Once, the great scholar, writer and speaker Romesh Chunder Dutt visited Bangalore. Several people who were enthusiastic about listening to his lecture sent a deputation with this request. Dutt had to decline due to his failing health. The unrelenting deputation told him that they would find another speaker and requested him to preside over the lecture. Dutt agreed to this proposal. The assembly started. The speaker of the day was a renowned scholar of history. He filled up his lecture with a great deal of content, presenting it with great effort and enthusiasm.
I mentioned earlier that as per the recommendation of my friends, M G Varadacharya was the third of the three people in Bangalore who were best suited to estimate the worth of English poetry.
Around thirty-four years have elapsed since Varadacharya left us all (c. 1918-19). Even so, every time I remember his name, my throat is choked, my breath becomes heavy, and eyes become moist. He was such was an intensely emotional character.
Thoughts on Politics
Shivaswami Iyer sided with the Moderates in politics. This party was known as the ‘Liberals’. He did not like the extremists and did not appreciate the path taken by Tilak and others. He subscribed to the views of Gokhale, Dadabai Navaroji, Ranade and others. In his view, the ideas of Mahatma Gandhi were very impractical and insane. He never missed an opportunity to say that Gandhi’s path would only dig grave for India.
Varadacharya’s Proficiency in Art
When we were watching Varadacharya’s plays at the theatre near Kichchetty’s Choultry, I remember what Rangaswamy Iyengar would say about the nature of rāgas used in the plays. I also remember his explanation on the terminologies like viṣkambha, śuddha viṣkambha, and miśra viṣkambha used in drama for indicating certain aspects.
I haven’t come across anyone who has described in detail the services rendered to Kannada literature by the doyen of drama, Nāṭaka Śiromaṇi A V Varadacharya. The plays that he produced never saw publication – i.e. they were never printed as books. Words are inadequate to describe the charm of his scripts, songs, and poems. I used to marvel when I would hear how flawless, rich with emotions, and brilliant his plays were.
The insights of the sort DVG possessed emanated precisely from this deep understanding of philosophy, or more accurately, his realization of Darshana. In other words, when we grasp the nature of the world characterized by name and form (nAma-rUpa), we develop what is known as the tara-tama vivEka—wisdom to grade worldly events and phenomena. In his own words,
I recall an incident when Shivaswami Iyer once poked fun at a group of people, calling them ‘Dharma-dhvajas.’ This was during one of his lectures at the Lions’ Institute in Bangalore. “A person who wants to help others—i.e., who wants to perform acts of dharma—and also wishes to make his humanitarian service known to the public is called a dharma-dhvaja by Manu. Basically, he wants his flag (dhvaja) of ‘dharma’ flying high at all times and that people should notice it.