The rationalists of Mysore celebrated Mahishana Habba (Festival of Mahisha) on the eve of Navaratri, the Dasara festival, on October 11, at Chamundi Hills. The programme was organized by the Karnataka Dalit Welfare Trust and other progressive organizations. The statue of Mahisha, the founder of Mahisha Mandala and ruler of the welfare state, was showered with petals.
Prof B.P.Mahesh Chandra Guru, a rationalist and media scholar from University of Mysore, observed: “Mahisha is projected as a villain by those with vested interests. There is no evidence to prove that he was killed by Chamundeswari, as mentioned in the Hindu mythology. Mahisha was indeed a Buddhist-Bahujan king who ruled Mahisha Mandala on the basis of human values and progressive ideologies. He was a symbol of equality and justice. The sword represents heroism and snake represents the love for nature in the Naga culture inherited by Buddhists. Ample evidence of this can be found in Pali literature. The brahmanical forces that are bent upon doing injustice to history and retaining the status quo have created the fictitious story of the killing of Mahishashura by Chamundeswari. The celebration of Mahishana Habba is the beginning of the Dasara festival of the indigenous people. From now on, the indigenous people will be celebrating a festival in honour of Mahisha, not Dussehra.”
Folklore expert Prof Kalegowda Nagawar also participated in this historic event. He said that Mahisha ruled Mahisha Mandala, the former state of Mysuru. Nagawar added: “He was a noble Buddhist king who led a progressive administration and empowered all sections of society. Facts have been twisted. People need to understand the truth and stop seeing him as a villain. The Hindu mythology has portrayed Mahisha negatively. The people of the region should celebrate Dasara differently, under the banner of Mahisha Mandala.”
Noted writer Bannur Raju recalled that Chamundi Hills was formerly known for the Mahabaleswara temple: “Even now, there is a temple of Mahabaleswara in the hillock, which was named after Chamundi during the reign of the Yaduvamsha rulers of Mysuru. They colluded with the priest and cooked up a story that Chamundeswari killed Mahishasura, which is baseless and condemnable.”
Siddaswamy, progressive thinker and author of book Mahisha Mandala, argued: “Mahisha became the target of sectarian writers who portrayed him a villain. Mahisha was a great Buddhist ruler who cherished the noble ideals of Buddha and Ashoka. The indigenous people of the Mysuru region should organize themselves under the banner of Mahisha Habba and rewrite the history of Mysuru.”
The programme was attended by hundreds of progressive thinkers, organizers and activists under the leadership of Shantaraju, president of Karnataka Dalit Welfare Trust. He too reminded the audience that it was the duty of the residents of Karnataka’s cultural and historical capital to highlight the origin of the state and the founder of Mahisha Mandala. Purushotham, former mayor of Mysuru; Gopala, president, Research Scholars’ Association, University of Mysore; D.K. Srinivasa, former president, Dalit Students’ Federation; Gurumurthy, president of Dalit Students’ Federation; Harohalli Ravindra, progressive writer; Smile Shashi, president of Jai Bhim organization, Tagadoor; and Gowtham Devnoor, research scholar, were among those participated in the unique festival. Subsequently, the region’s indigenous communities also celebrated Dasara in honour of Mahisha on October 23 at Chamundi Hills.