahubali who had won over submission of rulers from the six divisions of the earth as well as 98 of his brothers was challenged the ‘chakratin’ supremacy by him. Bahubali succeeded the three competition of the challenges which were against Bharat.
After winning he was shocked by the violence that being a king involved. Afterward, he discarded his kingdom, family and otherworldly accessories to become a Digambara monk. He meditated for one year in the kayotsarga position to achieve omniscience or ‘Gyana’. Thus because of this, he became the first human of this Kalpa world age who gained liberation Siddha.
Mahamastakabhisheka festival after every 12 years is celebrated at the Gomateshwara statue atop the Shravanabelagola hill. This festival is a grand one which is marked by pouring 1008 vessels of water from scaffolding near the top of the statue which is a ritual for this festival. There is a grand celebration for it.
After the presentation of water, the statue is massaged with a mixture of sugarcane juice, milk, and saffron. Flower petals, turmeric, and sandalwood powders along with Vermillion are sprinkled over the statue. Valuable stones and coins made of silver and gold, in deference to the deity are offered by the devotees. The last Mahamastakabhisheka took place in 2006 and the next one will be there in 2018.
Gommateshwara temple is one place in India that should be visited by every person to see this rich heritage that India withholds.