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Sri Manjunatha Temple, Dharmasthala
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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 also a panchayat village, and it is the only village in its gram panchayat.
The village is known for its Dharmasthala Temple which houses the shrine of Shiva, Manjunatha, Ammanavaru, Chandranath and the Dharma Daivas (guardian spirits of Dharma) namely 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 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 worshipped 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 judgements 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. Next morning, he had already established the linga in Dharmasthala, a few metres away from Heggade's house. Later it was known 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 in Mallarmadi, then a village in Belthangady. Here lived the Jain Chieftain Birmanna Pergade and his wife Ammu Ballathi in a house called Nelliadi Beedu. Pergade, the local chieftains built several shrines and invited Brahmin priests to perform the rituals. These priests requested Pergade to also install a Shivalinga beside the native Daivas. The Daivas then sent their vassal Annappa Swamy to procure the linga of Lord Manjunatheshwara 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 twenty one generations of the Heggade family, (Heggade being a derivative from Pergade). Today's Dharmasthala blossoms with the fruit of this selfless dedication.
To fight against the dowry system and to cut unnecessary expenses involved in the celebration of marriages, Dr. Veerendra Heggade started free mass marriages in 1972 and 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 thousands of pilgrims who daily 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 also 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 folk 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.
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 Sammelan (multi religious meet) is held at Dharmasthala, wherein 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 and weighs about 175 tonnes. This is one of the five stone statues of Bahubali located in Karnataka and it is more than 20 feet in height.
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 also among one of the few pilgrim centers in India which provides boarding and lodging to all the visiting devotees at a minimum cost.
Dharmasthala is well connected by road and state owned KSRTC runs several buses including Volvo buses from several centres of Karnataka.
Bahubali Statue is located near the temple on a small hill and it is revered by Jains as a symbol of sacrifice. Kukke Subramanya Temple dedicated to Lord Subramanya is just 55 km from here. Sringeri and Horanadu are less than 100 km from here.
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