Historian unearths sacrificial sect theory on Annigeri skulls

Historian unearths sacrificial sect theory on Annigeri skulls

Proof: A sculpture of the act of beheading at the Mallikarjuna temple at Srishaila in Andhra Pradesh. DH PhotoAccording to historian M M Kalburgi, members of a sect known as ‘Veera Maaheshwaras’ used this place to sacrifice their lives in an age-old practice termed ‘Atmahuti’. They used to chop off their body parts one by one. According to him, this was a place with religious sanctity. Hence, people used to come here to perform such acts.

With the Institute of Physics (IoP) indicating that the skulls unearthed are as old as 638 years, the skulls could be dated to the 13th century. Kalburgi told Deccan Herald that Veera Goggideva was ruling this region and was an aggressive devotee of Lord Shiva, according to a 13th century inscription. He headed the ‘Veera Maaheshwaras’ sect.

According to evidence available, there is mention of such acts in Annigeri in the 13th century. Kalburgi said Annigeri was not a centre for genocide or voodoo. The ‘Veera Maaheshwaras’ also used to chop off their heads on the premises of Mallikarjuna temple at Srishaila in Andhra Pradesh. As an offering, the skulls were neatly laid in a row, he added.

Kalburgi said, Kashmir-based Shaiva Acharyas migrated to Madhya Pradesh and had built huge temples.

However, Cholas from Tamil Nadu, during a battle in Madhya Pradesh, demolished a few temples and captured the Kashmiri Shaivas and later took them to Tamil Nadu.

The Kashmiri Shaiva Acharyas imposed their Marga Shaiva tradition on the desi Shaiva tradition which existed in Tamil Nadu. This led to a battle between the two sects, which resulted in the formation of Ramanujacharya’s Srivaishnava sect during the 11th century. The Srivaishnavas formed the Veera Vaishnava Sangh, while Shiva Acharya formed the Veer Maaheshwara sect, Kalburgi said.

After the decline of Chola dynasty, the Veera Maaheshwaras migrated to Kakati in Andhra Pradesh. The Veera Maaheshwaras declared a war on the Siddha sect and took hold of the religious ceremonies performed by them during the 13th century, he said. The ‘Veera Maaheshwaras’ then tampered with the inscriptions and all historical evidences. Thereby, no inscription till 1312 can be found in Srishaila.

Then they migrated to Karnataka and declared a war against the local Lingayats who were disciples of Basava Veera Goggideva also belonged to this sect.

An inscription of Goggideva is available at Veerabhadra temple in Annigeri.

There is also a ‘Veera Mantapa’ in front of the Srishaila Mallikarjuna temple which was under the jurisdiction of Veera Maaheshwaras. The temple pillars have sculptures with designs of skulls and body parts. If historians throw light on ancient structures in Annigeri, similar sculptures may be found, Kalburgi said.

Samples to be sent to Ahmedabad

The State Archaeology department and the district administration have decided to send the Annigeri skull samples to the Archaeology Survey of India (ASI), Ahmedabad branch, to minimise the margin of error.

Deputy Commissioner Darpan Jain told reporters that Prof D P Mohapatra of the Institute of Physics had conducted Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) on five skull samples. According to this, the age of the samples is 638 years, with a margin of error of plus or minus 60 years.

As the institute has said that the error could be further minimised, the samples will be sent to ASI, Ahmedabad on Wednesday. The reports are expected soon, he said.

Also, expert opinions from historians have been sought on corresponding historic clues on this dating. Already inscriptions as old as 1,100 and 1,200 AD have been unearthed at Annigeri, he said. Those with any information in this regard may contact the ASI or the district administration, he said.

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