memories of family outings.....

Saturday

The Sign Is On The Post !

KELASURU  Sri Chandranathaswami Digambara Jain Basadi 

It pays to keep  the eyes peeled while  traversing countrysides . In addition to the sign boards put by the State Roadways giving directions and distances to major towns , there are many smaller, older stones with barely visible lettering, pointing to lesser known destinations . 


Last week of December . On road, somewhere between Gundlupete and Terakanambi . ( About 65 Kms from Mysuru ) .
One sign post catches the eye ." Kelasuru Sri Chandranathaswami Digambara Jain Basadi"  in fading kannada letters ....just a 3 km detour from the road . 
The word " Basadi " ensnares, evoking visions of other glorious  basadis of south karnataka.......So, detour ! 

Narrow mud road . Hardly a creature  in sight . Ploughed fields . Arid patches.  A deserted pumphouse ......finally, a spacious whitewashed compound with a building , painted orange and cream , that looks like any small town community hall . The sign , arching over the gate , announces  the Basadi ! 

A pang of disappointment . A modern  shrine, after all ? ....
Reverse and U-turn, back to the mudroad ....but wait ! Whats that , just south of  the hall ? A tall jina murthi in blackstone ! And it looks decidedly old.
U-Turn again . Into the compound....


So glad we did turn back ! 

It transpires that The Chandranathaswami Basadi dates from 7 AD and is associated with the revered Jaina Acharya , Veerasena , who wrote commentaries on Jaina Canons ( Dhavalas) . He lived , worked and prayed here ! 
We learn that  The Acharya has referred to the Shrine in his writings as Chandraprabha Jinalaya and the place as Udyogapura ( kelasa is the kannada word for Udyoga = 'work' . Hence Kelasapura ) .

Though the front mantapa has polished , tiled flooring and plastered walls,   one can see the shrine's venerable age in the  carved stone doorway to the sanctum ( though thickly  painted) and in the slightly sunken floor of the garbhagriha . The unadorned angular pillars are also quite old. 

There are two idols of Chandranatha in the shrine .
A small white marble image  , standing in the antarala , receives  the ablutions and poojas while the larger image in the garbhagriha , in padmasana position, receives only flower offerings . Because this latter is a "leppa" idol ( 'Made of clay' .  stucco ? )

 The leppa image has two attendants  , also of clay , placed on either side of the  sanctum entrance . They are : ShyamaYaksharu  and Jwalamalini Yakshi , five feet in height with ornate prabhavalis of their own. They are Guardians of the Eighth Tirthankara , Chandranatha. The room being small, these two figures just overwhelm visitors. 
 Large Leppa images are ( reportedly)  not too common ( another site in karnataka having huge leppa jain images is Moodbidri ).



To one side of the  marble idol is a platform on which are placed  three antique stone images of modest size : Brahmayaksha, Padmavathi and Kushmandini . They receive daily poojas too. 



King Krishnaraja III of Mysore had renovated the shrine in1829. At present, it is cared for by the better known Kanakagiri Jain Math. 

The impressive 5 ft tall blackstone sculpture of Lord Parshwanatha in kayotsarga posture , erected in the backyard ( which beckoned us in ! ) turns out to be a treasure found 35 years ago , while digging foundation for a villager's house and not part of this shrine's  heirloom . Its damaged limbs have been repaired .
 A few other slabs with indistinct images , also excavated in the surrounding countryside, are  lined up nearby . 


A few inscriptions are seen on the skirting of the shrine's base. Probably recording grants. 



One detour well worth the bumpy ride ! 
Read the signs . Follow the heart .