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Kunchur’s unique ‘Bees – Choubis’ Tirthankar Chaturmukha idol

    + A unique Bees Choubis Tirthankar idol found at Kunchur Village, Hirekerur Taluk, Haveri District.
    + An idol with the carvings of Tirthankar idols of current times & Videha Kshetra’s Vidhyamana Tirthankars.
    + Idol said to be belonging to 12th century AD
    + Discovered during the fieldwork by research scholar Dr. Ravikumar K Navalagunda of Harihara in November 2013
    + Idols uniqueness being identified by Nitin H P of

    – Nitin H P, Bengaluru

    Chaturmukha (four-faced) Tirthankar idols are common in Jainism. We usually find them on Manastambhas. We also find Chaturmukha Tirthankar idols that add up to form a Choubis (24) Tirthankaras or Sahasrakuta (1008). Recently we have also come across an Ardha Sahasra Kuta (504) Chaturmukha idol found at Belagavi.

    However, in contrast to these, we can find a unique Chaturmukha Tirthankara idol with 44 Tirthankaras at Kunchuru village, Hirekerur Taluk, Haveri District, Karnataka.

    Way back in November 2013 Sri Ravikumar K Navalagunda of Harihara discovered this unique idol while on his fieldwork as a part of his doctoral study on Haveri District Jain inscriptions.

    When Ravikumar visited Kunchur an NSS camp was conducted wherein members of the camp were cleaning the shrubs at Kunchru. Ravikumar joined them. He discovered a 4 lines Sallekhana memorial inscription and this unique Chaturmukha Tirthankar idol.

    Initially like any other Chaturmukha idol, this was also reported as a normal Chaturmukha idol being discovered. However, the author of this article (Nitin H P, Bengaluru) discussed in detail with Ravikumar and found that there were 11 Tirthankar idols on each side. When Tirthanakara idols of all the 4 sides were added it was 44. When this was deciphered further it is found that the 24 Tirthankara idols of the current period and 20 Vidyamana Tirthanakras of Videha Kshetra added up to make 44. The discovery of this unique idol in Kunchur provides enough proof that Jainism flourished in the region. If further research is undertaken we might be able to unearth much more interesting facts.

    Unique Idol In the world – Usually we find Choubis or Trikala Tirthankar idols (72) Chiselled on one side or as part of a Chaturmukha idol. We have also seen Sahasra Kuta and Ardha Sahasra Kuta idols. However, this kind of unique combination of the Tirthanakar idols of the current period with Vidyamana Tirthanakaras on a single Chatrumukha is a very rare combination. Hence this idol can be termed as a unique idol of its kind in the world.

    Idols timeline – Based on the details of other Sallekhana memorial inscription found along with this idol and its carvings it is opined that this idol belonged to 12th century AD.

    Bees Choubis Tirthankar Idol – In Hindi, the numeral ‘20’ is called ‘bees’ and ‘24’ is called Choubis. Since this idol is a combination of both it can be termed as “Bees Choubis Tirthankar”.Protecting the Idol – Since its discovery, this idol was kept in an open-air for quite some time. However, this author visited Kunchur in 2014 along with Ravikumar Navalagunda and educated the villagers about the importance of this idol. Since then it was kept in a Hindu temple. Later on, it has been installed in the open air on a platform embedded with concrete. It is the earnest duty of the Jain community to work towards preserving this priceless treasure.

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