Wednesday 2 January 2013

The other Gomateshwara

If one is world famous, the other is not even known in its neighbourhood. If  one is remembered every day as one of mankind’s greatest achievement, the other is not even mentioned.
If one is accounted among the tallest, the other is small in size. They are a sharp study in contrast.
They are two sculptures of the same deity and perhaps even from the same sculptor. They both belong to the same dynasty and perhaps they are only a few years apart. Unfortunately, only one of them is well-known while the other is languishing in obscurity.
The contrast is between the same status of Bahubali or Gomateshwara, While the Gomateshwara in Shravanabelogala in Hassan district is too well-known to merit any mention, its earlier cousin located in the village of Tippur or Tippurur in Maddur district of  Mandya district is not even in the tourist books. Nor is it on any tourist itinery.
Both the statues were built by the Gangas of Talkad. A local legend of  Tippur or Bastitipur has it that Chavundaraya, the poet-minister-builder and commander of the Gangas first built the statue of Gomata here before going in for a bigger statue in Shravanabelogala. 
If the Gomata in Shravanabelogala is 57 feet in height, the statue at Tippur or Aretippur is just four feet in height. The statue at Tippur is similar in construction to its big brother in Shravanabelogala.      
It has floral scrolls and creepers winding up its leg and historians say it is a prototype of the one at Shravanabelagola.
However, the statue is reckoned to be crude and looks unfinished. It is set on a small hillock, adjoining another hillock. Thus the construction of the statue, the two hills and floral patterns on the idol make it a prototype of the bigger one.
This statue is believed to be the oldest among all the seven statues of Bahubali or Gomata in Karnataka. There is another eighteen foot statue of Bahubali near Basadihalli in Mandya district. Basidihalli is better known today as Kurubara Basti. This statue too is uncared for and is almost in ruins.  
During the period of the Gangas, Shravanabelogala, Tippur and even Basadihalli were well-known Jain centers. However, after the Cholas overran Gangas around 1000AD, only Shravanabelogala retained its former glory while the other two gradually fade away. Today, except for Shravanabelogala, the other two are not even mentioned.  
The two hillocks of Tippur are called Kanakagiri or Jinagudda and Savanappana Betta. An edict found in Tippur says that the place was called Tippeyur or Bastiya Tippur. There is historical evidence to prove that a basadi was built here during the time of Ganga kings (916-17 AD).
A soldier called Manaleyar built the basadi during the period of the Ganga Emperor Neetimarga Permadi. The basadi was later gifted  to Jain saint Kanaka Bhattararya. It was this saint who gave the hillock the name Kanakagiri.
Kanakagiri is now an  open-air museum housing several Jain memorials and sculptures. There are ruins of four basadis built of brick. In a heap of bricks that lie scattered here, one can still spot the foundations of these structures. In the middle of this heap of bricks is a stone edict. This edict is inscribed by poet Balachandradeva in memory of his father and guru Kandarpadeva and mother Sonnadevi.
The edict also points out that the Jain centre was given away to Maddur’s Sriramachandra Deva by the 14th century.
There is a beautiful tank on Kanakagiri called Kanakagiri Teertha. On the banks of this tank are some Jain sculptures that point to the existence of Parshwanath and Suparshwanatha basadis. There are several other sculptures all strewn around on the ground here.
Towards the north of Kanakagiri is Savanappana Gudda.
Here, atop the hill is a ten feet tall statue of Bahubali. The edict found here points out that the statue was constructed  here in 918 AD much before the Gommateshwara statue in Shravanabelagola which was constructed in 984 AD.
This statue is called Savanappa by locals. The Savanappana Gudda is being harmed by stone quarrying.
Stones are being cut away with the help of machines. Sometimes, dynamite is also used to blow up some parts of the hillock, sending out vibrations across the area. If mining continues unabated, in a few years, the hill is likely to be history.
The local deity of Tippur village is Jinamma. Unlike in some villages where a sacrifice is offered to the grama devata (village deity), Tippur village has no such practice. This could be because of  the Jain influence of non-violence.
  The Jain centre of Basadi Hoskote is situated at the backwaters of KRS in Mandya district.
It is just 55 kms from Mysore and it houses a shrine of Gomata apart from five basadis called pancha basadi.
The basadis are dedicated to Adinath, Shanthinath, Neminath, Mahavir and Bahubali. However, the primary attraction here is the  18 feet high idol of Bahubali.
The unique feature of the shrine is the fact that though there are no Jains residing in and around the village, villagers of  Sapanahalli, Basasi Hoskote, Hosa Mavinakere, Hale Mavinakere, Ganjigere, Ballenahalli, Murukanahalli, Kurubarabasti, Kabbalagerepura and Machgonahalli  participate in the puja.
Take the Mysore -Channarayapatna state highway via Modur and travel further on Bookanakere, Machagonahalli and reach  Kurubarabasti or take the Krishnarajapet, Vittalapura, Ganjigere, Machagonahalli road and reach Basadi Hoskote.
The statue here is carved out of soap stone and is seen leaning to its right side. There are beautifully carved branches, petals at the feet and legs of the statue. There are mutilated pieces of sculpture and  damaged sculptures of Parshwanatha and other Tirthankaras in sitting (padmasana) and standing (kayotsarga) postures.
The river Cavery flows nearby.
Another statue is at Gommatagiri, which is about 20 km from Mysore and it is located situated in Bilikere hobli of Hunsur taluk.
Gommatagiri is an acclaimed Jain centre of learning an philosophy. The 700-year-old statue of Gomata is on a 50 meter tall hillock called Shravana Gudda.
The statue of Gomata is an early Vijayanagar creation in granite. It has serene facial expressions and curly hair. This Jain centre attracts many pilgrims during the annual "Maha masthakabhisekha" in September.
The statue at Gommatagiri has striking similarities to its famous counterpart in  Shravanabelogala except that it is dwarfed in size in comparison.
However, the statue at Gommatagiri is in danger of being irretrievably damaged due to quarrying, and the explosions triggered off in the region have resulted in cracks at the base of the statue. The joints supporting the hillock have widened because of the blasts and the hillock needs to be strengthened.
Gommatagiri is on a diversion road from Bilikere and about 12 kms from Yelwal.
Thus there are five main monolithic statues of Bahubali in Karnataka measuring more than 20 feet in height. They are the statues of Bahubali of  57 feet at Shravanabelogala in Hasan district built in  981 AD, the 42 feet statue at Karkala in Udupi district built in  1432 AD, the 39 feet statue at Dharmastala in Dakshina Kannada district built in 1973 AD, the 35 feet statue at Venur in Dakshina Kannada district in 1604 AD and the 20 feet statue at Gommatagiri in Mysore district built in the 12th Century.

No comments:

Post a Comment