Mumbai: While the controversy over glorification of Mahishasura, the demon, rocks Parliament, remnants of mythology still prevails in everyday lives of the city named after the 'villain'. Mysuru, claim experts, was named after the mythological demon king Mahishasura, and despite the negative association, the city and the people have never had trouble associating with the demon king.
Devi Purana, a Hindu religious text, cites a mythological buffalo headed demon king called Mahishasura, ruled the region. Goddess Parvati, on the insistence of other celestial beings, takes form as Chamundeshwari to destroy the demon. But despite the winning the much-celebrated battle, the Chamundeshwari only has a hillock named after her, while the city owes its name to Mahishasura.
"There are inscriptions from Ashoka’s time of a Mahisha mandal in the region for propagation of Buddhism. The legend of Mahishasura came later, but the name Mysore is derived from the mythological story," confirms Prof A V Narasimha Murthy, former head of ancient history and archaeology at Mysore University. Explaining that there are good and bad demons in the mythologies, the professor added, "Mahishasura was seen as a demon with good qualities, and perhaps this is why the city was named after him."
B Sheikh Ali, another veteran historian with authority on the subject supported the view. "Mythology says there was a demon Mahishasura who was destroyed by Chamundeshwari. The name Mysore comes from Mahishasura. It is based on legend, not a historical character," he said.
Explaining that during Tipu Sultan’s reign, the ruler wanted to rename the city to Manzarabad, Mysore University historian P V Nanjaraj Urs said that the plan was abandoned after the king lost to the British.
Whatever its origin, people of Mysuru have no qualms in owning up to its history, and proudly recount their connection with the buffalo headed ‘good demon.’