Devagiri (Haveri District, Karnataka), July 14, 2014: Two ancient Jain Tirthankar idols were found at Devagiri, a small village at a distance of 6 Kms from Haveri district in Karnataka. The idols were found in the front of a house besides the Basavanna temple while digging the land for foundation to construct a water tank.
Both the idols in Kayotsarga (standing) posture are made of soapstone and are carved in the same style. One of the idol measures 140X60 cms and the other measures 83X36 cms. Both the idols have prabhavali (enclosure) around them and the prabhavali of one of the idol is broken at the time of digging. Further, the carving is incomplete at certain areas of the idols. It is difficult to conclude as to which Tirthankar idols these are. However, the Yakshi structure found on the left of both the idols is some what similar to Goddess Kushmandini, the Yakshi of Lord Neminath the 22nd Tirthanakar. Hence we might conclude that the idols are of Lord Neminath.
Erst while Chief centre of a Jain Muni Sangha – There are around 6 Jain families at Devagiri and does not have any Jain temple. However, historical references state that this was a cheif Jain heritage centre since the period of Adikadamba’s (around 4th-8th Century) and also was once a chief centre of the Jain Muni Sangha called ‘Paraluru Sangha’ opines noted Jain scholar Hampa Nagarajaiah. This was called as “Bruhat Paraluru” during the period of Kadambas.
The discovery of these idols further substantiates the fact that this was a chief Jain centre says Mr. Ravikumar K. Navalagunda, a resrarch scholar persuing his doctoral studies on the subject “Haveri District Jain Inscriptions” from the Kannada University, Hampi.
Other Jain idols and an inscription – Two more ruined Jain Tirthankar idols in padmasana posture are found at Devagiri. One of these idols is in an open air besides the Muslim mortuary. The other idol is in the backyard of a house. Another inscription found at Devagiri speaks about the Jain history of this place. Mr.Ravikumar has published this inscription and will be including it as a part of his doctoral thesis.
The Tirthnankar Idols were taken into the custody of Jain Samaj under the leadership of Sri Mohana Ranadevi and was taken out in a procession in the village. -Photos & Inputs from Ravikumar K. Navalagunda, Harihara