A quiet 500th year for 'Gandaberunda'

Flying high

A quiet 500th year for 'Gandaberunda'

When Dasara completed four hundred years this year, another major feature associated with Mysore kingdom, the royal insignia Gandaberunda quietly celebrated 500th year.

The City Herald tried to dig into the roots of the Gandaberunda, its adoption as royal insignia and stumbled upon some exciting stories associated with it. The Gandaberunda is an imaginary two headed bird. Even after five centuries its first usage in the mints for making coins during the period of Vijayanagar empire around 1510, the Gandaberunda is still flying high as the symbol of seat of power of Karnataka - the official insignia of State.

Though the 400th year of Dasara, which was tipped for the most grand celebrations, failed to live up to its expectations, the 500th year of adoption of Gandaberunda got a floral celebration, with a 10 ft flower model of the imaginary bird put on display at Dasara flower show here.

Historian Prof P V Nanjaraje Urs, who has done a wide research on the Mysore State, tells that the Gandaberunda was first used as a sign on coins in Vijayanagar mints, many of coins which still exists. Since then, the tradition passed on to generations. In mid 16th century, history has it that Yaduraya embarked on a Vijaya Yathra across the Mysore State to consolidate their rank. During the Yathra, an ascetic encountered and gave him a red cloth. The King offered pooja to it and accepted it as a blessing. He won all acclaim thereafter. 

Following his stature raising to new heights, he announced red cloth as Rajdhwaja or State flag. To add the principles of dharma and sathya, the flag got a slogan as “Sathymevodhbhavaramyaham” with imaginary bird Gandaberunda. The bird was surrounded by elephant headed lion on two sides and a lion carrying Mahishasura’s head on the top.

As a staunch devotees of Goddess Chamundeshwari, the symbol represented shakthi (strength) and welfare of subject(people of the state) derived from mythology.

Mythological story

The mythology has it that Gandaberunda and sharabas(elephant headed lion) adjoining it are a union of a strength of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. When Lord Vishnu took Narasimha Avathar to kill Hiranyakashyap, father of his devotee Prahlad, his anger simmered even after Hiranyakashyap’s death. The entire universe, including the Gods and Goddesses went into a tizzy and wanted Lord Shiva to intervene.

Shiva came in the form of  Sharaba(elephant headed lion) to cool Narasimha. In the effort, Lord Shiva lost his cool and Lord Vishnu had to take the form of Gandaberunda, a bird with huge feathers and two heads opposite to each other. The sharp beaks controlled the Sharaba, it is said.

Today, this imagery or insignia is the official symbol of the Karnataka State Government, which was adopted from the erstwhile Mysore State. The symbol still reads the slogan of Yaduraya.

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