Memorial Inscriptions with Special Reference to Hero Stones

in Article
Published on: 20 February 2020

Malini Adiga

Dr Adiga has specialised in Ancient Indian history and has done research on the early medieval history of Karnataka. Her PhD thesis on the socio-political history of Southern Karnataka under the Western Gangas was later published by Orient Blackswan as The Making of Southern Karnataka: Society, Polity and Culture in the Early Medieval Period (AD400-1030) in 2006. Subsequently she has availed of a Post-doctoral Research Associateship from the ICHR (1998-2000) and the UGC (2004-2009) during which her research focus has been on gender, kinship, family and violence in the early medieval period in Karnataka.

Memorial inscriptions, engraved on memorials to the dead, are a major category of epigraphs in India. These memorials can be broadly categorised as hero stones, sati stones and memorials to those who died observing a religious vow. Principally in the third category, we have Jain memorials, nishidhis, to their monks and nuns as well as laity who died observing the vow of sallekhanaor sanyasana, which means a graduated fasting unto death.

Hero Stones
The practice of setting up hero stones to commemorate warriors who had died in battle is one that was probably connected to the funerary practices of the Megalithic period. Megalithic burials in earthenware jars or marked by menhirs, stone circles, dolmens, etc., are to be found in a large area of the peninsula and can be dated to the second half of the first millennium BCE. These practices are often mentioned in the poems of the Sangam anthologies. Given the stress on commemorating the fame of the warriors, the setting up of hero stones, while it connected to the funerary practices already existing in the society, also agreed well with the worldview of the poetic corpus. The Tolkappiyam mentions the setting up of the hero stones as a poetic theme and also describes it as a ceremony which involved the search for the appropriate stone, fixing an auspicious time, the ceremonial bathing and setting up of the stone, the celebration and feasting on the occasion, and praise and worship of the stone. The poems repeatedly mention the writing of the name of the warrior. While detailed epigraphs might not have existed in this period, the name of the hero might have been inscribed and perhaps some representation of the heroic episode in which he met his end.[1] Cattle raids are mentioned in one instance as the incident leading to the death of the warrior, and this continued in the early medieval period as well to be of frequent occurrence. The continuity between the practices of the Megalithic period and that of the later historic period can be seen in the fact that many of the hero stones were in the form of dolmens with three upright stones and a capstone with the inscription and figure of the hero on the rear stone facing the entrance. In a sense, this was a shrine dedicated to the memory of the hero.[2] Such dolmen-like memorials to heroes continued to exist up to the Chola period. 

The Sangam period was marked with proto-state chiefdoms. However, the regular class-divided state in the early medieval period still had the presence of multiple political structures. The continual struggles between these led to a state of constant conflict. With villages fighting their neighbours and feudal lords at every level to expand their frontiers and gain resources, particularly cattle and sometimes men or women, every able-bodied man had to be available to fight. The heroic ethos which marked the puram poetry of the Tamil Sangam corpus continued to be relevant in the early medieval period as well. However, there is an objective difference between the bonds between the warrior and the chief in the pre-state polity of the Sangam Age, and the ties between the lord and retainer in the early medieval states with their hierarchical societies. Whereas the former was characterised by kin-based ties[3] the latter was based on loyalty to the lord who maintained the warrior.[4]

Occasions for Heroism
Literary works in Kannada from the tenth century onwards clearly express the obligations of the servant (bhritya) to the lord who nourished him. Abhritya should sacrifice his wealth and life for his master and fight without accepting aid and without fear. If he can, he should fight to win; if not, he should put in his best effort and die fighting. Such is the duty of the servant. If he should slip away from the field without doing either, his honour would be tarnished.Thus Rannas Duryodhana defines the duties of the subordinate to his lord.[5] This obligation is termed joladapali, literally debt of the millet, or to put it more comprehensibly, of subsistence.  It is interesting that in Pampas Vikramarjunavijayam (also known as the Pampa Bharatam), Duryodhana chides Bhishma for only recollecting his ties of kinship with the Pandavasand requests him to remember his debt of subsistence to the Kauravas (joladapaliyumaninisibageyimnimmoë).[6] That Bhishma,who is a Kaurava elder, should be asked to remember the debt of subsistence is striking in marking the shift from kinship to class in the sociopolitical sphere. Likewise, in the Gadayuddham, Duryodhana rails against Drona and Ashvatthama for disregarding their debt to him.[7] Karna is repeatedly extolled in both the works for refusing to default on his debt to Duryodhana which, as he explains to Kunti, would tarnish his fame.[8] Loyalty to the lord is repeatedly held forth as the greatest virtue. Karna exemplified the values of truth (nanni), seen in his adherence to his promises and loyalty, generosity (caga) seen in his unflinching giving away even his natural armour to Indra, and valour (anmi) seen in his conduct on the battlefield.[9]

The literary works of the tenth century also hold forth on occasions for a warrior to put forth his prowess. In a cattle raid (turugolol), when women cry for help (penbuyyalol),when the king commands (erevesadol), in defence of ones kinsmen (nentanedar) and when ones village is being destroyed (uralivinol) if a man does not put forth his valour to the touchstone, he is no man but a eunuch (shanda).”[10] In essentials this differs little from the list of occasions that one can glean from the heroic poetry of the Tamil Sangam works: Cattle raids and their reverse, defence and recovery of cattle stolen; besieging an enemys fort, with its reverse, the defence of ones town; and invading and conquering a neighbouring territory.’[11] Essentially, as mentioned earlier, the objective situation of decentralised power and a lack of concentration of force made constant conflict and its corollary of heroism in defence necessary, but what had changed was that now power was based on social  hierarchy. In addition to these occasions for valour, we also have, in the medieval period, the institution of the velevali or, as it became known after the tenth century, the lenkaor garuda warrior who died with his lord. We also have widow immolation which becomes popular in the post-tenth-century period and develop a style of expression peculiar to themselves. We shall deal with these one by one. 

Inscriptions which proliferate in the early medieval period, which are particularly numerous in Karnataka, attest to all these occasions for valour which were recognised and celebrated in the local record.  The Kogodu hero stone (Belurtaluk, Hassan district) of the early eleventh century gives us an instance of a combination of these reasons for valour. It records the death of Màcayya, the nephew of Shivara Gavunda (henceforth Gauóa) of Kogodu in a raid by their village on Tagarenadu (territory) in which they encountered Gandara Dumma Katayya, the general of Niti Maharaja, a Kadamba chief. The raid is described as an act of destruction of the village, an assault on mothers and a cattle raid.[12]

Cattle Raids
Cattle raids are the most frequently mentioned episodes in inscriptions and are a pointer to the importance of cattle rearing and pastoral elements in the economy of the period.  They are also geographically the most widespread, and are frequently indicated on hero stones by the depiction of cattle on the lowest panel of the memorial. The context of the cattle raids might have been political in some cases, as is exemplified by the raid on Guduve (Sorabtaluk, Shimoga district) by the Kadamba chief Shantayyadeva in retaliation for an attack on the fort (kote) of Banavasi.[13]

But in most cases, the context is purely local where the aggressors and cattle thieves are the forest-dwelling Bedas. Thus, inscriptions from Bettadakurali (Sorabtaluk, Shimoga district) of 954 and 964 CE[14] respectively refer to cattle raids by the  Bedas while the Cikkacavuti hero stone registers the death of PiriyaAttiyaGauóa of Kaccavikola in defence of cattle that were being driven away by the Bedas.[15]

In many instances, the raiders were from a neighbouring settlement. Thus, the Bharangi hero stone (Sorabtaluk) of 957 CE records a cattle raid by Pebba Gauda of Bharangi on Kannasoge (Shikarpurtaluk, Shimoga district).[16] Baisarikaruva Muddanna, one of the raiders, died in the skirmish. Likewise, the Niduvani inscription (Hole Narsipurtaluk, Hassan district) of 970 CE records a cattle raid on Niduvani by Kenca Gauda of Bidirhaka (same taluk).[17] References to gaudas  engaging in cattle raids outnumber the rest but we do have references to merchants and artisans engaging in them as well.

A striking instance of mercantile cattle raid appears in the Alattur hero stones of the ninth century (Gundlupettaluk, Mysore district) which refer to a cattle raid by a group of merchants led by Ammana Shetti probably in Chola nadu where they had gone to trade (paradu pogi).[18] The circumstances of merchants turning into raiders is unclear. Artisans are in most cases seen defending the cattle of their village, as in Kodakani (Sorabtaluk, Shimoga district) in 1015 CE where the cattle were being carried away by the servants of Cattayya deva and which were rescued by Arjuna Kamma Ÿa (a smith),and sixty kammas (a measure of area which was a  hundredth of a mattar or nivartana which varied over time and space) of land were given in his memory to his successors.[19]

Battle at the Command of the Lord
While heroes who fell in minor inter-village skirmishes got small bequests, those who fought for their superiors received generous grants of land. Thus, the heirs of Ràceya Ganga, who died in an invasion of Uttarillaga kote (fort) in the course of a battle against the Nolambas,received the villages of Iggali and Dudugere as kalnad.[20] This would be a hero stone commemorating the erevesa (command of the lord) category of occasions for valour in Rannas list. Similarly, we have Erigari, who died in the battle against Rajaditya Calukya of Uccangi in 971CE and received the grant of Nettur in Kalkalinad as a kalnad grant.[21] Kalnadus were service assignments, with no discernible conditions attached, that were made to heroes who distinguished themselves in battle. If they died, it went to the descendants, though the inscriptions always declared the recipient to be the hero. 

Assault on Women
Rannas category of penbuyyalol (womens cry for help) is usually expressed as pendirudeulcal (loosening of the girdle of women) in hero stone inscriptions, a phrase which is much more expressive of the violence involved.We have already cited the Kogodu virgal (hero stone) inscription which was a combination of a cattle raid, a destructive raid on a village and an assault on mothers. Similar combinations occur in later records too. The Uddhare hero stone of 1128 CE[22] (Sorabtaluk, Shimoga district) records that the siege of Ishapura by Permadi Shantara was relieved at the orders of Mahapradhana Dandanayaka Masanayya by his mayduna (brother-in-law or cross-cousin) Kaliga Nayaka. The siege is said to have been marked by the destruction of the settlement and rape of the women. The hero stone commemorates Barmmu Santa who was a warrior of Kaliga Nayaka. The stone was set up by his mother Santati.

In a hero stone from Kaginele (Hirekerurtaluk) of 1135 CE, we are told that the agrahara Hahanur was besieged by the forces of Mahamandaleshvara Bittidevarasa (Hoysala Vishnuvardhana probably) and the fort was occupied and the women assaulted. On that occasion, Ekkatiga Rajana, the younger brother of  Jióugurs Malleya Nayaka, fought away the cavalry, protected those who were frightened, and killed many of the enemy, before rising to heaven, having upheld the name of his brother and his own heroism.[23]

Women were also frequently carried away by the raiders but apparently not always rescued. Thus,in the Talagundahero stoneof 1169 CE[24] (Shikaripurataluk, Shimoga district), we have a record of  the death of Kaleya Nayaka, son of  Sovi Setti of Mukkaóa, who rescued the cattle of Alahur in Shantalige which was being carried away by Dandanayaka Keshimayya Heggade of Banavase nad. The inscription had in its beginning referred to the women being assaulted and carried away along with the cattle, but there is no reference to the women being rescued.In the Silavantanakoppa inscription of 1180 CE[25], the local ruler had attacked Uddhare and carried away Udeyabbesåëe and the cattle of the place. As in the Talagunda hero stone, the cattle were rescued but the woman apparently remained with the ravisher. However, this is not always the case. The Kuppatur hero stone[26] of 1177 CE (Sorabtaluk, Shimoga district) specifically mentions the women being rescued. Hadedeva of Uccangi and Gamundasami attacked Kuppatur in order to collect the taxes thereof. We are told that they besieged the village and assaulted and captured the women. Thereupon Keteya Nayaka was commanded to have the cows and women released,which the hero proceeded to do. Another instance of the rescue of the cattle and women is recorded in the Mallegaudana Koppalu inscription of 1036 CE (Mysore taluk), wherein the hero, Panciya Muddayya, rescued both the cattle and women being carried away by the Changalva forces before dying.[27] The emphasis is on the valour of the men who exerted themselves rather than the plight of the women or other captives who were or were not rescued. These events were viewed as opportunities for men to display their heroism.

Women are brought into the discourse of heroism in the context of sati or widow immolation. Like other aspects of the discourse on heroism, this too is elaborated on by Pampa and Ranna.  In the context of the eve of a battle a warrior is depicted as looking forward to a heroic death and the company of celestial nymphs. His wife then resolves to preempt her husband and await him in heaven to prevent the heavenly nymphs from enjoying his company.[28] A similar sentiment is expressed by Ranna in his Ajita Tirthakara Purana tilakam wherein he records the self-immolation of Gundamabbe. She was the younger sister and co-wife of Rannas patroness Attimabbe, and died with her husband Nagadeva. On her husband’s death, Gundamabbe, who was apparently childless, considers that in widowhood a kulavadhu had only two options—either the acceptance of Jinadiksha or a death worthy of pure conduct.[29] She does so to the praise of all and the dismay of the celestial nymphs who bemoan their inability to enjoy the company of the handsome Nagadeva since the chaste Gundamabbe had accompanied him to heaven and become his beloved there too.[30]

One of the fascinating inscriptional descriptions of sati comes from the Belatur hero stone (Heggadedevanakotetaluk, Mysore district) of 1057 CE[31] which describes the sati of Dekabbe whose lineage on both the paternal and maternal sides is spelt out in detail. Descended from gauda families holding nadadhipati  (head of nada) status, she was married to Eca of Pervayal KuŸuvanda family who ruled the Navalenad. Eca was executed at Talakadfor killing his collaterals (dayiga) in a wrestling match. On hearing of this, Dekabbe resolved on following him in death and set out to cast herself into a firepit. Her parents and other relatives begged her to desist but she was adamant.Her counter-argument is worth quoting: Being the daughter of Raviga, the Nugu nadadhipati and the wife of the Navale nadadhipati if I continue to live, the fame of both my marital and natal families will be destroyed. Here, it is not even the desire for reunification but rather one of conduct worthy of status that seems to impel the woman. It is significant that the gaudas were the land-holding aristocracy at the local and nadulevels.[32] They patterned their conduct on that of the Brahmanas and the putative Kshatriyas who held high rank at the imperial courts and ruled the regional feudatory states.They were warriors too, and thus the code of conduct that applied to the warriors, which had been crystallised in the period between the eighth and tenth centuries, and given expression in the works of Pampa and Ranna, was adopted by them consciously.It is noteworthy that the many instances of sati in the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth centuries came in the context of the local skirmishes with the dead hero, usually of gauda status, being followed by his wife.[33]

Closely linked to sati is the practice of self-sacrifice among warriors who were bound to die with the king (later feudal superiors of lower rank too had their bonded warriors). These warriors were known in Karnataka as velevali. It was usually male warriors who undertook the oath of vele (velegondu) which involved following the lord (or his consort) to death. An inscription from Kotur (Saundattitaluk, Belgaum district) from the ninth century records the death of an individual named Sambhu who had taken the oath of vele for a Chalukyan prince named Parahitarajan and entered the fire meditating on Shiva.[34] The editor of the inscription, Fleet, interpreted this as a case of religious death of a Shaiva ascetic, but the term velevadicha applied to the warrior, and the act of taking oath which is specifically mentioned are facts too emphatic to be ignored. 

There are a number of Ganga inscriptions which attest to the practice in the southern part of Karnataka from the ninth century. Thus,manemaga (son of the house) Agarayya became kilgunthe (supporting the kings corpse from below whether in a grave or on a funeral pyre[35]) with Nãtimārga Ereyanga I in 870 CE.[36] The term kilgunthe implied that the individual was buried or cremated on the pyre with the king, supporting the corpse from below. Babiyamma entered the fire on the death of Nitimarga Ereyanga II[37] and Bedante Racheya accompanied Ganga Rachamalla (II?).[38] Ankada Katayya died with Butuga IIs queen Revakanimmadi.[39] All these heroes’ families and descendants were given villages to be enjoyed in perpetuity.

The ethos of the day as expressed by the literature of the period is emphatic on the point of the warrior paying his debt to the lord who nourished him, with his life, if necessary.  In a scenario, where every warrior was expected to repay his debt, the obligations to the lord of the velevali were particularly close and exacting. The term manemaga applied to Agarayya is illuminating in this regard. A velevali was expected to be totally dedicated to the lords interests. We have a record of a velevali Akatega who vowed to sacrifice his head if the queen were to conceive and the king get an heir. He fulfilled his vow and had himself beheaded.[40] Even a late thirteenth century record from Lakshmeshwar[41] (Shirhattitaluk, Dharwar district) records the self-sacrifice of two warriors, Khaiya and Mayiga,on the death of Lakkhale, wife of their lord Chamunda Dandesha, stating that on losing their mother, they had no purpose in living. These instances bring out the close bonds of the velevadicha (a person who depended on his master or mistress for his livelihood and took a vow of death voluntarily at the court when his king or queen passed away) and the lord. In the lifetime of the king they were expected to fight in his battles, and when he died they had to accompany him into death. This is what set them apart. This institution is found in various forms in Tamil Nadu and Kerala as well and formed the core of the armed forces of the rulers.[42] Until the eleventh century, it was only the warriors who apparently followed the lord or lady into death. We have no evidence of their wives or retainers following suit. Nor are there any grounds to believe that the grants given to velevalis carried the hereditary obligation of following into death. This seems to have developed in the Hoysala period.

A series of inscriptions from Agrahara Bachahalli[43] show that the Hoysala rulers were followed into death by generations of their vassals of the Mugilu family, who were rulers of Kabbahunad and enjoyed the rank of mahasamanta (Head of the underlord). They were not alone in following the king, but were accompanied by their wives and retainers, male and a little later, female as well. The numbers of those accompanying the king increased over time. The record of 1291 gives a comprehensive list of the rulers and their vassals and retainers over the generations. It commences with Gandanarayana Shetti in the first generation of the family, who, accompanied by his wife Marave Nayakiti and five male retainers (lenkaru) followed Ereyanga Hoysala,and culminates with Rangeya Nayaka in the seventh generation who followed Narasimha III Hoysala with his wives Ketavve and Honnavve Nayakiti, ten female retainers (manisa lenkitiyar) and twenty-one male retainers(manisa lenkar). The members of the last two generations, Kanneya Nayaka and Rangeya Nayaka are said to have embraced the garudasix times on the back of the elephant. The expression is clarified by an inscription of the mid-twelfth century from Halebid (Belurtaluk, Hassan district) which records the self-sacrifice of Cennamallana Ravalabova.[44] This was done not to follow the king or queen but only out of bravado in order to impress the king with his bravery in facing death.This he did by embracing the garuda sword so that the two sides of the blade pierced his chest and eight other parts of his body. He was followed by his wife Cattale out of patibhakti  (devotion to husband). Their son Kolliya Bamma seems to have been recognised as a lenka and might have received land, though the fragmentary character of the epigraph at this point makes this speculative. Perhaps it was this mode of self-sacrifice which was adopted by Kanneya and Rangeya Nayaka.

The Agrahara Bachahal inscriptions exemplify the growth and elaboration of the feudatory hierarchy.  In the Ganga period, the warriors under the vele vow had been low-ranking warriors, but now the velevalior lenka enjoyed a higher rank of mahasamanta and their fiefs consisted not merely of villages but of whole nadus. They had retainers under them who were also bound to follow them when they fulfilled their vow. The vow was symbolised by the wearing of the golden anklet (hontoóar) on the left leg which is referred to specifically in the case of Kanneya Nayaka.[45] Members of this family also served as the loyal retainers of the kings as documented in another record from Agrahara Bachahalli dated 1179 CE. Here, Mahasamanta Babbeya Nayaka,the son of Hoyisana Shetti (a second generation lenka) was directed by Ballaladeva to lead the attack on Sankamadevas camp (kanaka) in the course of which he died fighting and became a beloved of the celestial nymphs, seated in the assembly of the gods.[46] It is interesting to note that Babbeya Nayaka did not accompany his brother Kureya Nayaka in following Narasimha I Hoysala.[47]

Another celebrated high-ranking lenka was Kuvara Lakshma who enjoyed the rank of mantri (minister) and chamupati (commander-in-chief of army) under Ballala II. His closeness to the king is stressed by stating that he had been brought up by the women of the kings harem and was the kings foster son.[48] This is reminiscent of the title of manemaga that was applied to velevalis in the earlier period. Kuvara Lakshma is said to have worn the todar on his left leg as a token of his acceptance of the vow and, interestingly, his wife Suggala devi, too, wore one. The similarity between the position of the velevali with respect to the king, and the wife vis-à-vis the husband, is strikingly brought out here. Like the wife, the velevali was closely bound to the king and was beholden to his favour for whatever status he enjoyed. Therefore, it was equally ignoble, particularly after having ceremonially bound himself by a vow, to survive the lord. 

The Form of Hero Stones
We have already seen that in Tamil Nadu, at least till the Chola period, hero stones retained the dolmen form. In Karnataka, they usually were slabs of stone, with at least three panels. The lowest depicted the battle scenes. The one above usually showed the hero being taken to heaven by heavenly nymphs, and the uppermost usually showed the hero worshipping a linga, or sitting at ease in heaven, with the sun and moon sculpted to show the perpetual nature of the record, and sometimes a cow and a suckling calf to show its sacred nature. 

Literature and epigraphy bear out the belief that was in vogue at the time that the hero had nothing to lose: if he won, he would win wealth, and if he died, the company of the nymphs would reward him for his heroism. This is expressed in a verse that is frequently found in epigraphs:

Jitena labhyateLakumi mritenapi surànganà
Kshane vidhvamsanekayakacintamaranerane

(If we win, we gain wealth and if we die, the company of the celestial nymphs.
The body dies in a moment, why worry about death in battle.)[49]

Ranna, too, speaks in his description of Duryodhana traversing the battlefield, of apsaras carrying away heroes to heaven.[50] It is this belief that is depicted graphically on the middle panel of hero stones. The lowest panel(s) are of interest in showing the methods of war in the time. Perhaps the most interesting memorials are those to the garudas of Agrahara Bachahalli which show them mounted on elephants, and face to face with Garuda, and with their wives behind them. Probably these depict the phrase embracing Garuda while mounted on the elephant. Three of these pillars stand in the place along with scores of hero stones commemorating this family that seems to have contributed a great deal to the war effort of the Hoysalas.

A pillar also commemorates the sacrifice of Kuvara Lakshma at Belur. However, his wife does not seem to have been commemorated even though she is said to have died with him.

Dekabbe’s sati is commemorated in a detailed stone engraving that shows every stage of the story given in the record. This is an exception as satis are usually shown in a much simpler manner; a woman facing a man or merely a bent arm with bangles on it.

Hero stones in Rajasthan and Sindh are much simpler in comparison with those seen above. Generally, they tend to depict merely the image of a horseman or warrior. Camel riders are also depicted in some and these were probably Rabaris, or camel breeders of Sindh, who died fighting. Various terms are used here to denote these memorials and the type of heroism denoted thereby. Thus, the term paliyaor pariyo denotes a warrior who has died fighting, perhaps derived from palaor guardian. Khambi is used for memorials to those who died by self-immolation, mostly satis.[51] Folk epics such as Pabuji speak of various types of heroes: the jhujharwho continues fighting even after he is beheaded, and the bhomiyowho died defending cattle are the two major categories of heroes recognised in Rajasthan.[52] It has been suggested that the practice of setting up hero stones was usually utilised by tribal Bhils to effect upward mobility and secure higher rank as Rajputs.[53] The symbol of the carved horseman on these memorial stones were less the appropriation of a warrior ethos than a growing pretence to high Rajput-like status.

Religious Memorials
As mentioned earlier, the largest category of religious memorials is that of the Jains who died observing the vow of sallekhanaor starvation to death. These are found distributed widely with a concentration in places like Shravanabelgolaand Koppal, which were considered sacred. Shravanabelgola,in fact, became known as Kalbappu or Sepulchral Hill as a result of its fame as the resting place of a large number of monks and nuns who chose to end their lives on its bare expanse between the seventh and the ninth centuries. The Gommata colossus was set up only at the close of the tenth century, but until then, the fame of this centre was primarily as a sacred place for inviting death. The memorials in the initial phase of the seventh to the ninth or even the tenth centuries were simple single line inscriptions with the name of the monk or nun and sometimes the name of their preceptor and the year of their death. An instance is number 11 which merely states that Panada Bhatara of Nedubore died after adopting the vow.[54] A slightly modified version of this type of memorial specifies the vow and the duration of the vow which ended with the death of the individual. Sometimes the preceptor and the monastic affiliation are also specified. An inscription on a rock to the right side of the Parshvanatha basadi on the small hill records the death of an old teacher (modeya) Kalapakada Guravaigaë, a disciple of Kalavir Guravaigaëhailing from Per̥jee in Tarekadu,who died after observing the vow of sanyasana for twenty-one days.[55]

Around the close of the tenth century, we have the memorial of the Ganga king Marasimha II who died at Bankapura, having adopted the vow of aradhanavidhi (propitiation ritual) at the direction of Ajitasena Bhattaraka on the third day after initiation to the vow. His memorial however stands at Shravanabelgola, an elaborate pillar known locally as the Kuge Brahmadeva pillar, that enumerates his military achievements.[56] A similar military eulogy of Chavundaraya, his general, is also given on the foot of the Tyagada Brahmadeva pillar on the large hill at Shravanabelgola though it is not clear that he had adopted any vow ending in his death.[57] This seems to have set off the tradition of setting up eulogies of Jain generals who were prominent patrons and set up structures at the small or the big hill at Shravanabelgola. We have a eulogy of Gangaraja, the loyal general of Vishnuvardhana Hoysala who is said to have set up the suttalaya, the shrines of the Tirthankaras around the Gommata statue at Shravanabelgola. The inscription is an elaborate military eulogy of the general only recording his guru’s name, Shubhachandra Siddhantadevar, and his efforts in constructing the shrines.[58] This inscription stands on a regular stone near the surrounding wall of the large hill and perhaps would not qualify as a memorial inscription. But it points to the changing character of the sacred hill. From being primarily the site of performing the vow of sanyasana or sallekhana, it had become a centre of temples.

Elaborate eulogies of Jain monks who died by ritual vows continued to be set up at Shravanabelgola,and unlike the earlier memorials these were lengthy records engraved on pillars and given a mantapa (tower). The entire pontifical chain is sometimes elaborated therein before commemorating the monk who died. The memorials were set up by influential lay disciples. For instance, a mantapa in the vicinity of the Gandhavarana basadi has the memorial of Prabhachandra Siddhantadeva, the senior disciple of Meghachandra Traividyadeva of the Mulasangha, Kondakundanvaya and Desiga gana.  The memorial was set up by his lay disciple, Macikabbe, the mother of the Hoysala queen, Shantala.[59] This is a lengthy record of 192 lines engraved on a pillar within the mantapa. Similar pillar memorials were also set up for influential lay disciples such as Baladeva, the grandson of Baladeva Dandanayaka,and the lay disciple of Prabhachandradeva who died at Morimgere by sanyasana.  The memorial was set up by his sister Echiyakka and his mother Nagiyakka who also built a pattadasale (a reading hall) and a tank in his memory.[60] This record is also engraved on a memorial pillar in a mantapa and is 84 lines long. 

In the case of Koppala or as it was known in the early medieval period, Kupana, the centre was recognised early on as a tirtha and it was both a centre with temples and a centre where people chose to attain liberation by adoption of vows. Thus, a record dated 881 CE registers the death of Shri Sarvvanandibhatara,the disciple of Ekacattugabhatara,by adoption of the vow of sanyasana[61], while another early eleventh century record states that after the death of Simhanandi muni by Inginimarana, the place became the preferred spot where Abhayandimunindra and Gunachandramuni among others chose to die also of the same vow after severe penances(kadutapam). The spot was also marked with the establishment of an image of Shantinatha.[62] But in the ninth century itself, it was becoming the centre recognised as a tirtha where influential people sought to increase merit by constructing or adding to Jain shrines.[63] It attained further fame at the close of the tenth century when several queens of the Ganga dynasty chose to die by sanyasana there.[64] By this time, the memorial records were much lengthier and elaborate, giving a eulogy of the deceased monk or lay person and of his preceptors.[65] It is also noteworthy that even in cases where the renunciant had died elsewhere, often the memorial was set up at Koppal, much in the same fashion as the memorial for Màrasimha II being set up at Shravanabelgola because of its sanctity. Thus, in 975 CE, we hear of a monk Sadhusena Bhatarar who, having ruled Kupana for sometime, adopts the vow of sanyasanaat the Ekacattuga basadi at Manyakheta and dies. His disciple, Siddhasena Bhatarar,set up the nishidhi in his memory. In this case, the control of the monk over Kupana might have been a factor in placing his memorial there, though it is not quite clear why he chose to adopt the vow at Manyakheta.[66]

Over time, we find the memorial inscriptions growing more and more elaborate and lengthy, with the pontifical chain given, with eulogies of each major monk, whereas before only the monk or nun being commemorated was mentioned. Either their monastic or lay disciples usually set up the stone in their memory. This trend may be compared to the elaboration of other memorial stones over time. For instance, the manner in which the Bachahalli records commemorate more and more individuals dying with the king and also becomes more ornate both physically and textually.

[1] K. Kailasapathy, Tamil Heroic Poetry, Colombo: Kumaran Book House, 1968 (reprint 2002) 235-237.

[2] R. Nagaswamy, “Dolmens, Hero Stones and the Dravidian People’, in

[3] Rajan Gurukkal, “Tribes, Forest ad Social Formation in Early South India”, in Social Formations of Early South India, by Rajan Gurukkal (New Delhi: OUP, 2010), 121-135.

[4] This came to be known as the debt of salt, or in Karnataka, the debt of the millet. 

[5] R.V. Kulkarni, ed. and trans., Sahasabhamavijayam of Ranna (Gadayuddham), (Bangalore: Kannada Sahitya Parishat, 1985), II. 21,22.

[6] N. Anantarangachar, ed. and trans., Vikramarjunavijayam (Pampa Bhàratam), (Bangalore: Kannadóa Sahitya Parishat , 1977), XI.15.

[7] Kulkarni, ed. and trans. Gadayuddham II. 11.

[8] Anantarangachar, ed. and trans. Pampa Bhàratam, IX. 84.

[9] Kulkarni, ed. and trans. Gadayuddham, Vol. 17, 22.

[10] Kulkarni, ed. and trans. Gadayuddham, II. 24.

[11] Friedhelm Hardy, The Religious Culture of India: Power, Love and Wisdom, (Delhi: CUPi, 1994), p. 112.

[12] A.V.Narasimhamurthy et al. eds., Epigraphia Carnatica, Vol. IX, Belur 524. (Mysore: University of Mysore Prasaranga,1990)

[13] B.L.Rice ed, Epigraphia Carnatica, Vol. VIII  Sorab 60-63, (Mysore: Mysore Dept.of Archaeology, 1904)

[14] Ibid, Sorab 202, 203.

[15] Ibid, Sorab 240.

[16] Ibid, Sorab 326.

[17] B.R.Gopal et al. eds. Epigraphia Carnatica, Vol. VIII, HN 130, (Mysore: University of Mysore Prasaranga, 1984).

[18] B.RGopal et al .eds. Epigraphia Carnatica, Vol. III (Mysore: University of Mysore Prasaranga,1974), Gundlupet 36,37.

[19] Rice ed,  Epigraphia Carnatica, Vol. VIII, Sb 16.

[20] Gopal et al eds Epigraphia Carnatica, Vol. III  Nanjanagudu 204 of 892 CE.

[21] A.V. Narasimhamurthy et al ,eds. Epigraphia Carnatica, Vol X (Mysore: University of Mysore Prasaranga 1997), Channarayapatna 102. 

[22] Rice ed. Epigraphia Carnatica, Vol. VIII  Sorab 141.

[23] N.L. Rao ed South Indian Inscriptions, Vol. XVIII, (New Delhi: ASI, 1964) No.169.

[24] Rice ed. Epigraphia Carnatica, Vol. VII  (Mysore: Mysore Dept.of Archaeology,1902), Shikaripura 181.

[25] Ibid,  Shikaripura 300.

[26] Riceed EpigraphiaCarnatica, Vol. VIII Sorab 251.

[27] Gopal et al eds. Epigraphia Carnatica, Vol. V (Mysore: University of Mysore Prasaranga, 1975), 114.

[28] Anantharangachar, ed, Pampa Bharatam X. 45.

[29] B.S. Sannayya and Rame Gowda ,eds. Ajita Tirthakara Puranam of Raima, (Mysore: Geerha Book Depot, 1988), I. 46.

[30] Ibid, I. 48.

[31] Gopaled Epigraphia Carnatica, Vol. III Heggadedevanakote 60.

[32] Kesavan Veluthat, “Landed Magnates as State Agents: The Gavudas under the Hoysalas”, Paper presented to the 50th session of the Indian History Congress, Gorakhpur, 1989; Malini Adiga, The Making of Southern Karnataka: Society, polity and Culture in the Early Medieval Period, (Chennai: Orient Longman , 2006) , 168-177 on the position of the gaudas.

[33] Narasimhamurthy ed, Epigraphia Carnatica, Vol. IX  Bl 185 of 1122, Epigraphia Carnatica XII  Kadur 99 of early eleventh century, Rice (ed) Epigraphia Carnatica VIII Sorab 396 of 1200, Mysore Archaeological Report (MAR) 1930, No. 61 of 1201, MAR 1931, No,60 of 1208, Rice(ed) Epigraphia Carnatica, Vol. VIII Nagar 29 of 1228, etc. Epigraphia Carnatica   vol. IV  Chamrajapet 226 of unspecified date records the death of a warrior of indeterminate status in a cattle raid on his village and his wife is said to have become a masati.

[34] Indian Antiquary, Vol. XX (1891), pp. 69-71.

[35] M.Chidanandamurthy, Kannada shasanagala Samskritika Adhyayana, (Mysore: Mysore University Press, 1979), 312-313.

[36] Gopal (ed) Epigraphia Carnatica Vol. V, TN 257.

[37] Narasimhamurthy (ed.) Epigraphia Carnatica VIII, Ag 26.

[38] Ibid, Ag 24.

[39] Ibid, Ag 41.

[40] Rice (ed) Epigraphia Carnatica, VIII, Sb 479.

[41] South Indian Inscriptions  Vol. XX, No. 217.

[42] K. Veluthat, “The Nature and Significance of the Institution of Velevali in Karnataka in Historical Perspective (AD 800-1300)’ in Proceedings of the Indian History Congress (PIHC) 57th session, (Calcutta: Calcutta University, 1990), 151-159.

[43] Gopal (ed) Epigraphia Carnatica Vol. VI (1977) Krishnarajapete 84and 82 are the most important of these. Other references to this family show them fighting and dying in battles.

[44] Narasimhamurthy ,ed, Epigraphia Carnatica IX  Bl 268.

[45] Gopal (ed) Epigraphia Carnatica, Vol. VI Krishnarajapete 82 of 1256.

[46] Ibid, Krishnarajapete 77.

[47] Ibid, Krishnarajapete 84.

[48] Narasimhamurthy et al. eds Epigraphia Carnatica, Vol. IX  Belur 300.

[49] Narasimhamurthy et al (eds) EpigraphiaCarnatica, Vol. IX, Belur 522.

[50] Kulkarni, ed. and trans. Gadayuddham IV. 22.

[51] Zulfiqar Ali Kalhoro, “Vanishing Visual Heritage: Sati and Hero Stones in Nagarparkar,  Sindh”, in Journal of Indian Society of Oriental Art, Vol. XXVII, p 231-239.

[52] Alf Hiltebeitel, Draupadi among Rajputs, Muslims and Dalits: Rethinking India’s Oral and Classical Epics, (New Delhi: OUP, 2001), 95.

[53] Marco Fattori, “The Bhil and the Rajput Kingdoms of Southern Rajasthan”, in Narratives from the Margins: Aspects of Adivasi History of India, eds. by Sanjukta Das Gupta and Raj Sekhar Basu , (New Delhi: Primus Books, 2012), 127-152.

[54] Gopal et al (eds) Epigraphia Carnatica, Vol. II  SB 11.

[55] Ibid, SB 36.

[56] Ibid, SB 64.

[57] Ibid, SB 388.

[58] Ibid, SB 355.

[59] Ibid, SB 173 of 1145.

[60] Ibid SB 174.

[61] Devarakonda Reddy (ed) Kannaḍa University Epigraphical Series III, Koppal district, Kpl 45. (Hampi: Kannada University,  1999).

[62] Ibid, Kpl 62.

[63] Ibid, Kpl 34 of 883CE.

[64] Ibid, Kpl 98 of 971, Kpl 101 of 975, Kpl 84 of 987, etc.

[65] Ibid, Kpl 85 of 997 which has an elaborate eulogy of the preceptor, Maladharideva of the commemorated monk, Shridharabhattaraka. The nishidhi was set up by a nun, Poleyabbekantiyar. 

[66] Ibid, Kpl 86.