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   The millennium's first Mahamastakabisheka February 8, 2006
     The millennium's first Mahamastakabisheka
   The millennium's first Mahamastakabisheka, the head anointing mony of Lord Bahubali, a revered Jain icon, began on Wednesday on February 8, 2006 amidst prayers. Monks took part in bathing the world's tallest free standing statue with a steady stream of holy water and milk.
  The day-long ceremony started with the designated Jain monks, led by   Charukeerthi Bhattarka, carrying the holy water of Agrodaka from the Digambar Jain mutt to the venue on Vindyagiri Hills.Chanting hymns, the pontiff filled a giant pot with rice and sealed it with silver coconut, signalling the commencement of the spectacular event.
  At the auspicious moment, Acharya 108 Vardhaman Sagar along with Charukeerthi Swami hoisted the first pot on the shoulders of Ashok Kumar Patni, devotee from Rajasthan, who had the privilege of pouring the first stream of holy water on the head of the 57-foot statue.
 In all, 108 kalashas, 500 tender coconuts, 300 kalashas of Ikshurasa, 300 kalashas of milk, 100 kg of milled rice, 25 kg of sandalwood paste, 25 kg of turmeric paste and other ingredients were offered to the Lord of the Vindhyagiri with the grand finale for the day being the showering of petals brought from six countries. The "sacred bath" culminated with the setting sun bathing the statue in a red hue. 
  Located 120 km from Bangalore, Shravanabelagola became prominent when the first empire builder of India, Chandagupta Maurya, abdicated the throne, embraced Jainism and came down to Shravanabelagola with the Jain pontiff Shrutikevali Bhadrabahu in the 3rd Century B.C. Like a true Jaina, he fasted to attain salvation. 
  It was between 978 A.D. and 993 A.D that the present statue was conceived by the commander-in-chief of the Ganga dynasty, Chamundaraya. According to the Jain tradition, the first great anointment of the statute took place in 981 and this is the 86th Mahamastakabhisheka. 
  Sri Charukeerthi Bhattaraka Swamiji supervised the conduct of the  Mahamastakabhisheka in the presence of Sri Vardhaman Sagar Muni and Acharya Gunanandhi Muni. Devotees clad in saffron and white apparel dotted the entire Chandragiri and Vindhayagri Hills and adjoining areas to witness the grand event, held once in 12 years during a period of rare astrological significance. As the bugle and trumpets sounded, marking the grand ritual, thousands of devotees raised their eyes skywards to have a look at the anointing of the gigantic statue, erected in 981 AD to commemorate Lord Bahubali's supreme sacrifice of renouncing the throne in pursuit of eternal bliss and liberation.


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