It was somewhere in the first week of July 2015. I was reading the newspaper with a cup of Ragi Malt (a very healthy drink you see). I saw a photo of a well built bearded man, with long curly hair. It came to me as a surprise to see that. A little later I came to know that it was a movie about Bahubali. Furthermore, it was released in the same week. Until then, the only Bahubali I had known about, was nowhere close to what the photo depicted. The real Bahubali can be seen as the magnificent figure of Gommateshwara at Shravanabelagola, in the state of Karnataka.

So, who exactly is this Bahubali? In the real story of Bahubali, Bahubali wins against his elder brother in a clash that emerges because of his brother’s puffed pride. However, the very moment he wins, he realizes that it was all for the sake of the kingdom. So, he gifts it back to his brother and goes on to meditate and finds the true purpose of his life; service and realization of God.

What is the real story of Bahubali in the Indian History (standing tall on Shravanabelagola)

Who is the real Bahubali?

The real Bahubali was a king. He renounced everything to become a no one and attained salvation. Further, he meditated for years in a forest, just by standing and performing penance in the same place. What we see in Shravanabelagola is as Gommateshwara. Bahubali was doing penance in the same form. Later, followed by an interesting story, in 981 AD a minister namely Chavundaraya, built the Idol. The idol is 57 feet tall. He built it using a single piece of stone. Other than Egypt, no other place in the world was such a thing possible. This place is a pilgrimage for Jains.

Bahubali’s Childhood

There are 24 Tirthankaras among Jains. Vrishabhanatha was the first Tirthankara. He was a king and he had made Ayodhya his capital city. He was none other than Bahubali’s father. Vrisahbhanatha had two queens, Yashaswathi Devi and Sunanda Devi.

While Yashwaswathi Devi had a hundred sons and one daughter, Sunanda Devi had one son and one daughter. Bharata was the eldest son of Yashaswathi Devi. Sundari was her daughter. And, Bahubali was the son of Sunanda Devi and his sister was Brahmi.

Since there were too many children, Vrishabhanatha himself started educating his children one by one, all by himself. He taught his eldest son Bharata, Dramatics and Economics. Bharata was a born emperor. He was extremely knowledgeable too.

Vrishabahanatha taught Bahubali Medicine, Weaponry, the lore of elephant and horse. He also quickly learned Wrestling and always used to practice it by playing it with different people. Whoever he played with, he was the one who always used to win. Bahubali from his childhood days was strong. He, as his name indicates, had strong arms. He was so playful that he even used to play with elephant cubs.

Bahubali’s father’s realization about Life

After the princes grew up, one day Indra arranged for a dance at Vrishabhanatha’s palace. He sent a nymph to dance in the kingdom. She came and danced. However, while she was dancing, her life came to an end. Indira did not want to disrupt the king from his entertainment. So, Indira made the dance continue.

Everyone but the king did not notice this. The king, in a split second, understood the deeper meanings of life. Moreover, the king experienced some sort of realization. The king said to himself that everybody has to die very soon and that we are all just like a bubble in water. He thought about himself that, it was the time for him to leave the palace and go to the forest. Finally, he renounced everything.

Division of Kingdom among Bahubali brothers

King Virashabhanatha wanted to go in search of the truth. Therefore, he advised his children, on ruling the kingdom. Moreover, he distributed the kingdom to all his sons. Since Bharata was his eldest son, he retained the capital city and Bahubali was given Paundanapura.

After Vrishabhanatha left the kingdom. He went to a forest in search of Truth. His sons took good care of their kingdoms. The subjects of their kingdoms were happy, cheerful and contended.

Bahubali’s Family Goodwill

Many years passed, on a particular day, Bharata received multiple great news. Vrishabhanatha had received ‘Kevala Jnana‘, the supreme knowledge that can see all and understand all. With this Bharata also received a few more things that he was very happy about.

  • A Chakra (discus), was an extraordinary weapon. They found this in the king’s armory. It was called “Chakra Ratna”, gems of all Chakras. Moreover, it was very powerful. Besides, it used to act as an umbrella that could be used to protect the army against natural disasters, like storms, rains, and from burning sun
  • A magic wand kind of a stick, called “Danda Ratna”. Danda Ratna could make roads for the army to penetrate. It used to create paths for the army. So, it was now very easy for the army to move on any terrain
  • A gem called “Kakini Danda” was a gem of the gems that was extremely bright. Therefore, it used to shed bright light that would light a pitch dark place. The army used this as the headlight of a car
  • A boat that could sail in any kind of weather, called “Charma Ratna”. This enables the army to sail in the river or sea and help them in their journey to conquer.
  • With all this, the best news was indeed true that he was blessed with a baby. The king’s joy was boundless.

Bharata who had reached his pinnacle of happiness, first went to his father to share all the good news. People had thronged Vrishabhanatha’s place in a large number to worship him. All the brothers and sisters went there to seek his blessings.

Bahubali’s brother’s march to Conquer

All the celebration was over. Now, it was time for Bharata to march and conquer places. He used his four ratnas. All preparations were completed to conquer. His army consisted of numerous

  • infantry
  • cavalry
  • chariots
  • elephants

They were all ready to conquer places. In conclusion, the army was like an ocean. He received blessings from the Lord and set out to defeat all the kings.

He first marched towards the east. “Chakra Ratna” rolled and moved. Bharata and his army followed it. Bharata’s march was a garland of victories. He defeated powerful places like Magadha. Further, he defeated powerful kings like Vijayardhakumara and Kritimala. All the kings, including the ones who opposed Bharata, were all praise for the king now. They handed over precious stones and several gifts on account of their defeats. It was conquests after conquests for Bharata.

He was coming back to his kingdom, following the Chakra. This chakra had helped him win all the wars. However, he said to himself that he has won and conquered the whole world. So, it was time for him to carve his name on mount Vrishabhachala. With this pride, he went on to mount Vrishabhachala, which was on the way back. While he saw the mount, to his surprise, the mountain was full of the names of different kings. There was no blank space to carve Bharata’s name. In other words, they all had conquered the world at different times. Bharata was ashamed of his pride and arrogance. Despite this, he wanted his name to be carved. So, he erased a few names on the mountain using “Danda Ratna” and carved his name. Again, after that, he went to his father to seek blessings from him.

Back to Ayodhya followed by a fight

He came back to his capital city. His subjects made befitting preparations as part of the king’s return. The whole kingdom welcomes the king with great happiness. This astonished everyone there. They saw the “Chakra Ratna” stop. All these days it was moving continuously. Further, Bharata was worried. It was clear that there was somebody whom Bharata had not conquered. With this worry, he asked his priest as to who the rival was. To which the priest replied, with full clarity. He had not left any king undefeated. So, if at all there is someone whom the king has not defeated, they should be his own brothers.

With this information, Bharata exclaimed, “They should all come to me and surrender. Or, get ready for war”. After this, all the brothers received this message. Reading the letter, they felt disgusted. They thought to themselves as to why they should fight with their own elder brother. Therefore, ninety-nine of them gave up everything and went to the forest enunciating everything to perform Tapas.

Bharata was in full admiration of his brothers. He agreed to every one of their views. However, there was again a cause for worry. Bahubali had not replied to him. So, now Bharata had to send one of his ambassadors, to Bahubali’s kingdom. Bahubali, however, had a different viewpoint. He told the ambassador that the kingdom was given to him by his father, as it was done to Bharata. So, he sent a message that he was ready to fight.

Bahubali and Bharata’s fight

Bharata was a little worried, as he knew that Bahubali was mighty. However, he again followed the Chakra and went to his Kingdom with a full army. Bahubali was waiting there to fight against his brother. Both the armies were so big and had all the armors. While they were about to start the fight, some senior ministers of Bharata had a noble thought. They told Bharata, that the enmity is between the brothers. So, why the bloodshed, if just both of you could fight each other. Bharata openly accepted the request. After they convinced Bharata, they went to Bahubali with the same proposal. Bahubali initially was a little reluctant about the proposal because he wanted to crush the ego of his brother Bharata’s army. Then, he agreed to the elders.

The fight was threefold and was a Dharma Yuddha or a Moral war!

Battle of eyes

Bahubalia and Bharata, both of them sitting, facing each other. The person who stares more is the person who wins the battle. They stare at each other like each person is going to use the other person’s eyes. Anger is pretty much seen in Bharata’s face. After a long duration, Bharata gives up and blinks his eyes. Giving a point to Bahubali

Water Fight

Two of them have to splash water against each other. Whoever falls first will lose the match. Both of them enter like two angry elephants. Bahubali was tall. Bharata splashed water profusely. But, Bharata was intact. Did not heed to the splashes. It was now the turn of Bahubali. The splashes from Bahubali hit Bharata on his face. He had to accept defeat again, with a more furious face.

Wrestling

Both of them were experts in wrestling. The same guru would have taught them. It was a treat for the audience to watch a splendid match. Both were equally furious and playing extremely well. While the audience was busy watching, suddenly, Bahubali lifts Bharata with both his hands. It was clear that Bahubali won. But, looking at Bahubali, the audience thought he would crush Bharata. However, Bahubali gently set his elder brother on the ground. Bharata was angrier and more furious about the fact that he was defeated again, for the third time.

Bahubali’s Renunciation

The defeated elder brother of Bahubali was so furious that he ordered “Chakra Ratna” to kill Bahulali. Everybody in the audience was stunned to see Dharma Yuddha turning wild. As Bahubali watched the Chakra coming towards him, to everyone’s astonishment, the Chakra rounded him thrice and came to a halt towards his right side, without harming him. Bharata realized his mistake and soon went to Bahubali to beg his pardon. Meanwhile, Bahubali felt his folly of fighting his elder brother. He had already decided to give up worldly pleasure and join his father and the other ninety-nine brothers. In spite of Bharata’s numerous attempts, Bahubali left the pleasures, stood still amidst a forest. He gave up even his clothes and stood naked. Many days passed by. Anthills, snakes, creepers, birds, etc. took shelter on him. Even with all that, he continued his meditation.

This is the magnificent statue that we witness in the Hassan district. However, the story behind sculpting the structure in one piece of stone is out of the scope of this article. So, the Real Bahubali is all different from what they have shown in the movie. I realized this after reading about the movie.

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