Dharmasthala Manjunatha Temple is an 800 year old temple in Dakshina Kannada, Karnataka, India. It is located in the Dharmasthala, an Indian temple town on the banks of the Nethravati river and constructed in Kerala temple architecture. The deities are Shiva, referred as Manjunath, Ammavaru, the Tirthankara Chandraprabha and the protective gods of Jainism, Kalarahu, Kalarkayi, Kumarasvami and Kanyakumari. The temple is unique as it belongs to the Shaiva sect of Hinduism, the priests are Shivali Brahmins, who are Vaishnava, but the administration is run by a Jain Bunt family called the Pergades and is known as the Heggade.
The Heggade is considered as the religious head of Shri Manjunath Swamy Temple.He is regarded as the representative of Lord Manjunath and bestowed with divinity, thus enabling him to dispense justice, advice and munificence to whoever approaches him with his problems and needs. Also, the Heggade is bestowed with the powers and responsiblity to follow and dispense both religious as well as social duties and practices.
According to the historical mythology, about 800 years ago, there lived a Jain Bunt couple by the name of Birmanna Pergade and his wife Ammu Ballathi, in a house called Nelliadi Beedu.At that time, Dharmasthala was known as Kuduma in Mallarmadi, then a village in South Canara. One night, the guardians of Dharma disguised as humans, visited the Pergade’s house, in search of a place where dharma prevailed, and could be continued and propagated.They were pleased with Pergade’s hospitality, warmth and affection. As a result, that night, they appeared in his dreams and told him to vacate his house for the worship of Daivas, and dedicate his life to the propagation of Dharma. Thereafter, the Pergades vacated the house, built another one and started worshipping the Daivas at Nelliadi Beedu,the practice continues till today.
Thereafter the Daivas reappeared and instructed the Pergade to do the following:
Choose 2 persons of noble birth to act as the Daivas’ oracles
Build separate shrines to consecrate the four Daivas- Kalarahu, Kalarkayi, Kumaraswamy and Kanyakumari
Choose 4 worthy persons to assist Pergade in his duties as the executive head of the shrines
In return, the Pergade was assured of protection for his family, abundance of charity and renowned for the ‘Kshetra’. Pergade did as he was told, built the shrines and invited the Brahmin priests to perform the rituals. The priests requested Pergade to lay the foundation of a Shivalinga beside the native Daivas. So, the Daivas send their vassal, Annapa Swamy to procure the linga of Shiva from the Kadri Manjunath Temple, near Mangalore. Consequently, the Dharmasthala Manjunatha Temple was built around this linga. Hence the town of Dharmasthala is a great example of religious tolerance as a Jain Tirthankara( Shri Digambara Bahubali Statue) is worshipped besides Daivas and Lord Manjunath.