There is yet another instance. Vidvān Brahmaśrī Chappalli Viśveśvara-śāstrī of Bangalore was a Sanskrit Scholar at Central College. He was an outstanding scholar of grammar and literary aesthetics. He was a person whose conduct and faith in traditions were worth being emulated by everyone. One day, he went to Dewan V P Madhava Rao to make a request. Rao received him with a lot of regard and asked him what the purpose of his visit was.
Viśveśvara-śāstrī explained the things on his mind (in the Telugu Language) – “I have two children. It has been many years since I have become a widower. Children haven’t yet come to a state of earning. Along with this, I am also carrying the burden of a loan. With the thought of owning a house, I became entangled in a painful loan due to some prārabdha-karma of mine. This is my plight. The elder of the two sons who had been to Poona to pursue engineering has returned clearing the LCE [Licentiate in Civil Engineering] examination. That is another reason for my taking a loan.”
Madhava Rao asked, “So, what may I do to convenience you?”
“If you could help my unemployed elder son to get salaried or if you could arrange for a scholarship to be granted to the younger one, who wishes to study something further, I will be relieved.”
“Oh Śāstrīji! You don’t even know how to make an appeal! Is this how you ask? Both shall happen! We will get both the things arranged for.” Thus assured Madhava Rao.
The Mentality of the Common People
This episode was narrated to me by Viśveśvara-śāstrī himself with his arms widened and waving with vigour. There’s another thing he said that is worth listening to.
In the year 1910–11, I was residing in a portion of Viśveśvara-śāstrī’s home. I also used to take lessons from him. The biography of Dewan Rungacharlu that I had written was published around the same time. It was reviewed by newspapers; and advertisements printed with letters six inches by eight inches had been pasted on every single wall on every single street. Viśveśvara-śāstrī was surprised at the sight of all these. One afternoon, he graced me by visiting my room and said thus (in Telugu) – “What is this commotion you are raking up? And that too about that terrible miser? What did Rungacharlu do? He merely reduced all the expenditures and tightly saved penny after penny. Is the Mahārāja writhing in abject poverty for him (Rungacharlu) to do so? This is intense greed and parsimony. Write about our V P Madhava Rao! His generosity is what generosity means! He gives away with his palms open.”
Thus he praised Madhava Rao and narrated the aforementioned anecdote to me. Nobody has to laugh at it though. That has been the typical mentality of the traditional Vaidikas of the past. They were simple people who sought the refuge of kings and patrons.
tanimnā śobhante galita-vibhavāś-cārthiṣu nṛpāḥ
“The kind of poverty that a king attains by
constantly giving to those who seek
will be a thing of glory in itself!”
That was the reminiscence of a great period. The kings were strong. The kingdom was trouble-free. ‘Kāle varṣati parjanyāḥ.’ [Loosely, ‘the kingdom gets timely rains.’] That is the reason kings were able to nurture knowledge and scholarship.
Madhava Rao’s Curiosity About Philosophy
Madhava Rao was greatly devoted to the Śriṅgeri Saṃsthānam. Both while going to Kalady and returning from there, Śrī Śivābhinava Nṛsiṃhabhāratī Svāmī camped at Madhava Rao’s Pāṭana Bhavana and graced thousands of his devotees daily with his darśana.
I met Madhava Rao at his bungalow Pāṭana Bhavana sometime around the year 1911, while he was leading a leisurely life after retirement. He was comfortably sitting in the verandah in front of his home. K Ramachandra Rao*, the Headmaster of the London Mission School, took me along and introduced me to him. Receiving me affectionately, Madhava Rao spoke to me for a couple of minutes. A minute or two before I met him, Madhava Rao was browsing through the popular English quarterly magazine, Hibbert Journal. That magazine used to be concerned with the most sophisticated and exceptional questions of religion, theology, and philosophy. Madhava Rao’s taste for such subjects can be observed as one of the attributes of his nature.
For anyone who wishes to be recognized as somebody competent in governance, it is necessary to have put efforts towards learning at least a little bit of philosophical matters. This is a faith that has remained deep rooted in both India and the West for ages. Whether or not it appears correct for people of today’s generation should be left to their respective judgments.
A building of a maṭha belonging to the Śriṅgeri Saṃsthānam has remained in Bangalore for a very long time. This building has been there in the Pete region – towards the southern part of Chickpet, around the area which meets Mamulpet. However, sensing the need for a bigger building to accommodate ventures such as a pāṭhaśālā (school) to facilitate the promotion of dharma, V P Madhava Rao motivated and supported the guru-sannidhānam to take the necessary actions. The Śaṅkara-maṭha Ācārya-pīṭha was established around the years 1907–08. Like already mentioned, the Jagadguru’s retinue kindly agreed to grace Bangalore and camped at Madhava Rao’s Pāṭana Bhavana. Within a few weeks after the installation of the Ācārya (i.e., Śaṅkarācārya) in the temple, the construction work of the maṭha’s main building started. While the construction was progressing, V P Madhava Rao visited the site once every day at around nine or ten in the morning to inspect. Learning the time of his visit, many Vaidikas as well as men of the world would come. Chappalli Viśveśvara-śāstrī, Moṭagānahalli Śaṅkara-śāstrī and Rāmaśeṣa-śāstrī, Hoskoṭe Veṅkaṭarāma-śāstrī, Kānakānahalli Narasiṃha-śāstrī, Hariyappācārya, Śrīnivāsācārya, Nuggehalli Tirumalācārya, and Ānandāḷvār were the popular Vedic scholars who used to visit the site. Amongst the men of the world, Sir K P Puttanna Chetty, H Ramayya, Venkataramanayya of Channarayapatna, B V Lakshmana Rao, Chapatla Sitarama Rao, Chaubine Subba Rao, Anagondahalli Subbanna, Chaubine Timmappa, Sahukār Mariyappa, et al. were the most renowned. Typically, after arriving at the site, Madhava Rao used to propose a question either from the śāstras or from the Purāṇas, and thereafter the scholars would speak little by little. This used to be interesting for the onlookers. Occasionally, even the state of the worldly matters were discussed.
There is no doubt about the fact that Madhava Rao was a deep admirer of erudition. He had absolute faith and devotion towards Śaṅkara-bhagavatpāda. He had established an agrahāra by constructing eight to ten houses on the southeastern part of the maṭha for the residence of scholars.
V P Madhava Rao had developed friendship and harmony with people across all communities. After a very long time, around the year 1909, Chitradurga’s Jagadguru Śrī Murugharājendra Mahāsvāmi graced the city of Bangalore. He was paraded in a procession that traversed the most important roads of the city. He received this grand welcome during the tenure of V P Madhava Rao. This event obtained his (Madhava Rao’s) complete support and assistance. The Jagadguru’s retinue had camped at Thotadappa’s Choultry for some two to three months. Mahāmahopādhyāya Ra. Narasimhacharya delivered a lecture about the significance of the ‘Śivaśaraṇa’ literature in the august presence of the Jagadguru, I think.
To be concluded...
This is the third of a four-part English translation of the sixth chapter of D V Gundappa’s Jnapakachitrashaale – Vol. 4 – Mysurina Diwanaru. Edited by Hari Ravikumar.
* See the first episode of Art Gallery of Memories, Vol. 1.