The Abiding Inspiration of Gopal Krishna Gokhale

This article is part 18 of 57 in the series Life and Legacy of DVG

Enter Gopala Krishna Gokhale

The second occurrence was the death of one of India’s pioneering statesmen and a fine democrat, Gopal Krishna Gokhale on 19 February 1915. While his death was mourned by the entire nation, only a handful took the inspiration to perpetuate his substantial and noble legacy. 

Accordingly, DVG and some in his close circle seeded The Mysore Social Service League, the precursor to the Gokhale Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA) which DVG founded on 15 August 1948. The first grand event of the League was inviting Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi to Bangalore, his maiden visit to the city on 5 May 1915. The words of Gandhi’s speech as he unveiled Gokhale’s portrait resonated in DVG’s ears: 

All Indians who wish to serve the country must work in the field of politics. They must discharge their services in political life and political institutions like Dharma. This is what Sri Gokhale taught me. 

Gopala Krishna Gokhale’s dignified portrait still adorns the centre of the DVG Hall (“DVG Sabhangana,” in Kannada) in the GIPA premises with the inscription, “Portrait unveiled by Mahatma Gandhi on 5-5-1915.” 

For a full year, DVG meditated not just on Gandhi’s words but on Gokhale’s dictum that “public life must be spiritualized.” The dictum became the slogan of his Karnataka paper from then on. What emerged from his penance was an unshakeable conviction that gave a concrete direction to DVG’s work in public life from which he never swerved. It stretched over a rich, eventful, busy and highly productive span of more than three decades (taking 1915 as the starting point) over which DVG not only wrote contemporary history but created it. One of the first things DVG did was to write a heartfelt tribute to Gopal Krishna Gokhale, and another elevating essay, In his Footsteps, reaffirming his commitment to the great savant. Indeed, for much of his life, DVG never tired of writing and speaking about the contributions and value of Gokhale in both Kannada and English.  

The other insight that DVG realized can best be captured in his own words: 

It is the burning of the intellect that enables the realization of a Darshana through Mantra. That burning is Shraddha or conviction. It is verily Tapas or penance.

In his case, this translated into a lifelong attempt at a synthesis in public life. DVG never viewed the Vaidika (loosely translated: religious) and Laukika (worldly) as separate. Both were complementary. Laukika would degenerate unless accompanied by the best elements of Vaidika. 

Ceaseless Activity, Unremitting Public Service 

It would be a mistake to assume that once DVG became the Municipal Member, he devoted all his time to politics. 

DVG was first a journalist and editor and described himself as such till the end of his life. However, it is also essential to have a brief idea of the kind of prolific and intense activity he was engaged in apart from his journalism as well.

DVG was instrumental in establishing and growing the Karnataka Sahitya Parishad founded in 1915. As an office-bearer, invited scholars and litterateurs, hosted scholars, conducted seminars, Gamaka sessions, and in general, welcomed anybody who wished to serve the Kannada language and its long and profound literary heritage. 

DVG also wrote and published annual reports on various aspects of the Mysore State, a topic we shall examine in detail later. 

Around 1916, he was involved in an organization named Friends Union (the rechristened form of the Ranade Society). In 1917, he was made part of a small group curiously named, Non-Entities, whose intent was to raise funds for bright Indian youth who wanted to pursue higher studies abroad. He also lent his weight to the newly-formed Amateur Dramatic Association (ADA), which has survived till date with an auditorium of its own in Bangalore. He was instrumental in collecting the proceeds of several plays from this group, which he then sent to the renowned scientist Jagadish Chandra Bose’s Temple of Truth. 

From the insights and learning he had acquired via writing Diwan Rangacharlu’s biography, DVG motivated a few prominent public personalities such as H.V Rangaswami (from Hassan) and M. Venkatakrishnayya and founded the Mysuru Sarvajanika Sabhe (Mysore Public Association) in Mysore city. However, it stopped functioning after three years. DVG was also instrumental in the establishment of the iconic National High School in Bangalore.

Needless, this list is merely a fraction of the full extent and sweep of DVG’s involvement in almost all spheres of national life but for now this fraction suffices as a highly representative sample.

A Blip

Diwan M. Visvesvaraya’s resignation in 1918 in protest against state-imposed quotas for government jobs generated much public outrage and DVG was personally pained by the decision. It was also the end of a principled era in public life. Diwan Visvesvaraya’s conviction was straightforward—the best man for the job and not his background or social stratum. India has long since slipped down the dangerous road to both iniquity and a stifling political correctness which almost prohibits even an informed scrutiny of the necessity of reservations. DVG was among those who abided by Visvesvaraya’s principles, and wrote on the subject: 

To the noble sentiment of uplifting the backward sections are tied several other sentiments and principles. In the attempt to uplift the backward sections, care must be taken not to deliberately push the forward sections behind.  

History testifies to the tragic fact that DVG’s warning went unheeded. 

DVG’s Moral Authority and Farsightedness

At any rate, by 1922, DVG had flowered as an authoritative, truthful, courageous, selfless, and therefore fiercely independent voice of public conscience. His caustic column in the pages of The Hindu questioning Diwan A.R. Banerjee’s trips to Shimla and England caused such a massive public embarrassment that the Diwan himself wrote a personal clarification. This is also a reflection of the overall standard of officials manning high office. In October of the same year, DVG wrote a revealing note to Mirza Ismail: 

The problem hitherto in this country was – How to rouse the people? How to create a democracy? The problem will hereafter be – How to keep the people well informed and sober? How to impart self-discipline and judgement to democracy? The Leviathan is astir and there need be no misgivings as to its growing force and velocity. Our fear should rather be now about any rude…movements by which he may damage good things or frighten good men

DVG observed with growing alarm the kind of hooliganism that the Justice Party was beginning to unleash in neighbouring Tamil Nadu under the pretext of justice for the allegedly separate race called Dravidians. Its ripple effects were quickly felt in the Nellore region, and it didn’t take long for its dangerous inspiration to blossom in Mysore in the form of the so-called Praja Mitra Mandali. Quite obviously, the Justice Party and similar outfits claimed that their agitations were entirely consonant with the spirit of democracy. However, DVG was not fooled by such well-sounding facades and made it a point to repeatedly call their bluff.


A.R. Banerjee completed his term on 30 April 1926 as the Diwan of Mysore. He was succeeded by Mirza Ismail on 1 May 1926. As its longest-serving Diwan, Mirza Ismail’s tenure was marked by substantial upheavals for some of which he was directly responsible and some he proved too meek to control. His regime was also notable for a critical turning point in the contemporary history of the Mysore state as we shall see.

Flung into the Whirlpool

Years before Mirza Ismail became the Diwan, he had an abiding respect for DVG whose scholarship and public service he admired, and the two shared a warm relationship. They regularly met and corresponded with each other on a range of topics. Most of all, Mirza was impressed by DVG’s stunning capacity for fearless, impartial objectivity in a realm choked with time-servers and flatterers. Accordingly, on 27 May 1927, he nominated DVG as the Member of the Mysore Legislative Council. The public was elated with this appointment. The 7 June 1927 edition of The Mysore Patriot gushed as follows: 

A scholar in Kannada, keen student of politics, economy, pioneer in the field of “The Indian India,” accomplished writer and speaker, journalist, publisher of no mean caliber, Mr. D.V. Gundappa long ago earned his title to a place in the Councils for the State. His present nomination to the Legislative Council adds lustre to the journalistic world…and redounds to the credit of the new regime in that it has broken new ground and shown both courage and fresh outlook.   

Accolades, encomiums flowed in torrents towards DVG from all directions. His close circle of friends and other luminaries of the time wholeheartedly welcomed the move. On 9 June, a party was organized to honour DVG at the selfsame K.T. Appanna’s Hindu Coffee Club, now rechristened as the Modern Hindu Hotel. Men recognized as eminences in their own fields fussed over him. Among others, Rao Saheb Thangavelu Mudaliar, Dr. Abbayi Naidu, S.G. Sastry, Dr. Kunhi Kannan, B.K. Garudachar, Belur Srinivasa Iyengar, Pamidi Subbarama Setty, K.T. Bashyam and Mokshagundam Krishnamurthy were present at the party. 

In one stroke, Diwan Mirza Ismail had hurled DVG directly into the whirlpool of hard-rabble politics. For the next fourteen years, its brutal reality would unfold strand by strand before his own eyes. 

sulabhavenalla naralokahitanirdhāra ।
balake noḻpar kelaru, kelareḍake noḻpar ॥
vilavilane capalisuva manujasvabhāvadali ।
nelegottu hitakelli? - maṃkutimma ॥ 855 ॥

It isn’t easy in this human world to understand what is good and what is not |
Some look to the right, some to the left ||
If you seek happiness in the ever-fickle human nature
How can you ever find its true source?" – Mankutimma

To be continued



Sandeep Balakrishna is a writer, author, translator, and socio-political-cultural analyst. He is the author of "Tipu Sultan: The Tyrant of Mysore" and "The Madurai Sultanate: A Concise History." He translated Dr. S L Bhyrappa's magnum opus "Avarana" into English.

Prekshaa Publications

Indian Perspective of Truth and Beauty in Homer’s Epics is a unique work on the comparative study of the Greek Epics Iliad and Odyssey with the Indian Epics – Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhārata. Homer, who laid the foundations for the classical tradition of the West, occupies a stature similar to that occupied by the seer-poets Vālmīki and Vyāsa, who are synonymous with the Indian culture. The author...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the sixth volume of reminiscences character sketches of prominent public figures, liberals, and social workers. These remarkable personages hailing from different corners of South India are from a period that spans from the late nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. Written in Kannada in the 1970s, these memoirs go...

An Introduction to Hinduism based on Primary Sources

Authors: Śatāvadhānī Dr. R Ganesh, Hari Ravikumar

What is the philosophical basis for Sanātana-dharma, the ancient Indian way of life? What makes it the most inclusive and natural of all religio-philosophical systems in the world?

The Essential Sanātana-dharma serves as a handbook for anyone who wishes to grasp the...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the fifth volume, episodes from the lives of traditional savants responsible for upholding the Vedic culture. These memorable characters lived a life of opulence amidst poverty— theirs  was the wealth of the soul, far beyond money and gold. These vidvāns hailed from different corners of the erstwhile Mysore Kingdom and lived in...

Padma Bhushan Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam represents the quintessence of Sage Bharata’s art and Bhārata, the country that gave birth to the peerless seer of the Nāṭya-veda. Padma’s erudition in various streams of Indic knowledge, mastery over many classical arts, deep understanding of the nuances of Indian culture, creative genius, and sublime vision bolstered by the vedāntic and nationalistic...

Bhārata has been a land of plenty in many ways. We have had a timeless tradition of the twofold principle of Brāhma (spirit of wisdom) and Kṣāttra (spirit of valour) nourishing and protecting this sacred land. The Hindu civilisation, rooted in Sanātana-dharma, has constantly been enriched by brāhma and safeguarded by kṣāttra.
The renowned Sanskrit poet and scholar, Śatāvadhānī Dr. R...

ಛಂದೋವಿವೇಕವು ವರ್ಣವೃತ್ತ, ಮಾತ್ರಾಜಾತಿ ಮತ್ತು ಕರ್ಷಣಜಾತಿ ಎಂದು ವಿಭಕ್ತವಾದ ಎಲ್ಲ ಬಗೆಯ ಛಂದಸ್ಸುಗಳನ್ನೂ ವಿವೇಚಿಸುವ ಪ್ರಬಂಧಗಳ ಸಂಕಲನ. ಲೇಖಕರ ದೀರ್ಘಕಾಲಿಕ ಆಲೋಚನೆಯ ಸಾರವನ್ನು ಒಳಗೊಂಡ ಈ ಹೊತ್ತಗೆ ಪ್ರಧಾನವಾಗಿ ಛಂದಸ್ಸಿನ ಸೌಂದರ್ಯವನ್ನು ಲಕ್ಷಿಸುತ್ತದೆ. ತೌಲನಿಕ ವಿಶ್ಲೇಷಣೆ ಮತ್ತು ಅಂತಃಶಾಸ್ತ್ರೀಯ ಅಧ್ಯಯನಗಳ ತೆಕ್ಕೆಗೆ ಬರುವ ಬರೆಹಗಳೂ ಇಲ್ಲಿವೆ. ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರಕಾರನಿಗಲ್ಲದೆ ಸಿದ್ಧಹಸ್ತನಾದ ಕವಿಗೆ ಮಾತ್ರ ಸ್ಫುರಿಸಬಲ್ಲ ಎಷ್ಟೋ ಹೊಳಹುಗಳು ಕೃತಿಯ ಮೌಲಿಕತೆಯನ್ನು ಹೆಚ್ಚಿಸಿವೆ. ಈ...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the fourth volume, some character sketches of the Dewans of Mysore preceded by an account of the political framework of the State before Independence and followed by a review of the political conditions of the State after 1940. These remarkable leaders of Mysore lived in a period that spans from the mid-nineteenth century to the...

Bharatiya Kavya-mimamseya Hinnele is a monograph on Indian Aesthetics by Mahamahopadhyaya N. Ranganatha Sharma. The book discusses the history and significance of concepts pivotal to Indian literary theory. It is equally useful to the learned and the laity.

Sahitya-samhite is a collection of literary essays in Kannada. The book discusses aestheticians such as Ananda-vardhana and Rajashekhara; Sanskrit scholars such as Mena Ramakrishna Bhat, Sridhar Bhaskar Varnekar and K S Arjunwadkar; and Kannada litterateurs such as DVG, S L Bhyrappa and S R Ramaswamy. It has a foreword by Shatavadhani Dr. R Ganesh.

The Mahābhārata is the greatest epic in the world both in magnitude and profundity. A veritable cultural compendium of Bhārata-varṣa, it is a product of the creative genius of Maharṣi Kṛṣṇa-dvaipāyana Vyāsa. The epic captures the experiential wisdom of our civilization and all subsequent literary, artistic, and philosophical creations are indebted to it. To read the Mahābhārata is to...

Shiva Rama Krishna

சிவன். ராமன். கிருஷ்ணன்.
இந்திய பாரம்பரியத்தின் முப்பெரும் கதாநாயகர்கள்.
உயர் இந்தியாவில் தலைமுறைகள் பல கடந்தும் கடவுளர்களாக போற்றப்பட்டு வழிகாட்டிகளாக விளங்குபவர்கள்.
மனித ஒற்றுமை நூற்றாண்டுகால பரிணாம வளர்ச்சியின் பரிமாணம்.
தனிநபர்களாகவும், குடும்ப உறுப்பினர்களாகவும், சமுதாய பிரஜைகளாகவும் நாம் அனைவரும் பரிமளிக்கிறோம்.
சிவன் தனிமனித அடையாளமாக அமைகிறான்....

ऋतुभिः सह कवयः सदैव सम्बद्धाः। विशिष्य संस्कृतकवयः। यथा हि ऋतवः प्रतिसंवत्सरं प्रतिनवतामावहन्ति मानवेषु तथैव ऋतुवर्णनान्यपि काव्यरसिकेषु कामपि विच्छित्तिमातन्वते। ऋतुकल्याणं हि सत्यमिदमेव हृदि कृत्वा प्रवृत्तम्। नगरजीवनस्य यान्त्रिकतां मान्त्रिकतां च ध्वनदिदं चम्पूकाव्यं गद्यपद्यमिश्रितमिति सुव्यक्तमेव। ऐदम्पूर्वतया प्रायः पुरीपरिसरप्रसृतानाम् ऋतूनां विलासोऽत्र प्रपञ्चितः। बेङ्गलूरुनामके...

The Art and Science of Avadhānam in Sanskrit is a definitive work on Sāhityāvadhānam, a form of Indian classical art based on multitasking, lateral thinking, and extempore versification. Dotted throughout with tasteful examples, it expounds in great detail on the theory and practice of this unique performing art. It is as much a handbook of performance as it is an anthology of well-turned...

This anthology is a revised edition of the author's 1978 classic. This series of essays, containing his original research in various fields, throws light on the socio-cultural landscape of Tamil Nadu spanning several centuries. These compelling episodes will appeal to scholars and laymen alike.
“When superstitious mediaevalists mislead the country about its judicial past, we have to...

The cultural history of a nation, unlike the customary mainstream history, has a larger time-frame and encompasses the timeless ethos of a society undergirding the course of events and vicissitudes. A major key to the understanding of a society’s unique character is an appreciation of the far-reaching contributions by outstanding personalities of certain periods – especially in the realms of...

Prekṣaṇīyam is an anthology of essays on Indian classical dance and theatre authored by multifaceted scholar and creative genius, Śatāvadhānī Dr. R Ganesh. As a master of śāstra, a performing artiste (of the ancient art of Avadhānam), and a cultured rasika, he brings a unique, holistic perspective to every discussion. These essays deal with the philosophy, history, aesthetics, and practice of...


इदं किञ्चिद्यामलं काव्यं द्वयोः खण्डकाव्ययोः सङ्कलनरूपम्। रामानुरागानलं हि सीतापरित्यागाल्लक्ष्मणवियोगाच्च श्रीरामेणानुभूतं हृदयसङ्क्षोभं वर्णयति । वात्सल्यगोपालकं तु कदाचिद्भानूपरागसमये घटितं यशोदाश्रीकृष्णयोर्मेलनं वर्णयति । इदम्प्रथमतया संस्कृतसाहित्ये सम्पूर्णं काव्यं...


इदं खण्डकाव्यमान्तं मालिनीछन्दसोपनिबद्धं विलसति। मेनकाविश्वामित्रयोः समागमः, तत्फलतया शकुन्तलाया जननम्, मातापितृभ्यां त्यक्तस्य शिशोः कण्वमहर्षिणा परिपालनं चेति काव्यस्यास्येतिवृत्तसङ्क्षेपः।


इदं खण्डकाव्यमान्तं मालिनीछन्दसोपनिबद्धं विलसति। मेनकाविश्वामित्रयोः समागमः, तत्फलतया शकुन्तलाया जननम्, मातापितृभ्यां त्यक्तस्य शिशोः कण्वमहर्षिणा परिपालनं चेति काव्यस्यास्येतिवृत्तसङ्क्षेपः।


इयं रचना दशसु रूपकेष्वन्यतमस्य भाणस्य निदर्शनतामुपैति। एकाङ्करूपकेऽस्मिन् शेखरकनामा चित्रोद्यमलेखकः केनापि हेतुना वियोगम् अनुभवतोश्चित्रलेखामिलिन्दकयोः समागमं सिसाधयिषुः कथामाकाशभाषणरूपेण निर्वहति।


अस्मिन् स्तोत्रकाव्ये भगवन्तं शिवं कविरभिष्टौति। वसन्ततिलकयोपनिबद्धस्य काव्यस्यास्य कविकृतम् उल्लाघनाभिधं व्याख्यानं च वर्तते।

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the third volume, some character sketches of great literary savants responsible for Kannada renaissance during the first half of the twentieth century. These remarkable...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the second volume, episodes from the lives of remarkable exponents of classical music and dance, traditional storytellers, thespians, and connoisseurs; as well as his...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the first volume, episodes from the lives of great writers, poets, literary aficionados, exemplars of public life, literary scholars, noble-hearted common folk, advocates...

Evolution of Mahabharata and Other Writings on the Epic is the English translation of S R Ramaswamy's 1972 Kannada classic 'Mahabharatada Belavanige' along with seven of his essays on the great epic. It tells the riveting...

Shiva-Rama-Krishna is an English adaptation of Śatāvadhāni Dr. R Ganesh's popular lecture series on the three great...


ಮಹಾಮಾಹೇಶ್ವರ ಅಭಿನವಗುಪ್ತ ಜಗತ್ತಿನ ವಿದ್ಯಾವಲಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಮರೆಯಲಾಗದ ಹೆಸರು. ಮುಖ್ಯವಾಗಿ ಶೈವದರ್ಶನ ಮತ್ತು ಸೌಂದರ್ಯಮೀಮಾಂಸೆಗಳ ಪರಮಾಚಾರ್ಯನಾಗಿ  ಸಾವಿರ ವರ್ಷಗಳಿಂದ ಇವನು ಜ್ಞಾನಪ್ರಪಂಚವನ್ನು ಪ್ರಭಾವಿಸುತ್ತಲೇ ಇದ್ದಾನೆ. ಭರತಮುನಿಯ ನಾಟ್ಯಶಾಸ್ತ್ರವನ್ನು ಅರ್ಥಮಾಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಇವನೊಬ್ಬನೇ ನಮಗಿರುವ ಆಲಂಬನ. ಇದೇ ರೀತಿ ರಸಧ್ವನಿಸಿದ್ಧಾಂತವನ್ನು...


“वागर्थविस्मयास्वादः” प्रमुखतया साहित्यशास्त्रतत्त्वानि विमृशति । अत्र सौन्दर्यर्यशास्त्रीयमूलतत्त्वानि यथा रस-ध्वनि-वक्रता-औचित्यादीनि सुनिपुणं परामृष्टानि प्रतिनवे चिकित्सकप्रज्ञाप्रकाशे। तदन्तर एव संस्कृतवाङ्मयस्य सामर्थ्यसमाविष्कारोऽपि विहितः। क्वचिदिव च्छन्दोमीमांसा च...

The Best of Hiriyanna

The Best of Hiriyanna is a collection of forty-eight essays by Prof. M. Hiriyanna that sheds new light on Sanskrit Literature, Indian...

Stories Behind Verses

Stories Behind Verses is a remarkable collection of over a hundred anecdotes, each of which captures a story behind the composition of a Sanskrit verse. Collected over several years from...