Chanchal Rao’s Nourishment of Dharma
P Chanchal Rao was an Āndhra-brāhmaṇa. He was a great Sanskrit scholar and one who had gained expertise in all modern subjects concerning state administration. In conduct, he was extremely honest and pure.
Rao had earlier worked in the Government of Madras. He had authored the Revenue Manual, a compilation of rules and regulations related to real estate. Until very recently, it was the selfsame Manual that was being used there as the primary source of reference. I am not aware of the practices nowadays.
Irrespective of where he resided, Chanchal Rao always kept printing materials in a room adjacent to his and would get the printing work done by his workers. Many parts of the Ṛgveda, the mantras recited during rituals like vivāha (wedding), the Yājñavalkya-smṛti, and many such dharma-nibandhas (treatises related to Dharma) – he would translate word by word into Telugu, summarize the meaning, and get them printed in the Telugu script. Printing a minimum of two pages everyday was a self-imposed rule. In this manner, his work towards enriching dharma went on seamlessly for as long as he was alive.
When he was in Bangalore, he had established an organization called Caturveda Paripālanā Saṅgha in the Cantonment area. I had seen its name on a name plaque hung upon the gate of a building. In that building, apparently a veda-pāṭhaśālā was functional in the past. When I saw the place, it had become a primary school. It was in the same locale as Arcot Narrainswamy Mudaliar’s house.
Another instance that illuminates Chanchal Rao’s veneration for the Veda-śāstras is the name he chose for his grandson. That name was ‘Panini Rao.’ Giving one’s grandson the name of Pāṇini Maharṣi, the crown jewel of Sanskrit grammar, may appear strange to the people of this generation.
One evening, I was travelling with Sir P S Sivaswami Iyer, a prominent personage from Madras, in his car. As the car approached the old Attara Kacheri, Sivaswami Iyer asked me some question about that building. While answering, I mentioned “Chanchal Rao…” Instantly, Sivaswami Iyer folded both his hands with reverence and said, “My parama-guru! (i.e., teacher’s teacher). Chanchal Rao was the first guru to teach public affairs in Madras, and the second one was Srinivasa Raghavaiyangar.
“In Madras, irrespective of who the people are, what work they do, and how separately they function, if at all everyone performs the state’s duties collectively in one direction, it is because of Chanchal Rao. Chanchal Rao was first. Srinivasa Raghavaiyangar was second. The remaining came later.”
This is how well known Chanchal Rao was!
Sir William Lee-Warner used to be the British Resident during Seshadri Iyer’s tenure as the Dewan. One day, he visited Central College, Bangalore and saw all the classes that were going on there. While inspecting the FA class, he began posing a question to each student. He asked one of the students (if I remember correctly, it was M G Rangayya, who later went on to become a Chief Engineer) thus –
“Where are you from?” asked the Resident.
“Tirupathur, Madras Province,” the student replied.
“Why did you come this far [to pursue your education]?”
“The fee here is a little lower. I am poor. I have come here to save two to three rupees.”
Learning the fact that the college fee in the Madras Province was more than that in Bangalore, Lee-Warner wrote a letter to the Dewan stating that he found it reasonable to increase the college fees in Bangalore and Mysore to the level of that in Madras.
The following is the essence of Seshadri Iyer’s letter in response –
“It is the wish of His Majesty, the Mahārāja, to see the citizens of the State of Mysore well educated. The Government of Mysore is perfectly aware of the financial strength of its citizens and what they can affort. In the Kingdom of Mysore, the fee is decided based on the people’s capacity. While collecting fees, we also keep in mind the desire of the Mahārāja’s Government to promote education. Irrespective of what fees the other regions have designated, it is not possible to forsake the Mahārāja’s generous policy in Mysore.”
Reading this response, the British Resident simmered down.
In the year 1894, King Chamaraja Wodeyar X breathed his last in Calcutta. Due to that, various forms of chaos arose across the entire kingdom. Random groups of people on the street had presumed Seshadri Iyer to have been behind this. Isn’t this how rumours spread? If someone says that it was a cat that ran past, another would report it as a tiger! At any rate, now everyone accepts the fact that the cause of the Mahārāja’s death was an illness that affected him by some means and it wasn’t the result of anyone’s intrigue or guile.
Who should assume the throne next? There was a huge commotion regarding this, followed by conspiracies by different parties. One side of the argument was that Seshadri Iyer was scheming with the British to retain the State in his own hands. According to this argument, Seshadri Iyer was apparently trying to not have any regent at all, and in case anyone had to be a regent, he wanted that post for himself. The other side of the argument by the opposing party was that there necessarily had to be a regent and it had to be the Mahārāṇī Vāṇī Vilāsa Sannidhāna, and the reigns of the State should not leave her hands.
To be continued...
This is the fifth part of an English translation of the third chapter of D V Gundappa’s Jnapakachitrashaale – Vol. 4 – Mysurina Diwanaru. Edited by Hari Ravikumar.
 Also spelt ‘Chenstal Row’ in some places.
 Also spelt ‘Srinivasa Raghava Iyengar’ in some places.
 First Examination in the Arts (FA)