Dewan Rungacharlu (Part 2)


Rungacharlu was extremely careless about his clothing. He was always hasty. He wore baggy coats. Seeing him wrongly buttoned was not a rare sight. He used to roll his turban in whatever way his hand fancied. Unable to bear seeing his clumsiness any further, his wife Alamelamma once asked him, “Can’t you dress properly?”

Rungacharlu replied, “Am I Madhava Rao? At least he has to go about following English women and talk to them. I am not a Sogasugāra Puṭṭasvāmī (‘a man-about-town’).

Alamelamma herself told me this. For some reason, Rungacharlu would always be on his toes. He would set out to Mysore or to some other place after a moment’s thought. Those days, trains were still a novelty. The Dewan used to board the train and settle down, without anything close to a bed or a box of clothes. If somebody cared to notice him, those facilities would be provided for. If not, he would manage without any of it.

This opened up an opportunity for K P Puttanna Chetty, who was then an official [Traffic Manager] at the Bangalore Railway Station. He had brought a roll of bedding and a set of clothes from the Dewan’s residence and kept them ready at the station. In a few instances, when Rungacharlu set out on one of his impromptu journeys, his clothing reached the place of his visit. Surprised, he enquired, “Whose work is this?” and learnt the back-story. He was impressed to know that it was Puttanna Chetty’s doing; subsequently, Chetty went on to obtain a high grade job.*


The British writer G B Malleson, who knew Mysore intimately, had described Rungacharlu’s brain as a ‘dynamo’ – those who knew the Dewan well agreed that it was indeed true. Rungacharlu’s brain used to work tirelessly like a ‘dynamo.’ He was just fifty-two when he died.

Rungacharlu was swift by nature. If ever he witnessed laziness and lethargy, he would instantly fume and give out punishment. Even the Mahārāja knew this temperament of his and would fear him, too.

There is an incident that I heard. Rungacharlu lived in a house by name ‘Satyālaya’ (‘Abode of Truth’), which was located on the Bangalore Palace Road, about two furlongs from the palace. Till recently that house belonged to the Mahārāja of Soṇḍūru. Mahārāja Chamaraja Wodeyar used to camp at the Bangalore Palace for his education and also for training in kingship. Since Rungacharlu’s residence was nearby, the mind of the Mahārāja, who was still young, was filled with fright at the thought of Rungacharlu’s sudden visits to the palace at the most unexpected hours.

And so, an arrangement was made. Just when Rungacharlu was ready to set out from his house after tying the turban on his head, one of the servants signalled to another servant about five to six yards away with a hand gesture. In a similar manner, the second servant would signal to a third servant another five or six yards away. Like this, with the hand gestures of eight to ten such servants, the news would reach the palace and the Mahārāja would immediately wake up, bathe, wear his royal attire, and be seated in his office room. The Dewan would reach the palace within seven or eight minutes, and assuming that the Mahārāja was brisk and studious, he would express his appreciation. It took about a year for Rungacharlu to realize that it was all pretence!

Once, it appears that during Dasara, the festival of Vasantotsava was being celebrated in the Mysore Palace. During this time, while the crimson turmeric water was being splashed on one another in a festive sprit, the children of the royal family were apparently screaming, using language that was befitting the occasion [but inappropriate for their regal bearing]. Rungacharlu was sitting upstairs in the Jaganmohana Bungalow, occupied with some work; on hearing the loud noise, he ran down the stairs, set free his verbal weapons, spanked them once or twice, and had the chaos silenced.

Rungacharlu was not an ill-wisher. He was not someone who was honeyed outside and venomous within. When medicine has to be administered, one has to force-feed piquant and bitter pills. If not, the disease will never heal. This is the subtle secret behind Rungacharlu’s behaviour.

Admiration for Kannada

Dewan Rungacharlu was a native of Madras. The language used in his household was Tamil, not Kannada. And since he lived in the Telugu regions for a long time during his career, he was more familiar with Telugu. He did not come to Mysore of his own volition or efforts. It was the British authorities of that time who brought him here. Whatever and whoever may be the reason behind his coming to Mysore, the moment he realised that the most important duty of his life was in the Kingdom of Mysore, he became a Mysorean [i.e. Kannadiga]. The future of the Mysore Kingdom was his only goal. He wanted to be recognized as a Mysorean amongst the citizens of Mysore and decided to live like a native of Mysore. As long as he lived, Mysore became his homeland.

In Mysore, Rungacharlu strived for the development of Kannada language and literature with all his heart. Had his interest and encouragement been absent, the Kannada version of the Sanskrit play Śākuntalam by Basavappa Shastri would have never seen light of day; the Śākuntala Nāṭaka Company would have never been born; a collection of Sanskrit and Kannada songs titled ‘Bālikā Gīta Muktā Kalāpa,’ written with the excuse of its being valuable to the students of Mysore’s Maharani’s College, would not have been created. In the Bālikā Gīta Muktā Kalāpa anthology, Nañjanagūḍu Subbāśāstrī, Anantanārāyaṇa Śāstrī, Jayarāyācāryā, Giribhaṭṭa Tammayya, Sundara Śāstrī, and many other scholars have created beautiful songs, set to beautiful rāgas with lovely melodies. This is proof enough to demonstrate how Rungacharlu had made Mysore his motherland.

This is the second part of a three-part English translation of the second chapter of D V Gundappa’s Jnapakachitrashaale – Vol. 4 – Mysurina Diwanaru. Edited by Hari Ravikumar.

*Dewan Bahadur Puttanna Chetty served in many important positions including: Deputy Commissioner (1898–1906), Bangalore City Council member (1906–12), Bangalore Municipality President (1913–19), and Mysore Legislative Council member.




Devanahalli Venkataramanayya Gundappa (1887-1975) was a great visionary and polymath. He was a journalist, poet, art connoisseur, philosopher, political analyst, institution builder, social commentator, social worker, and activist.



Karthik Muralidharan is an entrepreneur, educator, and a motivational speaker. An MBA in Human Resource Management, Karthik currently runs businesses in Leadership Education, Training, and Wealth Management. He is deeply interested in prosody, philosophy, and literature.

Prekshaa Publications

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...