The Bangalore Ganapati Clashes Set the Stage for DVG's Advocacy for Responsible Government

This article is part 22 of 57 in the series Life and Legacy of DVG

DVG was not in Bangalore when the Ganapati clashes occurred. He had been to Bagalkot for a conference of press editors. When he returned, he found Bangalore in a state of boil. Diwan Mirza Ismail had called for a public meeting of Hindus and Muslims to pacify both parties but public opinion was almost unanimous that he was on the Muslim side. Tempers flared when it appeared that Mirza Ismail was attempting to blame Hindus for the riots. When DVG listened to the detailed eyewitness stories and reports of the clashes, he concluded that the Mirza Government was indeed trying to pin the blame on Hindus. He severed all contact with Mirza Ismail for nearly two years. Not just that. He wrote a strongly-worded opinion piece titled What is Wrong With the State of Mysore: Bangalore Disturbances and After in Swarajya dated 15 September 1928. This was DVG’s rebuttal of an earlier mischievous article in the Times of India that sought to whitewash the role of Muslim mobs that instigated the riots.

DVG traced the roots of the riots in his rebuttal and concluded that Mirza Ismail, in his zeal to beautify Bangalore City, had not consulted all stakeholders but relied excessively on Abbas Khan. Repeated complaints to various Government offices about this matter had yielded no response. Besides, the plan to shift the Ganapati Murti was not informed to the public earlier. When even this was pointed out, the Government simply ignored. Then there was the question of “secret meetings” held by the Diwan with just a few of his confidants. When the Ganapati Murti was shifted from its original location under the supervision of Government officials and the police, public suspicion acquired the colour of confirmation that Diwan Mirza Ismail’s Government was anti-Hindu. The last straw, of course, was the unprovoked vandalism of Muslim mobs.  

Recounting the atmosphere of the period in one of his Jnapakachitrashale essays, DVG narrates his interaction with a traditional Vedic Pandit and teacher. The Pandit shares some snippets of his conversation with a prominent Muslim. When he questions the Muslim about the Ganapati vandalism, the man nonchalantly justifies the mob violence: “Diwan sahib hamara aadmi hai” – “The Diwan is our man.” DVG then confesses that he had no answer for the Vedic Pandit’s query: “You say you know all these people, you know the Diwan himself. What could you do about this?


Faced with stinging criticism and widespread condemnation from the press and public, on 28 August 1928, the Mysore Maharaja appointed a commission of inquiry into the Ganapati clashes. It was headed by the former Diwan Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya. On 10 October, DVG testified before the committee. His tenor was acerbic. The following is a sample of his testimony.

I am stunned to notice that the administrative machinery has been struck by paralysis. The cataclysm that hit Mysore on the 30th is new. It is also a great warning to every person who aspires to enter the Civil Services…The Government, instead of acting in a timely fashion despite several reminders, was busy napping. It appears that there is no connection between the Government and the life of ordinary people it is meant to protect and govern…Even when newspapers by the dozen wrote repeated letters to the Government and penned editorials of alarm, it didn’t show even the basic courtesy of a response…When protest marches and agitations over the Ganapati issue were being taken out, the Government did nothing…Poor thing, it didn’t know anything and we are supposed to believe it. It is rather shocking to note that the Government didn’t even bother to understand the real strength of these agitations…On the contrary, it clamped down on these newspapers post facto! And it continues to impose all manner of restrictions on press freedom and calls for separate laws for further choking the press.  

On 15 January 1929, Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya submitted his report to the Government. Expectedly, it was deeply embarrassing. On the floor of the Legislative Council, DVG demanded that the Government make its contents public. He was met with silence. However, as the truism goes, no Government document can ever remain completely secret. Visvesvaraya’s Report was leaked to the press, which had a field day. DVG himself took the lead by penning a sardonic piece[1] in the Vishwa Karnataka paper:

We were living under the fond illusion that everything was fine in the Mysore State only to be rudely awakened…The dome or tower atop the home might be shining from afar. Inside, its very pillars and columns might be shaking. All it takes is one lash of solid rains to understand whether the dome or the pillars are more important…Likewise, it took one Ganapati clashes to awaken us to the reality of our administrative machinery, judiciary, and public safety and security systems…Our great public officials in various departments must set aside petty squabbles and reinvigorate the functioning of the Government. Only then will Ganapati himself bless us.     

Eventually, this sort of dogged and sustained pressure forced the Mysore Government to publish the Visvesvaraya Report. It was a small victory. DVG wrote another essay commending the Report for its truthfulness and thoroughness, and recommended that everyone read it. This is how he summarises the report.

  1. There is excessive concentration of power in the Mysore State. This has caused a situation whereby Government officials are always scared to take independent action even in cases where such action demands timeliness and serves the interest of justice.
  2.  This in turn, causes paralysis at all levels and justice is not done. The Bangalore Ganapati Clashes have illustrated this in a clear-cut fashion in real life. The police did not and could not discharge their duty fearlessly and objectively because of these reasons. Faced with a crisis, the administrative machinery completely broke down.
  3. The only solution to these appalling defects is Responsible Government where various functions of the Governments are optimally distributed across different departments who are accountable to one another.

This set the tone for a prolonged crusade to introduce Responsible Government in Mysore. Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya was perhaps highly impressed by DVG’s passionate and well-argued writings and speeches in favour of Responsible Government. As such, he sent a recommendation to the Maharaja’s Government as an addendum of sorts. It was titled, How to Remedy the Current Political Discontent. However, Diwan Mirza Ismail didn’t budge an inch. But that is a story for another day.

This brings us to the next phase of DVG’s political career: the aforementioned advocacy for Responsible Government.

To be continued


[1] D V Gundappa: Ganapati Prasangada Goodartha: Vishwa Karnataka, January 1929. Excerpt translated into English by Sandeep Balakrishna.





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

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, Śatāvadhāni 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...


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...