By Team Mangalorean
Photographs: RK Bhat
The consecration of the monolith statue of Bhagwan Lord Bahubali at Shree Kshetra Dharmasthala was the result of a dream realized by most revered Late Ratnaverma Heggade.
Synonymous to the adage, he came, he saw, he conquered. The go-getter that he was, Ratnaverma Heggade got inspired with the idea way back in 1962 when he participated in the Masthkabhisheka of the lord at Karkala along with his wife Smt. Ratnaverma Heggade, viewing the spectacle of the anointment of the huge idol with colourful concoctions of milk, sandal, turmeric, vermilion among other fluids, he expressed his desire to see one such mammoth idol in the temple town of Dharmasthala.
Expressing his desire and having received an equivocal response from his wife, Ratnaverma Heggade was all excited as he discussed the proposal with his personal advisor and eminent lawyer of the time in Mangalore, Sri K. B. Jinaraj Hegde. He too, in turn gave his nod and the proposal was put forth before noted architect Sri Renjala Gopala Shenoy from Karkala. Being restricted to sculpting small little idols, Shenoy accepted the challenge as if it were to be his life achievement.
The height of the monolith was then left to the availability of proper stone structure and the exploration began. Fortunately, they did not have to go far as soon after they found a solid granite rock of about 53 feet length at Mangalapade near Karkala. To everyone's surprise, people here informed that an aged Christian used to sit near the rock claiming that a Godly figure was within the rock. Evaluating the pros and cons, it was then decided to carve a statue of 39 feet tall out of this rock.
It was on October 2nd 1967, coinciding with the auspicious day of Vijaya Dashami that the moment of initiation was fixed. As Ratnaverma Heggade had to stay back at Dharmasthala, it was son Veerendra Kumar along with the family members who performed the initial rituals as the first chisel was aimed in the making of the monolith. No sooner did the work begin, apprehensions were raised from all quarters as to how the huge structure would be transported to the pilgrimage centre of Dharmasthala. As if to shut each of the minds that questioned the seemingly impossible, Heggade was candid in his remarks as he said "I have initiated the move and will show its logical end, nothing is impossible when you have the blessings of Lord Manjunatha".
Rightly, Ratnaverma Heggade is often called the architect of the new Dharmasthala. Despite ascending to the revered post of Heggade in 1995 and being the custodian of the temple town for just 13 years, Ratnaverma Heggade carved a new look for the famous and historically acclaimed pilgrimage centre situated in the backdrop of the rural environs. Rendering utmost priority to cleanliness, discipline of the personnel among other aspects, he successfully organized the silver jubilee of the 'Sarva Dharma Sahitya Sammelana' (Inter-religious and literary meet) in 1957. Aptly, the then seer of Kaniyoor Mutt in Udupi Sri Vidyavaradhi Theertha Swamiji conferred on him the title 'Dharma Veera'.
Being a legislator between 1957 and 1962, he strived for the overall development of the area, significant achievements being the commissioning of the all-weather bridge across river Nethravathi, asphalting of the link roads, the welcome arches inviting the visitors to the temple town, the guest houses Ganga, Kaveri among others with as many as 226 rooms and so on. While he was instrumental in the construction of a silver chariot to Lord Manjunatha, his greatest contribution was the establishing of Sri Dharmasthala Manjunatheshwara College in 1966 to provide the much needed higher education to the rural populous.
In 1968, at the tender age of 20, the just then graduated Sri Veerendra Heggade took the reigns of the responsibilities of the adobe of Lord Manjunatha. The responsibilities on his young shoulders were enormous. Apart from supervising and planning the completion of the sculpture of Lord Bahubali, he was bestowed upon the responsibilities of running the educational institutions, development of the temple town and many others. The source of inspiration, encouragement and guidance to all the services rendered by the temple was none other than Mathrushree Ratnamma Heggade. Having been born and brought up in a very orthodox family with immense faith in religious traditions, she showed immense interest and involvement in the socio-cultural and religious activities of Shree Kshetra.
Not only did she observe strict penance during the making of the monolith of Lord Bahubali right up to its consecration, but she also taught all the righteousness to her children.
Mathrushree as she was called, Ratnamma was instrumental in the renovation of numerous temples and Basadis rendering financial assistance, preservation of ancient manuscripts and such other activities. She had great concern for the little children and did her bit in providing them the much needed education. She was a regular visitor to the institutions and hostels, seen interacting with the students and enquiring about their well being. She also took over the reigns of Sri Bahubali Shravikashrama at Karkala to provide hostel facility to the deserving and needy girl students. Her talent and aptitude in the field of literature was clearly visible in her writings through the column "Magaligondu Patra" in the editions of Manjuvani which received widespread appreciations from its readers.
Facing the challenges ahead, young Veerendra Heggade, known for his innate qualities of confidence and commitment, meticulously planned to tackle all the hurdles on his way with a blend of innovation and devotion. The immediate task ahead was the completion of the monolith, its transportation and the ritual of consecration. After consultations with experts in the field, Sri Dinanath Obhan from Mangathram Brothers came forward to risk the daunting task of transporting the super structure. A tailor-made chassis with 46 wheels attached to a truck powered by 250 Horse Power engine was readied for the purpose. All along the route, the bridges were strengthened with iron cribs from the Indian Railways, to pass 5 major rivers and as many as 180 rivulets. Technical assistance was sought from National Institute of Technology Karnataka (then known as Karnataka Regional Engineering College), Surathkal.
Beginning its journey on February 27, 1973 after being mounted on the trolley, the jubilation spiked up its peak as the idol of Bahubali reached Dharmasthala a fortnight later on March 20, 1973. All along the way, people enthusiastically came forward to welcome the truck with arches, served food and eateries to the personnel involved. It was only on December 26 of 1975 that the statue was carefully erected temporarily. In the meanwhile, on May 5, 1970, the then President of India V. V. Giri visited Ratnagiri hillock to perform the ritual as part of the foundation stone laying ceremony for the consecration of the monolith.
Eventful was the period, as on December 26, 1972, Veerendra Heggade married Hemavathi as final touches were being given to the idol of Lord Bahubali. A spectacle was in the offing as the intricately carved monolith of Lord Bahubali standing 39 feet tall was consecrated with the first Mahamasthakabhisheka under the guidance of Sri 108 Vidyananda Munimaharaj from northern India. The Heggade couple were showered with appreciations for the elaborate arrangements for the festivities.
It is also interesting to note that the then Chief Minister Gundu Rao announced a day's off for the ongoing assembly session to enable as many legislators as possible to attend the anointment ceremony, thus creating a history of sorts. Legislators and ministers were felicitated during the festivities.
The second Mahamasthakabhisheka was held with even more grandeur in 1995 under the gracious presence of Acharya Sri Vardhamana Sagar Munimaharaj and Shri Charukeerthi Bhattaraka Mahaswamy of Shravanabelagola. Jain mutt pontiffs from Karkala, Moodbidri and Narasimharajapura, seers from far and wide, the then speaker of Lok Sabha Shivraj Patil, Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka J. H. Patil among others were witness to the festivities.
Mathrushree Ratnamma, through her devotion and dedication has played a pivotal role in guiding the conduct of the two mega events.
In the threshold of the first Mahamasthakabhisheka of his millennium, preparations are afoot for the anointment of Lord Bahubali in the temple town, spread over a week from January 28 to February 3 this year. The significant event in the recent times, will be guided by Revered Acharya 108 Vardhamana Sagar and revolutionary Jain muni, Tarun Sagar Maharaj. A host of Jain pontiffs from Shravanabelagola, Karkala, Moodbidri, Narasimharajapura, Kanakagiri, Arhantagiri, munis, matajis and hundreds of Shravaks will be part of the festivities.
After the inaugural ceremony on January 28th 2007, the ritual of Panchakalyana of Lord Parshwanath will take place on the following day. While 504 Kalash will be anointed from February. The grandeur of 1008 Kalash Mahamasthakabhisheka will be witnesses on February 2nd and 3rd. A bouquet of cultural and religious programmes have been lined up to supplement the conduct of the Mahamasthakabhisheka. Eminent danseuse Shobana will perform on January 28th, so also playback singer Anuradha Paudval and Kavitha Paudval. Cine Star Hema Malini will present a Bharatanatyam performance on February 1st while eminent singer S. P. Balasubramanyam will enthrall audiences on February 2nd.
The anointment of Lord Bahubali, also known as the Mahamasthakabhisheka is organized once in every 12 years to pray for world peace, societal prosperity, communal amity, universal brotherhood and cleansing of one's soul and mind. It is hoped that the message of Lord Bahubali spreads far and wide and the event ushers in a long period of brotherhood, harmony and peace in the time to come.