V P Madhava Rao (Part 4)

Vokkaligara Saṅgha

I have heard that the Vokkaligara Saṅgha was established with the support and encouragement of V P Madhava Rao. He greatly admired K H Ramayya, who was one of the founding members of the Vokkaligara Saṅgha. Madhava Rao had great respect for Ramayya’s decency, people’s confidence in him, and his astuteness. As a result, he greatly motivated Ramayya. Even the Śrīmad-yuvarāja [Crown Prince] supported Ramayya’s efforts. Particularly with respect to matters concerning the Vokkaligara Saṅgha, Madhava Rao showed a lot of regard and confidence in Ramayya.

Madhava Rao’s respect towards the Muslim community was quite noteworthy. He was deeply invested in matters related to Hindu-Muslim unity. A few of the huge constructions and sculptures during his tenure are believed by a few to evidently possess a style of architecture and aesthetics having its origin in the regions of Arab and Turkey called the ‘Saracenic.’ I can’t say how credible these opinions are. Madhava Rao had friendship with people from other communities – this is the only fact I can vouch for, without any hesitation.

*     *     *

Madhava Rao wasn’t ignorant of the fact that he had enemies. Satisfying all the requests of one’s near and dear ones is never possible for anyone in positions of high authority. Due to the lack of necessary facilities or other reasons, the requests from a few will have to be side-lined. Such people joining the opposition is not a rarity.

Two Publications

Around the year 1909 two publications that were inconvenient to Madhava Rao became public. One of them was an open letter. It was in English and undersigned as ‘Hosur Mari.’ There was nothing great in it; some insignificant suggestions. However, it seemed as if the writer was intending to write it in a high-flown style of language.

The other was a short story titled ‘Piśāca Rodana.’ The intention of this story was to highlight the inner flaws of a few individuals under the pretext of describing the pleasures and luxury of people holding positions of high authority.

Ten thousand copies of each of these publications were distributed at the Congress convention in Madras. The organization that published it was an English weekly, United India and Indian States.

Here comes the fact that is embarrassing to me. Who was the author of those publications? I was twenty years old around the time.

Gopala Iyengar

One afternoon, at the turn towards New Tharagupet—on First Main Road, Chamrajapet—I was spotted by M Gopala Iyengar, the elder brother of M Srinivas Iyengar, who served as the editor of the Mysore Standard. After going a little further, he called out, “Come here!”

Gopala Iyengar was a tall man. He was wearing a thick pair of glasses. His upper teeth had a slight protrusion. There was a thick and long staff in his hand. He had made a name for himself in the field of journalism. His pen had seasoned well. He was a strict and principled man. His younger brother Srinivasa Iyengar too was a man of principles just like him but he was always soft and cheerful. I had heard that Gopala Iyengar’s words were bitter and decisive. Towards him, I had immense respect and fear.

Condemnation

The moment he called me, I got scared and walked towards him. He went inside through a door to the west of a big building in New Tharagupet known as Aragam Ramareddy Buildings. During those days, the printing press of the Mysore Standard was housed in that building. It had been around a year since the publication of the newspapers Mysore Standard and Naḍègannaḍi had stopped. Only the printing press was operational in that building.

There appeared to be no one inside the building when Gopalakrishna Iyengar walked in there. Perhaps, because it was Sunday, there was not a single worker. After I entered the building, Gopalkrishna Iyengar shut the outside door, climbed up the stairs, and called out, “Come here!” Severely frightened, I followed him. The moment I set my foot there, Gopala Iyengar turned around and said, “What you have done is a huge crime. ‘Open Letter to V P Madhava Rao’ and ‘Piśāca Rodana’ – these two pieces of writings are yours, aren’t they? Using your pen to write something as lowly as this is a misdeed. There are two faults in this – firstly, the subject is cheap; secondly, it is anonymous. You are not any proud of it, are you? Why should you venture into such shameless tasks? And why should you resort to hiding afterwards? If your writing had seemed sensible to you, then you should have signed your name on it. I would have at least admitted that you have courage if not wisdom.”

An Unforgettable Lesson

In this manner, he thrashed me. When I was wondering how to respond, he melted a little and said, “This is not your work. This is that old man’s doing. What do you know about the story you have written? That aged cheat has utilized an innocent boy for an inappropriate task. Having known very well that you are a strong orator, he has fed you these profligate details. Feeling good that such a great man is giving you a scoop, your chest pumped up! You have made your pen into a prostitute.”

Making a Promise

I was deeply hurt by those words. I told the same to Gopala Iyengar and begged for his forgiveness. He said, “Keep your palm on mine and promise me that you will never ever do something like this.”

I promised him that I would never write in anonymity thereafter and never venture into anything cheap. With a broad smile, Gopala Iyengar spoke some words of confidence.

“Stop going back to that old coot. He will be harbouring some unknown envy and fury. And he will be raring to fill your head with it. You don’t need his support. He won’t even pay you anything. He doesn’t even have enough stuff. Why do you need that shelter? Take refuge only under truth. Stand on your own feet. The grace of god will always be with you.”

I believe that the above incident made a huge impact on my life. I also believe that I have not drifted away from the promise I made to Gopala Iyengar.

This is a sub-story. Whenever I bring to memory V P Madhava Rao, this little episode comes along too.

Genetic Trait

In V P Madhava Rao’s bungalow, I saw a huge valiant picture on the wall in the living room. It appeared as if that brave man was holding a sword and riding a horse. When I asked who that brave man in the picture was, I was informed that he was Khande Rao, one of Madhava Rao’s forefathers.

We can believe that the picture partly depicts Madhava Rao’s attitude deep within him.

Concluded...

This is the fourth and final part of the English translation of the sixth chapter of D V Gundappa’s Jnapakachitrashaale – Vol. 4 – Mysurina Diwanaru. Edited by Hari Ravikumar.

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:

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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