The Oldest Marathi Inscription

The One Thousand Years Old Marathi Sentence
By Mahavir Sanglikar

The oldest sentence in written Marathi is a rock inscription. The peculiar thing of this inscription is that it is not in Maharashtra, and even not in Marathi speaking area.

This inscription is carved on the rock near the left foot of Lord Bahubali on a hill at Shravanbelagola. This is the world’s largest monolithic statue. The inscription is read as “Shree Chaavundraaje Karviyale” and was carved in 981 C.E. This sentence is written in Kannada and Tamil languages also.

Shravanbelagola is situated in Hassan district of South Karnataka. This place is very far from the border of Maharashtra, and nearer to Tamil speaking area. Even then Chaavundraaj, the mighty General of Gang dynasty gave a prominent place to Marathi language. This suggests that he was a Marathi speaking person or at least bilingual (Marathi and Kannada) and a large number of Marathi speaking people were visiting Shravanbelagola, which was a Jain pilgrimage center from 2nd century B.C.E.

About the statue:
The statue is very magnificent, attractive and clean-cut. Every part of the statue is in accurate proportion.

The statue belongs to Lord Bahubali, a son of Rishabh and younger brother of Bharat. These persons are prehistoric and lots of references to them are found in many Jain and Hindu scriptures. According to them, Rishabh was the first forefather of all Kshatriyas (Warriors) Bharat was the first Chakravarti (mythical emperor) of India. Bahubali rebelled against Bharat, defeated him and then became a naked ascetic.

In recent decades, the statue has become world famous as many travelers from around the world are visiting this place and talking about it in print and electronic media. Every 12 year, there is a grand ceremony called Mahamastakabhishek, and millions of people come there to attend it.

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