Amin-ul-Mulq - Sir Mirza M Ismail - Part 8

Discord

Once again rumours flew thick and fast about Mirza Ismail when the Crown Prince died in Bombay (11 March 1940). Some people spread rumours that Mirza harboured contempt towards the crown prince and hence he didn’t show his respect during the funeral.

The people who resorted to such mischief gained nothing from such tales except that it caused deep agony to Mirza.

Every now and then, Mirza would be told that the yearly allowance given to the Crown Prince was not sufficient and should be increased. Mirza would say that the situation was not conducive for such luxuries. This may also be the reason for discord.

The Mahārāja was not totally oblivious to these things. In spite of knowing all this, he extended the same support and affection towards Mirza as always.

Allegations

It wasn’t uncommon for people to complain to the Mahārāja about Mirza. Many prominent members of the society who were retired from their positions would often complain to the king saying, “Mirza has made such-and-such a mistake.” The Mahārāja promptly informed Mirza of the same and told him, “See what can be done to rectify this.”

Once, a retired judge from the Bombay High Court, probably Justice Govind Pradhan, who had been the guest during the Dasara celebrations asked the Mahārāja, “We now have only one Hindu state. Why do you have a Muslim as the Dewan? Couldn’t you find a single Hindu?” The Mahārāja himself narrated this episode to Mirza and said, “Meet this eminent personage and offer him some reply!”

End of Administration

The last act now.

Mahārāja Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV passed away in the Bangalore Palace on the night of the third of August, 1940. Mirza stayed throughout with the corpse, which was taken to Mysore, where the funeral rites were performed. No one could meet Mirza during the following ten to twelve days. He was immersed in sadness.

One day, a few friends went to meet him, which included Sir Jagadish Prasad. The group consisted of Bangalore Sahukar Hariyanna, Sajjan Rao, and Subbarama Shetty, among others. In one voice they all requested Mirza, “Now your service to the kingdom is all the more important. The new Mahārāja is young and inexperienced. You must serve as a pillar of support to him and handle the affairs of the kingdom. Mirza said in a sad tone, “Please tell him your troubles!” We were all pained to hear this.

After a few months, the question of establishing an automobile factory in Bangalore came up. Sir M Visvesvaraya and Walchand Hirachand were behind this plan. Mirza enthusiastically supported it.

However, this was bitterly contested by the European businessmen and their domestic lobbyists in the Mysore kingdom. The Resident then was Constance Maude Stuart Fraser (Fraser II), son of the former Resident Sir Stuart Milford Fraser. His strong opposition was decisive. Mirza was extremely dissatisfied by this.

There were other reasons too. The main reason was the personal intolerance of internal factions of the Mysore royalty.

Once when Mirza was extremely dissatisfied with the state of affairs, he ordered his personal assistant to bring a few large rose garlands. He brought a basketful of flowers and some garlands. Mirza took a bath, wore fresh clothes, had the flowers placed in his car, and drove to the final resting place of Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV. He reverentially placed the garlands there, burnt incense sticks, folded his hands, observed a few moments of silence, and returned back wiping his tears.

Thus ended the long cherished friendship of fifty to sixty years, a friendship that was nurtured right from their childhood.

Resignation and retirement followed this incident.

Life After Retirement

After retiring as the Dewan of the Mysore State, Mirza served the Jaipur State as Dewan for two years. He strived to make the lives of people residing in Ajmer, Jaisalmer, and other cities under the kingdom comfortable. He earned the love and respect of the people there.

From there, he moved to Hyderabad as the Dewan although he was not enthusiastic about it. For a long time, the Nizam had repeatedly invited him saying, “Being a Muslim, do you wish to decline an offer of being the Dewan of a Nizami kingdom?” Mirza was caught by these persuasions and finally relented. He was already apprehensive about the affairs there, thinking that it wouldn’t suit his conscience. He saw that fanatics and bigots had surrounded the Nizam; they were trying to control him and lead him astray. Mirza had prophetically warned the Nizam many times that the conundrum of the Razakar party would never yield anything good to the kingdom. I have even seen these warnings communicated in writing. When he realized that his wise counsel fell on deaf ears, he decided that Hyderabad was not for him and returned to Bangalore.

From then onwards, he stayed in his residence at No. 2, Ali Askar Road, Bangalore.

His house never looked like the abode of a retired official. It looked busier than an officer’s place, full of activity and life. People thronged to meet him every day, from many parts of India, England, America, and elsewhere. Parties were thrown every week. Many kings and princes would visit him.

Mirza hardly had any free time. Whenever he would get some time off he read the works of the great Persian poets like Firdausi, Hafez, and others. Every now and then he quoted some beautiful lines from the original Farsi, translated them into English, and shared the joy with others. A clean environment, full of joyful flowering plants, a lawn as soft as velvet, an optimum serving of almonds and dry fruits like dates, a soft breeze, and connoisseur-friends: this was the charm of his twilight days.

Death

When he visited Europe for a surgery, he also visited his old friends in England and France. On the way back, he visited Persia, the birthplace of his ancestors, and travelled around. He lamented that the situation of that country was pitiable and in general the situation in many countries in Asia evoked nothing but despair.

The illness that was treated in Europe didn’t heal completely. When I visited him during that illness, he had told me that he might need further treatment, for which he was slated to travel to Bombay or Vienna.

On the third day after my visit, his life on earth came to an end. The night before his death, when one of his friends called him and asked, “How are you?” Mirza replied, “I’m getting ready.” The friend didn’t understand what he meant. And so Mirza clarified by saying, “I’m preparing for the trip.”

Probably those were his last words.

ಅಳುತ ನೀಂ ಬಂದಂದು
ನಿನ್ನ ಜನ ನಕ್ಕರ್
ನಗುತೆ ನೀ ಪೋದಂದು
ನಿನ್ನ ಜನವಳುವರ್

[You came into this world crying. Then your people laughed. You left this world with a smile. But now your people are crying!]

This is the final part of the translation of the eleventh essay in D V Gundappa’s magnum-opus Jnapakachitrashaale (Volume 4) – Mysurina Dewanaru. Thanks to Hari Ravikumar and Karthik Muralidharan for suggestions and edits.

Author(s)

About:

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.

Translator(s)

About:

Raghavendra G S is currently pursuing a PhD in Computer Science at the Indian Institute of Science. He is a keen student of classical literature in Sanskrit and Kannada. He is one of the contributing editors of Prekshaa.

Prekshaa Publications

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