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Sri Manjunatha Temple, Dharmasthala
|• Type||Local Government|
|• Body||Gram Panchayat|
|Time zone||IST (UTC+5:30)|
Dharmasthala is an Indian temple town on the banks of the Nethravathi River in the Belthangadi taluk of the Dakshina Kannada district in Karnataka, India. It is a panchayat village, and it is the only village in its gram panchayat.
The town is known for its Dharmasthala Temple which houses the shrine of Shiva, Manjunatha, Ammanavaru, Chandranath and the Dharma Daivas (guardian spirits of Dharma) — Kalarahu, Kalarkayi, Kumaraswamy and Kanyakumari. The temple is unusual in that it is run by a Jain administration and poojas are conducted by Hindu priests of the Madhva order. Lakshadeepa, the festival of lights, is the annual festival of Dharmasthala in November–December. On an average the flow of pilgrims is about 10,000 people a day. A mechanised kitchen provides free food for all pilgrims, and there are guest houses with modern amenities.
Dharmastala represents religious tolerance. A Jain Tirthankara is worshiped beside Daivas and Lord Manjunatha (Shiva). The priests are Vaishnavite Brahmins and the guardian of the temple a Heggade (Jain). To those who come here for justice, the Heggade dispenses judgments that are said to represent the will of the deities.
Local legend says that the Shiva Linga in Dharmasthala was brought to Dharmasthala by a local person with great powers, named Annappa. Legend is that he used to work for the Heggade family. Once when the Heggade he was serving wanted to worship Lord Shiva, Annappa had assured him to get one linga and vanished from the sight. The next morning, he had already established the linga in Dharmasthala, a few metres away from Heggade's house. Later it was learned that the linga was from Kadri near Mangalore, from the Kadri temple. By then, Annappa had vanished and he was never again sighted in the vicinity. Now people in Dharmasthala worship Annappa as Annappa Panjurli, a local god deva and a hero.
800 years ago, Dharmasthala was known as Kuduma (ಕುಡುಮ) in Mallarmadi, then a village in Belthangady (ಬೆಳ್ತಂಗಡಿ). Here lived the Jain chieftain Birmanna Pergade and his wife Ammu Ballathi in a house called Nelliadi Beedu. Pergade and the local chieftains built several shrines and invited Brahmin priests to perform the rituals. These priests requested Pergade to install a Shivalinga beside the native Daivas. The Daivas then sent their vassal Annappa Swamy to procure the linga of Lord Manjunatheshwara (ಶ್ರೀ ಮಂಜುನಾಥೇಶ್ವರ ಸ್ವಾಮಿ) from Kadri, near Mangalore. Subsequently, the Manjunatha temple was built around the linga.
Around the 16th century, Shri Devaraja Heggade invited Shri Vadiraja Swami of Udupi to visit the place. The swamiji gladly came but refused to accept Bhiksha (food offering) because the idol of Lord Manjunatha had not been consecrated according to the vedic rites. Shri Heggade then requested the Swamiji to reconsecrate the Shiva Linga himself. Pleased by the observance of the vedic rites and Heggade's charity to all, the Swamiji named the place Dharmasthala the abode of religion and charity. Thus, the roots of charity and religious tolerance established by the Pergades 800 years ago have been nurtured and strengthened by 21 generations of the Heggade family of Tulu lineage (Heggade being a derivative from Tulu word Pergade). Today's Dharmasthala blossoms with the fruit of this selfless dedication.
Sri Manjunatheshwara Cultural and Research foundation, started by the Temple committee, is engaged in preserving ancient manuscripts and paintings. A museum of antique objects has been established called "Manjusha Museum" and a car museum houses a rare collection of vintage cars.
Traditional folk arts like Yakshagana and ethnic crafts like Navalgund carpets and Kasturi embroidery are revived by Dr. Heggade. Shri Dharmasthala Manjunatheshwara Dharmothana Trust is engaged in renovation of temples across Karnataka and every year, a Sarva Dharma Sammelana (multi-religious meet) is held at Dharmasthala, where spiritual leaders from various faiths and schools participate.
In 1973 a statue of Lord Bahubali, carved out of a single rock, was installed at Dharmasthala on a low hill near the Manjunatha temple. It is about 39 feet (12 m) high with a pedestal of 13 feet and weighs about 175 tonnes. This is one of the five stone statues of Bahubali in Karnataka.
One project is called Shri Kshetra Dharmasthala Rural Development project. Trust employees go to the small villages to make small froups called Strishakti sangha. They provide bank loans to group members for making business. They prove that water supply to villagers in summer is enough to drink.
To fight against the dowry system and to cut unnecessary expenses involved in the celebration of marriages, Dr. Veerendra Heggade (ಡಾ|| ವೀರೇಂದ್ರ ಹೆಗ್ಗಡೆ) started free mass marriages in 1972. The annual mass marriages are held usually during April every year. As of 2013, about 10,698 couples have married in mass marriages arranged by Dharmasthala Temple committee. The expenses of the wedding dress, Mangalsutra and wedding feast for a limited number of the couple's guests are borne by the Kshetra.
The average flow of pilgrims is about 10,000 people every day. Every one of the pilgrims who visit Shri Kshetra Dharmasthala is an honored guest irrespective of caste, creed, culture or status. The "Anna Daana" (free food) is one of the impressive events that takes place in this village. Free food is provided to devotees and the temple has modern machinery and makes quality food continuously throughout the day. The dining hall is known as "Annapoorna".
Shri Kshetra Dharmasthala by the SDMCET Society manages a 25 institutions ranging from primary schools, Gurukula to teach yoga, Sanskrit, and professional courses in engineering, medicine, and dental sciences in Dharmasthala, Ujire, Mangalore, Udupi, Dharwad, Hassan, Mysore and other places of Karnataka state.
The Siddavana gurukula started by the late Manjayya Heggade has become a model educational institution. Over 250 students are provided free lodging and boarding and learn yoga and Sanskrit in addition to the basic school curriculum. The specialty of this institution is its endeavor to teach values based on Indian culture.
Several educational institutes are managed by temple trust committee.
In the field of health care, the medical trust provides services to eradicate and prevent many diseases in local villages. The mobile hospital is fully equipped to deal with emergencies and to provide medical treatment to the rural people in remote parts of the Malnad area. A modern tuberculosis sanitorium was built by Dharmasthala Manjunatheswara Medical Trust to give relief to the patients of tuberculosis. It has since been converted into a general hospital. The Ayurvedic Hospitals at Udupi and Hassan provide Ayurvedic medicines as per the ancient text. The Nature Cure Hospital, built on the banks of the Netravathi River, uses a system based on the five elements of Air, Earth, Ether, Water and Light.
SDM Eye Hospital at Mangalore is a modern scientific eye treatment centre. The SDM Dental Hospital serves regular dental needs and provides specialised treatments such as oral implants, surgery for cleft lip and other orthodontic surgeries.
Shri Heggade has been actively involved in propagating the practice of Yoga, the ancient system of fitness. Surya Namaskara Camps are regularly organised where Yoga is taught. Further 250 high school teachers are trained in Yoga every year.
The present head of Dharmasthala, Padma Vibhushan Dr. D. Veerendra Heggade, the 21st in succession to the Dharmadhikari Peetha, has launched several socio-economic programmes such as free mass weddings which were started in 1973.
Dharmasthala is among the few pilgrim centers in India that provides boarding and lodging to all the visiting devotees at a minimum cost.
After members of the wider Dharmasthala membership and staff were implicated in the rape of a student in 2013, calls have been becoming ever stronger for Dharmasthala to be brought under the control of the Muzrai Department of the State government.  So-called “private temples” such as Dharmasthala could be brought under the Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowment Act 1997 as public temples. The argument that it is a Jain private temple is invalid as lakhs of devotees throng there annually and, indeed, historians have shown it was started by Sthanik Brahmins. The income goes to a single family currently, instead of the public. This is considered by more and more local people to be evidence that the temple is in the control of feudal forces.
Recently the Puttur Assistant Commissioner and Sub Divisional Magistrate of Puttur sub division in Dakshina Kannada district in a landmark judgment has ordered forfeiture of more than 114 acres of land purchased by Sri Dharmasthala Manjunatheshwara Education Society (SDME) from private parties in violation of rules and regulations. The judgment was passed on 23 June 2015 annulling the purchase of land in violation of Karnataka Land Reforms Act 1961. The Assistant Commission has cancelled mutation of 25 properties in Ujire, Kuvettu and Belthangady villages in Belthangady taluk and ordered the Tahasilder to change the ownership of the lands as Government in RTC and all other records. Ranjan Rao Yerdur, who filed the petition before the Sub Divisional Magistrate Court has said that Sri Dharmasthala Manjunatheshwara Education Society had acquired the land in violation of Rules and no society entitled to purchase land under the law. The judgment also pointed out violation of section 79a, B and C of Karnataka Land Reforms Act along with other sections of the said act while purchasing these properties, he said. Most of properties were purchased filing an order from Mysuru Sub Division Assistant Commissioner dated Feb 20, 1993 and SDME had obtained permission from the Assistant Commissioner of Mysuru to purchase lands. But, it was observed that “the Sub Divisional Officer, Mysuru does not have power to grant permission for sale of land in Dakshina Kannada and the Mysuru Sub Division Assistant Commissioner had violated Section 80 of the Karnataka Land Reforms Act (KLRA), 1961 in granting permission to purchase lands. Somanath Nayak said that a team Nagarika Seva Trust has already urged the Chief Minister of Karnataka and Revenue Minister to take legal action against all these violations. Ranjan Rao said that they will continue legal battle in this issue."
More recently on 17 November 2015 the Karnataka High Court held that exclusion of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes from the membership of the Committee of management of a Hindu Religious Denomination such as Dharmasthala is violative of Article 14 of the constitution of India.
Dharmasthala is well connected by road. State-owned KSRTC & also private companies provide bus service from several centers of Karnataka.
Mangalore Railway Station is the nearest railway junction to Dharmasthala, situated at a distance of about 74 km. The railway station is well connected to all the major cities and towns in India. Travellers can hire taxis/cabs or take buses to reach Dharmasthala from Mangalore.
Bahubali Statue is near the temple on a small hill. It is revered by Jains as a symbol of sacrifice. Kukke Subramanya Temple dedicated to Lord Subramanya is just 62 km from here. Sringeri and Horanadu are less than 100 km from here.
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