Honnavara (Uttara Kannada District, Karnataka), 13th November 2021: An ancient Jain inscription belonging to 13th century and three sallekhana inscriptions have been discovered recently at Kudrigi village in Honnavara Taluk of Uttar Kannada district, Karnataka in the midst of the ruins of a Digambar Jain temple. Kudgiri is located at a distance of 27 Kms from the taluk centre Honnavara and 7 Kms from Gerusoppe/Gerusoppa, an ancient Jain heritage center that flourished as the capital of Nagire Dynasty ruled Saluva kings for several years. These have been discovered by Mr. Nitin H P during his field work recently in November 2021 in the premises of the ruins of a Digambar Jain temple. Nitin an IT professional and works as Manager – Marketing Technology at Wipro Limited, Bengaluru.
Pedestal Inscription – In the midst of these ruins is found a mutilated Jain Tirthankar idol about 2.5 feet high. The inscription has been found along the pedestal of the Tirthankar idol. The Tirthankar idol’s head and the chamadharis flanking the Tirthankar and the Mukkode above the Tirthankar’s head have been chopped off. On either side of the Tirthankar’s shoulders are seen the curly hairs drooping from the head. This indicates that this might be an idol of Tirthankar Adinath, the 1st Tirthankar of Jainism.
Inscription’s Details – The inscription states that “The younger sister of the disciple of “Samayacharana Guru” belonging to “Sri Mulasangha Deshiya Gana” got the inscription engraved and built the “Narana Jina Chaityalaya”.
- Inscription’s Analysis
- Mulasangha Deshiya Gana – “Sri Mulasangha Deshiya Gana” has been mentioned in the inscription. This indicates that the “Mulasangha” had its influence along this region.
- Samayacharana – It also has the name “Samayacharana”, this is the name of a Jain Muni.
- Connections related to Samayacharana – We can find an inscription related to “Samayacharana” in a Nishadi – Sallekhana memorial inscription found at the Hirekerur taluk of Haveri district in Karnataka. This indicates that the same muni had arrived to this region as part of his Vihara (travel on foot) and might have influenced the Shravakas (Jain house holders) of this region.
Narana Jina Chaityala – The words “Narana Jina Chaityala” has been used in this inscription. This confirms the fact that this idol had been carved for “Narana Jinalaya – Jain Temple”.
Usage of the term “Narana” – There are two inscriptions of 12th-13th century related to the “Nagire state” (this region ruled by the Saluvas was called as “Nagire state”) at Moodabidri. One of these inscriptions gives us details of the genealogy of this dynasty. It further gives us details of “Narananka” who was a king. On this background it can be concluded that usage of the term “Narana” means that this temple was built in the name of Narananka.
Inscription’s Period – “There are no details of any period in this inscription. However, as already discussed we can find the mention of the terms “Samayacharana” and “Narana”. Samayacharana’s period in the Hirekerur inscription is around 1275 A.D. and Narana’s period approximately around 13th century A.D. Hence it can be concluded that this inscription belongs to 13th century A.D.”, says Nitin, founder of the website www.jainheritagecentres.com.
Sallekhana Memorial Inscriptions – In addition to this three Sallekhana memorial inscriptions have been discovered in the temple premises.
” Sallekhana is one among the various rituals practiced in Jainism. When an individual has completed all his responsibilities in life and when he/she feels that death is inevitable they undertake the vow of Sallekhana. An individual who undertakes Sallekhana sacrifices food gradually and involves themselves fully in the worship of God and die finally. Inscriptions or memorials are installed in memory of such holy souls who die by practicing Sallekhana and are called as ‘Nishadis’. Three such Nishadis have been found in this Digambar Jain temple’s premises. The discovery of these inscriptions indicates the practice of rituals by the followers of Jainism and that Jainism was at its peak in the region,” says Nitin.
- First Nishadi Inscription – There are three steps in this inscription:
- 1st Step – We can see the carving of a Tirthankar in Paryankasana flanked by chowri bearers, mukkode above the Tirthankar’s head along with the sun and moon. To the right of the Tirthankar is seen the carving of a lady with folded hands facing the Tirthankar.
- 2nd Step – To the left is seen a monk preaching the Sallekhana vow, in the centre is seen the carving of holy books and Shrutapeetha (a stand used to keep holy books) and to the right is a seen the carving of a lady with folded hands facing the Tirthankar.
- 3rd Step – In this step are seen the 8 lines inscription.
- Inscription’s Details – The inscription’s period is not known and is worn out intermittently. It says that Samayacharana Muni’s disciple (disciple’s name is worn out) donated rice to the Makkirasoppe’s Basadi.
Second Nishadi Inscription – There are three steps in this inscription:
- 1st Step – We can see the carving of a Tirthankar in Paryankasana flanked by chowris, mukkode above the Tirthankar’s head along with the sun and moon.
- 2nd Step – In this step are seen the 5 lines inscription.
- 3rd Step – To the left is seen a monk preaching the Sallekhana vow, in front of him is seen the Kamandala, in the centre is seen the carving of holy books and Shrutapeetha and to the right is a seen the carving of a lady with folded hands facing the Tirthankar.
- Inscription’s Details – The inscription’s period is not known and is worn out intermittently. It says that in the 62nd Samvatsara’s Chaitra Padiva Bruhaspativara (Thursday) Samayacharana Muni’s disciple. Rest of the inscriptional details are worn out.
- Third Nishadi Inscription – There are four steps in this inscription:
- 1st Step – We can see the carving of a Tirthankar in Paryankasana flanked by chowris and mukkode above the Tirthankar’s head.
- Looks like there was inscriptional text in the 2nd and 4th steps. However, these details have been worn out.
- 3rd Step – To the right is seen a monk preaching the Sallekhana vow, in the centre is seen the carving of holy books and Shrutapeetha and to the left is a seen the carving of a lady with folded hands facing the Tirthankar.
- Period of Sallekhana Memorial Inscriptions – Though parts of the inscription that reveals the period are worn out it mentions about Samayacharana Muni. Samayacharana Muni’s period is 13th century. Hence it can ben concluded that the two inscriptions with text belong to 13th century.
Acknowledgement – Nitin has thanked Dr. RaviKumar K Navalagunda (Harihara) for his help in deciphering the inscriptional text and guiding him in the research. He has also thanked Mr. Bhojaraj Jain of Siddapura for helping him with the field work.