Bahubali, also known as Gommateshwara, is a famous Jain Saint who is worshipped by people from Jain community throughout the world for his admirable teachings about life that mainly deal with forgoing the two evils, Ego and Desire.
The Early years of Bahubali
Bahubali was the son of Sunanda Devi, the second wife of Rishaba, and was the second of the hundred sons born to the king. Rishaba, the king of Podanpur, gave up his desire to continue his life as a king after a small incident which involved a dancer giving up her life while dancing for the king in spite of her unhealthy condition.
This incident changed the king’s outlook of life and he decided that he would lead the rest of his life in penance, leaving aside all worldly pleasure and riches. From then on, Bharata, the first son of the king, continued to look after the kingdom.
Bharata wanted to be the most powerful emperor in the world and this aim made him conquer lands that were far and near. At a certain point, he wanted the wealth and riches of his brothers too. His other brothers gave up their own lands for the sake of their elder brother, but Bahubali decided otherwise and waged a war with Bharata.
The war involved competitions like Drishti Yuddha, Jala Yuddha, and Malla Yuddha and these were designed to show the strongest among the two. The first two were won easily by Bahubali. The third one, Malla Yuddha involved hitting each other’s head with fists.
During this competition, Bahubali, who was known for his great strength and courage, realised that he would easily win this too, but hitting his own brother, a man he loved so much, for the sake of acquiring lands and wealth, was against his virtue and righteousness. With this realisation, Bahubali decided to leave aside all his wealth and belongings and become as ascetic.
His Life as an Ascetic
Bahubali spent several years of his life in meditation by giving up the bare necessities for every human such as clothing, food and water. Even with such resolve towards meditation, Bahubali was not able to attain supreme knowledge and power as there was one thing which was stopping him – his ego.
He did not wish to meet his father and brothers as he felt that he had to bow down to them to take monastic vows. Concerned about their brother, Sundari and Brahmi, his sisters, met him and gave him advice to let go of his ego, as it was stopping him from attaining the ultimate knowledge.
Realising his mistake, Bahubali shed his pride and ego and attained the supreme knowledge of life and truth.
As a Religious Symbol
Bahubali is known worldwide as a symbol of sacrifice, and with his experience, he enlightened the world, letting people know the way that a man had to take to live in peace and harmony. He advocated that all men must let go off his desires and ego. Presently, there are five monolithic statues of Bahubali in Karnataka, out of which the statue at Shravanabelagola is the tallest.