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12th Century’s Ardha Sahasrakuta Jain idol found at Belagavi

    An Ardha Sahasrakuta Jain idol along with inscription belonging to 12th century has been found at Belagavi/Belagaum on 12th February 2020. It was found while digging the compound walls of North West Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (NWKRTC) depot No. 2. The idol has now been shifted to the premises of Kamala Basadi with in the Belgaum fort. The inscription on the idol has been researched and published by Brahmanand Srikanth Chipre an IT professional and heritage enthusiast of Belagavi.

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    Unique Idol – The idol being made of pink coloured stone has the carvings of Jain Tirthankaras in Kayotsarga/Khadgasana standing posture on all the four sides and when counted they add up to 504. As per Jain philosophy an idol with 1008 Tirthanakra idols carved on all the four sides is called as Saharsakuta (a combination of two Kannada words Shasra meaning 1000 and Kuta meaning a conglomeration). Since the total no. of idols engraved on this idol is 504 i.e. an exact half of 1008, it has been termed as an Ardha Saharsakuta. While in almost all the Sahasrakuta idols in Karnataka the Tirthanakaras are in padmasana/sitting posture the Tirthankaras in this are in kayotsarga which is another uniqueness of this idol.

    The idol is about 4 ft 1 inches high, the perimeter of its base is 9 ft and that of its top is 5 ft. Every side of the idol has 8 steps with 126 idols on each side.

    Inscription on the idol –Brahmanada Chipre impressed by its unique structure when cleaning the idol (on 22nd February 2020) he came across some inscriptional text engraved on one of its side. On cleaning it further he was able to find the inscription one its sides. On the strips bifurcating each steps of the idol along with the top and bottom most strip is inscribed the inscriptional text.

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    Inscriptional Summary – It says thatKumbadevana son of Brahmadeva of Hovinabage a disciple of Meghachandra Traividyadeva of Kundakundanvaya ascetic tradition got this structure with 500 idols made to wash off his Karma. The people who worship this idol will remain in eternal bliss. Kambanadeva has given this idol to a Basadi in Venugrama”. The word Hovinabage is nothing but the present Raibag, a taluk centre in Belagavi district and Venugrama is the present Belagavi. Hence it can be concluded that Kambanadeva belonged to Raibag and donated the idol to a Basadi in Belagavi. Based on the inscriptional text it can be concluded that it belonged to 12th century.

    Inscriptional expert Dr. Ravikumar K Navalagunda of Harihara has deciphered the of the inscriptions text and has guided Brahmanand in his research.
    – Nitin H P, Jain Heritage Centres News Service

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