While the count down for the mega event begins, here is a detailed, descriptive article on Venur - its history, the Ajilas, Mahamasthakabhisheka, the detailed programme schedule with an illustrious photo gallery & map.
Karnaraka occupies a unique place in the history of Jainism and is popularly called as the Land of Bahubali Statues. This is because of the presence of many Bahubali idols across the state.
Three Of the eight idols mentioned above belong to the erst while Dakshina Kannada district and the one at Dharmasthala which was consecrated in 1982 is latest of all the Bahubali idols. It stands as a testimony to the fact that the art of making huge idols is still prevelant in this region. Dakshina Kannada district holds a very special place in the history of Jainism in Karnataka and Jain literature. The one and only original copy of Dhavala Trayas (Dhavala, Jayadhavala, Mahadhavala) considered to be one of the most sacred Jaina works (agamas) was preserved at Moodabidri. Moodabidri is infact called as the Jaina Kashi because of its history associated with the Dhavalas and the 18 Jain temples. The Bahubali idol at Karkala infact is said to be next only to the Bahubali idol at Shravanabelagola in terms of beauty. Karkala also holds a unique place in the Jain history of this region due the presence of Bahubali idol and the 18 Jain temples. Likewise Venoor also has carved out a uniqe place for itself in Jain history due to the presence of Bahubali idol. In the ensuing lines let us discuss in detail about the Jain heritage, Jain Kings, the Bahubali statue and Jain temples at Venur.
Origin of the word Venur - A few inscriptions of the place mentions the word 'Yènuuru'. Further, it is implied that 'Yelu Uru' ('Yelu'=seven, 'Uru'=place', i.e. seven places) has transformed into 'Yènuuru' and later Venuru. It is mentioned in the work 'Jaina Achara' that about 770 Jaina families lived at Venur. 700 in Kannada means 'Yelunuru', probably this might also be one of the reasons for the place being called as Venur.
Ajilas of Venur
The Ajilas who ruled the region with Venur as their capital initially and later with Aladangadi as their capital have called them selves as belonging to Chandravamsha (Vamsha = family) and as Saluva Kings. Their dynasty included the 16 Maganes (Mahaganas). Even to this day we can find their decendants residing at a palace called Aladangadi which was their palace then. We can also find another palace at Baraya, much older than the one at Aladangadi. The palace that was at Venur is in a dismantled state and the ruins can be found even to this day.
Even though the Ajilas existed in the region since many centuries their stronf hold over the region during the initial few centuries was not evident due to the domination of Hoysalas. However, the Ajilas gained a firm hold over the region at the time of Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana's son.
Further an inscription of 1604 mentions that the Ajilas called themselves to be the descendants of Chamundanvaya. One of the reason for this might be because they might have belonged to the family of Chamudaraya who consecrated the Bahubali idol at Shravanabelagola. The other reason might because of the fact that they also consecrated the Bahubali idol at Venur similar to the one at Shravanabelagola.
An inscription at Venur dated 1118 A.D. mentions that Sevyagellarasa was the first king of this dynasty. Timmanna Ajila-I (1154-1180) recaptured some of the areas ruled by Ajilas earlier. Further, he rejuvenated the ruined palace bearing the 7 storeyed pinnacle at Venur. After Timmanna Ajila-I the region was ruled by a king called as 'Punja' for 6 years. This might be one of the reasons for Venur being called as 'Punjalike Rajya'.
Later the Kadamba king Kamadeva conquered Punjalike Rajya and gave it over to Madhurakka Devi, the daughter-in-law of Timmannajila-I. It is found that Madhurakka Devi ruled over this region after Timmannajila-I. The palace at Venur was also under her control. During her regime the Ajila kingdom included 13 Maganes. Further, she built a palace, a Jain temple and a Hindu temple at her capital Aladangadi.
Madhurakka Devi was suceeded by her son Rayakumara Raja in 1186 A.D. He was suceeded by Timmanna Ajila-II, Pandyappa Ajila-I, Padumala Devi-I, Shankara Devi, Timmana Ajila-III, Madhurakka Devi-I, Pandyappa Ajila-II & Raya Kumara-II. There wasn't any remarkable development during their regime. However, the kingdom flourished and was called as "Akkiya Ajila" (which means "The Ajilas with Rice") by their neighbouring kings appreciating the state of affairs in the kingdom.
An inscription unearthed at Belathangady (a taluk centre near Venur) indicates that Venur was ruled by Ramadevi from 1430-1460 A.D.
One of the available references states that the region was ruled by Somanatha son of Kamadevi in 1489 A.D. It is also belived that Kamadevi also ruled the region for a certain period. One of the inscriptions at Moodabidri of 1515 A.D. mentions that Somnatha had made some donations to the Parshwanatha temple at Moodabidri. Another inscription mentions about Saluva Pandyappa Devarasa who ruled the region around 1537 A.D. His prime minister Binnani Baliya Aadya Devarasa built the Shanthishwara temple at Venur and had made some donations. They were said to be the followers of His Holiness Swasti Sri Lalithakeerthi Bhattarakha Swamiji of Karkala Jain Mutt. Further it is said that 16 Settys (merchants) and 366 businessmen were assisting them.
Timmanna Ajila-IV had three wives. The first wife Pandyakka Devi or Vardhamanakka and Second wife Mallidevi built the Chandranatha Basadi called as Eada Basadi to the left of Bahubali idol. The third wife Parshwadevi or Binnani built the Shanthishwara Basadi called as Bala Basadi to the right of Bahubali idol. Both the temples we built in 1604 A.D.
Madhurakka Devi-II suceeded Timmanna Ajila-IV in 1610 A.D. and ruled till 1647 A.D. References indicate that she conducted the first Mahamasthakabhisheka of Lord Bahubali at Venur. In an inscription of 1621 A.D. she is called as Madhurakkadevi Ammaji. She was an ardent follower of His Holiness Swasti Sri Lalithakeerthi Bhattarakha Swamiji of Karkala Jain Mutt. References indicate that she had donated for the Shanthishwara temple at Venur. Some of the Portugese records indicate that the Ajilas lost a battle against the rulers of Keladi in 1629 A.D.
From 1647 A.D. onwards Madhurakka Devi-II was succeeded by Pandyappa Ajila - III and other kings. Shantaradevi Ajila succeeded the throne in 1680 A.D. and continued to rule till 1725 A.D. She was suceeded her son Timmanma Arasa Ajila (1725-1755 A.D.). Some of the other kings succeeded him and continued the Ajila rule till 1786 A.D. Later on the Ajila's came under the rule of Haider Ali and Tippu Sultan till 1799 A.D. After the death of Tippu Sultan in the 4th Anglo-Mysore war the Ajila's came under the control of Britishers and lost their hold completely. Since then the Ajila's received grants from the British Government.
Some of the records available from the the present house of Ajilas mentions the names of some of the heads of Ajila family who existed over the past century and half which include Padmaraja Ajila (1882-1905), Harishchandra Ajila (1905-1960) and Krishnaraja Ajila (1960-95).
Some of inscriptional references indicate that Venur was a commercial centre consisting of different classes of merchants (Settykars, Elames and Halarus).
Jain temples at Venur
Apart from the Bahubali idol we can find as many as 7 Jain temples at Venur. Two temples are found at the entrance of fort like enclosure surrounding the Bahubali idol.
Akkangala Basadi or Eda Basadi - Timmanajila's first wife Padyakka Devi or Vardhamanakka and second wife Malli Devi built this temple with Lord Chandranatha as the main deity. It is either called as Akkangala Basadi or Eada Basadi and is situated to the left of Bahubali idol. This was built in 1604 A.D.
Binnani Basadi or Bala Basadi - The third wife Parshwadevi or Binnani built the Shanthishwara Basadi called as Bala Basadi to the right of Bahubali idol. This was built in 1604 A.D.
Parshwanatha Swamy Basadi - This temple is situated behind the fort like enclosure of the Bahubali statue. It has a metal (pancha loha - 5 metals) idol of Lord Parshwanatha as the main deity. Records indicate that the renovation of this temple was carried out in the year 1936 by his Holiness Swasti Sri Charukeerthi Bhattarakha Swamiji of the Moodabidri Jain Mutt.
Kallu Basadi or Dodda Basadi or Shanthinatha Basadi - Since the temple has been completely built of stones (kallu) with tiled roofs it is called as Kallu Basadi. By virtue of being the biggest temple in Venur it is also called as Dodda basadi. It was built by Binnani Baliya Aadya Devarasa (prime minister of the Ajila king Saluva Pandyappa Devarasa) in 1489 A.D. and records indicate that he made some donations. It has a 5 feet high attractive idol of Lord Shanthinatha as the main deity. On either side of the idol can be found the idols of Garuda Yaksha and Mahamanasi Yakshi. In addition to this we can also find the idols of Lord Chandranatha, Lord Mahavira and a bronze statue of 24 Tirthankaras.
Inscriptions at Kallu Basadi - We can find two inscriptions at Kallu Basadi. As mentioned above one of the inscriptions is found in the pedestal of a 24 Tirthankara bronze statue mentions that Venur was also called as Punjalike Rajya. The other inscription of 1621 has recorded the donations given to this temple by Madhurakka Devi who ruled the region.
Adinatha Basadi - This Basadi is situated to the left of Kallu Basadi. It has an idol of Lord Adinatha in padmasana as the main deity.
It lies along the Dharmasthala - Moodabidri - Karkala route in the Belathangady taluk of Dakshina Kannada District. It is situated at a distance of 20 Kms from Moodabidri and 30 Kms from Dharmasthala. It has good approach roads from Mangalore, Dharmasthala, Moodabidri, Karkala and many other important places in Karnataka. The nearest railway stations to Venur are Mangalore,B.C.Road & Udupi. The nearest airport to Venur is at Mangalore.
Venur being a small town does not have many options as far as accommodation is concerned. People visiting the place will have to make sufficient arrangements at nearby places such as Dharmasthala, Moodabidri, Karkala & Mangalore.
The word Mahamasthakabhisheka is a combination of three words 'Maha'(great), 'Masthaka' (head)and 'Abhisheka' (anointing). Which when translated in English language literally means "Great Head Anointing" ceremony. This a ritual carried out to the Bahubali idols once in every twelve years. Strictly speaking the head anointing ceremony of the 57 feet idol of Lord Bahubali at Shravanabelagola is called as Mahamasthakabhisheka and a similar ceremony carried out to the rest of the Bahubali idols is called as Masthakabhisheka. However, over a period of time the ceremony conducted to any of the Bahubali idols once in every 12 years is called as Mahamasthakabhisheka. We should say that the concept of Mahamasthakabhisheka evolved in Karnataka and as already cited Mahamasthakabhisheka is a regular feature observed to almost all the Bahubali idols.
Mahamasthakabhisheka Rituals - Unlike the Panchakalyana rituals conducted for Tirthankaras, only three Kalyanas are conducted to Lord Bahubali. They are - Diksha Kalyana, Kevalagnana Kalyana and Nirvana Kalyana. However, the Pancha Kalyanas are conducted to any one of the Tirthankaras at the time of Mahamasthakabhisheka.
Abhishekas performed during Mahamasthakabhisheka - Usually the Mahamasthakabhisheka starts with Jala-abhisheka followed by Panchamrutha abhisheka. The Jala-abhisheka is carried out with either 108 or 504 or 1008 Kalashas. Kalasha is a pot of water covered by beetel leaves and a coconut. The pot of water is poured on the head of the Lord by devotees while the priests chant the holy hymns.
Panchamrutha Abhisheka - The Jabhisheka is followed by Panchamrutha abhisheka. Panchamrutha Abhisheka invloves anointing the idol with different items. These include Nairkela (tender coconut), Ikshurasa (sugarcane juice), Kshera (milk), Swetha Kalakachurna (rice flour), Harita Kalakachurna (rice flour mixed with turmeric), Kashaya (a juice prepared by boilng different ingredients), Sri Gandha (sandal wood paste), Chandana (a plant extract similar to Sandal wood paste with a differnet flavour), Ashta Gandha (a combination of eight types of Sandal wood pastes), Kesara (saffron), Haladi (Turmeric), Suvarnaratna Pushpavrusthi (a collection of different kinds of flowers mixed with golden-suvarna flowers and sacred gems and stones), Pushpavrushti (a collection of different kinds of flowers).
Arrangement of Kalashas - Usually the Kalashas are arranged systematically as specified in the Jaina agamas. If it is planned to anoint the idol with 1008 Kalashas then the Kalashas will be arranged such that there are arranged in a systematic distributed manner equally in four different halves. When all the four halves are joined they form a square. In the centre is placed the Purnakumbha Kalasha which will be the biggest of all the Kalashas. At four corners of the Kalasha configuration are placed four Kalashas of bigger size that are bigger than the rest of 1008 Kalashas but smaller than the Purnakumbha kalasha. These are called as Chatushkona Kalashas.
Mahamasthakabhisheka of Lord Bahubali at Venur
Though the idol was installed in the year 1604 not much historical references are available about the Mahamasthakabhisheka held prior to 1928 either in any inscriptions or literary works. There are references of the event being held in 1928, 1956 and 2000. Since 1956 there wasn't any Masthakabhishekas performed to the idol. Astrologers and vastu experts termed this to some vastu defects that existed around the idol. Members of the Jain community consulted many astrologers and vastu experts from India and abroad in the latter part of 1990s and got it rectified. Repairs were carried out around the idol during the 1990s and the Masthakabhisheka was performed in 2000.
The Mahamasthakabhisheka to Lord Bahubali at Venur will be conducted from 28th January to 5th February 2012. Different religious rituals, aradhanas etc will be conducted during the day and the Mahamasthakabhisheka will be conducted from 7.00-10.00 pm every day. On all the days the Jalabhisheka will be followed by panchamrutha abhisheka.
His Holiness Srimad Jagadguru Karmayogi Swasti Sri Charukeerthi Bhattarakha Pattacharyavarya MahaSwamiji (Shravanabelagola Jain Mutt)
Sri D.V.Sadananda Gowda (Chief Minister of Karnataka)
Rajarishi Dr.D.Veerendra Heggade (Dharmasthala)
Honorary Presence -
Dr. Padmaprasad Ajila (Member of the Ajila Family of Aladangadi)
Releasing Souvenir -
Sri Krishna G Palemar (District in charge Minister, Dakshina Kannada District)
Inauguration of Exhibition -
Sri Nalin Kumar Katil (Member of Parliament, Mangalore)
Book Release -
Sri Vasantha Bangera (Member of Legislative Assembly, Belathangady)
Chief Guests -
Captain Ganesh Karnik (Member of Legislative Council, Bangalore)
Smt K.T.Shailaja Bhatt (President, Dakshnia Kannada Jilla Panchayat)
Smt Mamatha Shetty (President, Belathangady Taluk Panchayat)
Sri Dejappa Shetty (President, Venur Grama Panchayat)
Hosts - Members of the Ajila Family and Aladangadi Palace
Cultural Programmes - 6.30 to 10.30 pm
ReligiousProgrammes from January 28th-February 5th 2012.
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