The inspiration to write this post on Bahubali anointment came from a Times of India write-up on the same subject by Narayani Ganesh.
If you are in Bangalore, Hampi or Hyderabad at this moment, then you can witness an amazing spectacle which is currently on in the Hassan district of Karnataka. You will need to take a cab from Bangalore to reach Shravanbelagola, the venue of the Bahubali anointment.
For the next 7 days, the 17-meter statue of Bahubali at Shravanbelagola will be anointed with honey, milk, flowers and other sacred objects by millions of Indians. This event happens just once in 12 years and is considered very special in Jain traditions.
Many foreign travelers are surprised to see a naked statue of Bahubali but this is a unique Indian thought. Some of our Jain sadhus are Digambaras, meaning that they wear nothing but the sky. Bahubali was one of the first Digambaras. Please read this BBC article on Digambara Jains to know more on the subject.
I must admit that I do not agree with all the points mentioned in this article, though.
Who was Bahubali?
He was one of the earliest members of the Ikshwaku dynasty that ruled Ayodhya, now a small town in Uttar Pradesh.
According to legends, Bahubali was one of the 100 sons of King Rishabhdeva, who is also considered to be one of the Teerthankaras of Jains.
When the king decided to retire from his job, then he left his kingdom to his elder son, Bharat. However, the ministers of Bharat convinced the son that unless he defeated his other brothers in wars, his kingdom won’t be safe and this is how Bharat started fighting with his siblings.
While his other 98 brothers, later on, became Jain monks, only Bahubali, one of the other brothers of Bharat, remained to fight.
However, the wise men of Rishabhdeva were not impressed by this situation and they convinced both the two brothers to fight each other without any weapons. ‘There should not be any physical violence,’ the wise men said, ‘ as the King himself believed in non-violence.’
Both Bahubali and Bharat agreed to this condition and decided to fight each other in three ways- by staring at each other, a physical unarmed dual, and a fight in water.
Filled with remorse
Bahubali won the dual but was filled with remorse. He had to fight this battle with his brother for a small piece of land which was really a very selfish act.
Feeling sad and with a feeling of emptiness, Bahubali left his kingdom and went away to the jungles. There he started meditating by standing on his feet. He continued with this form of meditation for one full year. So intense was his meditation, that his body was covered by vegetation and grass. After a few months, his body became a kind of a mini-jungle where several birds made their nests.
Standing in this state for a year, Bahubali attained Kevala Gyan or Ultimate Knowledge. Later, Bahubali gained freedom from the cycle of birth and death at Mount Kailash. You can say that he attained Nirvana just as Gautam Buddha.
Mahamastabhisheka or Bahubali anointment
Every 12 years, the moorti of Bahubali is anointed with sandalwood paste, milk, honey and sandal paste.
Moorti means idol but it is much more than being just an idol. For millions of Jains, the moorti is Bahubali personified. For them, the moorti is nothing but Bahubali in stone and as good as a living human being.
Coming back to the process of anointment, it is done by climbing up to the head of the moorti with the help of a scaffolding. Purified water is then poured on the head by people. This water is carried in 1008 special vessels. The statue is then bathed and anointed with libations such as milk, sugarcane juice, and saffron paste, and sprinkled with powders of sandalwood, turmeric, and vermilion. Offerings are made of petals, gold and silver coins, and precious stones. Most recently, the ceremony’s finale has included an enormous shower of flowers from a waiting helicopter.
You can also read this article on Lord Shiva and Varanasi > http://www.indiatraveltip.com/varanasi-really-haunted-place/
This year, i.e. 2018 is the 88th anointment year of Bahubali. The first Mahamastabhisheka was done in 981 AD when this statue was made on the orders of a royal minister.
That’s it then, folks.
Hope you liked this article on Bahubali anointment.