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Architectural Marvel of the Chaturmukha Basadi, Gerusoppa in Karnataka

Gerusoppa, Home to Several Basadis (Jain Temples)

Gerusoppa, Home to Several Basadis (Jain Temples)

The municipality of Gerusoppa is located about 30 kms from the well-known Gerusoppa Falls on the banks of Sharavathi river in Honnavar taluk .

Gerusoppa is 25 km from the outlet of Jog Falls—a long time ago functioned as the capital of the Salva empire that reigned over the region between 14th and 15th centuries. Acknowledged to have trade interactions with Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the empire reached its pinnacle under the supremacy of Rani Chennabhairadevi. She governed over contemporary Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, and Uttara Kannada for 54 years: the lengthiest reign by any Indian woman head of state.

Vijayanagara architecture in Jain basadis of Western Ghats Though it was the capital of the Saluva empire, it became famous for the duration of the rule of Queen Channabhairadevi (1548–99 A.D.) famous as the Pepper Queen. (After the fall of the Vijayanagara empire, Queen Chennabhairadevi handled the Portuguese very diplomatically, who nicknamed her ‘Raina de Pimenta’—the Pepper Queen.) Ikkeri chief Hiriya Venkatappa Nayaka defeated the queen and Gerusoppa was abandoned and came to ruins.

Frequently suggested to as the ‘Harappa of Jains’, Gerusoppa is institution to several basadis (Jain temples) with exclusive architecture, hundreds of inscriptions, groups of temples and structures that were all in the past part of an overseas trade hub. Currently, unfortunately, most of them have either been hidden under centuries of earth or endured as ruins, absorbed by the dense forests of the Western Ghats.

Queen Channabhairadevi, Queen of Black Pepper - Benefactor of Jain Temples Basadis in Gerusoppa

Queen Channabhairadevi or ‘Mahamandaleshwari’, Queen of Black Pepper

The history of Jainism in South India and its influence on the life and thought of the people is a fascinating subject. No topic of ancient South Indian history is more thought-provoking than the origin and development of the Jains who, in times past, intensely affected the political, religious and literary establishments of South India. It has occasionally been thought that an associated account of the Jains could not ever be written.

Rani Channabhairadevi Chaturmukha Basadi of Gerusoppa Situated deep inside the evergreen Sharavathi valley on the stores of the Sharavathi river, neither the sanctuaries nor the antique town can be accessed without difficulty. While Jain believers crowd the place in large numbers using private vehicles, the villages are more or less off limits to tourists due to an absence of publicity and information.

Previously known as Haive, Gerusoppa was afterwards named Nagar Bastikeri and subsequently Ngaire. Formerly a famous center of trade and commerce, Gerusoppa was ruled by the Saluva kings. While Honnavar functioned as a harbor for internal trade, nearby Bhatkal was celebrated as an intercontinental harbor.

The Saluva kingdom reached its zenith under the regime of Rani Channabhairadevi, who ruled between 1554 and 1603, and hailed as Mahamandaleshwari. Living the followers of Jainism, the queen organized the creation of the historic Chaturmukha Basadi in 1562. With several ship-loads of pepper and spices being methodically traded to the west, Gerusoppa was often the sticking point between numerous princely states. The rulers of Keladi were frequently at war with Gerusoppa for jurisdiction over the expensive province.

Moreover, Channabhairadevi had gone to war with the Portuguese, who attempted to grab the ports and take the reins of the spice trade. Two times, once in 1559 and then again in 1570, the queen efficaciously crushed the Portuguese maritime force with her military stratagem.

Architectural Marvel of the Chaturmukha Basadi

Architectural Marvel of the Chaturmukha Basadi

Chaturmukha Basadi is a Jain temple unique in its plan as it is open on all four sides (chaturmukha). It is also called Sarvatobhadra in silpasatra texts. Such temples are unique.

The Chaturmukha basadi has a garbhagriha, antaralas (vestibule), navarangas and four entrances with flight of steps. The entire temple is built on a cellar which is in the shape of a star and provides open circumbulatory passage. The outer walls have ornamented niches some of which have gods and goddesses. There are some jalandhras also.

The four access doorways are alike and seated tirthankara is carved on the lintel. On either side are found the high relief sculptures of dvarapalas well bedecked and standing in dvibhanga. The devakoshthas with Dravida and Kadamba Nagara sikharas contain sculptures. Now there is no roof over the whole structure.

Chaturmukha Basadi of Gerusoppa was built by Rani Chennabhairadevi The interior of the Chaturmukha Basadi has navarangas with four prominent pillars in the centre of the enclosure. Thus the sixteen pillars of the Vijayanagara type measure about 10 ft in height. Navaranga is separated by the antarala with a very thick wall. They also have decorated niches to house gods and goddesses.

The three lintels of the doorways have seated tirthankaras although the southern doorway has Gajalakshmi on its lintel. Then there are four antaralas each of which has two decorated pillars. Thus there are eight such pillars.

The sole garbhagriha has four seated tirthankaras each facing a different direction. This gives a meaning to the structure fronting four directions. These four tirthankara sculptures are made of black stone and have high glossy polish.

There are no historical chronicles to know the patron of this exclusive Jain temple. But it is commonly judged that Queen Channabhairadevi built this temple. Even the contemporaneous explorer Pietro Della Valle is silent about it. From the stylistic substantiation this temple may be dated to sixteenth century A.D.

Acclaimed as an architectural marvel, Chaturmukha Basadi was built by Rani Chennabhairadevi back in 1562. Constructed in granite, the Basadi has remained out-of-bounds to sightseers. Constructed in the Vijayanagara style, the basadi has four entrances, one in each of the four compass points, all fronting to the sanctum sanctorum. Though no official prayer rituals are done at the Chaturmukha basadi, the Parshawanatha basadi, or the Neminatha basadi, recurrent prayers and pooja services are organized at the close by Jwalamalini temple.

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Brick Jaina Basadi in Talakad, Karnataka

Brick Jaina Basadi in Talakad, Karanataka

Talakad on the banks of the river Cauvery was famous as the capital of the early Western Gangas and continued as an important cultural centre till the times of the Wadeyars. Now it is famous for its amazing sand dunes and the panchalinga darshana. Archaeological excavations were conducted here and they revealed many brick structures of antiquity and the present Jaina temple is one such structure excavated here.

The Western Gangas were great patrons of Saivism and Jainism as evidenced by many inscriptions and structures. They are known to have built a Vijaya Jinalaya at Talavanapura or Talakad itself and perhaps the excavated Jaina temple may be the same as the one referred to in the inscription. Unfortunately only the foundation of this temple could be traced but not the superstructure. The entire temple was built of well-burnt bricks.

The brick temple consisted of three garbhagrihas in a row horizontally, an antarala and a mukhamandapa with a provision for pradakshinapatha. All these structures are enclosed within a prakara wall also of bricks. The main garbhagriha is square (3.25 mts) with two rectangular sanctums on each side (3.25 x 1.80 mts). In front of these sanctums is a small oblong porch (2.8 x 11.00 mts). All the three garbhagrihas have separate doorways in the front opening to the common porch.

Tirthankara Parsvanatha with five hooded serpent and an umbrella and Padmavati Yakshi in Talakad The separate mukhamandapa in front of the sanctums is square with thick foundation walls. The entire structure was built over a basement or a plinth consisting of various types of mouldings. Perhaps some pillars were used at different points. Perhaps these and other wooden pillars supported wooden framework of the roof above. Thus the brick construction was strong as well as elegant.

Very close to the garbhagriha was found a stone image of Tirthankara Parsvanatha. It is in high relief. He is standing with a five hooded serpent and an umbrella above. There is a sculpture of Padmavati Yakshi at the left holding an umbrella over the serpent. This is a rare sculpture. This was the image which adorned the main garbhagriha of this temple. Thus this brick temple provides evidence for Ganga patronage to Jainism at Talakad itself.

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The Splendid Largest Jaina Temple of Chamundaraya Basadi, Shravanabelagola

Jain Temple of Chamundaraya Basadi, Shravanabelagola

Chamundaraya Basadi in Shravanabelagola is one of the largest Jaina temples on the hill both in style and in decorative features. The temple is 68 feet long and 36 feet wide. The temple consists of a garbhagriha, a sukhanasi, a navaranga and a mukhamandapa. It has an upper story above the garbhagriha and a Dravadian sikhara. The outer walls have decorations of pilaster over which are three friezes containing ornamental niches, yalis, and seated Jaina figures. The outer wall of the upper garbhagriha also has similar three friezes over which l is a simple Dravidian sikhara. These moldings attract the visitors even from a distance.

The mukhamandapa rests on four pillars with sloping eave on all the three sides. Thus the whole temple is very elegant. The lower part of the temple is interesting. It has undecorated flat base with neatly cut roundish and projected molding above. There is a similar but smaller molding above. Between the two moldings is a hollow flat surface with minor decorations. Then rises the wall with pilasters, and the highly decorated eave is prominent at the roof level. This is the most decorated part of the structure and adds a special grace.

At present there is a sculpture of Neminatha in the lower garbhagriha, five feet in height, flanked by male chauri bearers on either side. The garbhagriha doorway is decorated and has Sarvahna yaksha and Kushmandini yakshi. It is believed that this Neminatha image originally belonged to another temple but now kept here. The upper garbhagriha has an image of Parsvanatha of three feet in height. Its pedestal has an inscription which states that Jinadeva, son of the minister Chamundaraya built this Jina temple. Perhaps this refers to the consecration of the image in the upper garbhagriha.

The inscription on the pedestal of Neminatha states that it was consecrated by Echana, son of minister Gangaraja of the Hoysala period in 1128 A.D. From all these evidences it becomes clear that Chamundaraya built this temple in about 982 A.D., and the upper story was added by Chamundaraya’s son Jinadeva in 995 A.D., and the present image was brought from some other temple and consecrated in 1128 A.D. The very fact that it is named after Chamundaraya be taken as an evidence to say that it was built by him, who also set up the great colossus of Gommateshwara here.

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The Tallest Free-standing Stone Sculpture of Gommateshwara in Shravanabelagola

Gommateshvara in Shravanabelagola

The statue of Gommateshvara at Shravanabelagola, the tallest free standing stone sculpture in the world has given a unique and international cultural status to Karnataka.

Shravanabelagola is the most sacred religious centre of the Jains. It has a hoary antiquity dating back to the third century B.C., when Bhadrabahu along with the Maurya king Chandragupta came and settled down here. From then on many Karnataka dynasties like the Gangas of Talakad, the Chalukyas, the Hoysalas, the rulers of Vijayanagara and others patronised this Jaina sacred place.

However, it was during the period of Ganga king Rachamalla IV (973–999 A.D.), the place became famous because his minister Chamundaraya consecrated this image of Gommateshvara on the summit of the hill commanding a picturesque view of the whole area. A large number of Jaina temples were built here at different periods by various dynasties which have made this center an open air museum of Jaina art.

Colossal Image of Bahubali in Shravanabelagola The real attraction of Shravanabelagola is the colossal image of Bahubali also known as Gommateshvara. Its height is 57 feet and is the tallest stone sculpture in the world. The image is nude and stands facing north; in an erect yogic posture. The serene expression of the face is remarkable. The hair is curly and the ears are long, the shoulders being broad and the arms hang down straight with the thumbs turned outwards. The lower portion adds majesty and grandeur. The entire image stands on a pedestal which is in the form of a lotus. The foot measures nine feet in length; the toes are 2 feet 9 inches; the middle finger is 5 feet 3 inches; the forefinger is 3 feet 6 inches; third finger is 4 feet 7 inches; the fourth finger is 2 feet 3 inches.

Shravanabelagola is a sacred religious centre in Jainism

The face of Gommateshvara is most artistic and is a commentary on the success of the skill of the sculptor who carved it. The eyes are half open and the eye balls appear as if real. This also symbolizes the pensive mood of the saint. The total effect is one of majesty, grace and dignity, and expresses his compassion towards the fellow beings and hence is considered as the best in this type. Gommateshvara has been watching the human beings and their sufferings for the past one thousand years and people are looking at him for guidance for an ethical and religious life. Thus he is inspiring people to follow the path of Dharma. Once in twelve years a special ritual called Mahamastakabhisheka takes place when lakhs of people assemble here to be blessed by the compassionate Gommateshvara.

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Visit the Jain Temples of Ranakpur, Rajasthan, India

Ranakpur's Jain Temple

Deep in the Aravali hills of the northwestern state of Rajasthan in India, between Udaipur and Jodhpur, stands the stunning fifth-century Jain temple of Ranakpur. Carved exclusively out of white marble and surrounded by green forest, the temple surveys its surroundings in each of the cardinal directions from its chaumukha, or “four faces”. Fortress-solid, great slabs of stone rise out of the ground to hold up the bulk of the temple’s extravagant exterior, a flamboyant edifice of cupolas, domes and turrets of soft grey marble.

In the interior, 1,444 intricately carved pillars hold up the roof, each one unique in its design. Soft light filters through the marble, changing its color from grey to gold, as the sun moves across the sky. Only the saffron and red fabrics of robes brighten up the surroundings as the monks and pilgrims pass between the pillars, through pools of light into shadow.

Temple to Adinath the first Tirthankara In the 15th century a Jain businessman named Dharma Shah had a vision that he should build a magnificent temple in honor of Adinath, the first Tirthankara (enlightened being) and founder of Jainism, also known as Rishabhadeva. He approached the local monarch, Rana Kumbha, to ask him for land on which to build. The king obliged him, and the temple was named “Ranakpur” in gratitude for his munificence.

The result is one of the most pleasant religious edifices in India. The temple is still in constant use and visitors are welcome, although, according to the Jain principle of ahimsa (non-violence to all things), they are asked not to bring any leather into the temple, including shoes. As you walk through Ranakpur, past delicate marble carvings and solemnly praying monks, the loving artisanship of so many individual souls is striking, and the atmosphere of devotion utterly absorbing.

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Ecological and Environmental Reasons for Vegetarianism

Ecological and Environmental Reasons for Vegetarianism

Since the 1970s vegetarianism has gained strength from three major lines of argument: health, ecology, and concern for animals.

The view that people should keep away from eating meat or fish could be traced to ancient philosophical roots. In Hinduism, the Upanishads prescribe that the doctrine of reincarnation leads to disagreement with the consumption of meat. In Buddhism, all animals are sentient beings and deserve compassion. The Buddha prescribed that Buddhist monks should neither kill animals nor eat meat unless they identified that the animal had not been killed for their explicit consumption. In Jainism, ahimsa or non-violence toward any living creature is a central part concept of the belief system, and consequently adherents are not to consume meat.

Ecological and environmental concerns about eating meat stem from the acknowledged inefficiency of raising animals. The systemic inefficiency applies particularly to intensive farming, in which grain is grown on good agricultural land and fed to animals restrained indoors, or in the case of cattle, in packed feed-lots. A large amount of the nutritional value of the grain is lost in the process. In addition, this type of animal production is energy-intensive. For this reason, concern for world hunger, for the land, and for energy conservation provides a moral basis for a vegetarian diet, or as a minimum one in which meat consumption is curtailed.

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