The Mythic Society:
Of the pioneering institutions in India devoted to Indological studies, the Mythic Society has a pride of place. It was founded in 1909 by a small group of Europeans who had settled in Bangalore and interested in understanding Indian life and culture. The idea was the brain-child of F.J. Richards, the then Collector of the Bangalore Cantonment and Father Rev Tabard The Society was started on 5th May 1909 in a meeting held in his residence. To start with it had just seventeen members. Of these S.Krishnaswamy Iyengar, who later became Professor, of History in Central College, Madras University and Prof B.Venkatanarayanappa, were the only Indian members. Dr. Morris Travers, the first Director of the Indian Institute of Science (which was also taking shape just then), was the first President. Father Tabard was the Vice- President; the next year became president and continued in the forthcoming years for 6 years (Father Tabard, a Frenchman and parish priest of St. Patrick’s Church.)
The aims of the society, as entered in the statutes, are “encouragement of study in history, ethnology, archaeology, traditions and religions in South India, Epigraphy, folklore etc and the stimulation of research in these and allied subjects and to hold at least nine lectures in each year and publishing two or three papers read in these in the Quarterly Journal”. Conducting excursions of members to historical places was also one of its programmes.
Within a year of its foundation, the Society’s membership rose to 174. with a liberal donation of Hugh Daly, the British Resident in Mysore State, and with contributions from the Mysore royal family, rulers of Baroda, Burdwan, Travancore and Bhopal, and Sir Ashutosh Mukherji, the Daly Memorial Hall was raised in 1917, on a site generously granted by Sir M. Visveswaraya, the then Dewan of Mysore, at the instance of Nalwadi Krishanraja Wodeyar, His Highness the Maharaja of Mysore , patron to the society,. Lectures were held in it periodically and a Library was organized and the Quarterly Journal of the Mythic Society (QJMS) was published by the famous geologist F.W. Wetheral as the honorary editor. He was also Honorary Secretary. Prof. Sell, Prof. S.Krishnaswamy Iyengar etc, were later editors of the Journal which has world wide circulation, and is up-to-date.
Dr. Suryanath U Kamath is editing the Journal since 1977. Eminent scholars like S. Srikanta Shastry, John Marshall, Fr. Heras, D.C. Sircar, R.K. Mukherjee, Brijendranath Seal, Saratchandra Mitra, Ananda Coomaraswamy, H. Cousens, R. Narasimhachar, A.Venkatasubbaiah, etc. are among the few that have regularly contributed to the QJMS. The Society was an institution-member of the Royal Asiatic Society, London. Dewans like Sir Mirza Ismail and scientists like Sri C.V. Raman were actively associated with the Society. The society was instrumental in developing a new historical sense among the people in this region, and in stimulating a scientific study of South India, especially Karnataka.
After Independence, eminent persons like S. Srikantaya, M.V. Krishna Rao, K. Guru Dutt, J.M. Iman, M.P.L. Shastry, were Presidents at different periods. T.T. Sharman, an eminent epigraphist, journalist and freedom fighter who became the president of the society in 1971, made significant contributions to the growth of the Society. The Society’s Diamond Jubilee was celebrated in 1973. He was succeeded by K. Narayana Iyengar, K.T. Pandurangi, and Suryanath U.Kamath as Presidents, one after the other.
The Society regularly organizes an average of three to four lectures every month. About forty endowments to organize lectures in memory of eminent men likeR.Narasimhachar, H. Krishna Sastry, S. Srikantaya, M.V.Krishna Rao, B.SivamurthySastry and O. Ramachandriah have been instituted and also special lecturers concerning the present day issues, concerns is arranged . The library with a collection of about 40,000 books and magazines classified and catalogued on scientific lines helps research scholars from far and near;
The Society has hosted the annual Congress of Epigraphical Society of India, Numismatic Society of India (Varanasi), Numismatic Society of South India, Institute of His- torical Studies, (Kolkata) etc, and have organized seminars on. The Aryan Problem, The Impact of Mahabharatha on Life, Literature and Culture, The Scientific Heritage of India, The Date of Mahabharata War based on Astronomical Data, Ancient Indians’ Attitude towards Nature and Environment, The Life and Works of Dewan Mirza Ismail and on many such topics. Most of these seminar papers are published in the form of books.
The society also honours eminent scholars engaged in Indological studies and also conducts workshops for researchers on pre-historic studies and other subjects connected with history and archaeology. It has also organized for students a Certificate Course on Karnataka History. To further expand its gamut of activities, it has recently founded the M. H. Krishna Institute of Indology with S. Nagaraju as its Director. The Institute schedule to run a Post- Graduate Diploma in Indology, recognized by the Bangalore University, and has also undertaken many academic activities including excavations inside a Vijayanagara Fort in the port town of Barkur.
At present Prof. M. K. L. N. Sastry, is the President, Dr.M.Sivakumaraswamy, Vice-President, Dr. M. G. Nagaraj the Hon. Secretary and Sri.Y.K.Raghevendra Rao, Treasurer of the Society. The former, a Civil Engineer was the Principal, University
At our request, the government of Karnataka made munificent grant of Rupees One Crore towards the conduct of the celebrations of the centenary of The Mythic Society, This amount was utilized in building a very spacious hall where it is proposed to have an art museum and a guest house exclusively accommodation the outstation scholars. Besides these buildings, centenary lectures were arranged every month by eminent scholars. The society also organized five national seminars where scholars form all over the contrary attended and presented papers. Perusing its centenary year if had organized seminar on Indian Culture and Women, Indian Culture and Agriculture. Twelve special lectures from the experts in the field .