DVG and Vidyaranya Swami

This article is part 10 of 15 in the series Exemplars of Indian Wisdom from Karnataka

Influence of Vidyaranya Swami

In many ways, Vidyaranya Swami, the spiritual founder of and inspiration for the splendid Hindu Empire of Vijayanagara, played a powerful role behind sculpting DVG’s outlook in the realm of political philosophy as well. Indeed, DVG’s corpus of literature on Vidyaranya Swami reveals the exalted side of his literary bequest. It shows his precise and natural grasp of the true meaning and strength of tradition. Every sentence of DVG on Vidyaranya Swami reverberates with the stentorian euphony of a full-bodied conch. DVG’s devotion towards Vidyaranya Swami was akin to the discharge of the sacred pitṛ-ṛṇa. Over a lifetime, he had painstakingly collected a wealth of research about the life and legacy of this warrior-saint, and wrote extensively on him including a play in Kannada, titled Vidyaranya Vijaya. Few can equal DVG’s descriptive prowess of Vidyaranya Swami in this panoramic fashion:

Six hundred years ago, the spirit of brāhma in this sage, instead of becoming a vocation of supplication, was transformed into a courageous endeavor and contributed to the rejuvenation of the Vedas; the renunciate life of this glorious eminence did not culminate in passivity but instead, radiated the light of steely valour, and whose Vedanta instead of becoming dry recitation, directly became the cause for the Hindu civilisational overhaul.

In Vidyaranya Swami, DVG found a full life fully dedicated to the cause of lokasangraha and dharmojjīvana. This has a perfect echo in Prof. M Hiriyanna’s memorable words:

…the pursuit of [Sanyasa] does not mean running away from society and seeking passive isolation…what is commended here is self-renunciation and not world-renunciation. Service is not regarded here as a mere concomitant of renunciation, but the very means of cultivating it

There was also a timely reason DVG found inspiration and sought solace in Vidyaranya Swami, who epitomized his name: Forest of Knowledge. The major part of DVG’s youth was lived in an India where the British colonial oppression was at its peak and he (and other stalwarts like him) had to work under extraordinary constraints: censorship, police action, disturbances, violence, whimsical persecution and tragic deaths of fellow-Indians. Even worse, DVG also had to wrestle with the third generation of Macaulayite Hindus, who were gnawing from within at the vitals of the Hindu cultural inheritance he so prized. Overall, it was incredibly tough and exhausting for someone who worked in the public and cultural life of India to retain his sanity in this desolate climate. It is thus unsurprising that Vidyaranya Swami intensely appealed to DVG as the symbol of Sanatana civilizational renaissance and cultural rejuvenation achieved on the twin strength of military prowess and renewal of the ancient philosophical and spiritual traditions. When the fledgling Vijayanagara Empire was stabilized, Vidyaranya Swami, in true Sanatana tradition, became a Sanyasi. This was the other compelling magnet that attracted DVG. 

And now we can turn to the final section of this session in which we can examine only the outlines of DVG’s legacy in practical politics. In other words, DVG as a politician. I can offer only a few lines because it is simply impossible to get into even the minor details of this vast area in his life in the space of this lecture. This assessment and portrait will be in the form of some representative anecdotes and events.

First, as the member of the Bangalore Municipal Council (contemporary BBMP’s original avatara), he started the in-house paper, Bangalore Municipal Bulletin which shut down as soon as his term completed.

Next, in his stint as the member of the Mysore Legislative Council, he elevated the art of legislative debates in terms of research, preparedness, content, force, reasoning and practicality. DVG also displayed extraordinary heroism especially in his frontal attacks against Diwan Mirza Ismail’s role in the infamous Bangalore Ganapati clashes of 1928. Unfortunately, I’ll have to skip the details. But a couple of anecdotes may be mentioned.  

One of the members of the Council, Mathan once tried to stop DVG’s speech on the pretext of House Rules. Mathan had an innate hostility for Members like DVG who had been nominated by the Diwan, something which he viewed as an infringement of his dominance in the Council. Thus, at every turn, Mathan tried to scuttle DVG’s debates using one or the other pretext. This is how DVG showed him his place:

I must very strongly protest against the implied censure. I think that Government has nominated me not to represent the Government but to represent the public and I represent the public according to my light. I interpret the Rules according to my [conscience] and not according to Government’s understanding.

The other anecdote is about an arrogant member of the Mysore Unit of the Congress Party who wrote a threatening letter to DVG because DVG had gone against some party line taken by the Congress. This is the summary of the Congress functionary’s letter:

The Congress Party finds your signature highly objectionable. It is in violation of your pledge that you will be loyal to the Congress at all times. Therefore, you must show cause as to your objectionable action. Additionally, according to the Board’s decision, you must resign from your Council membership immediately.

This letter was dated November 28, 1937. And this is how DVG hit back:

I never taken any such pledge of loyalty to the Congress. I was at the forefront of the demand for Responsible Government in the Maharaja’s State decades before the Congress even had a presence here. The Congress would have my support to the limited extent that its goal of Responsible Government is aligned with mine in thought, word, and deed. May I say it is the Congress Board that has since changed? It seems to me that the Board of today is not…the same as the Board…seven months ago. I could not then detect in it any indications of the methodology now in vogue. While I subscribe to the Congress…objective of Responsible Government, I cannot accept its recent methods of work.

The other key area of DVG’s political career was his sustained campaign for the cause of the Princely States, a campaign he relentlessly worked for, for about half a century. DVG’s legacy in this realm easily occupies in tenor, significance and endurance the same high place as his major literary milestones.

To be continued

Author(s)

About:

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...

Yaugandharam

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

Vanitakavitotsavah

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

Vaiphalyaphalam

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

Nipunapraghunakam

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

Bharavatarastavah

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...

Bharatilochana

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...

Vagarthavismayasvadah

“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...