Bahubali was the second son of the first Jaina Tirthankara (teacher) Rishabhanatha. Though not a Tirthankara himself, he is worshipped by the Digambara (sky-clad) sect of the Jains as an enlightened soul, and is revered for his severe austerities. The story goes that Rishabhanatha left the kingdom to his son Bharata, who in order to become a Chakravartin (a sovereign), had to overpower his brother, Bahubali in a public duel. Bahubali, as the name suggests, had a powerful physique and arms of steel. He lifted Bharata and flung him to the ground twice. As he was about to do it the third time, wisdom dawned and he realized the futility of worldly power. He gently put down his brother, and went away to the forest in search of Truth. He performed such severe austerities that ant-hills grew around him and creepers wound round his legs and spread all over his body.
The modelling of this exquisite bronze figure is the work of a great artist. Bahubali stands in the Kayotsarga (meditative) pose. Creepers designed as a uniform decorative pattern, are carved in high relief on his legs and arms. His hair falls back in straight lines and some of the tassels fall on his shoulders indicating his lineage from Rishabhanatha. The image characterizes him very well as an invincible warrior with heavy, broad shoulders, while the softness of his benign smile exudes his spiritual achievement.
Date: 9th Century A.D.