According to Jain Scriptures, Bahubali (also known as "Gommateshvara") was the youngest of the one hundred sons of the first Tirthankara, Lord Rishabha and king of Podanpur.

The Contest

Bahubali's elder brother, Bharat, was envious of his wealth, grandeur, strength and success. His desire was for all of Bahubali's kingdom and wealth, and thus, Bharat decided to attack the lands Bahubali ruled. Fearing that the war would destroy both the kingdoms, as well as thousands of innocent soldiers, the ministers of both sides began negotiations. After much thinking, it was decided that a personal contest between the two brothers would be a better option to war. The brothers were required to enter three traditional forms of martial contest: drisht yudha, jal yudha, and mal yudha.

The last fight was to be fought with hitting, with fist in head. Bharat had the first chance because he was older than Bahubali, which put Bahubali nearly on the ground. Now, it was Bahubali's turn. Bahubali's name means 'Bahu' - Arm, and 'Bali' - Strength, he was known for his immense strength in his arm. Everybody knew and worried, that if Bahubali's arm landed on Bharat, Bharat would probably die. This contest could have been easily won by Bahubali landing his fist on Bharat. But as Bahubali raised his arm to land a blow, he thought for a minute and realised that this fighting with elder brother for land, wealth, and power was totally insane and was not righteous or moral for a son of Lord Rishabdev who was Tirthankar, a highly spiritual person.

As a rule for a Kshatriya (warrior), once he has taken action to do anything, it is not possible for him to withdraw or retreat. So, instead of landing a blow on his older brother with his raised arm, he simply changed his decision and removed his hair with the same fist, which would otherwise land on Bharat. With this, he left away all of his possessions, and accepted monkhood on his own. Learning from this scene, Bharat came to understand his greed for land, money, and power and forgave his younger brother. He then ruled for some more time, when even Bharat accepted monkhood from Lord Rishabdev.


But the fact that Bahubali had to fight his brother troubled him. And so, after much contemplation, he decided to give up his kingdom and lead a life of an ascetic. The reason he took to meditation was a Thirst of truth, but - it was ego that he took meditation on his own. It is a rule in Monk's that no matter who accepts monk hood, one who accepts it has to bow down to all other who accept before him/her, irrespective of their age. Bahubali knew that if he went to Lord Rishabdev for permission to accept Monk hood, he would have to bow down to all his 98 brothers, who accepted Monk hood before him.

So, Bahubali began meditating with great resolve to attain supreme knowledge, but did not succeed in achieving it. The reason was simple - the ego that stopped him from visiting his father's court, did not allow him to attain this Keval Jnana .

His Sisters Help Him

However, Bahubali was adamant. He continued worshipping unmindful of the fact that vines, ants, and dust were enveloping his body. His sisters, Brhami and Sundari asked Tirthankar Adinath about their worldly brother Bahubali. Tirthankar Adinath said that he is just a moment away from enlightenment, but even due to his hard penance he cannot achieve it because he doesn't realise that he is standing on the elephant of Ego. Realising his folly, sisters approached him and said 'O more bhai, ave to gaj ti utro' (O my dear brother, at least now get down from elephant). This saying from sisters led Bahubali to recognise that "Am I really standing on any kind of elephant?". It made him realise soon that the elephant he was standing upon is his pride and ego. As Bahubali realised his mistake and shed away his pride and ego, Truth and enlightenment dawned upon him.

Blessed with the knowledge of Truth, Bahubali went see his father where he was welcomed. Bahubali now began teaching and showing people the right path.

tatues of Bahubali

One of recently carved statue of his, is located at Dharmasthala.

A wonderful statue of Lord Bahubali is located at Shravanabelagola in the Hassan district of Karnataka State. Shravanabelagola is a sacred place of pilgrimage to Jain. There is a splendid and lofty statue of stone on the top of a hillock there. When one stands at its foot and looks up, one sees it against the vast sky; and one feels that the sky is the most appropriate background for that statue. The figure is lofty like the sky, and again, like the sky, has no equal. And the serenity of the face is unique and incomparable in beauty.

This statue of Gommateshwara Bahubali is carved out of a single stone. It is fifty-seven feet high. In 981 A.D., Chavundaraya, the minister of the Ganga King Rachamalla had this statue carved. Bahubali is another name for Gommateshwara.

Recently 20 years a huge statue of lord Gommateshwara was built at Gommatgiri, 14 kilometres north of Indore, on the Airport road. It is as good as miniature copy of the original statue.

Bahubali is a great name in the Jain legends. His story is an example of the inner strength of the entire culture of India. He won everything from his brother and could have become an emperor, but he returned everything to the brother. Bahubali considered to be the ideal man who conquers selfishness, jealousy, pride and anger.

See also

* Monasticism

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