Rājakārya-prasakta Dewan Bahadur Sir M N Krishna Rao - part 1

According to one set of friends, the letters “M N” in M N Krishna Rao’s name stand for Maḍi [orthodoxy, purity, conservatism, discipline, ritualism] and Niyama [rule, principle, order, justice]. It hints at Krishna Rao’s nature. In all dealings and in all aspects – rules, estimation, conviction, and principle – this was Krishna Rao’s specialty.
One morning, around nine, I was sitting at a friend’s house in Basavanagudi. Let’s call him V. Beside his house lived another friend M. Though the houses were separate, the front yard was one large undivided area without partition. Hence, words spoken in the front yard were clearly audible in both houses.
My friend M, dressed and ready to leave for office, came into the front yard. At the same time, another friend R appeared at the gate. Then, the following conversation took place –
M: Hello Ayyangari, you are coming now! Where had you been?
R: I had been to M N Krishna Rao’s house. Thought of seeing you too, and came here.
M: Why do you trouble that brāhmaṇa?
R: You know, that note I have received, saying that I will retire in three months? I’d been there to see if something could be done about it.
M: Go tell that wall! If there is no blemish in your record, he will not put a spanner in the works. But if there is, he will not suppress it even if your grandfather comes back. What business do you have with such a person who upholds justice at all costs?”
I became curious upon hearing this. I came out and looked at both of them. All three of us laughed together.
What M said was an indirect assessment.

Nyāya-dṛṣṭi – A Vision of Justice

Krishna Rao would not do anything that was less than appropriate to the situation nor anything more. His argument was: being more than fair to one would entail being less than fair to another. As far as I know, no one was intimate with Krishna Rao. Everyone had a love-and-respect-mixed fear of him. Like Kālidāsa says in the Śākuntala – ‘abhyakta-snātam-iva’ [one who has been anointed with oil and bathed] – just as an unclean person would feel in the presence of one who is clean[1]. Thanks to my puṇya [good fortune] from a previous birth, I had gained some of his affection.


M N Krishna Rao and I were first introduced in 1909–10. A person by name Yogīśvara had camped in a house in Basavanagudi at that time. It seems he hailed from Tirupati; he was apparently an expert in Āyurvedic medicine and mantra-śāstra. I don’t remember why I had gone there. When I went there Chief Engineer K Krishna Iyengar and M N Krishna Rao were sitting there, chatting. Since I already knew Krishna Iyengar, we started talking and some topic came up. I quoted a śloka casually that I recollected from the Nīlakaṇṭha-vijaya-campū. Krishna Iyengar knew Sanskrit very well. His elder brother was a great paṇḍita. Krishna Rao said, “Recite the śloka again.” Krishna Rao was also a Sanskrit scholar. He liked the śloka I recited. Thus began our acquaintance.
Even before I met him in person, I was aware of his fame. Even at that time, I considered his acquaintance a great fortune. Thanks to divine blessing, that fortune remained till the end.


Krishna Rao hailed from the town of Mysore. His elder brother was the famous Sanskrit vidvān Prof. M Hiriyanna. Krishna Rao’s younger brother N Seetharamiah worked as Assistant Secretary in the Government and also as a Magistrate. All the three learnt Sanskrit in the traditional system from Periyaswami Tirumalacharya. All three were experts in the English language too. All three had spotless character. Fate had granted me the affection of all three gentlemen[2].

My Delhi Sojourn

Around 1924, I had the opportunity to go to Delhi. Treaties and covenants between Princely States and the Government of India, common practices that have evolved with them, special provisions regarding the country’s defence, and financial arrangements – to gain an understanding on these matters was the purpose of my visit to Delhi.
I came to know that N Seetharamiah was in Delhi at that time. What is the modus operandi of the Indian Legislature in Delhi? Who will prepare the first draft of the bill? What procedures will the bill go through? How will the bill move from being a draft to law? – to study these details, the Mysore Government had deputed two officers to Delhi. N Seetharamiah was one of them; the other was Abdul Ghani saheb, who later became a Judge of the High Court.
Since Seetharamiah was already in Delhi, I felt I could take his help. But I did not know his address in Delhi. I went to M N Krishna Rao’s house one day to get the same. A servant there informed me, “Saheb has gone for a walk at Lal Bagh along with the boss who has come from Mysore.” I too went for a walk near Lal Bagh and went to Krishna Rao’s house around seven-thirty or eight in the evening. The servant said, “Saheb is probably at dinner.” I said, “It’s alright. No need to trouble him now. After he comes from dinner, mention to him this name” (and I gave him my name).
I was living in Shankarapuram then. It was probably around nine at night. I had sat down for my dinner. Both Prof. Hiriyanna and M N Krishna Rao graced my house with their presence. There were no electric lights then in my house. A kerosene lamp was burning in my room. The brothers sat down there. I completed my dinner, greeted both of them with folded hands, and conveyed my purpose. Both were pleased. Krishna Rao gave Seetharamiah’s address – something like ‘Ibsetson Circle, Paharganj.’
We were chatting for some time after this. I remember putting a query to Prof. Hiriyanna on the topic of the eternity of the Vedas according to opinions of the adherents of the Pūrva-mīmāṃsā school and also remember his answer. From the point of view of the spirit of the Vedas, the permanence can be accepted but from a literal sense it is not so easy to accept – this statement of his struck my mind as being extremely pertinent. Further elaboration has faded from my memory. This was forty-four to forty-five years ago.

This is the first part of the four-part English translation of Chapter 12 of D V Gundappa’s Jnapakachitrashaale – Vol. 4 – Mysurina Dewanaru. Edited by Hari Ravikumar and Raghavendra G S.


[1] The original uses the words ‘maḍi’ (pure) and ‘mailigè’ (impure).

[2]They were four brothers: Lakshminarasimha (1863–91), Hiriyanna (1871–1950), Krishna Rao (1877–1958), and Seetharamiah (1883–1953) and two sisters: Seethamma and Puttanarasamma.



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.



Prof. Vedavyas M G is a visiting professor of Strategy and International Business at PES University, Bangalore. He is on the Advisory Board of Atria Institute of Technology. Before moving to academics, Prof. Vedavyas was Senior Vice-President at Mahindra Satyam, responsible for its global telecom business. Earlier he was the Regional Manager for Tata Consultancy Services at Birmingham. Prof. Vedavyas is a graduate of IISc., Bangalore (BE in E&C) and IIM, Bangalore (MBA). He has an abiding interest in everything Kannada.

Prekshaa Publications

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, Śatāvadhāni 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...


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...