The holy town of Shravanbelagola, abode to the monolith statue of Bhagwan Gommateshwara Bahubali, is all geared up for the Mahamastakabhishek celebrations, conducted once every 12 years.
Bhagwan Gommateshwara is the son of the first Jain Tirthankara, Bhagwan Rishabhnath, and fought with his brother Bharat but renounced everything after realizing the futility of it all. He stood motionless in penance (Kayotsarga posture) for 12 months before attaining Kevala Gyan (Omniscience). The head anointing ritual is so done since 981 when the massive statue was erected by Chavundaraya, a minister in the court of the Ganga rulers of the time. Chavundaraya, on a pilgrimage with his mother, had a dream wherein the Goddess appeared and guided him to erect the statue of Bhagwan Gommateshwara. The town comprises of the two hillocks- Chandragiri (or Chikkabetta -small hillock) and Indragiri or Vindhyagiri (Doddabetta- the bigger hillock). It also has a large rectangular tank of water called the Kalyani. The idol is housed on Indragiri while a series of temples dot the other hillock Chandragiri.
His Holiness Jagadguru Karmyaogi Swastishri Charukirti Bhattaraka Swamiji of Jain Matha, Shravanbelagola, under whose leadership the celebrations are being organized, is overseeing the celebrations for the fourth time in a row. The head anointment of the statue is done once every 12 years (since it is not possible to perform the auspicious Abhisheka everyday owing to its huge size) coinciding with specific stellar combinations in the months of Magha-Phalgun when the weather here is pleasant. Such celebrations have multiple impact since it not only helps spread the message of Bhagwan Bahubali (happiness from nonviolence;peace from sacrifice; salvation from meditation and progress from friendship) in the true spirit but also binds the young generation who is drifting away from our age old beliefs.
The Belagavi connection
This year, the event is noteworthy for Belagavi since one of the five National Secretaries (and the only one from South India) of the organizing committee is Shri Vinod Doddanavar, Managing Committee Member of Bharatesh Education Trust. Under his leadership, a total of 8 National and International Conferences were organized at Shravanbelagola, since June 2017. This included National Sanskrit Sammelan, National Mahila Sammelan, National Vidwat Sammelan, International Prakrit Conference, National Jain Kannada Sahitya Sammelan, Youth Conference, Sarvadharma Sammelan and Patrakar Sammelan in the run up to the mega event in February 2018. Dr. Jinadatta Desai, noted Kannada Poet, Rajyotsava Awardee and Vice Chairman of Bharatesh Eductaion Trust, Belagavi, was the President of the National Jain Kannada Sahitya Sammelan held on 30th and 31st December 2017 at Shravanbelagola. A total of 100 volunteers from Belagavi, including more than 60 students and staff from Bharatesh Education Trust, will be managing two townships for accommodation at Shravanbelagola, each with 3500 houses with 10 members in each house. Several devotees and volunteers from Belagavi city and district are slated to visit Shravanbelagola this month.
speaking to AAB, Shri Vinod Doddanavar said
The Mahamastakabhisheka Celebrations of Bhagwan Gommateshwar Bahubali is set to be celebrated at Shravanbelagola from 17th to 25th February 2018. Bhagwan Gommateshwar Bahubali is a symbol of peace, tolerance and renunciation. The Mahamastakabhishek is being celebrated this year amidst much joy and devotion. The preparations have begun several months in advance. Devotees can visit Shravanbelagola and be a witness to the mega event. The Jain Matha at Shravanbelagola which organizes this event, has made adequate arrangements for the devotees. Accommodation facilities have been provided through the govt. at the townships. Devotees can have Prasadam at the dining halls. KSRTC and Railways have made arrangements for transport. We are fortunate to witness this event. Be a part of it
The celebrations begin on 7th February with the Panchkalyanak Mahotsav. It involves commemorating the five key stages in the life of every Tirthnkara.
1. Garbha Kalyanak- It is the phase when the soul of the to-be born Tirthankara leaves the past birth and enters the mother’s womb.
2. Janma Kalyanak- the event of his Birth. It is believed that all the Gods and Goddesses celebrate upon the birth of a Tirthankara.
3. Diksha Kalyanak- The event when he accepts monkhood, by giving up all worldly possessions and becomes a monk.
4. Kevalgyan Kalyanak- The event when the Tirthankara attains omniscience (Kevala Gyaan). The Tirthankara establishes his sangha. To commemorate this event, Samosharana (congregation of all living beings, including animals, birds who understand the teachings of the Tirthankara) is organized.
5. Moksha Kalyanak- this is when the Tirthankara leaves the mortal body and attains salvation (liberation from the cycle of birth and death) when he is called a Siddha.
Mastakabhisheka- As part of the main celebration of the Mahamastakabhisheka beginning from 17th February and continuing till 25th February 2018, the statue of Bhagwan Gommateshwara is anointed with purified water, turmeric and saffron paste, sandalwood paste, sugarcane juice, flower petals, milk and powder of rice and vermillion among others. Acidic elements like curds as also warm water is avoided. The Abhishek rituals shall be conducted between 8.00 a.m. to 1.30 p.m. everyday. Post that, ie. From 2.00 p.m. onward, anybody can have a Darshan at the venue. A massive scaffolding has been erected to hoist 5000 people for the Abhisheka at a cost of around Rs. 11 Crores and shall remain so till August.
Accommodation for lakhs of devotees-
As part of the package from the state govt. for this celebrations, Rs. 75 crores is being spent on erecting temporary accommodation facilities for the lakhs of devotees visiting the holy town as also towards developmental works. Townships lile the Tyagi Nagar, Kalasha Nagar 1 and 2, Panchkalyanak nagar, Patrakar nagar, Police personnel Nagar, VIP Nagar, Yatri Nagar, Volunteers nagar, etc. To cater to the food arrangements for all the devotees, 17 dining halls have been erected that can serve a whopping 2 lakh devotees per day. One dining hall shall specially cater to the Tyagis.
Devotees can inquire and book for accommodation, Kalasha, etc. through http://www.stayatmmc18.comAround 25 to 30 lakh devotees are expected to visit Shravanbelagola till August and the Matha is prepared to welcome them and more. Adequate security arrangements have been made with the help of the District administration which includes 7000 police personnel with some more being added as the days progress and the crowds swell. Around 400 Jain monks, Sadhus and Sadhvis as also scores of visitors from abroad are slated to witness this celebration.
The temple town is seeing massive development works going on with a new bus stand set to roll in a few days, major roads being repaired, streets being cleaned and construction sites getting cleared with earth moving vehicles. Devotees have started thronging the town well in advance and the streets are seen lit up with lights.
At a glance
· 530 acres of land acquired on temporary basis for the arrangements of the Mahamastakabhishek
· Rs. 73 crores being spent on the accommodation of devotees and visitors
· 7000 Police personnel to be deployed for security purposes
· 400 Jain Saints, Sadhus and Sadhvis to attend the celebrations
· 17 dining halls to cater to 2 lakh devotees per day
· 450 tonnes of material imported from Germany to erect the scaffolding that uses the safest ‘ring-and-lock’ technology at a cost of Rs. 11 Crores.
· 12 townships to house lakhs of devotees