"Mathru swarupe mangalye shakthisiddhi pradayini
Hasanaadhishe sarweshe Hasanambe namosthuthe"
A town has a name. And a name has a reason. Perhaps this aspect holds well for all villages, towns and cities of India. Such names retain in them some unique generic element. History of such name is carried on from generation to generation. As time rolls on from centuries to centuries, the origin of such name becomes obscure and to reestablish it, some other origins may also emerge.
As is the problem that may be there for the names of all old towns, so it is to our Hassan too. Hassan is both name of a town, as well as of a district. Owing to many historical, traditional, artistic, geographical, agricultural, literary and political reasons, Hassan has not let out the secret of its name and namesake. Its origin can only be scratched open through its logical examples.
As is in the above emotive sthothra shloka, the real root of the name will not be known, the meaning of Samskrith word "hasa" means "smile". Smile, moonly-smile (Buddha's smile), loud-laughter, etc., words depict different characteristics of it. Hasanamba may be equated with "Smiling Mother".
Or, Hassan being the inland of Kannada state and using the linguistic atmosphere of it, we can arrive at it like this too: retaining the characteristic meanings of the chaste Kannada words like 'hasanu, hasanaada" depicting "freshness". If asked, "Freshness of what?" the answers will be numerous and nothing could be attributed definitely to the name. In some of the edicts written after 12th century, there are mentions of Simhaasanapuri for Hassan. Now the District Administration is making efforts to place one such edict in the premises of this temple.
"Simhaasanapuri" is a name of Samskrith origin. A Panchanga (almanac) by name "Simhaasanapuri Panchanga" was being published from Hassan until several decades ago. If Hassan were to be a capital of a vast empire or a place ruled by a king, that name would have been accepted. But while the nearby "Dwarasamudra" (now Halebeedu) became the capital of Hoysala rulers, Hassan, called Simhasanapuri did not become so.
There is also a belief that it was the place ofJanamejaya of Mahabharath. However, there are some more places which claim to be the place of Janamejaya in competitive Sthalapuranas (the epic background of places). This belief does not shed any light on the name of Hassan.
Name of Hassan is not mentioned even in the first available edict (Shasana) in Kannada language in stone called "Halmidi Shasana" of about 650 AD at Halmidi (though this place is only about eight kilometers from Hassan town).
If we search for any other original edicts, the name Hassan is found for the first time in the hero stone inscription (Viragallu Shilashasana) of 1140 AD at Kuduregundi of Hassan taluk.
If Epigraphia Karnataka, Vol. viii, Page 290.
Publishers : Kannada Adhyayana Samsthe, University of Mysore.
such name was in public use already at that time, it can be undoubtedly concluded that, that name was in vogue from many years prior to it.
In spite of all these, the aspect whether the name is attributed to the town from the goddess or the name of the goddess is attributed to the town remains a pii77.1e. It can now be undoubtedly said that the name of the town and that of its deity are synonyms to each other.
Now, as to the recent connotation that from the word "Hasanabbi" (a Muslim devotee of Hasanamba), the name to the town as well as to the deity are derived, it may be said that it is mostly due to the similarity in pronunciations of Hasanabbi and Hassan.
More weighty answer than a lighter statement, "what is there in a name?" can be credited to Hassan from Hasanamba. It can be said that a place, its name, its pious locality (sthalapuraana mahaathme), the influence of its local deity, the characteristic aplomb of its rulers and many other factors as causes which retain the ethnic memories in history, in its people and in documents. They are traditional methods as the causes for getting the name, Hassan.
As is found elsewhere, the fame and name of Hassan is also not exclusive when its name is becoming expansive being associated with the origin of its deity, its far reaching influence, its propaganda and spread.
It can be said that it is only natural to have the name Hassan in use as derived from mother deity Hasanamba.
From where did Hasanamba come?
Mother Hasanamba, by singing your glory
I pen your motherly affectionate history.
A reason that has been long before buried in the bowels of history, from that reason, a belief; a miraculous event as a basis for it; a devotion towards that event; a tradition following it; a chain of rituals as a result of that tradition; and rituals become a custom flowing from generation to generation in the psyche of the humankind - the process is really wonderful. The psychologists term this as collective memory or recollections. This becomes an conscience identification to the inhabitants around its centre. It gets consolidated in the people as a matter of devotion, belief, piety, worth whileness, dependable and even inevitability. Even Hasanamba of Hassan is not exclusive to this phenomenon.
In fact, there are several places of divinity of goddess in Hassan district itself like Bindige Amma, Puradamma, etc. But all hillocks are not mountains. All rivers are not Mahaanadis. In a place where the concentrated divine spirit as a living force is manifest, that place becomes a Mahaakshetra or place of Kaarniikasthala. For example, Dharmasthala, Subrahmanya and Tirupati. Unlike these centers which provide darshana opportunity throughout the year, this Hasanamba darshana is available only for a few days in a year. That is why, both Hassan and Hasanamba become famous.
The lore of legend of a place as a staunch belief is carried on from person to person on the basis of "it happened so...". Even if there is a paucity of basis and no support of historic documents, the collective awareness of folklore keeps such legend as a living conductor. Here, established devotion becomes more important than logic. A series of questions in logic expect exact intellectual answers. But in legends, a devotional belief is beyond questions. If to this is added some mythology then the ‘sthalapurana' becomes trustworthy. Hasanamba too has such a background.
Lord Eshwara had to kill demon Andhakasura who was unassailable by the boons of Brahma. It is said that every drop of blood fallen from his body would give rise to a new Andhakasura (in Devimahatmya too there is a similar story of Rakthabeejasura). To prevent this, Lord Shiva created Maaheshwari. To assist this female deity, the other gods too created their female counterparts and sent them to her.
Om Brahmyai Namaha I Om Maheshwaryai Namaha
Om Kaumalyai Namaha I Om Vaishnavyai Namaha
Om Vaarahyal Namaha I Om Indranyai Namaha
Om Chamundayai Namaha
As Brahma's shakthi form Brahmi, Lord Shiva's shakthi form Maaheshwari, Subrahmanya's shakthi form Kaumari, Lord Vishnu's shakthi form Vaishnavi, Varaaharoopi's shakthi form Vaarahi, Indra's shakthi form Indrani and Mahaadevi herself was in Chamundi form. They flourished with the weapons, ornaments and Vaahanas of their male counter-parts. At the different famous sculpture places of Hassan we can see Sapthamathrika, Saalabhanjikas (arranged in a line of stone) statues at Koramangala, Belur, Halebeedu and Nuggehalli. It is said these sapthamathrikas started from North Vaaranasi and moved South in search of suitable places to settle themselves permanently. These seven godly sisters wandered across North India, entered South India crossing the Vindhya mountain. Many natural suitable places waved at them to come and settle permanently.
But they refused their calls and moved on. In the end this luck fluked to Hassan province. They came to the Northern part of Hassan which was mountain less, river less, valley less and only a vast level plateau. As this place is an intersection of hilly region (malenadu) and plateau region (bayaluseeme), appeared to be suitable place to settle in and they stopped their further search for places. Among them Chamundidevi settled at Kenchammana hosakote, which is several kilometers away from Hassan town. There is a pond by name -Devigere ' at the centre of Hassan town. Goddess Indraani, Kaumari and Vaarahi wanted to live a watery life and settled at the bottom of this pond. This name must have been acquired by the pond only after this incident. The remaining Maaheshwari settled at the present temple site with Braahmi and Vaishnavi on her left and right in the form of anthill and stones. So goes the sthalapurana. As most of the rural deities are in shapeless holy stones or anthills, so is this too. There is an anthill behind and there free stone forms in front here. Though the name Hasanamba struck to this deity ever since, it is not one goddess but of trinity. All the three Shakthi Swaroopinis have settled here united.
Curiosities at Hasanamba temple - 1
Mother Hasanamba brings wonder to her power
Draws attention of all to her once in a year.
The first cause of curiosity is the rare phenomenon of the opening of this temple for only a few days in a year. This supports the view that this Devi has tremendous power.
What was once limited to the local public only, now Hasanamba's popularity took her to national and international levels by media. As a result, the number of people coming to her darshan on those days increased and reached several lakhs now. Now it is literally called `Hasanambajathre'.
The process of the opening of the door of Hasanamba temple is also an entertaining program. The temple which comes under the mujaraayi administration, its opening is done in the presence of the District Commissioner, Assistant Commissioner, the Thahasildar, people representatives and others. In the previous year the door was closed, locked and sealed in their presence. When it is to be opened again on stipulated day next year, the time will be invariably at noon.
Before opening the temple door, a banana tree with a bunch of banana fruits will be fixed in front of it. Then cutting of this banana tree will be done. This is done by the descendants of an Urs family. The one who has to do this, will be on a strict discipline in bath and food on that day. He holds an open sabre in his right hand and goes round three times to the banana tree and stands in front of it and the door. As soon as the door is open, he, with a single stroke, cuts the banana tree into two. This arrangement is to make the first site of Hasanamba to fall on the banana tree. Only afterwards her sight can fall upon the other waiting devotees.
Even on the days the temple is open, there will be no devi darshan on all twenty four hours. Should not the goddess (who had no worship and imprisoned herself (!) for the whole year) get her due worship rituals during the days the temple is open? So, the district administration will announce several days in advance the hours meant for public darshan setting aside the time for worship and offering naivedya. As a result, on the temple-open days also the available time for devi darshan becomes less to the public resulting in a challenge to the administration to manage the rush of people. The devotees are made to follow que for darshan. There will be a separate line for senior citizens and for those who want special darshan.
The worship rituals are conducted by the priests according to `aagamashashihra' only. Precautions are taken to keep away any unholy aspects (mylige) from Her. Many of the rituals are not known to the public nor it is necessary to know them.
Before renovation works of the temple were taken up, recently the devotees were allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum (garbhagudi) upto the separation boundary to the goddess. In that a narrow space there was no room to perform sashtanga namaskara' but enough to bend the knees in salute.
But if the devotees wanted to bend their knees and half bend their body to do namaskara, the priests would object by saying: "No. Don't salute like that. Enough if you fold your hands together". When asked curiously for the reason, they would show some stones popping up from the floor at the junctions of walls and say: "When you bend your knees to salute, the heels of your feet will face these stones. But those stones also receive worshiping rituals and hence your act dishonors the Devi. Now the public are not allowed to sanctum sanctorum. Now they can go upto the door and take darshan of goddess.
Curiosities at Hasanamba temple - 2
The light of devi keeps burning throughout the year A fact that swells the hearts with devotion forever. A man's curiosity about mystery remains so until it is explained. Mysteries that are not solved, keep the curiosity forever and ever. There appears to be some phenomena that work against the rule of nature in presence of some holy places and for that reason only devotees throng to such places. This aspect applies to Hasanamba temple also.
The devote `bhaktas' do not question it and hence solemnly declare it as a manifestation of daiveeka pratheeka. Even to question the veracity of its truthfulness is deemed as sacrilegious (daivadroha). But critical agnostics (sandehavaadees) will consider it as an unsolved mystery if not outright sacrilege.
When the annual temple-open days come to an end, then in presence of the District Commissioner, Assistant Commissioner, the Thahasildar of Hassan taluk, the public representatives and general public after priests worship the goddess with flowers and lighting two lamps, the door is closed, locked and sealed officially.
The public curiosity next shifts to the next year that day when the door of the temple will be opening again. Their attention will be towards the lamp lighted for Devi's deeparadhane previous year still burning and the freshness of the flowers still remaining fresh! When all these are seen by the public the powers of Devi strengthens the believer's belief. But it remains as a puzzle to those who have logical (or scepticle!) minds.
While it is not an attempt to shake the belief of the believers, it is not out of place to turn the attention to other supplementary causes. The original Hasanamba temple is a chamber of stony structure. It has no windows and the door is shut. And it will be opened only next year. So there is no constant supply of air with oxygen that is required to keep the lamp burning. But still the lamp burns throughout the year! And no oil is supplied to it again and again. This brings a question riding on wonder. When the door is opened after a gap of one year, one can see the thin smoke covered in the room with a dim light burning there.
In the sanctum sanctorum (garbhagudi) there are six big stone lamps (hanathes) which can hold a good quantity of oil. In one of them, its wick is lighted. It does not burn like a huge torch flame (so shows certain pictures). The . correct way for a constant light (nandaadeepa) to burn is in small flame. That is the practice in ancient temples to provide smooth small constant burning flame, the size of a grain. These reasons may offer support to the long time burning of the lamp. Nor it goes against the nature's law.
Then there were occasions when the lamp was not burning when the temple door was opened. In such cases, it was said that the reason was not due to the power failure of the goddess, but due to some extraneous catastrophe that occurred at the national or world level like the untimely death of a great person during the year. With alertness it is explained not to attribute the failure of the power of goddess to the failure ofthe lamp to burn. If at all the lamp was put off when such catastrophe occurred at that moment, why not a modern gadget like a CCTV (closed circuit tv) be set up inside the temple to verify it? So goes the argument of the curious modern non-believers. Would the traditional devotees approve such examination of devimahathme? They may pro-sphosize that such nonbelievers and their efforts too would become the target of devi's fury and curse. "Our belief in the process of devi does not solely dependent on ever burning lamp in the temple. And why should such doubting souls throng the temple for darshan of Hasanamba?" - So goes their thursting argument. In the midst of such pro and against arguments the annual Hasanamba Jaathre moves on from year to year with greater grandeur!
Then, secondly, the case, why the flowers offered remain fresh throughout the year without losing their color and also natural? The holy chamber being stone structure and its natural temperature remains cool, explains it. Moreover, there is nothing which increases the room temperature to cause the flowers to fade (The thinking that the food offerings done to the goddess also remain fresh is only a rumor as no food is kept inside).
Beyond all these explanations of the lamp is put off or the flowers lose their freshness, can we not draw solace in the fact that the solitary presence of goddess herself allowed them to happen so?
(Hassan City Goddess Hasanamba :V Narahari)