An Open Letter
Keeping the glory and successes achieved by the Mahārāja of Bikaner as a pretext, I wrote and published around ten or fifteen open letters concerning the politics of the indigenous provinces addressing them to him. (‘Problems of Indian Native States: Open Letters to His Highness The Maharaja of Bikaner’ – By A Mysorean.)
A compilation of these open letters published as a small book had been reviewed in the newspapers.
A yuvarāja of Palanpur State was one of the people who had reviewed it. Apart from reviewing it in The Times of India newspaper and appreciating it, he also wrote a personal letter to me, in which he had written – “You have quoted instances from the discourses by someone called Sir T. Madhava Rao. You must do me a favor and kindly send the collection of those discourses.”
Files of the Lectures
I did not have any book that contained Sir T. Madhava Rao’s lectures. I didn’t even know if such a book existed. In fact, that book wasn’t available in a printed form. Whatever may be the case, if I enquire with Ananda Rao, I would accurately know the fact. I must respond to the letter only after I learn about it. Thinking thus, I went to Ananda Rao. Like always, he respectfully welcomed me and said, “Even I was meaning to meet you. I’m glad that you came yourself.”
“What was the matter?” I asked.
“You have quoted instances from my father’s lectures in your book. Haven’t you? Where did you find those lectures?” asked Ananda Rao.
“I got it from a close friend. I cannot, however, reveal his identity.” I replied.
“Asking his name wasn’t my purpose. Have you seen all the lectures by my father? Merely this was my question.”
“I haven’t seen them completely. I have only seen fragments and flickers – whatever was given to me by somebody. I completely trust the person who gave it to me as being an honest man. Since Madhava Rao’s statements were filled with essence, I quoted them.”
“Do you wish to see those lectures?”
I said, “Absolutely! Of course I wish to. But I don’t see a path to that end!”
“I could give them to you for your perusal. It consists of around twenty-four or twenty-five discourses. Twelve of them cover the most common of subjects concerning the fundamental principles of politics such as what a state means and how its structure should be. This is the first part. The second part explains governance. This has twelve discourses. It contains topics such as the different departments of a government, their formation, their purposes, and programmes. In this manner, the subjects were categorized and delivered as lectures to the Mahārāja of Baroda. Look here, I have got those lectures scribed in these two bundles.”
Saying thus, he placed two large bundles in front of me. I picked them up and glanced through the contents. Somebody had neatly hand-written it on thick foolscap sheets.
“This is a matter of great fortune for me!” I said.
“Take one file with you and go through it. Once you return it, take the second one.”
“As you say! You have done me a huge favour,” I said with gratitude.
I brought the files, read them, and returned them within the agreed time. After I gave back the second file, Ananda Rao asked me, “How are the lectures?”
“They are immensely informative. The most essential tenets and opinions have been covered with great clarity in a heart-touching manner. This is an important treatise to be perused by politicians and students of political science. Especially, if the kings of our native states reach such a treatise intently, it will be exemplary not just for their future but also for the future of their subjects.” I said.
“How much would it cost to print and publish this?” asked Ananda Rao.
“The first volume may cost a thousand rupees and the second volume could cost another thousand. If you permit me, I will take care of all the work such as proofreading the rough draft and so forth. I will not take any remuneration. I shall undertake this task for my own happiness.”
After thinking for about two minutes, he said, “Will it cost two thousand rupees? I don’t have so much money. I am a poor man!”
The instant I got this response, I had no patience to stay there for a second more. “You may deliberate upon it,” I said with folded palms and took my leave.
Was it Miserliness?
I never had a reason to believe Ananda Rao was tightfisted. I was aware of the fact that he had donated his money to many public organizations such as the Christian institution ‘YMCA’ [Young Men’s Christian Association] and the temple of Lord Srinivasa. In my own experience, he was a generous human being.
What does it mean if someone who showered such munificence towards me in the year 1910 suddenly lacks that trait in 1914? I suppose that something must have caused it during those four years.
There are two incidents that are the reasons for my suspicion –
1. During the year 1910, Ananda Rao didn’t know my political leanings as yet. By 1914 it had become evident to him. I believed in democracy.
2. In the year 1910, I had not been acquainted with V S Srinivasa Sastri yet. By 1914, it was pretty apparent that I was, in a way, a fellow-traveller of his. Ananda Rao must have learnt that.
These are entirely speculations of mine. Whether or not this has basis in truth is something I am unable to say.
Ananda Rao was a benign, humble and dignified gentleman. As the Dewan, when he was the president of the Legislative Assembly, I have seen him conduct the agenda of the session. I used to sit in the segment meant for newspersons called the ‘Press Gallery.’ On one such occasion, the subject of debate was a draft of the bill called ‘Hindu Religious Disabilities Bill.’ According to the law prevalent during that time, if anyone born in the Hindu community converts to another religion, he shall not be entitled to a share in his ancestral property. This has basis in the smṛtis of Manu and others. They wanted to amend the law in such a way that a person’s right over his ancestral property would not be affected even if he converted into another faith.
There was a strong opposition to this law all over the kingdom. The person who tabled this bill was Sir K P Puttanna Chetty, a senior councillor during those days. Those opposed to the bill – A Rangaswamy Iyengar, who had recently retired from the position of a High Court Judge; Advocate A Ramanna (Bhikṣānnada Rāmaṇṇa) of Mysore; and Advocate D Venkataramayya of Bangalore – strongly criticized it. Since the opposition party was immensely powerful, that bill didn’t proceed further is what I remember.
Although the Mahārāja of Mysore did not agree with the contents of the bill and nobody in the Government of Mysore were enthusiastic about the bill, succumbing to the pressure of the Christian missionaries and owing to the compulsion of the British Resident, the government pretended to deliberate upon the bill and the fact that the popular opinion was against the bill was not disliked but rather appreciated by the eminent personages in the government – such was the talk of the town.
Since I was a mere reporter then, there was no chance for me to criticize either the bill or Ananda Rao. I didn’t have any reason to cast aspersions against Ananda Rao’s governance.
During Ananda Rao’s tenure, the politics across the Indian subcontinent was not so thickly related to the administration of Mysore. Around that time, there was no pressure to bring up the question of democracy either. Purely keeping the Mysore administrative in sight, if we look at Ananda Rao’s work, he deserves to be counted amongst those who accomplished all that they undertook.
Rao was a great man in all aspects. His manner of treating people, his generosity in matters of public concern, his respect for people in power, and in all such matters, the path he trod was a great one. He was someone who never forgave atrocities and never tolerated pettiness. He was someone who upheld justice and truth. He had developed a grasp on method and procedure. In him, everything was gentle, everything was decent, and everything was upright.
He was a deeply fond of literature. He idolized the political genius W E Gladstone. He was someone deeply interested in studying good treatises. Most important of all, he was a person who had realized the threshold of his strengths and capabilities. Although he didn’t venture into great adventures, he never fell short when it came to fulfilling things that were necessary. The well in our house might not have as much water as that in the lake of the townsfolk. But it suffices to take care of our household needs and we don’t have to depend on our neighbors. Even this is a matter of joy, is it not?
This is the third 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.