Natyarani Shantala or Shantala Devi was the queen of Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana or Bittideva who lived during the 12th century A.D. She was a daughter of Machikabbe and General Marasingamayya and hailed from Balligavi, a town in Shikaripura taluk of Shivamogga district.
Santala was well versed in fine arts, excelled in dancing, singing and instrumental music. She was well trained in Bharatanatyam, a dance form of South India. Owing to her expertise is dancing she was called as Natyarani Shantala. Rani Shantala Devi is credited with establishing a temple called Chennigaraya Temple based on the lines of Chennakesava Temple.
She built the “Savati Gandhavara Basadi”/temple at Chandragiri in Shravanabelagola in 1123 A.D. The temple has the idol of Tirthankar Shanthinath in Kayotsarga as the main deity. She donates a village called Mottenavile to her guru Prabhachandra Siddhanta Deva to conduct rituals.
Shantala’s Titles – Rani Shantala Devi was enthroned as “Pattamahadevi” – chief queen in 1117. She has been hailed as the ‘Gem of Perfect Faith’, the ‘Fortress of Jain Faith’, the ‘Goddess of Victory in War’ and the ‘Goddess of Fame in Wealth and Peace’, the famous title of Shantale is ‘Savati Gandhawarini’, a rutting elephant to co-wives, a peculiar title indeed.
Inspired by her beauty , King Vishnuvardhana built several celestial female figures called “Madanike” at the Chennakeshavan temple in Belur, Hassan District, Karnataka. There are twenty eight Madanikaes at Belur and the other four at kept at a museum in London. Shantala was an epitome of beauty and even sculptors were inspired by her grace. Hence, the sculptures are finely carved and all of them are in Bharatanatyam poses. The Chennakeshava hall has a polished stone platform. It is said that Goddess Shantala danced in praise of Chennakesava on this stage.
Shantala undertook the vow of Sallekhana at Shivagange in the present Tumkur district in 1131 A.D. An inscription of 1131 A.D. at Chandragiri hill in Shravanabelagola records the death of queen Santala-Devi at Sivaganga (in the current Tumakuru district, Karnataka) in 1131 A.D. through the practice of sallekhana in the presence of her guru Prabhachandra-siddhanta-deva, husband Vishnuvardhana and mother Machikabbe. It describes the achievements of the Hoysala kings from Vinayaditya to Vishnuvardhana and their conquests. It further proceeds to praise the queen Shantala and mentions the grants made by her. It details the family lineage of queen Shantala and her mother Machikabbe.
This picture postcard on Jain queen Natyarani Shantala has been released by the Mangalore Postal Division, Department of Post, Government of India, on the occasion of “Kannada Rajyotsava – 2022” under the “Jina Ratna Bhushanaru” series. The picture postcard has been sponsored by Hombuja Jain Math. The entire project has been led by Mahavir Kundur, Hubli.