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Old 12th September 2018, 21:20   #1
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Default A Mahamastakabhisheka Photologue : 57-foot Bahubali Statue

Life is full of ironies; whenever we deliberately run away from something, that very thing somehow catches up with us in the most unexpected of ways.

The story of king Bahubali, who renounced the material world and went in search of Kaivalya, is one such. For a man who thought it prudent to meditate for a year, standing bare bodied and exposed to nature, coming to terms with the opulence, gaiety and variety of ways in which his followers worship him today, might have been difficult.

Bhagawan Bahubali - also known as Gommateshwara - has always fascinated me. It was in 1994 that I read a Kannada poem by Su.Ram.Ekkundi describing a child's conversation with his grand father about Mahamastakabhisheka. Twenty four years later, the lines still dance on my tongue.

(Non Kannada readers can skip this part without any loss of continuity)

Quote:
ಮೊನ್ನೆ ಮೊನ್ನೆ ನಡೆಯಿತಲ್ಲ ಬಾಹುಬಲಿಯ ಮಜ್ಜನ
ಬೆಟ್ಟದಲ್ಲಿ ಕೇಳಿತೊಂದು ಪುಟ್ಟ ಮಗುವು ಅಜ್ಜನ

‘ಈತನಾರು ತಾತ! ಇಲ್ಲಿ ನಿಂತು ನೋಡುತಿರುವನು
ಇಂದ್ರಗಿರಿಯ ನೆತ್ತಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಏನು ಮಾಡುತಿರುವನು?’

‘ಇವನೆ ಬಾಹುಬಲಿಯು ಮಗು! ಧೀರತನದ ಮೂರ್ತಿಯು!
ನುಡಿಯ ಹೊಳೆಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ತುಂಬಿ ಹರಿವುದಿವನ ಕೀರ್ತಿಯು

ಹತ್ತುವವರ ಇಳಿಯುವವರ ನಿಂತು ನೋಡುತಿರುವನು
ನಿಲ್ಲುವವರ ನಡೆಯುವವರ ಲೆಕ್ಕ ಮಾಡುತಿರುವನು
ಬಳಲಿದವರಿಗೆಲ್ಲ ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಕೈಯ ನೀಡುತಿರುವನು’

‘ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಏಕೆ ಬಂದು ನಿಂತ? ಇಷ್ಟು ದೂರ! ಎತ್ತರ!
ಭಯವಾಗದೆ ಇವನಿಗಿಲ್ಲಿ! ಯಾರು ಇಲ್ಲ ಹತ್ತಿರ!’

‘ಇವನಿಗೆಲ್ಲಿ ಭಯವು ಮಗು ಅಭಯ ಮೂರ್ತಿ ಈತನು
ಭರತ ಚಕ್ರವರ್ತಿ ಇವನ ಅಣ್ಣ ಒಮ್ಮೆ ಆತನು
ಹಮ್ಮಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಬಂದು ಸೆಣಸಿ ತಮ್ಮನಲ್ಲಿ ಸೋತನು
ಗೆದ್ದ ರಾಜ್ಯ ಮರಳಿಸುತ್ತ ನುಡಿದನೊಂದು ಮಾತನು

ನೀನು ಸೋತು ಗೆದ್ದೆ ಅಣ್ಣ! ನಾನು ಗೆದ್ದು ಸೋತೆನು!
ಬೆಟ್ಟ ಕರೆಯುತಿಹುದು ನನ್ನ ಮುಗಿಲು ತನ್ನ ಹತ್ತಿರ
ಯಾವುದುಂಟು ಅಣ್ಣ ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಜೀವವೇರದೆತ್ತರ?
ತಪಸ್ಸೊಂದೆ ತಿಳಿವುದೊಂದೆ ಹುಟ್ಟು ಸಾವಿನುತ್ತರ.

ನಿಂತು ಹಾಗೆ ನಿಂತುಕೊಂಡು ಘೊರ ತಪವ ಮಾಡಲು
ಹುಟ್ಟು ಸಾವಿನಾಚೆಗಿರುವ ಹೊಳೆವ ಹಾದಿ ನೋಡಲು
ಬಿಸಿಲು ಬಂತು ನೆರಳು ಬಂತು ಗಾಳಿ ಬಿಚ್ಚಿ ಬೀಸಿತು
ಒಮ್ಮೆ ಹಸಿರು ಒಮ್ಮೆ ಹೊನ್ನು ಹಚ್ಚಡವನು ಹಾಸಿತು

ಸೂರ್ಯನೊಮ್ಮೆ ಚಂದ್ರನೊಮ್ಮೆ ಸುತ್ತು ಹಾಕಿ ನಡೆದರು
ದೀಪದಂತೆ ನಿಂತ ಇವಗೆ ‘ನಮೋ’ ಎಂದು ನುಡಿದರು’
‘ಇಷ್ಟು ಜನರು ಇಲ್ಲಿಗಿಂದು ಏಕೆ ಬಂದು ನೆರೆದರು?
‘‘ಬಾಹುಬಲಿ’’ ‘‘ಬಾಹುಬಲಿ’’ ಎಂದು ಕರೆಯುತಿರುವರು’

‘ಮಗೂ, ಇಂದು ಇವನಿಗಿಲ್ಲಿ ಹಾಲಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಸ್ನಾನವು
ದಾರಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ದಣಿದ ಇವರಿಗೆ, ಇವನದೊಂದೆ ಧ್ಯಾನವು
ಮುದ್ದು ಮುಖದಿ ಮುಗುಳ್ನಕ್ಕು ಸಿದ್ಧನಾಗಿ ನಿಂತಿಹ
ದುಗ್ಧ ಹಾಸದಲ್ಲಿ ನಲಿವ ಮುಗ್ಧ ಮಗುವಿನಂತಿಹ’

‘ತಾತ, ಎರೆವ ಮುಂಚೆ ಎಣ್ಣೆ ಹಚ್ಚಿ ಅಮ್ಮ ನನಗೆ ಹೀಗೆಯೇ
ನಿಲ್ಲಿಸುವಳು. ಬಾಹುಬಲಿಯು ಕೂಡ ತನ್ನ ಹಾಗೆಯೆ
ನಿಂತು ಕಾಯುತಿರುವ ಕಣ್ಣು ತೆರೆದು ಮೊದಲ ಚೆಂಬಿಗೆ!’
ಗೊಮ್ಮಟೇಶ ನಕ್ಕುಬಿಟ್ಟ ಕಂಡು ಮುಗ್ಧ ನಂಬಿಗೆ
Though enamoured by the concept of a 57 ft monolithic statue being bathed in different ingredients, my then slightly left-of-the-centre ideological bent of mind didn't allow me to look at the ritual as anything other than a waste of resources. However, the urge to experience the event first hand - if not to enjoy, at least to critique - germinated at that stage. I was 11.

In 2006, I was just on the verge of entering my professional life. Between the unbridled enthusiasm of an IT greenhorn and the unsureness of a young lad freshly landed in Bengaluru, I was so focused on seeing life that I lost sight of the great event that had been humming tunes in my mind for the past 12 years. I missed the Mahamastakabhisheka and the wait lasted for the next twelve years.

In February this year, I made plans upon plans to visit the holy town of Shravanabelagola. Alone; with family; family and friends; colleagues; strangers and whom not! Suffice it to say that all those were washed away faster than a drop of water poured on Gommata's head could reach his toe!!!

Disappointment is a word that I very rarely entertain in life. Hence, in spite of several start-stops, I was confident of making it to the event this time.

I had visited Sharavanabelagola six times, but only on normal days. The Great Event had eluded me. This time I couldn't, wouldn't miss it. Miss it and regret it: for the next twelve years.

On 9th September 2018, we set sail at 7AM from Chikkamagaluru. Had a short breakfast stop near Hassan and reached the foothill at 9.30AM. Having experienced the heat that the hill is capable of emitting, we had gone prepared with enough drinking water, cucumbers and most importantly cotton socks.

With the celebrations set to end on 14th September, a sea of humanity had descended on the small town. But in a festival, it is always more the merrier. We joined the young, the old and the older; the native villager, the curious foreigner and the curioser school children; we climbed up in about half an hour.

Was any hike ever timed to such perfection? Na, I do not think so.

For, soon after I went up the specially built viewing platform, I was blessed with some mesmerizing sights. Had I been more of a believer than I currently am, I would have stolen Khusrou's words and declared "Agar firdous baroye zameen ast, hami asto, hami asto hami ast".

Before letting the pictures take over the rest of the post, let me quote a few lines about the history of the place and the statue:

The Town:
Quote:
Shravanabelagola was a sacred place since long, even before the carving of Bahubali statute by Chamundaraya in 981 A.D.

At this sacred place, Nemichandra Siddhanta Chakravarty wrote the famous Gommatsara (Jivakanda and Karmakanda), Dravyasamgraha, Trilokasara, Labdhisara and Kshapanasara. His disciple Chamundaraya himself wrote Charitrasara and Trishahsthi-Shalaka-Purusha-Charitra in Kannada.

According to the ancient inscriptions, numerous Jain Monks, Nuns, Shravakas and Shravikas took Sallekhana at Indragiri - Shravanabelagola. There are over 500 inscriptions written at Chandragiri Hill. The last of the great Rashtrakuta emperors, Indra IV took Sallekhana here, who once conquered large parts of South and North India. The Rathors of Jodhpur/Bikaner are descendants of Rashtrakutas.

The last Shrutakevali and the leader of the undivided Sangh, Bhadrabahu, took Sallekhana here, along with his disciple, the former Chandragupt Maurya.

The Siddhanta texts, now at Moodabidri, were once housed at Shravanabelagola.
The Statue:
Quote:
Bahubali is also called Gommateshwara because of the Gommateshwara statue dedicated to him.The statue was built by the Ganga dynasty minister and commander Chavundaraya; it is a 57-foot (17 m) monolith (statue carved from a single piece of rock) situated above a hill in Shravanabelagola in the Hassan district, Karnataka state, India. It was built circa 981 A.D. and is one of the largest free-standing statues in the world.
Quote:
The image of Gommateshwara has curly hair ringlets and large ears. The eyes are open as if he is viewing the world with detachment. His facial features are perfectly chiselled with a faint touch of a smile at the corner of the lips that embody a calm inner peace and vitality. His shoulders are broad, the arms stretch straight down and the figure has no support from the thigh upwards.

There is an anthill in the background which signifies his incessant penance. From this anthill, emerge a snake and a creeper which twine around both the legs and arms culminating as a cluster of flowers and berries at the upper portion of the arms. The entire figure stands on an open lotus signifying the totality attained in installing this unique statue.

On either side of Gommateshwara stands two tall and majestic chauri bearers in the service of the Lord. One of them is a yaksh and the other one is a yakshi. These richly ornamented and beautifully carved figures complement the main figure. Carved on the rear side of the anthill is also a trough for collecting water and other ritual ingredients used for the sacred bath of the image.

Around the statue is an enclosure comprised of a pillared hall where one can find 43 images of Tirthankaras in different cloisters. There is also a figure of a woman called Gullikayajji sculpted with a good built and wearing exquisite ornamentation, typical of the sculptures of the Ganga period. The Akandabagilu or the massive door, carved out of a single rock with an elaborately carved Gajalakshmi in her typical posture flanked by two elephants, is another meritorious work of Jain craftsmanship. This also said to have been created under the guidance and inspiration of Chaundaraya, the illustrious minister who served under the successive rulers of the Ganges namely Marasimha II, Rachamalla IV and Rachamalla V.
Maha+Mastaka+Abhisheka
Quote:
Mahamastakabhisheka, the head anointing ceremony of the Lord Gommateshwara Bahubali, observed once every 12 years in Jain Dharmic cycle, is an integral part of the ancient and composite Jain tradition. The ceremony of 2018 is the 88th in the series that commenced in the year 981 A.D.
MAHAMASTAKABHISHEKA 2018, Official Logo

A Mahamastakabhisheka Photologue : 57-foot Bahubali Statue-img_20180912_2013371026x1215.jpg

Gommata - in Normal Times

A Mahamastakabhisheka Photologue : 57-foot Bahubali Statue-screenshot_20180913104026502_com.android.chrome824x642.png

On Special Days

A Mahamastakabhisheka Photologue : 57-foot Bahubali Statue-img_20180912_201408994x599.jpg

A Festival of Colours

A Mahamastakabhisheka Photologue : 57-foot Bahubali Statue-img_20180912_2013521026x1387.jpg

Info and Image Source:

1
2

Here are a few pictures that I took. I am possibly the worst photographer on the forum; so, please excuse the quality (mostly, the lack of it) of the photos. I have waited for one score and four years to witness these scenes firsthand.

A Collage

A Mahamastakabhisheka Photologue : 57-foot Bahubali Statue-20180913_174933.jpg

Jalabhisheka - Anointment with Water

A Mahamastakabhisheka Photologue : 57-foot Bahubali Statue-img_20180909_101851780x1040.jpg

Jalabhisheka - A Closer View

A Mahamastakabhisheka Photologue : 57-foot Bahubali Statue-img_20180909_1020561040x780.jpg

Ksheerabhisheka - The Milk Bath

A Mahamastakabhisheka Photologue : 57-foot Bahubali Statue-img_20180909_1013311040x780.jpg

Ksheerabhisheka - In Progress

A Mahamastakabhisheka Photologue : 57-foot Bahubali Statue-img_20180909_111353_hdr1040x780.jpg



Anointment with Rice Flour

A Mahamastakabhisheka Photologue : 57-foot Bahubali Statue-img_20180909_112004_hdr1040x780.jpg



Malaya Chandanabhisheka - White Sandalwood Paste

A Mahamastakabhisheka Photologue : 57-foot Bahubali Statue-img_20180909_1037131040x780.jpg

Mulikabhisheka - Essence of Medicinal Herbs

A Mahamastakabhisheka Photologue : 57-foot Bahubali Statue-img_20180909_110920_hdr1040x780.jpg

Kumkumabhisheka - Vermillion Bath

A Mahamastakabhisheka Photologue : 57-foot Bahubali Statue-img_20180909_114724_hdr780x1040.jpg

Kumkumabhisheka - A Closer Look

A Mahamastakabhisheka Photologue : 57-foot Bahubali Statue-img_20180909_113800_hdr1040x780.jpg

Arishinabhisheka - Turmeric bath

A Mahamastakabhisheka Photologue : 57-foot Bahubali Statue-img_20180909_112334_hdr1040x780.jpg

Turmeric Bath - Closeup

A Mahamastakabhisheka Photologue : 57-foot Bahubali Statue-img_20180909_112232_hdr1040x780.jpg

A Conversation with the Clouds

A Mahamastakabhisheka Photologue : 57-foot Bahubali Statue-img_20180909_1039131040x780.jpg

And a Tκte-ΰ-Tκte with The Sun

A Mahamastakabhisheka Photologue : 57-foot Bahubali Statue-img_20180909_103510780x1040.jpg

Side Profile

A Mahamastakabhisheka Photologue : 57-foot Bahubali Statue-img_20180909_115921_hdr780x1040.jpg

KAIVALYA Murthy

A Mahamastakabhisheka Photologue : 57-foot Bahubali Statue-img_20180909_114635_hdr1040x780.jpg

Finally,

The Foil - Money Matters

A Mahamastakabhisheka Photologue : 57-foot Bahubali Statue-img_20180913_1433201099x1287.jpg

A few representative videos, courtesy YouTube.





A saner photographer, a slightly better camera (mine was Redmi Note 4 ), or even a desire to capture those moments for posterity rather than the urge to absorb and enjoy the moment in my mind's eye would have resulted in quality pictures. If there ever was a statue that could be called photogenic, it is this. The subject was indeed perfect, the artist on the other hand, was found lacking in skills.

Be that as it may, I am satisfied that I could fulfill a long lingering dream.

At Last .

Trip Statistics:
Car: Zen Estilo Lxi
Distance Covered: 225 kms
Fuel Efficiency: 19.xxx kmpl

While coming back, we paid a brief visit to the Lakshmidevi Temple, Doddagaddavalli.


A Mahamastakabhisheka Photologue : 57-foot Bahubali Statue-img_20180912_205840.jpg

As I have shared only photos of Mahamastakabhisheka and skipped details about the other places of interest in Shravanabelagola, I would request readers to refer to the following threads.

1 (Wanderlust Traveller - One day trip to Shravanabelagola & Melukote)
2 (Reclaiming Shravanabelagola - Hassan - Halebid - Belur - Sakleshpur)
3 (Mysore-Hosa agrahara-Shravanabelagola-Srirangapatna-Mysore)
4 (B'lore - Shravanabelagola... Finally did the trip :))

Last edited by dailydriver : 13th September 2018 at 18:34.
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Old 14th September 2018, 17:15   #2
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Default Re: A Mahamastakabhisheka Photologue : 57-foot Bahubali Statue

Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 14th September 2018, 22:39   #3
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Default Re: A Mahamastakabhisheka Photologue : 57-foot Bahubali Statue

@ OP,

Thank you for sharing. A quick clarification - was the event held in February or September of this year? The official Mahamastakabhisheka website has the event dates as February 17-25, 2018
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Old 14th September 2018, 23:10   #4
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Default Re: A Mahamastakabhisheka Photologue : 57-foot Bahubali Statue

How beautiful. and what a marvel of engineering - getting the proportions right, getting the left & the right sides to match each other, getting the centre of gravity exactly placed and getting balance right so that earth tremors & winds of a thousand years haven't got the better of it. I visited the temple as a 5-year old with my parents and family and the memories are crystal clear even today including the climb up the hill.
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Old 15th September 2018, 06:16   #5
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Default Re: A Mahamastakabhisheka Photologue : 57-foot Bahubali Statue

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lively View Post
...was the event held in February or September of this year? The official Mahamastakabhisheka website has the event dates as February...
The main event took place in February. Due to huge footfalls and to enable devotees from all parts of the world to participate in the celebrations, the rituals were conducted every Sunday for the next six months.

Quote:
Originally Posted by V.Narayan View Post
How beautiful. and what a marvel of engineering - getting the proportions right, getting the left & the right sides to match each other, getting the centre of gravity exactly placed and getting balance right so that earth tremors & winds of a thousand years haven't got the better of it.
(Incidentally, I am replying on15th September, Engineers' Day)

He is no Adonis or Hercules. But the Bahubali at Sravanabelagola is a perfect example of art imitating life and succeeding in it. Although there are differences of opinion on the exact height of the statue, it is accepted that it ranges between between 57 ft to 58.8 ft. At a mean point of 58 ft (sic), the vital measurements of parts are estimated to be:

Quote:
Total height of the image – 58′-0″
Total height to the bottom of the ear – 51′-0″
From the bottom of the ear to the crown of the head (about) – 6′-6″
Length of the foot – 8′-3″
Length of the great toe – 2′-9″
Half girth of the thigh – 10′-0″
Breadth across the pelvis – 13′-0″
Breadth at the waist – 10′-0″
Breadth across the shoulders – 23′-7 1/2″
From the base of the neck to the ear – 2′-6″
Length of the fore finger – 3′-9″
Length of the middle finger – 5′-0″
Length of the third finger – 4′-8″
Length of the fourth finger – 3′-2″
A description:

Quote:
The colossal image of Gommateshwara standing erect on the summit of the large hill is nude and faces north. The shoulders of the image are very broad and the arms hang straight down the sides with the thumbs turned outwards. The waist is small. From the knee downwards, the legs are rather short and thick. The figure has no support about the thighs. Up to that point, it is represented as surrounded by ant hills from which emerge serpents and a climbing plant (Madhavi) twines itself round both the legs and arms terminating at the upper part of the arm in a cluster of berries or flowers. The pedestal is designed to represent an open lotus. The image is carved in fine-grained light-grey granite. It looks as bright and clean as if it had just come from the chisel of the artist. It is probable that this image was cut out of a great rock which stood on the spot as it would have been an impossible task to transport a granite mass of such huge size up the oval hill-side.
Source

Interestingly, no single sculptor seems to have been responsible (or credited) for giving shape to the statue. The colossal structure must have been a collaborative project involving multiple talented individuals.

Even today, holding the Mahamastakabhisheka is a logistical nightmare. Able engineers and committed bureaucrats have taken it upon themselves to make the event successful. For instance, the platform and the scaffolding used to reach the top to perform the anointment was finalised after a lot of see saws and gritty decision making by two Deputy Commissioners.

Quote:
German technology is being used for the construction of the platform behind the monolithic statue of Bahubali at Shravanabelagola...

The platform ... constructed at a cost of Rs 11.25 crore ... would serve as a gallery that will be able to accommodate 5,500 people.

Three elevators are also under construction. The Jain mutt also plans to instal a huge umbrella made of ‘panchaloha’ behind the head of the Bahubali statue.
Quote:
Lehar, a German-based company, has bagged the contract for constructing the platform. All materials used for the construction are being brought from Germany by ship to Gujarat and will then be shifted to Shravanabelagola. In all, materials weighing 450 tonnes are being used.
Quote:
Ring and Lock’ technology is being adapted with nuts and bolts fixed to the beams which is said to be safer, state experts. The pipes used have been certified ... The strength of the platform and gallery will be subjected to tests using sand bags. Only after that people will be allowed to enter.
Source

I spoke to a few elderly folks who claimed to have seen 3-4 Abhishekas and they recalled that the earlier scaffoldings were constructed using wooden poles, planks and bamboo - akin to the ones used by masons for building construction - but on a much much larger scale!

Also, twelve temporary townships and fifteen dining halls were constructed in an area of over 500 acres to accommodate different categories of visitors. The entire event wouldn't have been possible without the help (and tolerance) of the local farmers, migrant labourers and efficient officials.

Notwithstanding the criticism on the necessity of continuing a supposedly wasteful tradition, this event is a celebration of the human spirit - in all its glory.
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