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Discovery of 12th century ‘ArdhaSahasrakuta’ Jain sculpture and inscriptions in Belagavi

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Brahmanand Srikant. Chipre ( IT Software Engineer &Archaeologist, Researcher by hobby ) had been to Belagavi fortress on a routine visit and found a Jain ancient sculpture in the premises of Kamal Basadi.

This is one of the oldest Jainasculpture found in NWKRTC Depot No. 2 in Belagavi on February 12, 2020. Being a researcher, I became interested in this sculpture.

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If you look at the history of Belagavi – The Kuntala region’s, Kuhundi Mandala is a land of three hundred villages.
This region was ruled by Rattas. Savadatti (Saundatti), historically known as Sugandavarti was the capital of Ratta dynasty.

 

The kings of Ratta ruled the KuhundiMandala during 875-1250 CE period. Later Venugrama(today’s Belagavi) became the capital of Rattas. Rattas were patrons of Jainism. The Jain religion had been very rich and prosperous since then. To support this, there is evidence to prove that there were 108 Jain Basadis in the fort area of Belagavi.

Ever since, Jain heritage and culture has been found prospering in Belagavi region. There were three inscriptions found in the fort of Belgaum. Two inscriptions written in 1202 C.E by poet Kandarsha Balachandra & one inscription writtenin 1205 C.E by Parshwapandit.

The first two inscriptions are now in British Museum. This 12th century ancient Jainasculpture, which is now shifted to Kamal Basadi premises, isthe fourth unpublished inscription. Out of the previous 108 Basadis in Belagavi, the Kamal Basadi is in good shape and well maintained. Religious meetings and worship have been held here ever since.

The oldest Jaina sculpture found in Belagavi city on February 12, 2020 can be called as “ArdhaSahasrakuta“. The reasonbeing the 504 Jaina idols that have been carved on this single stone sculpture.

Concept of Sahasrakuta – The word ‘Sahasrakuta’ is a combination of two Kannada words ‘Sahasra’ meaning thousand and ‘kuta’ meaning combination.

An idol which has the carvings of 1008 Tirthankaras on a single stone is called as the Sahasrakuta since it is a sculpture with a combination of Jain idols. Having 504 idols carved on a single stone can be called as ArdhaSahasrakuta.

The Jain idols in this ArdhaSahasrakuta are unique specimen insofar as depicting Jinas in Kayotsarga/Khadgasana (standing position), whereas in other Jain sahasrakutas structures, we find them seated in Padmasana (cross-legged yoga seated posture) and this being the only one of its kinds as compared to others in Karnataka and India. This will add to the rich trove of Jain relics in the state, which is already home to as many as six live models of the sahasrakuta. Of the six sahasrakutas in the state, the one at Shanka Basadi in Lakshmeshwara in Gadag was the earliest to be found.

The others are in Ainapur in Belagavi, Arasikere in Hassan, Moodubidri in Dakshina Kannada, Shravanabelagolain Hassan and Kallahangarga in Kalaburagi. The recently discovered structure turning out to be a ardhasahasrakuta, there is the possibility of having existed a Jain Basadi nearby.

While I was cleaning this sculpture on February 22, 2020, I found 9 lines of jaina inscriptions. After cleaning and getting a clean, clear and readable format of these inscriptions, I had a discussion with my friend Dr. Ravikumar Navalgunda and the details in the inscriptions are as follows:

“Kambadevana, the son of Brahmadeva of Hoovinabaga, a disciple of Megachandra Triviyadeva of Kundakundanvaya, made a statue with 500 Jain idols as atonement to his sins. He donated this ArdhaSahasrakuta statue to a Basadi in Venugrama. Anyone worshiping the magnificent statue will be in eternal bliss.”

When we measure this sculpture, the measurements are as follows:

Statue’s running height – 4.1 feet
The foot circumference of the statue – 9.08 feet
The circumference of the statue tower – 5.0 ft.

This sculpture is 4 sided with a total of 504 Jain Idols. The sculpture is divided into eight (8) stairs. Each staircase has an average size of 4 inches. On one side of these staircases are carved the Jaina Idols. Between each of the two stairs, there is an inscription script. A total of 9 inscriptions can be found here.

Brahmanand Chipre has been assisted in the task by Dr.Bahubali Handur and Sunil Padmannavar.

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