The word Mahamasthakabhisheka is a combination of three words viz: Maha (great), Masthaka (head) and Abhisheka (anointing) which literally means ‘the head anointing ceremony’. Unlike the other idols the ceremony is called Mahamasthakabhisheka and not Masthakabhisheka. This is because the ceremony is performed only once in 12 years. The earliest one on record took place in 1398 A.D. and the latest in 2006 A.D.
Why 12 Years – Usually Mahamasthakabhisheka to Bahubali idols at Shravanabelagola, Karkala, Venur and Dharmasthala are conducted once in 12 years. There are various interesting stories/interpretations around this.
- One of these stories says that it took almost 12 years to carve the idol of Lord Bahubali at Shravanabelagola and hence to mark this Mahamasthakabhisheka is conducted once in 12 years.
- One other story says that Chavundaraya who got the idol of Lord Bahubali at Shravanabelagola had instructed for performing Mahamasthakabhisheka once in 12 years.
- Further, while we look into the Jain scriptures it is seen that 12 is an auspicious number.
- Practically speaking to conduct the masthakabhisheka of an idol of such a huge magnitude it involves a lot of efforts, time and money. Hence masthakabhisheka is performed once in 12 years.
Mahamasthakabhisheka Rituals – Unlike the Panchakalyana rituals conducted for Tirthankaras, only three Kalyanas are conducted to Lord Bahubali. They are – Diksha Kalyana, Kevalagnana Kalyana and Nirvana Kalyana. However, the Pancha Kalyanas are conducted to any one of the Tirthankaras at the time of Mahamasthakabhisheka.
Abhishekas performed during Mahamasthakabhisheka – Usually the Mahamasthakabhisheka starts with Jala-abhisheka followed by Panchamrutha abhisheka. The Jala-abhisheka is carried out with either 108 or 504 or 1008 Kalashas. Kalasha is a pot of water covered by beetel leaves and a coconut. The pot of water is poured on the head of the Lord by devotees while the priests chant the holy hymns.
Panchamrutha Abhisheka – The Jabhisheka is followed by Panchamrutha abhisheka. Panchamrutha Abhisheka invloves anointing the idol with different items. These include Nairkela (tender coconut), Ikshurasa (sugarcane juice), Kshera (milk), Swetha Kalakachurna (rice flour), Harita Kalakachurna (rice flour mixed with turmeric), Kashaya (a juice prepared by boilng different ingredients), Sri Gandha (sandal wood paste), Chandana (a plant extract similar to Sandal wood paste with a differnet flavour), Ashta Gandha (a combination of eight types of Sandal wood pastes), Kesara (saffron), Haladi (Turmeric), Suvarnaratna Pushpavrusthi (a collection of different kinds of flowers mixed with golden-suvarna flowers and sacred gems and stones), Pushpavrushti (a collection of different kinds of flowers).
Arrangement of Kalashas – Usually the Kalashas are arranged systematically as specified in the Jaina agamas. If it is planned to anoint the idol with 1008 Kalashas then the Kalashas will be arranged such that there are arranged in a systematic distributed manner equally in four different halves. When all the four halves are joined they form a square. In the centre is placed the Purnakumbha Kalasha which will be the biggest of all the Kalashas. At four corners of the Kalasha configuration are placed four Kalashas of bigger size that are bigger than the rest of 1008 Kalashas but smaller than the Purnakumbha kalasha. These are called as Chatushkona Kalashas.
Usually the Bahubali idol will be anointed with Chatushkona Kalashas after the Panchamrutha abhisheka followed by the Purnakumbha Kalasha. The purnakumbha Kalasha abhisheka is followed by Indra Ashta Dravya pooja and Mahamangala arathi. Before the Mahamangala Arathi the Bahubali idol will be garlanded. The garland will be made of flowers got from different part of India and the world.
Mahamasthakabhisheka at Shravanabelagola – The event is being be held at Shravanabelagola under the leadership of His Holiness Swasti Sri Charukeerthi Bhattarakha Swamiji of Shravanabelagola from 17th-25th February 2018.
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