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A century of cultural calling

A century of cultural calling

Author: TNN
Publication: The Times of India
Date: May 3, 2009
URL: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Bangalore/A-century-of-cultural-calling-/articleshow/4479874.cms

The beautiful colonial piece of architecture on Nrupatunga Road has dawned a new look. The Mythic Society, the premier institute of Indology and path- breaking studies, has just completed 100 years. The three-day valedictory celebrations were inaugurated on Sunday.

Formed in 1909 to study the culture of Mysore state, it has now evolved into a national organization that nurtures anthropology, epigraphy, numismatics, folklore, linguistics, south Indian history, archaeology, ethnology, mythology and religion.

It's birth

The Mythic Society was founded by the then collector of Bangalore F J Richards, chief architect of Mysore government G H Krumbriel, professor at Central College S Krishnaswamy Iyengar and many others.

"British officers wanted to know more about Mysore state, our culture, language and architecture. Seventeen members of the founding group were Britishers while only two were Indians. Later their interest encompassed whole of India and its culture," explains managing committee member and centenary celebrations convener V Nagaraj, who has been with the society for over 30 years now.

Rare library

Mythic Society has one of the best libraries in the world with over 40,000 books. These include some of the rarest books on Indology that are over 100 years old. The library also has reports on Indian life and culture, written by eminent British officers and scholars.

Distinguished speakers

Many renowned personalities have been associated with the society. Scientist C V Raman used to be the president of the society; in 1919, Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore delivered lectures on the influence of art on the Indian mind. In 1927 Mahatma Gandhi delivered a talk on `Harijan uddhara' or liberating lower castes.

Seminars a treat

The society is also known for its seminars and sessions, like the one in 1983 on the scientific heritage of India. Many international speakers from all over the world attended and debated the contribution of ancient India to modern science. Sessions on the Aryan problem, whether it is a myth or a reality, also opened up new areas of study.

A few years back, a seminar on the date of the Mahabharata war based on astronomical calculations generated a lot of interest. "The Mahabharata has more than 600 astronomical details. Scholar Dr Narahari Acharya brought a planetarium software developed by Nasa, using which sky configurations of 5000 years ago from Kurukshetra can be seen. All the configurations tallied. "It was one of the most interesting seminars that saw a response from all over the world," adds Nagaraj. Seminars on Indian heritage, right from the Harappa Mohenjodaro period, Indian culture and women and Indian culture and agriculture were held recently as part of the centenary celebrations. Currently a seminar on the socio-religious movements in India is being held.

The celebrations

On Sunday, the centenary honour was awarded to scholar Kalyanaraman, who is known for his work on tracing the mythical river Saraswati and the science behind Rama Setu. CM B S Yeddyurappa inaugurated the ceremony and honoured Kalyanaraman who narrated his journey as an officer for the Asian Development Bank to finding the reality of river Saraswati, that has been referred in the Vedas innumerable times. He also spoke about how he managed to get the right judgment on the Rama Setu issue after it was under the threat of being demolished.

The chief minister said, "Indian culture and religion have international interest and appeal. Scholars like Arya Bhatta have been born on this soil. The Mythic Society over the years has played a very important role in upholding our culture and preserving it for future generations." He announced a fund of Rs 1 crore for the maintenance of the building and the ongoingcelebrations.

Chancellor of Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana H R Nagendra; president of Mythic Society M K L N Sastry and home minister V S Acharya were also present.

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