Resurrecting Mahishasur

Students in JNU seeking socio-political and cultural reforms on Monday picked gods and demons mentioned in mythology, in an effort to question the imposed ideologies by observing ‘Mahishasur’s Martyrdom Day’.

It sounds arbitrary that Mahishasur, a mythological demon, was referred to as a martyr by the All India Backward Students Forum (AIBSF).  The reason was that students were trying to challenge the hegemony of one sect over the other.

Elaborating on this belief, Vinay Kumar, AIBSF JNU unit said, “Mahishasur was a king of the ‘Anarya’ (Asur) race and a native of the region. When Aryans invaded they wanted to be the rulers so they sent ‘Durga’ to slay Mahishasur. As ‘Durga’ was the ‘shaktiavtaar’, she was able to do what the others in Aryan community had not been able to do.”

“So, by observing the Day we questioned why Mahishasur, was projected as a demon. Secondly, there were changes at the religious, social, cultural and political level after Mahishasur’s death. This can be gauged from the fact that there has been a predominance of Brahminical hegemony in almost every ancient literary work. 

The society was divided leading to distinction among communities,” says Vinay.
He believes that changes can be brought about by scrapping history, “Today, scholars are looking at history from all aspects. They are working on the authenticity of the content in books. Changes are possible only when new studies are added to the age-old texts which can change ancient beliefs and help bring rationality in
society.”

“We have no intention of harming religious sentiments of certain groups. The changes can be wrought by having broader mindsets and by distancing ourselves from imposed ideologies,” says Vinay.

Posters of the Mahishasur Martyrdom Day are already up. “Thirty big posters had been put up at different places in the campus. The posters are from the cover story of India's leading academic magazine ‘Forward Press’ which, on the basis of a study has found that 'Asurs’ are a tribe still found in Jharkhand,” says Jitendra Yadav.

Last year, tension simmered in JNU when the day was observed. Student organisations had clashed with each other and the university administration had issued showcause notice against AIBSF President Jitendra Yadav. However, last year’s incident has not stopped AIBSF from observing the day again this time.

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