Udupi: An inscription that could throw more light on the evolution of Hanuman worship in coastal Karnataka has been discovered near Shankarnarayana in Udupi district.
Lord Hanuman, or Anjaneya, is a commonly worshiped deity in the coastal region. According to historians, iconographically most of the idols here date back to the 14th century and later, which indicates that Hanuman worship became popular in the region during the Vijayanagara period.
The figure of Lord Hanuman in the latest inscription of Vijayanagara King Bukkaraya dating back to 1371 AD, is thought to be one of the oldest figures of the deity in the region.
“It is a landmark in the study of Lord Hanuman and provides a benchmark to understand the evolution of his sculptures in the region,” says associate prof. of history and archaeology, T Murugeshi, of MSRS College, Shirva, about the inscription discovered by professors Pradeep Basruru and Kiran Kumar Edmer at Bhogaramakki near Shankaranarayana in Kundapura taluk of the district.
“We usually find the Shiva Linga on top of the epigraphs and there are a few rare inscriptions with Vaishnava images like those of Vishnu, Krishna or Shankha and Chakra. But this inscription has an image of Anjaneya or Hanuman along with Nandi,” he noted.
The content of the inscription is not of great importance as it speaks about a grant given to the temple, but the carvings of the deities have grabbed the attention of historians.
“The Shankaranarayana temple in Shankaranarayana village is a famous religious centre of both Shiva and Vishnu devotees. The inscription under study is of the Vijayanagara empire of Bukkaraya I. A symbol of Lord Shankara, the bull, has been carved on the right side and a symbol of Lord Narayana, Anjaneya, has been carved on the left. This is the first inscription in the region to display the figure of Hanuman,” Mr Murugeshi explained.