V P Madhava Rao (Part 1)

After P N Krishnamurti, V P Madhava Rao came to power as the Dewan. He was a smārta Deśastha brāhmaṇa from the Tanjore region. We could see a little bit of Sir K Seshadri Iyer’s mien in him. Employed by the Government of Mysore during Rungacharlu’s tenure as Dewan, Madhava Rao rose to prominence and became well known for his competence. He became successful as the Inspector General of Police. It was the period when the plague had struck for the first time. To prevent the disease, the government had made arrangements such as inoculation. A significant percentage of the population refused to accept these measures and protested. The reason for the refusal and resistance was fear. This new medical procedure of injecting a drug called ‘inoculation’ and the regulation to stay away from home had frightened people in multiple ways. In places like Ganjam and Seringapatam (Srirangapatna), the protests were spearheaded by wrestlers and strongmen. Stopping such an army from marching in became the responsibility of V P Madhava Rao, the then Chief of the Police Force. Apparently, he conducted his duty quite courageously and cleverly. Thus Madhava Rao’s success grew.


A person’s physical structure is one of the significant attributes of his wealth of personality. Madhava Rao was a tall man. He was golden brown in complexion and had a serious demeanor. He would inspire a sense of respect in the minds of the onlookers. In addition to this, he used to dress majestically. He used to wear many grand clothes such as robes and a lacy uttarīya. Even Madhava Rao’s voice was such. His words and tone used to radiate arrogance and self-confidence. Whenever he spoke, he sounded like someone extraordinary and greatly influential. In this manner, V P Madhava Rao shone with the wealth of his personality.

V P Madhava Rao used to emulate Seshadri Iyer in many ways.

The Two Parties

For about thirty to forty years since 1870-75, there were two parties battling in the political scene of Mysore. Of them, one was the Mysore Party and the other was the Madras Party.

Bindiganavile Krishna Iyengar, who rose to fame having been the Deputy Commissioner of Kolar, was the central figure of the Mysore Party. The basic slogan of this party was: “Mysore for Mysoreans.” They desired for the Kingdom of Mysore to be exclusive for Mysoreans. This party came into being mainly to bring down Rungacharlu’s importance.

The motto of the second party was: “Mysore for India.” This party wanted the whole of India to have opportunities in Mysore. In other words, Mysore had to encourage the people of India by providing them with opportunities. The central figures of this parry were Rungacharlu, Seshadri Iyer, and others.

Effects of the Inter-party Conflicts

What were the ramifications of these clashes? One party was seeking plum posts for second- and third-grade people simply because they were Mysoreans. And the cunning ones in the second party would enter into the families of Tamilians enjoying high positions and secure jobs for themselves. There were fat bellies on one side and cunning minds on the other. The disputes between these parties were not only entertaining but also sensational. The heat of the conflict between the parties was quite high during the tenure of Seshadri Iyer. As the natives of Madras gradually transitioned into Mysoreans, the smoke reduced. Yet, there still were embers beneath the ashes. At every blow of wind, the ashes would fly and the glowing embers would surface. This was the condition during Krishnamurti’s tenure.

Members of Either Party

P N Krishnamurti was a Mysorean to Mysoreans but he was not an outsider to those hailing from Madras. Adi Purnaiah came from the Coimbatore region and many of Dewan Krishnamurti’s relatives were from Madras. The most important people who often met him belonged to either of the parties. A happening from that period serves as an example to understand human nature.

There were ten to twenty officials—more or less holding positions such as Amaldar and Assistant Commissioner—who belonged to both parties. A few of these people were Raojis. These leaders who belonged to both parties constantly tried to be a favourite in the close circles of both Krishnamurti and Madhava Rao. At seven in the morning people appeared at Pūrṇa Prasāda, wearing thick mudras on their temples, a stripe of black aṅgāra on the forehead, and a few tulasī (basil) leaves stuffed behind their ears. They would be hovering around, chanting ślokas such as ‘Sumaṇimañjarī’ and ‘Sumadhvavijaya,’ [All these are distinguishing features of mādhva-brāhmaṇas.] merely to be recognized by the eminences. Ten minutes later, they would leave the place and rush to the adjoining house belonging to V P Madhava Rao, which was called ‘Pāṭana Bhavana.’ By the time they reached, their mudras would have faded, the aṅgāra would have been erased, and the tulasī leaves would have vanished. The dialect of Kannada spoken here originated in Kumbakonam –

Hāṅgadā āgodu.” (That’s how it will happen.)

Hīṅgadā irodu.” (This is how it is.)

—this is one category of people.

Conspiracy of Lawyers

Another category could be seen when an appeal was being made in front of a high-ranking officer, and more so in the courts during the arguments of the lawyers. Let us assume Jayarama Iyer was the Munsiff. While arguing in English— Let us pronounce “My client’s moneys” as “Mai kḻaieṇṭs maṇīs,” swapping syllables like la and na with ḻa and ṇa; likewise, let us pronounce ‘early’ as ‘yerlī’ and often say “Nā śolrudu” during conversations and appear like Tamilians who have forgotten Kannada. Let us use ‘Avaḻadān;’ let us use ‘Ām’ —with a variety of such insinuations let us make Jayarama Iyer believe that we hail from his region.

Thus, the political situation of that period started stimulating the practice of deceit and pretense.

Hostility between the parties had begun to raise its ugly head during V P Madhava Rao’s tenure.

I am not suggesting that either Madhava Rao or Krishnamurti supported the growth of such party loyalists. They had nothing to benefit from the parties by nurturing them. Back then, the State was not democratic. No political community was strong enough to create a future of great authority for Madhava Rao and Krishnamurti. That power rested only in the Mahārāja’s mind and in the British Resident’s approval.

However, the thinking of the followers was not like that. All they needed were personal favours such as small positions, concessions, allowances, promotions, transfers, and contracts. If such things need to materialize, they invariably have to rely on someone powerful. In this manner, parties and allegiances are necessary only for such insignificant people. Several such petty-minded people could be seen at Pūrṇa Prasāda. Even Pāṭana Bhavana had a significant number of such people. It was remarkable to see that many of these petty folk were those who burned incense at both the shrines.

The most important fuel to the incense burnt by them was Complaint. They would say, “Oh, there they said this, they did that!” and ignite a spark by gossip and complaints; praise the one in front of them to glory and criticize the other to hell. The mutual competition between Krishnamurti and Madhava Rao turned extremely unpleasant because of these trifles. Soon after, it occurred to Madhava Rao that Krishnamurti was keen [to become the Dewan], he was rich, and he had also won Lord Curzon’s camaraderie; he realized that his chances in Mysore were less and started looking out for other opportunities. It was around then that he got an invitation from the Kingdom of Travancore.

To be continued...

This is the first of a four-part English translation of the sixth chapter of D V Gundappa’s Jnapakachitrashaale – Vol. 4 – Mysurina Diwanaru. Edited by Hari Ravikumar.



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.



Karthik Muralidharan is an entrepreneur, educator, and a motivational speaker. An MBA in Human Resource Management, Karthik currently runs businesses in Leadership Education, Training, and Wealth Management. He is deeply interested in prosody, philosophy, and literature.

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