According to to the Jain epic Adipurana of Jinasena Acharya, it is believed that Yasavati and Sunanda were the two queens of Rishabhdeva (Adinath), the first Tirthankara. Bahubali was born Sunanda while the other queen gave birth to Bharata and many other sons and daughters. Upon renouncing his kingdom, Rishabhdeva divided it between the two.

Soon thereafter Bharata embarked on a trip to triumph over other kingdoms, in pursuit of becoming a Chakravarti, a world conqueror who subjugated six continents. He expected Bahubali’s submission as well – Bahubali refused and the brothers engaged in duels, Bahubali won the first two and in the third duel he showed his superiority by lifting Bharata in his arms to dash him to the ground. Bharata called for his divine disc weapon (Chakraratna). The Chakraratna appeared but instead of harming Bahubali it went round him and stood on his right side. At that moment, Bahubali realised that he was about to commit the sin of fratricide and he gently put Bharata down. Though he was the victor, Bahubali was full of remorse because he felt that in defeating his brother Bharata, he had insulted him – the man who was acknowledged as the universal monarch. He begged his brother’s forgiveness; fled to the forest, pulled out his hair and stood in the Kayotsarga posture, which is taken to abandon the body. There he remained in meditation for so long that creepers wound around him. An anthill grew around his feet, vines and snakes began to embrace his body and hair. In spite of severe self mortification, he failed to attain kevalagnana or omniscience. Concerned and perturbed by his brother’s condition, Bharata sought the advice of a sage who informed him that Bahubali still suffered from pride and resentment. Accompanied by his two sisters Bharata went to Bahubali and whispered “Dismount from the elephant of pride”. With this Bahubali understood that he had not been humble enough to go and bow before his younger brother. The direction of his thoughts changed and as he made his final bow he attained omniscience and liberation (moksha) in matter of moments.

Because of this Bahubali is a symbol of the highest form of detachment. He is considered as a human form of penance, severe austerity and complete meditation and his story evokes great admiration and devotion.

Source: Jain Spirit, An international Jain Magazine that was published from UK.