• Travelogue: Mahishasur in Mahoba

    Pramod Ranjan (see profile)
    Cultural Studies, Festivals, Rituals, Public Spectacles, and Popular Culture, History, Philosophy of Religion
    Hindu mythology in literature, Indian mythology, Durgā (Hindu deity), Indigenous peoples--Social life and customs, Hindutva, India--Mahoba, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Dalits--Religious life
    Item Type:
    Mahiṣāsuramardin, Mahishasura, JNU row, Karas dev, Maniya Dev, Archaelogical Survey of India
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    The scope of the traditions related to Mahishasur is vast. There is a memorial of him in Bundelkhand, preserved by the Archaelogical Survey of India. Khajuraho’s world-famous temples also have carvings of Mahishasur. On 9 October 2014, the police had raided the office of Forward Press. Some people associated with Hindu organizations had a case registered against us alleging that by publishing a painting titled “Martyrdom of King Mahishasur” in the October 2014 issue of the magazine we had hurt their religious sentiments and “spread enmity between the Brahmins and the OBCs”. The police picked up four of our editorial colleagues, Rajan being one of them. The police laid siege to a hostel in Jawaharlal Nehru University to arrest me and even deployed the riot-control vehicle ‘Vajra’. How I evaded arrest is another story. But meanwhile, the print and electronic media carried a string of misleading stories and our ideological friends and foes were engaged in a verbal duel in social media. A year after that incident, on the fast-descending night of 2 October 2015, we were at the Mahoba railway station. This entire region is drought-prone. Historical facts show that in ancient times Bundelkhand was home to Gonds, Shabars, Kols, Kirats, Pulinds and Nishads. They had put up stiff resistance against the Aryan encroachment in the central region. Why would Aryans have invaded this unproductive arid region? Asur traditions are discernible in most parts of north India. There are countless number of villages and places named after Bhainsasur, Karas and Bhairon. One of the rivers that runs through this region has also been named after Bhainsasur. But it appears that the largest number of these traditions are alive and flourishing in Bundelkhand and the tribal areas of Chhattisgarh. Why are these traditions alive in both these regions?
    This travelogue is also compiled in the Hindi book 'महिषासुर: मिथक व परंपराएं' [Mahishasur: Myths and Traditions] (2017) edited by the author.
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    Last Updated:
    2 years ago


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