15.01.2014 ►Shravanabelagola ►Afternoon with Bhattaraka Charukeerthy

Posted: 08.05.2014
Updated on: 15.05.2014

Before descending Vindhyagiri Hill our hosts focused our attention on an arcade open to the square in front of the monolith beside the temple entry. There was a straight row with statues of Tirthankaras or Saints. It began with a stone block with an inscription on its major part and a depiction on its smaller upper part of 01. Tirthankara Rishabhanatha. The Tirthankara was sitting in meditation beside his symbol, the bull, flanked by two torches. Rishabhanatha had a nimbus around his head, above him was pending an umbrella with four sections, moon and sun on its left and right. On the pedestal are 3 mythical beings.

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Stone block with inscriptions and depiction of 01. Tirthankara Rishabhanatha

At the end, the statues of Tirthankaras and Saints were followed by a depiction of Kushmandini Devi in Lalith Asana. The last sculpture was of Bahubali.

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23. Tirthankara Parshvanatha, more photos of the statues in the photo gallery:

Gallery Of Tirthankaras @ Vindhyagiri Hill

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The visit on Vindhyagiri Hill had invigorated us and recharged with energy, when we started descent. For Christian Geerdes this meant to entrust himself to the porters again. The latter in full speed galloped down the stairs. What we saw of their burden after the next curve was only some part of the swinging chair on their shoulders. But we heard some rumbling, clattering and groaning. Although not very comfortable, it was at least saving the energy of flu’s victim. The content faces of the porters expressed their acceptance of double payment for double burden. Down the hill we all met unbroken, and I got the impression that our prayers were not in vain.

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Return path was started in fast gallop with the burden's head down.

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View on two of the porters from the chair

In a building beside the exit we catched our breath and took the opportunity for a tour of the photo exposition in its hall. The photos showed events important for the development of the Shravanabelagola institutions and the initiating person behind, Bhattaraka Charukeerthy. Without his stimulus to open the Shravanabelagola locations of pilgrimage to the national and international stream of visitors and further to make possible the study of the old scriptures in original Prakrit language for contemporary people, certainly there would not have been porters, not to mention the stairs.

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Bhattarak Charukeerthy already in his young years held the responsible position of the Bhattarak of Shravanabelagola

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NIPSAR alumni of 2008, among them our dear friend Prof. Hampana Nagarajaiah, his learned wife Prof. Kamla Nagarajaiah (middle) and Dr. Shanti (2. l.)

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Prof. Klaus Bruhn (2006) and Prof. Willem Bollée (2005) were handed over the Prakrit Jnanabharati International Awards in Berlin 2008 by Prof. Hampa and Dr. Prem Suman Jain who extra for this purpose had come to Berlin.

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Photos of all alumni of NIPSAR Prakrit Studies from 2006 to 2013 can be admired here.

After early lunch we started in direction of our accommodation. But we had to ask for a stop at a store where medication is available. Flu meanwhile had very well developed, but its victim not. So there was certain urgency for action. At touristic places in India there are quite some shops where antibiotics are freely available.  So we stopped, and the young floorman showed an antibiotic after some gestural communication from our side. We still were hesitating, when behind us a voice was heard. In English language a medical doctor presented himself to us, confirming the floorman’s choice, even the pills recommended to me for prophylaxis. We saw no other possibility and took the pills. This can’t be recommended for imitation, but for us it had the effect wanted. Perhaps at the feet of Gommateshvara and in very close distance to HH Bhattaraka of Shravanabelagola things develop in a different way than usual.

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On our way to the guesthouse we saw this farmer with his decorated ox.

After a restful nap - visit of Chandragiri Hill had to be postponed to another visit because of time reasons - the highlight of our visit was near. This afternoon we got the opportunity for an extended talk with HH Bhattaraka Charukeerthy in the Jain Mutt of Shravanabelagola. A Jain Mutt is a location where a spiritual Jain head is staying and teaching. The students also are living here, and when we entered the courtyard of the block of buildings, we got the impression of an atmosphere vibrating with life energy. It was calm and animated at the same time, perhaps comparable with a heap of ants in the heat of midday. As soon as we arrived at our seats in the assembly hall in the first floor, all attendees stood up. Bhattaraka Charukeerthy entered the room and went to his seat.

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Staff, leaders and students of NIPSAR as well as members of Karnataka Jain Association on their way to assembly hall in the first floor.

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Audience is standing up in honour of HH.

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We were sitting at the right in some distance of Bhattaraka ji.

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Karmayogi Swasthishri Charukeerthy Bhattaraka Mahaswamiji

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The gathering

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Prof. Hampana Nagarajaiah officially presents us to the Pontiff.

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Bhattarak Charukeerthy

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HH Bhattarak of Shravanabelagola

After being presented officially by Prof. Hampa, Bhattaraka Charukeerthy encouraged us very kindly to raise such questions we at this place want to talk on. As, he continued, the question is the foundation of the answer. In the presence of HH it is not difficult to find the basis of the answer; his open mind and the incredible ease of his awareness are very inspiring. So we directly got into the matter and asked about the concept of God in Jainism. Through purification, the release of karmic influences, every Soul can become pure and perfect and attain Moksha, i.e. deliverance from the circle of birth and death. Our next question concerned the Agamas. Dr. Prem Suman Jain told us that oral lore was lost due to some famines from the Digambara point of view. Therefore later on writing down of remaining knowledge was started. Perception of reality again was answered by the Pontiff. HH pointed out that we only see the outside of a thing, dependent from our position. How something is existing in itself and as such is detracted from our understanding (Kant), as we in this way neither can see nor perceive the inner of an existing thing. Our perception of a thing therefore always is incomplete and never reflects the whole of reality.

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Books and shawls were awarded to us after the talk.

To complete this eventful afternoon, Indian sweets were distributed to mark the occasion, highly enjoyed by the students especially. We were happy about the interesting books and the beautiful shawls. Our friends from Bangalore kindly offered to take our gifts to Bangalore and to keep them there until we came back there from the small round tour planned to start next morning.

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Like all young people the students were happy to move again after seating still for some time.

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Again time for dinner, like always in this building

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Thereafter we took a farewell photo with Dr. Shanti (m), the caretaker of the guesthouse (r) and the driver (l) of Prof. Hampa, who had done all the driving. Next morning it was planned to move on for next destination.

Photos: 2014.01.15 HN4U @ Bhattaraka Charukeerthy, Shravanabelagola

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