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Ancient Jaina Nishadi & Rare Ruined Chaturmukha Tirthankar Idol Discovered at Kunchuru

    Ancient Jaina Nishadhi & rare ruined Chaturmukha Idol found at Kunchuru, Haveri District, Karnataka

    Kunchuru (Hirekerur Taluk, Haveri District, Karnataka), November 24, 2013: An ancient Jaina Nishadi (memorial stone) and a rare ruined Chaturmukha idol has been discovered at Kunchuru village besides the Terina Mane (chariot house) in an open air in the Hirekerur taluk of Haveri district in Karnataka by Ravikumar K. Navalagunda a lecturer in Kannada at the government pre-university college in Bannikodu, Harihara Taluk, Davanagere district.

    Jaina Nishadi: The black coloured Nishadi stone is 20 inches wide & 28 inches high and has 3 parts. The first part consists of a Jaina Tirthankara in the centre with a Jaina muni on its left. The Jaina muni in holding a Pinchi in his left hand and preaching about Sallekhana to a lady seated to the right of the Tirthankara idol. Further, a shrutapeetha (a small stand like structure used to keep sacred Jain works) is also found in front of the muni. The Trithankara idol is flanked by two chouri bearers, a carving of sun on the right and moon on its left with an attractively carved Simha Mukha (Lion’s face) above it. The second part of the Nishadi consists of a small inscription flanked by a lady on its right (most probably a couple) and a man on its left with a six lines small inscription carved in the centre. The bottom most portion of the Nishadi consists of a shrutapeetha in the centre with a lady seated with folded hands on its right and a Jain Monk preaching her.

    Six lines text of the inscription found in the second portion –

    • Srimatparama Gam
    • Bira Syadwadamogha
    • Lanchanam Jeeya
    • Trailokya Nathasya
    • Shasanam Ji(na)
    • Shasanam Sri Sri Sri

    This is the usual text found at the beginning of any Jaina inscription and the text below this is missing.

    What is a Nishadi? A Nishadi is a memorial stone installed in memory of a Jaina muni (Monk) or Shravakas (house holders) who attain salvation by means of Sallekhana.

    Period of the Nishadi – The style adopted in carving of the Nishadi and letters of the inscription indicate that it belonged to the 12th century.

    Rare Ruined Chaturmukha Idol – Is this a Combination of Choubis & Vidyamana Tirthankaras? Apart from the Nishadi a rare ruined Chaturmukha idol measuring about 9 inches wide and 18 inches high was also discovered in the vicinity. We can find the centrally located Tirthankara in Kayotsarga (standing posture) flanked by two Tirthankara idols on either side near the feet of the Tirthankra with three more Tirthanakras seated one below the other on either side. This adds up to a total of 11 Tirthankaras on each side. This kind of structure is found on all the fours sides of the idol. This leads to a total of 44 Tirthankaras in the entire structure. This 44 Tirthankaras in a Chaturmukha idol is very rare to find and could be a combination of the 24 Tirthankaras (Choubis) and Vidyamana Tirthankaras.

    The residents of the village are of the opinion that they had seen a lot of Jaina ruins in and around the pond of this village. However, nothing much was discovered around this area. The discovery of various Jaina ruins, nishadis and inscriptions in the village indicate that this might have been a Jaina centre.

    Research Scholar – Ravikumar K. Navalagunda is also a research scholar perusing his PhD. at Kannada University, Hampi on the topic ‘Haveri Jille Jaina Shasanagalu’ (Haveri District Jaina Inscriptions) under the guidance of Dr.Paramashivamurthy. Sri Ravikumar has thanked his guide and the villagers in helping him out with this discovery. – Nitin H.P., Jain Heritage Centres News Service

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