The Mahasu gods, Uttrakhand - their interesting legend

Location of Mahashu temple, Uttrakhand.
Mahashu temple, Uttrakhand.
Above image:  The temple village of Hanol is an  important  pilgrimage place for people living in the vast mountainous areas of  Uttrakhand, west of Yamuna River. The trans giri area of Sirmaur district and major part of Shimla district  are parts  of Himachal Pradesh. The village is at an altitude of 1,050 m above M.S.L. There are many Mahasu Devta temples in whole Jaunsar-Bawar region, some famous shrines  are located at village Bisoi, Buraswa, Kotua, Laksiya;  a number  of temples of Mahasu and his brothers are  at various places of Devghar, Jaunsar-Bawar and Sirmour areas
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Hinduism is not a religion and it is a way of life  and there are innumerable deities in the Hindu pantheon. The basic being the ''Trinity Gods'' - Sri Brahma, Sri Vishnu and Sri Shiva and their consorts. The three gods are in charge of  duties such as Creation, Sustenance and Destruction respectively. Their  respective consorts goddesses  Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati are in charge of various aspects of life. There are many sub and demi gods and goddesses within the realm of  Hindu religion. In addition to them in the south Indian states, there are village gods called ''Kaaval Deivam'', ''Ayyanar,'' etc and, it is believed, even to day that  they protect the villagers all through the year and take care of their  health, wealth, agriculture production, etc.   

In the northern states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradssh, there are village gods and goddesses who are believed to be supreme and protectors of the people and their welfare.  Such temples are quite famous in the Garhwali area, a  sub Himalayan  region  and the  main deity is  Lord Mahasu that is  worshiped as  Mahasu Devta.  The main temple is  on  the eastern bank of the Tons River (Tamas) at Hanol village, near Chakrata, about 190 km from Dehradun. The devotees are mostly the  local people of Hanol  and other nearby villages of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.  Mahasu Devta, it is said,  is not only supreme but also the sole arbiter over the mortals. The Mahasu Devta are four in number each with his jurisdiction and place of worship;  their mother is Devladli Devi. They all emerged from the ground here during ploughing through divine power. They appeared to get rid of the evil minded demons who gave all kinds of troubles to the people living there.  
Gram Devta . Mahasu Devta temple, Uttrakhand. picuki com
The legend of Mahasu Devta is an interesting one for those who are not familiar with the village gods of this region.   At the end of ''DwaparYuga''  when Krishna disappeared, the Pandavas who got lots of help from him,  followed Sri Krishna. On their visit to this place, while crossing the  River Tons,  overwhelmed by the beauty and serene nature of the terrain, Yudhishtra  asked Vishwakarma to have a  temple built here to stay with  Draupadi for nine days. The place subsequently came to be  known as Hanol, after the name of Huna Bhatt, who had been living here for a long time, seekin spiritual pursuits and meditation. 

At the beginning of  ''Kaliyuga'', evil forces had begun to emerge in the forms of demons and Asuras, wandering over the wooded areas of what is now called Uttrakhand  and killing people and damaging villages. The most fearful demon ''Kirmir''  had devoured all the seven sons of a pious  Brahmin named ''Huna Bhatt''. Besides, driven by infatuation,  he wanted to possess Kirtaka,  wife of the Brahmin.  Being a devotee of Lord Shiva, she prayed to the lord to protect her from the demon. Lord Shiva blinded Kirmir and thus Kirtaka  could run away to her husband. On advice, the couple then prayed to Hatkeshwari Devi of Hatkoti (ashtbhuji Durga) who told them to approach Lord Shiva again for help.  Finally, Lord Shiva got rid of the evil-minded demon from that area. 

As instructed by the God,  Huna Bhatt, upon his return to his place, performed certain rituals to invoke Goddess ''Shakti'' with a view to protecting this region and the people living here.  Goddess Shakti emerged in all her splendor  from the ground with leaping flames around her.She  told Huna Bhatt to plough every Sunday a part of his field.   The plough was  made of solid silver with a shoe of pure gold  and it was yoked with  a pair of bullocks that  had never been put on yoke before. On the ''seventh Sunday'',  the Mahasu brothers with their ministers and the army would  emerge from the ground  to get rid of the demons. 
AGram Devta .Mahasu Devta temple, Hanol. Uttrakhand
On sixth Sunday when  the pious Brhmin - Huna Bhatt  was on the  5th furrow,  out of each  one emerged a deity.  The first one was  'Botha' from second 'Pavasi', out of third 'Vasik' and 'Chalda' from the fourth one. All the brothers had a common name - Mahasu (Char Mahasu).  Appeared from the 5th  furrow was their  divine mother ''Devladli Devi'' and their ministers. Surprisingly countless  army sprang out of the earth  like mushrooms. Huna Bhatt did as directed.  The Mahasu brothers,  no sooner had they appeared from the ground than began to kill  the entire army of the demons who had ben troubling the people. Also felled was  the most dangerous demon Kirmir who was finished by  Chalda Devta in a ravine of Mount Khanda. The marks of his sword on the rock can be seen today. This gave the villagers a big sigh of relief as they had been living in a constant fear and misery.Demon Keshi took control of Hanol as the  Mahasu brothers were not there for a long time. Chalda Devta  (the fourth one from 
the furrow) and his warriors Shitkulia, Kaolu and others raided  
the mountains of Masmor where Keshi had gone. Upon killing 
the demon, Chalda Devta returned home with great joy. He divided
the country among the brothers so that they might  rule their respective territory and guard against calamities of all the people who would worship them as god and perform jagara.

A mistake was committed without any intention. As Mahasu Devta  appeared a day earlier on the 6th day instead of 7th day, as promised to  Huna Bhatt , the man who ploughed 
 the field, all the other brothers received some kind of  injuries.  Only Chalda and Devladli Mata remained unhurt.  Botha preferred to settle within his temple at Hanol on the right bank of river tons. Pavasi keep moving over his domain and spend years turn by turn at Hanol, Lakhmandal, Authana and Uttarkashi. Chalda, being sound of limb, was to exercise away in the whole dominion in the Botha Mahasu name — twelve years on end he roamed among his subjects. According to the legend each of 
four deities is betowed with  a bir (attendant); they are Kapala, Kaolu, Kailath and Shitkulia. All the birs have balyayinis (female helpers).
Thus these Mahasu gods protect the villagers in this Garhwali  region and here, they are the supreme and villagers carry on their functions, festivals, etc all in the name of Mahasu Devita, an unbroken   tradition that  been around for centuries.