The Mythic Society, Bangalore, India

The Mythic Society, Bangalore, India
For years we had seen the building of the Mythic Society called Daly Hall on Nrupathunga Road while rushing past to go to St. Martha’s hospital, to see to the boys accidents. Or to the YWCA opposite, when the Deccan Herald held its annual sports day, or on several occasions, for the start of the boys Karnataka triathlon meets.

It was an overgrown, ramshackle and creepy looking building and I thought it’s society was similar to the Freemasons Lodge, on Commissariat road in Bangalore. Then we passed it on our way home after a party at friends recently, to see a completely renovated and beautifully refurbished building. The roof looked like it had been wholly retiled and the garden and the drive- way cleaned and spruced up with granite slabs and tall palm trees along the side. It looked utterly beautiful and my curiosity was raised when an ex- student loaded the picture that goes with the story on social media.

Reading up about the society online, I was surprised to see the name of Fr Tabard as it’s president for at least a decade. I had a flashback to my research while writing the St. Patrick’s Church 150th year book, last year. I was commissioned to write the book, along with another scholar and recollected the information about a Fr.Tabard, a french priest,and the French Foreign Missions in Paris sent us a lot of information on him. He had been the Parish priest of St Patrick’s Church and had also been the president of the society. So obviously the society was not anything to do with the occult, as we surmised.

My misconceptions of the society, that it was to do with the occult completely disappeared, when reading up on it. Instead I learned that it was a pioneering institution of Indic studies in South India. The Mythic Society was founded in 1909 by some European enthusiasts in Bangalore.

F.H.Richards, who was the Collector of the Bangalore Cantonment District took the initiative and a meeting was held in his residence on 5th May, 1909 and 17 members joined this new academic ‘club’ with Dr. Traverse, the first Director of the Indian Institute of Science, being its first President too. Father Tabard, the parish priest of St. Patrick church was its next President for long and he coined the slogan that ‘ A Mysorean must know Mysore better’ through the Society. Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV and the royal family and Dewans like Sir M.V. showed active interest in its work, research and publications. The Quarterly Journal of the Mythic Society, is being published even now and is up-to-date from 1909 -2017, an impressive 107 Vols. For a researcher I recognise that its an amazing feat.

All eminent scholars from Mysore like Sir C.V.Raman,Dr. Brajendranath Seal, Prof. Radha Kumud Mukherjee, J.M.Imam, Prof. Metcalfe, B. Puttaiya, Pandit Shivamurthy Shastry, R.Shama Shastry, Sir Mirza Ismail etc. were associated with the Society.

The Daly Memorial Hall, was named after the Resident of Bangalore at the time, Hugh Daly and was built in 1917. The Daly Memorial Hall has seen Mahatma Gandhi and Nobel laureates like Rabindranath Tagore and C V Raman deliver lectures. Researchers such as Dr B.L Rice, Sir John Marshall, Fred Goodwill, Dr A Venkatasubbaiah & Dr M.V Krishna Rao were associated with the Mythic Society. The site on Nrupathunga Road was donated by Sir M Visveswaraya, Dewan of Mysuru, and the foundation stone was laid by Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV, the King of the princely state, on August 30, 1916. The cost of construction was Rs24,783, of which Rs.10,000 came from the royal treasury. Patrons included the Kings of Baroda and Travancore and the Begum of Bhopal. The crown prince of the state, Kanteerava Narasimharaja Odiyar, inaugurated the building on July 25, 1917. The Mysuru ruler named the hall after Sir Hugh Daly, Resident of Mysuru, and the society’s first honorary president. He was the seventh child of General Sir Henry Dermot Daly, founder,of the Daly College, Indore and Susan Kirkpatrick.

Daly started working with the British Indian army in 1883 and fought the Anglo- Burmese War. He was instrumental in drawing the Treaty of Mysore (1913) that placed the Maharaja on equal footing with the British. He also intervened in negotiations between Mysuru and the Madras Presidency over the sharing of Kaveri waters and drew a scheme for establishing the Mysore University. Because of this, he was immensely popular among both the royalty and the masses. Sir Hugh Daly expired on August 24, 1939.

The ground plan of the Daly Memorial Hall is a Cruciform architectural plan, built in a classical Greco-Roman Architectural style, having its orientation towards the East. The facade of the building consists of four Corinthian fluted Columns with a high roof covered with Mangalore tiles, the flooring is laid with reclaimed French Terracotta tiles. The entire building consists of 17 Roman styled arched doors. The inner walls of the hall have the portraits of statesmen, historians, literary luminaries and philanthropists adorning them.

The steps leading to the entrance of the hall are flanked on either side by sculptures of welcoming elephants, which were presented by the curator of the Curzon Park of Mysore in 1918. This hall is used by the Mythic Society for holding public lectures and for establishing a reading room and a library. Sir Mirza Ismail, the Diwan of Mysore, speaking at the Silver Jubilee celebration of the Mythic Society in November 1934, said that the Daly Memorial Hall served the useful purpose of bringing together Europeans and Indians in an endeavor which satisfies the higher intellectual needs of civilized life.

The Society has a valuable library with rare books, with nearly 43,000 numbers. in its racks. Dewan V.P.Madhav Rao, R. Ananda Rao, Prof. K.N.V. Shastry, Prof. Mugali, C. Hayavadana Rao, etc. are great men whose valuable collection the library has acquired.

In addition to holding regular academic lectures, the Society has held seminars on royal dynasties of Karnataka like the Chalukyas of Badami, the Rashtrakutas and the Kalyana Chalukyas and on subjects like Scientific Heritage of Karnataka, Date of Mahabharatha based on Astronomical Data etc. and published the papers presented in those seminars.

Eminent scholars like S. Srikatayya, M.P.L. Shastry, Prof. M.V. Krishna Rao, K. Guru Dutt, Prof. K.T. Pandurangi, Dr Suryanatah U Kamath, Prof M.K.L.N Sastry, Prof K. Narahari and others have headed the Society. It has been conducting workshops, seminars, training programmes etc. to train archaeologists, epigraphists and numismatists, to sustain interest in history and other Archaeological studies. The M.H.Krishna Institute of Indology, a unit of the Society, Prof S.Nagaraju, renowned Archaeologist & Buddhist Architecture expert was running classes for P.G.Diploma in Indology Course, which was affiliated to Bangalore University. The present research center is recognized by Tumkur University.

If you are a scholar and get onto its web page, you can be linked to the society’s email group by enlisting, and being informed about its regular events. Scholars looking for avenues to publish their papers can also look at their interests and submission rules.

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