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Varuna Jain Ruins & Inscriptions

    Varuna a small hamlet situated at a distance of 12 Kms from Mysore the cultural capital of Karnataka at the outset appears just like any another village in Karnataka until we start exploring its heritage. It bears a rich heritage in terms of history and culture from the period of early Western Gangas of Talakad to Wodeyars of Mysore.

    – Article & Photos by Nitin H.P., Bengaluru (HPN@JHC)

    It’s inscriptions starting from 8th century A.D. help us understand its antiquity and historicity1. Inscriptions of 9th & 10th century help to conclude that the Bhuteshwara (dedicated to Lord Shiva) temple in this village belongs to 950 A.D. Further the two Jain inscriptions and idols found at the village lead to conclude that this was a Jain centre.

    Jain Ruins

    In front of the Bhuteshwara temple are installed 5 Jain idols and a Sallekhana memorial inscription.

    Kushmandini Idol – It measures about 3’ 6” high and is a Jain Yakshi in sitting posture. On the idol’s right side is found a child standing and to its right is found another child riding the lion. Above the head are found the carvings of mango tree & its leaves. The carvings of 2 children, a lion and a mango tree help to denote that this is a Kushmandini idol. The idol is mutilated with both of its hands being broken.

    Yakshi – This is about 3’6” high. Its right portion and both the hands are mutilated. There are no inscriptional evidences to indicate this as a Jain Yakshi. However, design of the idol’s crown where a Tirthankar is usually seen can be seen on it. This helps to conclude that it is a Jain Yakshi.

    Parshwanath Tirthankar Idol – The overall height of the sculpture is about 5’. A carving of Lord Parshwanath in padmasana measuring about 2’6” high is carved on it. It is flanked on either side by Dharanendra Yaksha & Padmavati Yakshi and above these are found chowri bearers. Above the Tirthankra are carved 3 umbrellas one above the other and are called as Mukkode. The snake hoods above the Mukkode extends back and has been carved nicely. The right thigh, parts of the left thigh and the idol’s face are seen mutilated.

    Shanthinath Thirthankara – It measures about 5’ and is seen in Kayotsarga (standing posture). It is flanked on either side by Chowri bearers near its feet. This is a very simple idol as compared to others in its vicinity. It face is mutilated and has been chipped intermittently all throughout its length. On the pedestal of this idol is found a 4 lines inscription giving the information about its installation. However, it is not readable now as that portion has been buried. This inscription has been discussed later in the article.

    Padmavati Idol – This is about 3’ high and is in sitting posture. Its face and hands are mutilated totally. The presence of a single hood above the idol’s head helps us to know that this is Goddess Padmavati. It is artistically carved and is rich in ornamental decor.

    Jain Inscriptions at Varuna

    Two Jain inscriptions are found at Varuna. One of these is found on the pedestal of the idol of Lord Shanthinatha and the other on a stone besides the Yakshi idol.

    Inscription on the pedestal of the image of Sānthinātha

    Inscriptional Extract in Kannada fonts

    1 ಶ್ರೀ…ಶ್ರೀಮತ್ಪರ…..ಯಿ ರಜಗುರು.

    2 ಮಂಡಳಾಚಾರ್ಯ ವಿಥಮಕರರತ್ರಿಗೋತ್ರ ಪರಸುರಾಮ ಅಚನ ಚಮುಂಡರನು ಆ

    3 ಭಠರಕರು ವಾರುಣದ ಸಾಂಥಿನಾಥಸ್ವಮಿಯ ಮಡಿಸಿದರು ಅವರ ಪ್ರಿಯದುನಡುಚಲ

    4 ದಾಚಾರ್ಯ್ಯ ಮಕಳು ವಿಜಯಅಣ ಬಮಣ ಮಡಿದರು

    Transliterated Inscriptional Extract

    1 Srī Srīmatpara…yi rajaguru

    2 mandaĺācārya vithamakararatrigōtra parasurāma acana camundaranu ā

    3 Bhatarakaru vārunada sānthinānasvamiya madisidaru avara priyadunaďucala

    4 dācārya makaĺu vijayaań bamańa madidaru

    Script – Old Kannada

    Period – About 13th Century based on the script

    Location – The Shanthatha idol was found on the backyard of a house. Later it has been installed in front of Bhuteshwara Temple (a Hindu temple) in an open field along with other mutilated Jain idols.

    Inscriptional Summary – This is a 4 lines inscription. It explains that the illustrious royal preceptor mandalacharya Àchana Chamundara, a Parasurāma, of Atri-gōtra, the bhattāraka, got the idol of Shanthinatha made. It was done [carved] by 2 persons called Vijaya-ana and Bamana, sons of Dunadunchaladāchā.

    Sallekhana Inscription – Also called as a Nishadi

    Inscriptional Extract in Kannada fonts

    1 ಶ್ರೀ ಮದ್ರಾವಿಳ

    2 ಸಂಗಸ್ಯ ನನ್ದಿ ಸಂ

    3 ಘೇಹ್ಯರುಂಗಳೆ ಅ

    4 ನ್ವಯೇ ಶೇಷಶಾಸ್ತ್ರ

    5 ಜ್ಞ ಶ್ರೀಪಾಳ

    6 ಮುನಿರಾಶ್ರಿಯಃ

    7 ತಚ್ಛಿಪ್ಯೋ ವಿದಷಾಂ

    8 ಶ್ರೇಷ್ಟಃ ಪದ್ಮಪ್ರಭ

    9 ಮುನೀಶ್ವರಃ ತಸ್ಯ

    10 ಪುತ್ರ ತಪೋತ್ತೀ

    11 ದ್ಧರ್ಮಸೇನ ಮಹಾ

    12 ಮುನಿ ಸೋಯಂ

    13 ಶುದ್ಧಃ ಸ್ವಭಾವಸ್ತೊ

    14 ಬಾಹ್ಯಾಂ[ತ]ರ ಪರಿಗ್ರಹಾ

    15 ತ್ಯಕ್ತೋಜಿನಪದಾಗ್ರೆ

    16 ತ್ರಿದಿವಂ ಗತವಾನ್ಬಧ


    Transliterated Inscriptional Extract

    1 Srī madrāĺa

    2 Sangasya nandi sam

    3 gehyarungale a

    4 nvayé Shéshashāstra

    5 jna Srī Pāĺa

    6 Munirāshriyaha

    7 tachipyō visdhishām

    8 Shréshtaha Padmaprabha

    9 Munīshwaraha Tasya

    10 Putra Tapōttī

    11 Dharmasena Mahā

    12 muni sōyam

    13 Shuddaha Swabhāvasto

    14 Bāhyan[ta]ra Parigrahā

    15 tyaktōjinapadāgre

    16 tridivam Gathavanpadha

    17 ha

    Script – A Sanskrit inscription written in old Kannada fonts.

    Period – About 13th Century based on the script

    Title & Profile of Person who attained Sammadhi – Dharmasena

    Guru Parampara (Lineage) – Nandi Sangha/Dravila Sangha – Arungalanvaya

    Hierarchy of Gurus Mentioned – Muni Sri Pala > Padmaprabha Muni > Dharmasena

    Location – Was found by the side of a field initially. Later it has been installed in front of Bhuteshwara Temple (a Hindu temple) in an open air along with other mutilated Jain idols.

    Summary – This is a 17 lines Sallekhana inscription engraved on a long stone with a lesser width. It mentions that the sage Sripala belonged to the Aruńgalānvaya, of Nandi-Sangha of the illustrious Dravila-Sangha as mentioned in śāstrās. His disciple was Padmaprabha-muni, foremost among the learned. His son (disciple) was Dharmaséna, the great sage, full of austerities. The wise man, with absolute purity in life, renounced everything, devoted himself at the feet of Jina and attained the heavenly abode.

    The author came across a villager, who mentioned that there were many more Jain idols in the area in a similar state a few decades ago and have gradually been stolen over a period of time.

    The presence of 2 Jain Tirthankars and 3 Jain Yakshi idols provide enough evidence to conclude that Varuna was a Jain centre with atleast around 2 to 3 Jain temples and a sizable Jain population. Further, the presence of a Sallekhana memorial stone indicates that the Jain families were staunch followers of Jain principles & rituals. It is sad to note these idols being lying in a mutilated state in an open field though being located just 10 Kms from Mysore, the district centre with a sizable Jain population of around 2500 Jain families. The local Jains should take up an initiative to install all these idols in a protected place in the village or shift it to a safe location. If no action is taken at this juncture these idols might be stolen over a period of and we might lose our precious Jain heritage.


    1. Varuna: A Cultural Study With Special Reference to The Inscriptions and Sculptures – Fr. M Vincent,, Published by the University of Mysore, Manasagangatri, Mysore.
    2. Epigraphia Carnatica (1976) Volume 5 – Inscription No. 180, Page No. 297, Published by the Institute of Kannada Studies, University of Mysore, Manasagangatri, Mysore.
    3. Epigraphia Carnatica (1976) Volume 5 – Inscription No. 181, Page No. 298, Published by the Institute of Kannada Studies, University of Mysore, Manasagangatri, Mysore.
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