..OF the three ancient religions of India, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism, the first
seems to have had very few votaries in the period of the Śilāhāras. The only Buddhist
inscriptions of the period discovered so far exist at Kānherī, which seems to have been
a fairly flourishing centre of that religion in Koṅkaṇ in the reign of the Early Śilāhāras. The
inscriptions show that the centre attracted devotees from far-off places like Gauḍa or West
Bengal. They made permanent endowments (akshaya-nīvis) for the worship of the Bhagavat
(Buddha) and the food, clothing and books of the monks residing in the caves by depositing
the necessary amounts of drammas with the Venerable Community of the place. We have no
further mention of this centre of Buddhism until we come to the time of Mallikārjuna (the
second half of the 12th cen. A.D.), one of the later Śilāhāras. Mērutuṅga tells us that Āmbaḍa
a minister of the Chaulukya king Kumārapāla, when he was unsuccessful in the invasion of
North Koṅkaṇ, took shelter in the Buddhist caves of Kānherī, putting on black raiment.
Merutuṅga’s tale is not wholly reliable, but it seems to suggest that some Buddhist monks
were staying at Kānherī as late as the twelfth cen. A.D. Sōḍḍhala, who flourished a century
earlier, describes a Buddhist Chaitya situated in Khāndesh in his Udayasundarīkathā, but that
statement belongs to the realm of fiction. It seems, however, that there were a few adherents
of Buddhism in the Southern Maratha Country as the Śilāhāra king Gaṇḍarāditya of the
Kolhāpur Branch is known to have built a temple of the Buddha together with those of Śiva
and Jina at the village of Irukuḍi (modern Rukaḍī near Kolhāpur), and donated a nivartana each for their worship.
Hinduism was in the most flourishing condition in this period. The old Vedic sacrifices
had long been out of vogue. There are no references to the performance of such śrauta sacrifices
as the Vājapēya and the Aśvamēdha in any Śilāhāra inscriptions. The Smṛitis also, which
were held authoritative in this period, and their commentaries do not preach the performance
of costly Vedic sacrifices. They emphasise instead the importance of the pañcha-mahā-yajñas, viz., bali (offerings to living creatures), charu (offerings to gods), Vaiśvadēva (worship of deities),
agnihōtra (maintenance of the sacred fire) and atithi-pūjana (reception of guests). Many of the
land-grants made to Brāhmaṇas by the Śilāhāras as also by other kings in this period were
intended to enable the donees to perform these sacrifices regularly. It was believed that the
regular performance of these rites conduced to the welfare of the State.
As the Vedic religion lost ground in this period, Purāṇic Hinduism came to the forefront.
The worship of Purāṇic gods and goddesses prevailed throughout this period. Most of the
grants made by the Śilāhāras, their ministers and even common people were for the construction of their temples, their worship with the five provisions (pañchōpachāra-pūjā) the maintenance of lamps in their temples, provision for the residence of ascetics in the maṭhas attached
to them and for the maintenance of the sattras (charitable feeding halls) connected therewith
Among gods, Śiva, Vishṇu, Āditya (the Sun) and Brahmā, and among goddesses, Mahālakshmī, Jōgēśvarī and Bhagavatī are mentioned in the records of the Śilāhāras. Śiva was the
most favourite deity. The Śilāhāras were ardent Śaivas. Most of their grants were made for
the worship of Śiva. Jhañjha of North Koṅkaṇ is said to have built twelve temple of that god,
No. 2, line 4.
Prabandhachintāmaṇi (ed. by D.K. Shastri), pp. 130 f.
Udayasundarīkathā (G.O.S.), p. 28.
No. 45, lines 34-35. Buddhism continued to flourish in South India till the 11th cen. A.D. Beḷgāṁve a
Jayantī-Buddha-vihāra was established in A.D. 1065. Ep. Carn., Vol. VII, SK, 70.