Shri Bhagwan Bahubali Digambar Jain Statue is installed in many places across India(there are 5 monolithic Gommateshwara statue in Karnataka measuring more than 6 m (20 feet) in height), Dharmasthala, being one of them. Dharmasthala is an Indian temple town, known for its religious tolerance and justice. Among the piety and frolic of this beautiful temple town, the statue stands on a low hill, at a kilometer from the Lord Shiva temple, also known as the Manjunath temple. This 39 feet(12 m) statue was sculpted in 1973, by the famed sculptor Renjala Gopalkrishna Shenoy under the aegis of Shri Ratnavarma Heggade. After Shri Ratnavarma Heggade died, the statue was then positioned atop the Ratnagiri Hill in February 1982 by Dr.D.Veerendra Heggade. The Gomateshwara Bahubali Statue is a monolith structure, and is one of the five stone statues of Bahubali located in Karnataka.
As per the historical mythology, Bharata and Bahubali were the sons of King of Rishabha who was also the first tirthankara of Jainism. The King handed over the kingdom of Ayodhya to his elder son Bharata and Podanapura to his younger son, Bahubali respectively to rule after him. Thereafter Bharata acquired the spinning Chakra Ratna, that empowered him to set out and conquer the world. After Bharata fought many wars and conquered all the six parts of the world, his other 98 brothers surrendered their kingdoms and became munis. When Bharata asked his brother, Bahubali, who was the king of Podanapura, to surrender and accept his supremacy, he refused and the two brothers, in order to avoid a bloody war, decided to have 3 rounds of contest to settle the dispute.These were, eye-fight (staring at each other), jala-yuddha (water-fight) and mala-yuddha (wrestling).
Bahubali won all the three contests and would have killed him in the third round, but instead he lifted Bharata up on his shoulders and placed him gently on the ground out of affection for his brother. But Bharata felt humiliated and in a rage of frustration, he called for his divine weapon chakra-ratna to attack Bahubali. However chakra-ratna does not attack its master’s close relations. So it merely circled round Bahubali and came to rest in front of him.This however left Bahubali a desire for renunciation. He felt that the world of lust and greed would turn brothers against each other and even kill. Thus, he relinquished everything, handing over the kingdom to his brother. He then assumed the role of Digambara and meditated naked in a standing posture for a year, at the end of which, he attained “Kevala Jnana”, the state of omniscience. He was liberated from the cycle of birth and death, and hence is revered by the Jains as “Siddha” or the liberated soul.
The Gomateshwara Bahubali Statue also symbolises the victory of human efforts. The gigantic monolith structure, 39ft high, with a pedestal of 13 feet weighing 170 tonnes was transported from Karkala to Dharmasthala in 1982, over a distance of 64 kilometers on a trolley with 64 Wheels, driven by 3 tractors of 250 HP over treacherously winding roads. This was a tremendous challenge and was achieved with great public enthusiasm and participation.
The Mahamastakabhisheka of Lord Bahubali in Dharmasthala, Karnataka has been performed thrice in 1982, 1995 and 2007 that brought many pilgrims, jain monks from all over the country and beyond. The 39-foot monolith was consecrated on February 2, 1982 under the guidance of Elacharya Vidyananda Munimaharaj and Charukeerthi Bhattaraka Swamiji of Sri Kshetra Shravanabelagola. A 1,008-kalasha mahamastakabhisheka was performed on February 4, 1982. The first formal mahamastakabhisheka was performed in February 1995 and the one being held in 2007 is the second such event. Discourses by seers and religious leaders, panchakalyana rituals, literary and cultural programmes are organised as part of the event.
Another larger statue of Gommateshvara is located at Shravanabelagola, which is located at a distance of 12 km to the south from the Bangalore-Mangalore road (NH-48)and 158 km from Bangalore, the capital of the state of Karnataka. It is a 57-foot(17 m) statue,carved out of single rock and hence is a monolith structure. This statue was voted as one of the seven wonders of India( for ancient or medieval sites )in a poll carried out by the Times Of India from 21 July to 31 July 2007.