The legend of Bahubali has withstood the test of time through the magnificent stone statues that overlook the world, and the devotional attachment that his followers have fostered within themselves since the time his stories became known. A promising prince, who chose the difficult path of salvation after an unpleasant feud with his own brother, is today looked up to by the whole world as the symbol of sacrifice and peace.
The sons of Lord Adinatha, Bharata and Bahubali were the kind of royal children on whom the kingdom placed all its hopes on. However, things changed after Lord Adinatha chose renunciation in order to pursue salvation. On being coroneted to the throne, Bharata went on a quest to conquer the country and succeeded, after which the nation is said to have obtained the name ‘Bhaaratavarsha’ or ‘Bharata’, way back in the era of Avasarpini (beginning of the present half cycle). When the time came for him to fight his own brother Bahubali for the sake of a last remaining kingdom, the brothers chose to not use an army to wage a war on each other, but individually duel to decide who deserved to rule. The message of non-violence was respected all through, and the undue consequences of war were thus evaded for good.
Bahubali ended up winning all forms of feuds easily, for it was his ethos to be an ardent and determined successor of his father. However, a sense of guilt consumed him after it all ended, for he realised that he had been fighting his own brother for a petty material benefit. The ideals left behind by their father and his own conscience inspired him to give everything up and follow Lord Adinatha’s footsteps. Bahubali chose renunciation and sought salvation through extreme meditation within a forest. He stood at a place meditating for a year, skyclad and in privation; and had creepers and bushes growing over his body. He obtained omniscience in a year and eventually salvation, for which he is devoutly followed by innumerable people around the world till date. Also, Bahubali was the first to attain liberation from the mortal circle of life in this era, setting an example for innumerable mortal men who sought the same. It is believed by many that eventually, Bharata too relinquished his expansionist empire and followed the same path.