Bahubali was one of the eldest 100 sons of Lord Rushabhdev. His 98 brothers had already renunciated. In a fierce battle with his brother King Bharat, during the final moments, he was overcome with strong feelings of renunciation just when he was about to win in combat. The fist that he had raised to kill king Bharat turned towards his own head, to pull out his own hair in an act of renunciation, as he walked away into the jungle for his penance…
After his renunciation, Bahubali decided to join Lord Rushabdev to take upon himself the discipline to attain Moksha, he remembered his younger brothers, 98 of them, who had been initiated along with their father. Here, on the path of renunciation, age was not a measure of superiority; those who had taken renunciation earlier were considered senior. Recalling this, he realized that, “If I join them, I will have to bow down to my younger brothers every day. I will have to live as their disciple even though I am older than them. I will not be able to do this. So, I will observe discipline and do penance myself to attain salvation.” Thus, his ego, in the form of pride, obstructed his earlier decision, because of the pride within him. He decided to seek 'kevalgnan' (Moksha) on his own and proceeded towards the jungle for penance. With the sole aim of attaining salvation, Bahubali stood in one position and performed severe penance. He was not deterred from his path even though he suffered the cold, heat, thirst, hunger, pain or harassment from mosquitoes and other creatures. Years passed by like this. Creepers thriving nearby started to grow around the legs of Bahubali, who continued to stand there steadfast. Slowly over time, the creepers covered his whole body except his face. Snakes dug their holes, but Bahubali remained rooted.
Even after thousands of years of such severe penance, Bahubali did not attain 'kevalgnan'. Meanwhile, Lord Rushabhdev had attained 'kevalgnan' and could see everything through his divine vision. He noticed that Bahubali could not attain 'kevalgnan' only due to his pride and ego. The Lord, who was very compassionate, prompted a course of action for the welfare of Bahubali. He called upon his disciples, Brahmi and Sundari, who were also Bahubali's sisters, and sent a message for Bahubali with them.
Brahmi and Sundari entered the jungle. Bahubali was still in the same unwavering position doing penance. Both the sisters said to him, “Come down from your high elephant brother, 'kevalgnan' is not attained on an elephants back.” Bahubali who was so deeply involved in his meditation was astonished on hearing his sisters' words.
He wondered, “What are my sisters saying? What elephant am I sitting on? I am doing penance in this saintly posture. But my sisters would never make any baseless or illogical statements, so there must definitely be some mystery hidden in what they are saying.” Upon deeper thinking, and within a few moments, he understood that there was truth in what his sisters were saying. “I am riding on the elephant of pride. That I will not bow to my younger brothers is my pride, isn't that so? I will seek salvation on my own is my ego, isn't that so? One can never attain salvation on the foundation of pride. He understood his mistake and repented sincerely. He immediately decided to go to Lord Rushabhdev and bow down to his younger brothers. After making this decision, just as he lifted his foot for his first step, at that very moment, he attained 'kevalgnan'.