13th Century Jain Nishadi’s of a Single family discovered, Reveals interesting facts

– Photos & Article by Ravikumar K. Navalagunda, Harihara
(Translated to English by Nitin H.P.)

13th Century Jain Nishadi's of a Single family discovered, Reveals interesting facts

Three Jain Nishadi’s (memorial stones installed in memory of Jain ascetics or Shravakas who have renounced their life by undertaking sallekhana) of 13th century belonging to the same family have been discovered at Kadakola village in Haveri district of Karnataka. These were found in the fields belonging to Ramanna Mugaduru of Kadakola village. While working on the fields Ramanna found some flat bed stones out of curiosity while he dug this further he found these 3 monumental stones. On examining it all he could conclude was that it was related to some deities, hence he installed them in the premises of his fields and started worshipping them.

What is a Nishadi?
A Nishadi is a memorial stone related to Jainism where in they are installed in  memory of a person who has attained samadhi (death) by means of following Sallekhana. A Jain shravaka (house holder) either men or women or a monk or a nun when they are unwell for a long period of time or when they are aged and feel that they cannot lead a comfortable life in future decide to renounce their life by means of fast and involve themselves fully in Gods worship.

Sri Ravikumar K Navalagunda a research scholar while on his field visit happen to pass by this place and came across these Nishadi at Kadakola and on further examining found that these were very unique of their kind and were not published yet.

Details of Nishadis
1st Nishadi – This is 34 inches high & 17 inches wide. It indicates the samadhi of a person called Chandaiah. In all it has 3 steps, in the 1st step from the bottom it has 3 lines of text and looking at the letters it could be concluded that  its period is around 12-13 th century A.D. In the 2nd step it has carvings two people sitting in Anjali mudra (both the hands folded). In the 3rd step it has a Tirthankar in padmasana flanked by two people in sitting posture.

2nd Nishadi – This is 30 inches high & 13 inches wide & belongs to Shakha year 1189 i.e. A.D.1267. This nishadi informs us about the samadhi of Marasoma (from Kadakula village) son of Devagavunda a disciple of Sri Nandi Bhattaraka Deva belonging to Surastagana of Mulasangha. In all it has 4 steps, in the 1st step from the bottom it has 9 lines of text. In the 2nd step it has carvings of a person sitting in Anjali mudra with a Shruta peeta (a Shruta peeta is a stand used to keep books) and a Jain Muni with a Kamandala and Pinchi. Since the inscription refers to the Sallekhana of Marasoma and further states that he was a disciple of Nandi Bhattarakha it could be concluded that the person sitting in Anjali mudra is Marasoma and the Jain Muni is Nandi Bhattarakha. In the 3rd step it has a Tirthankar in padmasana flanked by chamaras (chamara is a form of hand held fan) and flowers. In the 4th step is found the Gopura (pinnacle).

3rd Nishadi – This is 44 inches high & 16 inches wide & belongs to the period of Yadava (Sevuna) Simhanadeva of Devagiri. In indicates that it was inscribed on the 31st year after Simhanadeva became the king which corresponds to A.D. 1231. This nishadi informs us about the samadhi of Peggade Somaiah son of Somantha Boppa Gowda a disciple of Sri Nandi Bhattaraka Deva belonging to Surastagana of Mulasangha. By the words Peggade Somaiah it clarifies that he was Peggade, means head of a village. In all it has 4 steps, in the 1st step from the bottom it has 5 lines of text. In the 2nd step it has carvings of a person sitting in Anjali mudra with a Shruta peeta (a Shruta peeta is a stand used to keep books) and a Jain Muni with a Kamandala and Pinchi. Since the inscription refers to the Sallekhana of Peggade Somaiah and further states that he was a disciple of Nandi Bhattarakha it could be concluded that the person sitting in Anjali mudra is Peggade Somaiah and the Jain Muni is Nandi Bhattarakha. In the 3rd step it has a Tirthankar in padmasana flanked by chamaradharis (chamara is a form of hand held fan). In the 4th step is found the Gopura (pinnacle).

Nishadis Reveal Interesting Facts – The names Boppa Gowda and Devagavunda found in the above inscriptions are brothers and are staunch followers of Jainism. Further when we look at their period Peggade Somaiah (1231 A.D.), Marasoma  (1267 A.D.) and Chandraiah (13th century) and 3 other nishadis studied by Ravikumar at Herur village in Hanagal taluk of Haveri district have some interesting links. The 2 nishadis at Herur village indicates the samadhi of Kanakavve (in 1245 A.D.) and Nagavve (in 1259 A.D.) both being daughters of Devagowda and the other Nishadi found in the premises of Hanuman temple of Kadakola indicates the Samadhi of Chandi Gowdi (in 1279 A.D.) wife of Somanth Siriyama Gowda. If we closely analyse all the above 6 inscriptions it is evident that all of them were the disciples of Nandi Bhattarakha except for Chandi Gowdi. Further of the 6 people who have attained samadhi Marasoma, Kanakavve & Nagavve are DevaGavunda’s children and Chandaiah, Peggade Somaiah & Chandi Gowdi belonged to Boppa Gowda’s family. Further, these Nishadi help us conclude that both the families were staunch followers of Jainism, the way people renounced their life, the influence of Jain ascetics on the day to day life of people i.e. how closely the Jain shravakas were nitted to the religion and the finally the entire family can be called as “Mahamarana Family”.

JHC Opinion – Further research on these and other Nishadis in the region might reveal further details of life style and the Jain Way of life led by people during this period.

Ravikumar K Navalagunda is a lecture of  Kannada, Government Per-University College, Bannikod, Harihara. He is a research scholar perusing his PHD on the subject ‘Jain Inscriptions in Haveri district’ from the Kannada University, Hampi under the guidance of Dr.Paramashivamurthy.

Post Author: Nitin H P