Jainism and the naked Bahubali monolith of Dharmasthala

Bhagwan Bahubali

On the hill of Dharmasthala, Indian temple village, in Dakshina Kannada, Karnataka, India, is a monolith naked statue of Bhagwan Bahubali, or Gomatheshwara--an Indian crown prince who led an ascetic life after defeating his older brother, Bharata, in a duel. Bahubali renounced all his possessions to attain supreme knowledge Kevalajnana, thus being worshiped by Jains.

Read more about Bahubali here.

Bhagwan Bahubali
A gold-plated miniature statue of Bahubali at the foot of the 39-foot granite statue.

You may wonder why the statue is naked and why there are naked worshipers. With limited time going here, I did not know much about it thus, it led me to research more about Bahubali. According to this website:
"Nakedness is an essential part of religion...Nudity and other forms of austerity are intended to strip away karma matter and create a detached state of desireless-ness that will not attract further karma. The goal is ahimsa, a lack of desire in which no living thing is harmed. Jain ascetics sometimes fast to death as a severe penance for killing creatures and to work off as much karma as possible."
Bhagwan Bahubali
Jain worshipers at the Bahubali temple in Hassan.

The statue of Bahubali in Dharmastala, in Dakshina Kannada, Karnataka is a 39-feet statue made from a single solid piece of granite. It was built in 1973. This religious site is often visited by pilgrims and tourists. No naked worshipers were seen during the visit.

Bhagwan Bahubali

Every 12 years, they hold Mahamastabisheka festival in Shravanabelagola, where they pour coconut milk, sacred water with sandalwood paste, turmeric and other sacred fluids.

Going inside the compounds needs one to remove their footwear, but they allow wearing of socks. The concrete pavement would be too hot on summer months and walking barefoot would prove to be difficult especially in the afternoon when the sun is in its full ascent.

Walking on hot pavement, it dawned on me that I would not be a perfect candidate for asceticism, that calls for the renouncing of worldly possessions and comfort. But one thing that makes me like this religion is their doctrine of non-violence. It was said that: "Mahatma Gandhi was strongly influenced by the Jain leader Raychandbhai Mehta, a political leader and holy man who promulgated non-violence."

This is the Third leg of my
Please come back for more stories while exploring and learning about the State of Karnataka in India.

View Hassan to Dharmastala in a larger map

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Aside from my day job, I love photography and storytelling. Going places--be it a cliche destination or the far side of the road--stoke and free my soul. I dig deeper into the people’s psyche, culture and ethnicity, and heritage. I love to observe how they thrive and build social institutions, preserve their culture and traditions.


Micole said...

What a wonderful and peaceful place to visit. It's always wonderful to see other cultures especially ones that makes you realize many things. Great Photos by the Way! More power and thanks for the share!

Traveling Morion said...

this makes India's history very interesting- one of the oldest and richest in history civilization, keep on exploring sir Ding, as usual ganda ng mga shots

Admin/Author said...

Thank you Micole!

Admin/Author said...

Jeffrey, indeed, there's a lot to know about India--and I went only in one state. Thanks!

Monkey Singh said...

This statue was certainly the idea of a pervy minded person. Why does the privates need to be so anatomically accurate? I don't see the body being of the right shape nor the face looking human enough. And did they have bikini waxing in those days? So if the body hair could be done away with then, why can't the nudity be hidden?