To those that come for worship, Dharmasthala represents religious tolerance wherein caste, creed and faith of pilgrims are no bars. For here, the Jain Theerthankara is worshipped on the same consecrated grounds as the native Daivas and Lord Manjunatha (Lord Shiva). The priests are Vaishnavite Brahmins and the guardian of the temple is Heggade, a Jain by faith. Altogether forming a confluence of faiths that harmonize in belief of the Omnipotent.
To those that come for justice, Dharmasthala is the scale that does not tip in favour of a lawyer’s glib tongue. Here, without any legal formality or argument Shri Heggade dispenses justice, acting in the tradition of his ancestral role as the Heggade and as representative of the presiding deity.
To those that come in need, Dharmasthala is an Oasis, where succour, solace and hope abound in the serenity of the temple and in the free hostelries that provide food and shelter
And to those that come in curiosity, Dharmasthala is a miracle of paradoxes. Here different faiths co-exist in harmony just as traditions make room for experimental services. High or low, rich or poor, devout or atheist, at Dharmasthala all are equal.
Dharmasthala has not been content being a source of inspiration to the devout. Having expanded the meaning of Dharma to encompass the advancement of society at large, it has played an active role in bettering the lives of communities far and wide. Its initiatives have aimed at renewing the faith and hope within, so that people may be helped to help themselves.
Any description of Dharmasthala will be incomplete if one does not talk about its most important festival, the Maha Nadavali. It is all about accountability, responsibility and continuous fun and feast for 11 days.
To understand the rituals of Maha Nadavali, its important to recap the past. As explained earlier in this book, several centuries ago, lore has it that Dharma Daivas (Angels of Dharma) came to Kuduma and visited Nelliadi Beedu, the official residence of the Heggades (known as Pergades those days). They requested the Heggade to vacate their residence and convert it into a temple for the Dharma Daivas. Even today it is the most revered place in Dharmasthala and regular Nemas (rituals) are conducted for them.
During Maha Nadavali, the ‘Nema’ for Dharma Daivas is conducted at the specially erected mantap in front of the Nelliadi Beedu. The ‘Nema’ is a dialogue between the Heggade and the chosen representative of the Dharma Daivas.
Dharmasthala(Tulu/Kannada:ŗ≤ßŗ≤įŗ≥ćŗ≤ģŗ≤łŗ≥ćŗ≤•ŗ≤≥) is an Indian temple village on the banks of the Nethravathi River in the Belthangadi taluk of the Dakshina Kannada district in Karnataka.
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 comes off in November‚ÄďDecember.¬†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 – an over 800 year old local lineage – dispense judgements that are said to represent the will of the deities.
There are reportedly free hostelries that provide food and shelter.
Map – where Shri Kshethra Dharmasthala located