58 The Dasahra:
leading case is that of the Mahrattas, where the Brahman Peshwa finally overshadowed the weak descendant of Sivajl, the founder of the State.
The instances which I have given, selected from a large mass of materials, sufficiently indicate the ritual of the Dasahra. The primitive rites have been so worked over by priests and courtiers that it is not easy to identify them. The Durga Puja has become a celebration of the defeat by the goddess of the buffalo demon Mahishasura, who gives his name to the State and city of Mysore. The sami tree is said to be worshipped on this day because when the Pandava princes, whose exploits are recorded in the MaJidbJidrata, in their banishment came to the city of Raja Virata, they laid aside their weapons and hung them on this tree at the Dasahra. Finding a corpse close by they suspended it from the branches, saying, " This is the dead body of our mother, and it must remain there for a whole year, after which we will take it down and burn it." So, of course, no one dared to touch their weapons, which they found safe on their return.^o Here, again, the tree seems to have been regarded as a haunt of spirits. The jay is said to be sacred because Siva, like the bird, has a blue throat, produced when he drank the deadly poison which would have destroyed the world.-"^"^ The peacock, we are told, is worshipped because on it rides Karttikeya, god of war. Such is the mythological rubbish which we must sift before we can secure the true grain, the original elements of Hinduism.
The Dasahra, then, seems to be an autumn festival representing the time both of harvest and seed-time. It is a rite de passage^ the time for beginning war, business, education, or any other undertaking, because, with the cessation of the rainy season, the roads become open and all work can start afresh. These objects can be attained
i"*]. T. Wheeler, History of India, vol. i. (1867), p. 206. ^"^J. Dowson, Classical Diitionary (1S79), p. 299.