Bahubali – the mighty ascetic

The atmosphere is tense. All eyes are on the arena where two well-built masculine brothers are staring at each other with a withering look. Everyone around has an opinion, either in favour or against one of the two. They all are though breathing a sigh of relief as the two brothers agreed for a duel and refrained themselves from engaging into a full-fledged war between their massive and equally equipped armies. Everyone shudders, even now, thinking about the imminent war a couple of hours back, and the prospects of heavy casualty and blood-shed.

Tallest free-standing monolithic statue in the world

Bahubali @Shravanabelagola

The brothers in the arena are Bharat and Bahubali, the two elder sons of Raja Purudev, the mightiest king of his time (according to the Jain legends). Raja Purudev had two wives Sumangala and Sunanda. By Sumangala he had 99 sons of whom Bharat is the eldest and one daughter, Brahmi. By the second wife, Sunanda, he had one son Bahubali and one daughter Sundari. All of them are well-trained in military, administration, and other different arts and crafts appropriate to them.

One day Raja Purudeva witnesses the death of his favourite court dancer Nilanjana. This unfortunate incident takes away his interest in the worldly pleasures and he decides to become an ascetic. He divides his kingdom mainly between his two elder sons, with remaining ninety-nine sons also receiving small provinces to rule. The Northern region with Ayodhya as its capital is given to Bharat and the Southern region with Podanapura as its capital is been handed over to Bahubali. All the brothers are quick in controlling and managing their provinces well; with two large territories to govern, Bharat and Bahubali are especially adept in establishing firm hold on their regions.

One day in the court of Bharat, three news arrived in quick succession.

Messenger 1: Maharaj, your father has attained Keval-Gyan. (with this Purudev became the first Jain Teerthankar – Bhagwan Rishabhdev).

Messanger 2: Maharaj, Maharani has given birth to the heir of the throne.

Messanger 3: Maharaj, a powerful Chakra has emerged from the ongoing yagna.

Bharat is elated to hear these three extremely pleasant news. He is an ambitious ruler. He feels that all these news are the divine message for him to start his journey of becoming the chakravartin Samrat of Bharatavarsha. He immediately sets on a journey of conquests. No-one dares to withstand his massive army and one-by-one all the kingdoms of Bharatvarsha accept his subservience and become his vassal.

While returning back from this unmatched successful expedition, Bharat had a vicious realization that all the kings of Bharat has accepted his dominance, except his own brothers. He feels that the title chakravartin is worthless till the time his dominance is accepted by all, including his brothers. He now turns his attention towards his brothers and asks them to accept his superiority. His ninety-eight brothers when learn about Bharat’s intention decide to surrender their territory; they feel that a war with elder brother for territorial gain is futile. They become ascetic and join Bhagwan Rishabdev.

Kids at Shravanbelagola

Kids at Shravanbelagola

However, Bahubali decides not to quit. He is a proud king; well prepared to defend his kingdom against any invader. He is disgusted and dismayed at Bharat’s lust for power and fame, and decides to stand for what he feels is his rightful inheritance. He respects his elder brother, but feels that bowing to him out of respect and love is different from with fear and demand of sub ordinance.

When Bharat learns about Bahubali’s decision to resist, he gets angry on his brother’s stubbornness. He orders his army to march towards his brother’s capital. As Bahubali hears of approaching forces, he puts his army on high alert. Bharat wants to finish this war quickly. In the haste he uses his powerful chakra seeking Bahubali’s head. Everyone is shocked at Bharat’s arrogance, Bahubali’s defiance and watch with horror the intensity with which Chakra moves towards Bahubali. However, in the moment of anger Bharat forgets that he has directed Chakra to decapitate his own brother and the Chakra does not attack people of the same bloodline as its owners. Chakra circles around Bahubali and returns back to Bharat without hurting Bahubali; adding insult to the quick-temper decision. There is no option left but a full-fledged war.

The two massive armies are ready to battle it out. However, the counsellor on both the sides are against the war and feel that it will eventually weaken both and none of the brothers would be a real winner. Finally, they succeed in convincing both Bharat and Bahubali that the matter of superiority must be decided by a duel instead of a full-fledged war. This agreement brings the two in the arena, facing each other. The outcome of the duel is to be decided by the result of three different combats – Drishtiyudh (battle of glances), Jalayudh (battle with water), and Mallayudh (fight of the arm).

Mighty Bahubali - One with strong arms - @Shravanabelagola, Karnataka

Mighty Bahubali – One with strong arms – @Shravanabelagola, Karnataka

The first combat is Drishtiyudh, a battle of concentration and self-control. Both the adversaries have to gaze straight into each others eyes and the one who will blink his eyes first is the one who will lose.

The two eyes are staring at each other; piercing and scrutinizing the opponent; trying to contemplate the depth of will-power, and searching for a possible sign of weakness. After a few minutes, Bharat starts feeling the heaviness of eyelids. He is not able to keep his eyes open any longer and blinks. Bahubali wins the first part.

The next combat is Jalayudh. The two valiant opponents enter into a lake. They have to splash water over each other with their powerful arms; whosoever will splash larger quantity of water over other would be the winner. It is Bharat’s turn first. A large quantity of water splashed by Bharat surprises Bahubali who is taken aback with a gushing force of water against his face. Now it is Bahubali’s turn. He splashes water over Bharat with such a power that Bharat is drenched with a sudden downpour of a cloud burst. Bharat loses again. He feels humiliated. His body shakes with anger. chakravartin Bharat is facing an imminent defeat.

Now, the two kings are facing each other for the final round – Mallayuddha . This battle of powerful punch would be spectacular as both possess great pride in their arm’s strength. Again its Bharat’s turn first. He hits Bahubali with such a power-packed punch that Bahubali gets half buried in the sand around. Those who were of the opinion that Bahubali’s victory is just a matter of time, are in doubt.

All eyes are on Bahubali now. Will he be able to punch a better blow or even something similar. Bahubali is burning with vengeance. He wants now to hit Bharat so hard that Bharat gets completely buried in the sand. What else can be the final of this unusual spectacle?

Bharat is ready to receive the blow. He sees Bahubali’s arms coming down. He closes his eyes to be able to bear the impact. Nothing happens. Nothing happens for another few seconds, and suddenly the arena is reverberating with echoes of applause for Bahubali. Bharat opens his eyes with curiosity and is taken a back with surprise to see Bahubali bowing before him with his folded hands.

Vairagi Bahubali @Shravanabelagola

Vairagi Bahubali @Shravanabelagola

Bahubali – “Brother, I have lost interest in this land. It is yours now.”
Bharat was ready to take the blow as a brave king, But the sudden,unexpected change in his younger brother bowled him out. He was prepared for a physical defeat, but now he feels a minion in front of all, even in his own eyes. It brings back his senses.

क्षमा शोभती उस भुजंग को जिसके पास गरल हो
उसको क्या जो दंतहीन विषरहित, विनीत, सरल हो।

“Oh, what was I doing! Trying to win over my own brothers with power and force. I was ready to kill them if they resisted me. My brothers who loved and respected me. My savage desire had already forced ninety-eight brothers to become sadhus. I was of the opinion that they decided to become ascetic as they were no match to me and hence unfit to rule. Bahubali has broken that myth. He defeated me in the first two phases of the duel and in this round, he spared me not for his physical weakness but for his spiritual superiority. How did I become such an insane!”

Bahubali feels Vairagya. The insignificance of land, power and ego is clear to him. He suddenly feels an intense desire to understand the ultimate meaning of life. With this Vairagya, he feels immense lightness; his soul gets rid of load of anger, ego and other vices.
Any life, no matter how long and complex it may be, is made up of a single moment – the moment in which a man finds out, once and for all, who he is – Jorge Luis Borges, writer.

Spectators are also jolted by this sudden change of mood in the arena. It is possible that even if Bahubali had defeated Bharat in all three rounds, some in the spectators might have had their sympathies for Bharat. but the turn of events raise the stature of Bahubali in everyone’s mind.

“Maharaj Bahubali ki Jai ho!”, the whole arena is thundering with the applause. Bahubali is indifferent to all. Public applause has no meaning for him; the desire to know self is his only guiding principle now. Bahubali is leaving behind everything to do Tapasya for self-realization.

At the feet of Bahubali @Shravanabelagola

At the feet of Bahubali @Shravanabelagola

With this I am moving to next article. Will he be able to attain Keval-gyan, and how long it takes him to attain that ultimate knowledge. We will talk about it in the next article.

Series NavigationBahubali’s Last Obstacle >>

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