In Jain mythology Bahubali was the younger son of RISHABHA, the first TIRTHANKARA (holy teacher) in this half of the cosmic cycle, renowned for his remarkable asceticism. In a contest for control of their kingdom Bahubali defeated his older brother, BHARATA, who then became a monk. Not long afterward, Bahubali himself decided to take vows of renunciation. His initial motive was just to compete with his brother, whose asceticism he envied. When his own austerities yielded no fruit, he eventually concentrated on fierce renunciation. On one occasion he was said to have stood on one leg so long that vines and other plants grew up around him and he became covered with ants. He reached his goal of kevalajnana, highest knowl-edge, and has since been famed for it.
   Bahubali is one of the 63 great beings in the DIGAMBARA Jain pantheon. He is enshrined in colossal statues, particularly in the state of Karna-taka. One huge statue, the 10th-century Shravana Belagola statue in Karnataka, rises nearly 60 feet from its base atop a small mountain peak. On special occasions this statue is given a huge ritual bathing in milk along with massive offerings. Another Bahubali, built in the 15th century in Udipi District, Karnataka, is 40 feet high.
   Further reading: Phyllis Granoff, ed. The Clever Adultress and Other Stories: Treasury of Jain Literature (Oakville, Canada: Mosaic Press, 1990); Jyotindra Jain and Eberhard Fischer, Jaina Iconography (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1978); Helen M. Johnson, trans., Trisastisalakapu-rusacarita (Baroda: Oriental Institute, 1931–62); Vilas Adinath Sangave, The Sacred Sravana Belagola (New Delhi: Bharatiya Jnanapith, 1981).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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