After V. P. Madhava Rao, Thanjavur Ananda Rao came to power as the Diwan. He was rich by birth and also possessed all the great attributes that a wealthy person should have. His father, Raja Sir. T. Madhava Rao, had been the Diwan of Baroda (Vadodara) and Travancore; He was well known as a person of remarkable intellect and competence. ‘Raja’ and ‘Sir’ were the titles conferred on him by the British Government. Sir. T. Madhava Rao served as the president of the Reception Committee at the first ever Congress session held in Madras.
Many of Anand Rao’s ancestors were those who rose to great positions and earned repute. One of their names has achieved permanence in Bangalore. He is Raya Raya Raya R. Venkata Rao. He got the title ‘Raya Raya Raya’ from the British Government. Diwan Bahadur R. Raghunatha Rao, a person who rose to eminence having been the Diwan of kingdoms such as Baroda (Vadodara), is yet another famous forefather of Ananda Rao.
Thus, Ananda Rao’s is a lineage of those who earned glory. He was a man of honour and dignity.
He started his career in Mysore as an assistant, known as an ‘Attaché’, to Diwan Rungacharlu, elevated to the positions such as that of a Deputy Commissioner, gradually became a councillor and thus a colleague of Madhava Rao and Krishnamurti. With an experience so vast and over such a long period of time, he went on to become the Chief Minister of the state. Anand Rao’s tenure as the Diwan was for a period of about three and a half years.
‘Mandi Pete Bandh’
Notifying a protest was not a completely new idea during those times. An incident occurred when Ananda Rao was the Assistant Commissioner in Mysore. At Santepete there, the goods carriages from rural areas, apparently, used to be haphazardly parked on the road, allowing no space for people to move about. They wouldn’t even make way to clear up garbage. In order to correct this disorder, the municipal authorities supposedly thought about a few new arrangements and brought them to effect. This allegedly inconvenienced the carter of goods and the marketeers; thus, it appears that they were upset. The authorities did not care about it. Therefore, deciding ‘Mandipete Bandh’ as the most appropriate retaliation, the merchants observed a ‘Bandh’. Then, the matters went to the notice of higher authorities and the merchants were explained to. I have heard that Ananda Rao was one of the most instrumental in explaining the people thus and consoling them.
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All in all, there was nothing extraordinary that can be told about Rao’s governance. It went on rather ordinarily. There was neither growth nor decline. His tenure of three and a half years was like a moderately paced bullock cart smoothly journeying on an even road without any ups or downs, rises or falls, lethargy or cheer.
When Ananda Rao came to power as the Diwan, his friends suggested him to relocate to a bigger house sensing that his place was not sufficient for his residence and to meet the people visiting his office. During the initial conversation, the king had apparently approved that. However, Ananda Rao seemingly communicated his decision not to have a bigger house and told that his house was convenient enough. He had got a small enclosure erected for visitors near the building of his residence. Ananda Rao, by nature, believed that grandeur was unnecessary.
Ananda Rao was a meticulous person. He used to be particular about time and methodical in his actions.
He was suffering from an eye condition. At a certain point of time, when it aggravated, it became impossible for him to move about to perform physical exercises. Without proper exercise, digestion of food as well as sleep would suffer. Consulting his doctor, he made arrangements for walking at his own house. Right beside the compound to the North of his house, he got a three foot wide lane, from east to west, ready. Green plants were supposed to be planted on either side of the lane. Holding a stick in his hand and wearing a pair of green coloured glasses, he had to walk from east to west and west to east on that lane. This, in fact, was well measured walk. Four such strolls would apparently be equal to a mile. This way, he used to walk a mile in the morning and a mile in the evening. Such measurements and calculations were certain traits of his nature.
I can quote an incident or two which occurred during Ananda Rao’s tenure as the Diwan.
Around 1910–11, Ms. Tennent, an evangelist from America came to India and made a visit to Bangalore. Her purpose, supposedly, was to have the society improved in India. Most importantly, her primary objectives, it seems, were to end child marriage and to expand women’s education. Staying in Bangalore for a month’s period, she was flittering about to raise funds for her cause. A few people used to ask her, “Is there nothing good that needs to happen in your country? Shouldn’t you serve your own people? Instead of spreading your vision amongst your own people, why did you have to come this far?” and many such questions. Without any dejection, she went on with her tour.
One day, there was a lecture of Ms. Tennent arranged at the Shankara Matha on the subject of her concern, most importantly regarding the evils of child marriage, and it was to be presided by V. P. Madhava Rao. However, when people went to listen to the lecture – at around five thirty in the evening – the entrance to the hall was closed. It was learnt from the police personnel present there, that the evening’s congregation had been cancelled in obedience to the Government’s Hukum.
In the history of Mysore, that was perhaps for the first time ever that a public programme had been prohibited by the government. No one was strong enough even to speculate the reason. Surprised and curious, people we talking about it wondering what might have happened.
To be continued...
This is the first part of a three-part English translation of the seventh chapter of D V Gundappa’s Jnapakachitrashaale – Vol. 4 – Mysurina Diwanaru. Edited by Hari Ravikumar.