Lokasangraha of DVG

This article is part 7 of 15 in the series Exemplars of Indian Wisdom from Karnataka

Starting roughly from the last two decades until now, DVG’s fame largely and deservedly rests on Mankutimmana Kagga. And so, it might be surprising even to the people of Karnataka, today, to learn that during his lifetime, DVG was thickly associated with such stalwarts as Sir M Visvesvarayya, P.V. Kane, Madan Mohan Malviya, “Right Honourable” V.S. Srinivasa Sastri, Sir Puttanna Chetty, B.R. Ambedkar, C. Rajagopalachari, and had closely worked with at least four Diwans of the Mysore Princely State. What is also mostly unknown is how he was part of several public relief efforts in combating large-scale epidemics like influenza and tuberculosis. DVG also officiated as a Purohita in widow remarriages. This was a ‘sin’ that invited social ostracism in those days. More tragically, what has also been buried, not under the sands of time, but due to wanton political neglect, is the corpus of DVG’s journalistic and political writing, which alone runs up to more than six thousand pages. This includes books and essays on political philosophy and statesmanship, critiques of policy, open letters, reports, editorials, speeches, memorials, monographs, and reviews. This tragedy of negligence assumes a rather cruel form when we also observe the fact that DVG was one of the pioneers of journalism in Kannada. ಇದನ್ನೇ ಕನ್ನಡದಲ್ಲಿ ಹೇಳಬೇಕು ಅಂದ್ರೆ ಇಂದು ನಮ್ಮ ಜನರಲ್ಲಿ ಡಿವಿಜಿ ಅವರ ಎಡೆಗೆ ಇರುವ ಭಕ್ತಿಯು ಅವರು ನಮಗೆ ಬಿಟ್ಟುಹೋಗಿರುವ ನಿಜವಾದ ಆಸ್ತಿಯ ಕುರಿತಾದ ಸಹೃದಯ ವಿಶ್ಲೇಷಣೆಯನ್ನು ಮರೆಮಾಚಿಸಿ ಬಿಟ್ಟಿದೆ.      

In fact, the best of DVG’s journalistic and political writings must be made prescribed reading for a cross section of the Indian society today. A distinctive mark of these writings is their innate power to elevate the reader from the mundane and the mediocre to the lofty and the enduring. DVG decorates the rather dry subjects of economics, politics and public policy with an originality and flair that bestows a literary and philosophical quality upon them. H.M. Nayak beautifully said that DVG’s Rajyasastra and Rajyanga tattvagalu are works that can be used to administer and govern a country.

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Equal in importance to DVG’s political writings is his real-life legacy as a politician and public figure. Again, it is unfortunate that our Kannada people don’t know the fact that DVG was a member of the Bangalore Municipal Council, he was on the Mysore university senate, he was an MLC, he was part of the Mysore Constitutional Reforms Committee, he was one of the authors of the Patel-Mirza Pact, and he had been elected unopposed as the MLA of Kolar on a Congress ticket.

There’s more.

DVG was also a prolific institution-builder. Here’s a brief list of the institutions he founded or was part of the founding team: Popular Education League, Bangalore Study Club, Bangalore Book Club, The Mysore Social Service League, Kannada Sahitya Parishad, Mysuru Sarvajanika Sabhe, and the last and the most important, the Gokhale Institute of Public Affairs.

Next, we can look at a brief list of the publications he founded and edited:

  1. Bharati (Cofounder)
  2. Vande Matram Series
  3. Sumati
  4. The Karnataka
  5. Karnataka and the Indian Review of Reviews
  6. Public Affairs

Here’s a brief list of the publications he wrote for:

1.    Suryodaya Prakashika

2.    Nadegannadi

3.    Vishwa Karnataka

4.    Samyukta Karnataka

5.    Prajamata

6.    Kannada Prabha

7.    Prajavani

8.    The Hindustan Review

9.    New India

10.Servant of India

11.The Hindu

12.The Wealth of Mysore

13.Daily Post

14.The Pioneer

15.Swarajya

16.The Bombay Chronicle

17.The Madras Mail

18.Triveni Journal

19.Current Science

20.Daily News

21.Deshabandhu

22.The Indian Express

23.Deccan Herald

The idea here is not to impress—or bore—you with statistics and lists but to give a mere glimpse of DVG’s qualitative prolificity and to show what just one man accomplished something that might perhaps take a few births for others.

Like in the realm of literature and philosophy, DVG undertook political work and journalism in a spirit of loka-sangraha, a term for which there is no proper English equivalent. Its origins in the Bhagavad Gita is also reflective of the spirit that underscored and animated DVG’s work.  

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Next, we can quickly look at some major features of DVG’s political writings. The first, stunning fact is that DVG wrote on politics in both Kannada and English. His masterpieces, Rajyasastra and Rajyanga Tattvagalu are the pioneering works in Kannada expounding upon the system of democracy, which was in its infancy in India back when he wrote them. DVG was also the first writer and journalist to coin new and original technical terms in Kannada in order to explain this new political system to Kannadigas. In his Rajyasastra and Rajyangatattvagalu, DVG embarks on a learned discursion to arrive at the correct Kannada synonymn for the English word, “elected representative.” That synonymn, DVG concludes, is “vṛnita,” a Sanskrit word. This etymological discussion proceeds apace for an entire paragraph and is a delicious feast of deep learning and substantive scholarship. For each alternative synonymn that he suggests, he traces its Sanskrit dhātu (root), cites various examples of its usage and provides ironclad reasoning for its suitability or otherwise. This is entirely consonant with the traditional Indian method of linguistic scholarship. We can cite scores of such examples from the DVG lore.

But in summary, DVG is without doubt, the pioneering adhvaryu of political literature in Kannada.

The other marked feature of his political literature is the natural ease and the wizard-like precision with which he quotes from a wide range of ancient Indian texts including but not limited to the Vedas, the various arthaśāstras,  kāvya (literature), philosophical treatises and dharmaśāstras. These quotations are not merely textual but they’re the lived continuation of the unbroken Sanatana tradition so dear to DVG. They were also not meant to show off his erudition or to impress the reader or listener. They were forces of nature that could be summoned at will because DVG had tamed his muse to his moods.

Here’s another sample, this time in English.

Sattva seldom stands alone. In most men, it is most of the time obscured and nullified by its two sinister companions, Rajas (passion) and Tamas (ignorance)… The central purpose of ethics…should be to… release Sattva from the hold of Rajas and Tamas, which keep it prisoner. It is for this that all disciplines and all rules of conduct are designed… The seed of Sattva is ṛta Satya or action-worthy truth. And Satya in action is Dharma…Satya, which is ṛta confirmed…is the determinant of values or the gradation of the good.

The best part of this extraordinary analysis is that it appears in a political commentary—an opinion piece—he wrote on the decline of India’s condition under Nehru! It is fittingly titled, Moral Sense Inherent.

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

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