Jainism in Karnataka

Jainism in Karnataka

The statue of Bahubali at Shravanabelagola dates from 978-993 AD.

Karnataka, a state in South India has a long association with Jainism, a religion which enjoyed patronage of major historic kingdoms in the state such as the Western Ganga, Kadamba and Chalukya dynasties and the Hoysala Empire. Today the state is home to a number of Jain monuments, such as temples, Gommaṭa statues and stambhas.


Historical association of Jainism with Karnataka dates back to the 2nd century AD. [1] Legend has it that Mahavira (the 24th and last Jain Tirthankara) visited Karnataka and initiated King Jivandhara of Hemanagada country of the Kuntala (Karnataka) region this probably accounts for the early beginnings of Jainism in Karnataka. Acharya Bhadrabahu, of the line of pontiffs started by Mahavira accomponied by his disciple Chandragupta Maurya and followers halted at Chandragiri Hill or Rishigiri. Realising that he was nearing the end of his life, he instructed his disciples to spread the religion and he undertook santhara at Chandragiri. Nearly 700 more munis performed Sallekhana, which gave a thrust to the spread of the religion in Karnataka.[2]

Chandragupta Maurya continued to live on this hill worshipping the foot prints of his teacher and later he too followed his teacher by adopting Sallekhana. There are two monuments on the hill recalling this event, a rock cut cave called Bhadrabahu cave and a structural shrine called the Chandragupta Basadi. [3]

Architecture and Monuments

There are a number of monuments relating to the Jain religion in Karnataka. The Jain monuments include smaller shrines, Jain temples (known as Bastis or Basadis), Gommata statues and Sthambas (pillars).

The most prominent among them are as follows.

Basadis (Bastis)

Statues of Gommata

There are a number of large and small Gommata statues found in Karnataka. Prominent among them are the Statues at Shravanabelagola, Karkala, Venuru and Dharmasthala.

There are five monolithic statues of Bahubali in Karnataka measuring more than 20 feet in height.

Moodabidre, known otherwise as the Jain Kashi is home to 1000 Pillar Jain temple (ಸಾವಿರ ಕಂಬದ ಬಸಧಿ). Shravanabelagola has the world famous monolithic statue of Lord Bahubali. Similar Monolithic statues of Lord Bahubali can be also seen in Venur, Dharmasthala, Karkala and Mysore. In all of the above-mentioned places, the holy festival of Mahamastakabhisheka is held once every 12 years when the statue of Bahubali is worshiped and bathed in holy water, milk, turmeric, and other natural herbs that have their own significant importance.

Jainism in North Karnataka

Jainism in North Karnataka[4] flourished under the Chalukyas, Kadamba and Rashtrakutas, and Vijayanagara empire. Imbued with an intense religious feeling, lavish patronage was extended towards the building of basadis, temples and magnificent statues. Jainism enjoyed the highest repute among the people particularly the ruling classes and the mercantile community thus virtually becoming the state religion.

The earliest dated structure is a Basadi at Halasi built under the Kadamba Dynasty of Banavasi thus laying the foundation for Jain architecture in North Karnataka. Besides the Kadambas, the Chalukyas and the Rashtrakutas made liberal endowments towards the propagation of art and architecture to which the Jain contributions have been of classical significance.

The Chalukyas of Badami built cave temples at Badami and Aihole. Puligere was a strong centre of religious activities of the Jain monks during this era.

Religious organizations

The Marathi Jains), Karnataka (Kannada Jains) and Goa.

Prominent Kannadiga Jains

Photo Gallery


See also

External links

  • Jainism and Karnataka culture


  1. ^ Singh, R.B.P. (2008). Jainism in Early Medieval Karnataka. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. pp. 176 pages.  
  2. ^ "A place soaked in religion". Archived from the original on 2006-10-12. Retrieved 2006-11-23. 
  3. ^ "Karnataka’s hotbed of Jain religion". Archived from the original on 2006-06-18. Retrieved 2006-11-25. 
  4. ^ "The Jain Legacy In Karnataka". Retrieved 2008-08-20. 
  5. ^ "People of India: Maharashtra - Kumar Suresh Singh - Google Books". Books.google.com. Retrieved 2013-01-30. 
  6. ^ "The Assembly of Listeners: Jains in Society - Google Books". Books.google.com. Retrieved 2013-01-30. 
  7. ^ "A World Religions Reader - Google Books". Books.google.com. Retrieved 2013-01-30.