Freedom or Anarchy - Part 1

Freedom or Anarchy[1]

Tipu Sultan complained to the then maṭhādipati of Śrṅgeri about the attacks of Marāṭhas on his kingdom. Svāmīji replied –

हसद्भिः क्रियते कर्म रुदद्भिरनुभूयते
“The fruits of deeds that we committed in joy
will have to be experienced in sorrow.”

When I try to ruminate about how we obtained our freedom, I am not surprised to see the way it is growing. It was born with the breaking up of India’s territory.


After inviting brāhmaṇas with the offer of a meal, the rākṣasa Ilvala would call out, “Vātāpi!” Vātāpi would be hidden in the food eaten by the brāhmaṇas; as soon as his brother called for him, he would burst out of the stomach of the brāhmaṇas. After hearing of this atrocity, one day the sage Agastya came to dinner as Ilvala’s guest. As soon as he swallowed his last morsel, he said, “वातापि जीर्णोभव!” (“Vātāpi, be digested!”) Vātāpi thus met his end.

The leaders who divided our country must have been deluded to deem themselves as Sage Agastya! Mother India’s stomach has been burst, but alas, Vātāpi could not be digested.

The Story of Mayūradhvaja

Another old story comes to mind. When Dharmarāja sent his yajñāśva (yajña-horse) to conquer the world to perform the Aśva-medha, King Tāmradhvaja stopped it. Tāmradhvaja was a valiant warrior. When Bhagavān Kṛṣṇa found out that Arjuna could not defeat him in battle, he decided to overpower him in a shrewd manner. Arjuna and he went in disguise as brāhmaṇas to Tāmradhvaja’s father Mayūradhvaja and requested him thus: a brāhmaṇa’s son has been caught by a lion. Since the brāhmaṇa humbly requested the lion, it showed pity and agreed to release the boy alive if half of Mayūradhvaja’s body was given in exchange. Mayūradhvaja gladly accepted this request. Accordingly his queen Kumudvatī and his son Tāmradhvaja cut Mayūradhvaja’s body in half from head to toe using a saw. This story has been beautifully described by the poet Lakṣmīśa in the Kannada work, Jaiminī-bhārata.

Maturity of Independence

But Bhagavān Kṛṣṇa was present on the scene, to be able to join the halves of the body. Where was our Kṛṣṇa? That noble soul whom we could call as Kṛṣṇa had removed himself from politics and was lost wandering in the Naokhali province of East Bengal to earn the love and affection of the Musalmans. During that period, our political leaders had intentionally forgotten Gandhiji’s intention.

Thus began the history of Independent India.

Kālidāsa has said, “फलानुमेयाः प्रारम्भाः” (“...[what they did] could only be inferred by the fruits of their venture”) If food is cooked well, we will be able to guess the capability of the chef, his careful selection of ingredients, and his diligence in cooking. Likewise, if our food has a bitter taste, we can guess the capacity of the chef and his cooking technique.

That day, wisdom had deserted us. We had slipped from our principles to foolhardiness. Our leaders fell into a trap, thinking that if the Muslims want to be separate, let them be, and we can manage everything here among ourselves. But what happened? It was as if we invited a serpent into our bed.

A True Story

There was a person by name Mankubhatta in Mugandahalli. His elder son was Ramabhatta and younger son was Shamabhatta. Mankubhatta got Ramabhatta married to his niece. She was from a family of Vaidikas, who were very poor. He got Shamabhatta married to the daughter of Sheristadar[2] Gundabhatta. In his old age Gundabhatta gave rupees two thousand as a strī-dhana[3] to his daughter. Let us call her Gundamma. Within six months of Gundamma entering her husband’s home, Mankubhatta passed away. Then came the fate of his wife Venkamma.

After the death of his father, Shamabhatta was coerced to separate from his brother. Wasn’t there the sum of two thousand rupees? That served as an axe to sever the joint family. A wall came up in the center of Mankubhatta’s house and split it into two. Shamabhatta bought another house from his wife’s money and went to live there. He gave his half of the ancestral house on rent to a person from the Tigala community[4]. His mother Venkamma was old and widowed. She had to spend her days with her elder son and his wife (her niece). She would come to the backyard after finishing her bath to collect her (wet) clothes. There, the droppings of the hens that were owned by the tenant would stick to her leg. Even the feathers of the hens would cling to her feet. Then the old lady would go and take a cold shower once again; also, as the clothes were sullied, she would wash them and wear the wet clothes.

As this happened repeatedly, she suffered from cold and fever. On seeing this, the neighbours told Shamabhatta when they saw him, “What the hell! Your mother is suffering so much. Can you not let out your house to someone else? Won’t the poor old lady die, unable to bear this!” In order to escape from these rebukes, Shamabhatta sold his half of the house to a Muslim: Hamid Khan.

Now, wasn’t the old lady’s situation even better! Chicken meat also joined along with its droppings.

Let us move on to another matter.

After Seeing a Tiger...

The country gained independence – the right to govern itself. The British left from one door; we let the Russians in from the other door. We should become like Russia. Russia has five-year plans. Even we should implement them. To implement the five year plans Russia follows a centralized political system. Even we should follow the same. Thus we got two new opinions –

  1. Plans that exceeded our initial investment
  2. Government controlled by communists and socialists

Huge factories should be constructed. Grand hydro-power plants had to be built. Electricity generation should happen. And the list goes on without end. We should manufacture perfumes, fertilizers, steel, and swords. How do we get money for all of these? Apply for loans; take loans from within the country, from abroad, and from whosoever is ready to lend. Whoever can be cajoled into giving a loan, take from all of them. Thus we have millions and billions in liabilities.

How do we repay these loans?

ಸಾಲವನು ಕೊಂಬಾಗ ಹಾಲೋಗರುಂಬಂತೆ |
ಸಾಲಿಗನು ಬಂದು ಕೇಳ್ದಾಗಲಾದುರುಳನ[5] ಕ- |
ಪಾಲಕ್ಕೆ ಮೋಕ್ಷ – ಸರ್ವಜ್ಞ ||
[Receiving a loan is akin to consuming a milk sweet.
But when the wretched lender demands repayment,
it’s like a tight slap on the face – Sarvajña]

As if loans are not sufficient, tax and surcharge are also applied. The burden of all these will break the backbone of the masses.

But aren't these taken upon by the masses themselves? Is it not our representatives who have said ‘So be it!’ to all these? Isn’t it the nectar of democracy that is filled in our mouths?

Let money be spent. But how was it spent? Where all has it disappeared? If we search all these in detail, many interesting matters will be revealed.

This is the first part of the two-part English translation of Chapter 15B of D V Gundappa’s Jnapakachitrashaale – Vol. 4 – Mysurina Dewanaru. Edited by Hari Ravikumar and Raghavendra G S.


[1]The original title is ‘Svatantravo Atantravo?’ Svatantra means ‘freedom’ while atantra refers to ‘a state of confusion’ or ‘anarchy.’ In another sense, the title means ‘Being without bindings or being without a guide?’
This essay was published in the commemorative edition of Prajāvāṇi – Svātantrotsava Puravaṇi on 15th August, 1970.

[2]Similar to a Magistrate.

[3]A gift given by the parents to a married daughter; this is not the same as dowry.

[4]A community originating from Tamil Nadu, traditionally in the profession of growing flowers and vegetables.

[5]This is a variation of the more famous version which goes as follows

ಸಾಲವನು ಕೊಂಬಾಗ ಹಾಲೋಗರುಂಬಂತೆ
ಸಾಲಿಗನು ಬಂದು ಕೇಳ್ದಾಗ ಕಿಬ್ಬದಿಯ
ಕೀಲು ಮುರಿದಂತೆ - ಸರ್ವಜ್ಞ ।।
[Receiving a loan is akin to consuming a milk sweet.
But when the wretched lender demands repayment,
it’s as though the body joints are broken – Sarvajña]



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.



Shreehari has a master's degree (M.Tech) and works as an embedded software engineer in the automotive industry in Bengaluru. His interests are composing metrical verses in Kannada, literature, playing the flute, carnatic music, travelling, and sports adventure.

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