V.S.Srinivasa Sastri (Part 15) - Rajaji's Advice and Tour to Kerala

Rajaji’s words of advice

It is a well known fact that at the end of the World War II, world leaders such as Churchill, Roosevelt, Clemenso and others put their heads together to work out a plan to prevent all future wars. They came up with many plans such as the announcement of the Atlantic Charter and the establishment of the United Nations and also considered other measures which would potentially establish world peace. I too got enthused with these developments. Should we not do something for the cause, as well, I thought. There are hundreds of questions that arise with these establishments coming into picture. Don’t we need to analyse them? Don’t we have to put out an objective analysis of the prevailing circumstances in the world? There was the need for a magazine for penning these down.

I wrote a letter to Sri. C. Rajagopalachari explaining the intention that I had and sought his advice for the same. He wrote a reply of just two sentences – “Don’t. You have burnt your fingers enough!”

I don’t know what divine ordinance let me act as per his advice. It is only because of that I am alive today to write the present article!

 

Tour to Kerala

In about 1926, V.S. Srinivasa Sastri got an invitation from the Maharaja College located in Ernakulam in the province of Cochin. The invitation was on behalf of the residents of Kochi. S.K. Subrahmanya Iyer, the principal of the college was Sastri’s friend. He invited Sastri to deliver three to four lectures at the college on any topic that would be of practical relevance for the context back then.

Satsri showed me the invitation he had received and asked: “What would be your reply to this?”

“It is an invitation that you should certainly accept. This might be a good opportunity to bring awareness about the princely states in our people.

 

Discussion

After some discussion, Sastri accepted the invitation. I mentioned that there was some discussion. There was a specific reason for such a discussion to ensue. Until then the politicians belonging to British India never interfered in the matters of the princely states. They were of the opinion that the administration of such princely states was not within their purview. Sastri belonged to Gokhale’s Servants of India Society. Gokhale too had made up his mind that people belonging to the society were not supposed to interfere in the matters of the princely states. It was around that time that Sastri was scheduled to deliver a lecture in Bangalore and the Government of Mysore had proved to be an obstacle for the same! (I have given a detailed account of this elsewhere, i.e., in the volume on Mysoorina Divanaru). It was then that Gokhale’s instructions for people belonging to his society was clear. Would Sastri want to take up a topic that was prohibited by Gokhale? This led to our discussion.

My argument with regard to this matter was as follows: “If we need to sort out problems with British India, we will need to resolve several other issues connected with the entire nation. As long as the issues persist, the purpose of the British India won’t be served. The prevelant circumstance in the entire nation is now tricky because of the princely provinces. If you want to gain freedom from British India, you will need to solve the problems connected with the princely states. If you don’t put your hands in the matter, there is no one else who will take it up. Moreover, the importance the topic will get when taken up by you, cannot be got if anyone else picks it up. Thus, even from the perspective of British India, your thoughts on the princely states are essential.”

It is a matter of pride for me that Sastri accepted my argument. Right from 1916, I have been thinking about the place of the princely states in India of the future. I have also thought about how they should metamorphose, etc.  I was glad that I could gain Sastri’s interest on this subject.

 

Lectures

As far as my memory goes, Srinivasa Sastri delivered three or four lectures in Ernakuluam. I was present at all his talks during the trip and listened to him. In his lectures, Sastri examined the affairs of the princely states in detail. The geography of such states, their royal lineages, the history about the birth of the provinces, the agreements and differences that the princely states had with the British, the alliance amongst themselves and the usual growth they found, the secret hand of the Residents, the activity they carried out behind the scenes in secrecy, the troubles the common man faced in their presence – Sastri picked up these topics one by one and analysed them in detail. His manner of presentation was in agreement with the subject he had chosen to deliver – profound, attractive and leading to introspection. All the major newspapers reported the summary of his speeches. ‘Servants of India’ published his speeches in detail at first and then brought them out as a book. This publication caught the attention of the public and provoked thoughts in them. It also impressed the inevitability of these questions in the minds of the British political officers. It would not be wrong to say that Srinivasa Sastri was first among those employed by the British, who gave utmost attention to the condition of the princely states.

The mahārāja of Kochi was a scholar of Sanskrit and had great regard for the scholarship that Srinivasa Sastri possessed in the language.

Sastri was honoured and recognised at all places in the Kochi province. Bahadur Narayana Iyer was the Diwan back then. The king of Kochi invited Sastri to his palace and felicitated him. The queen too was present at the lecture delivered by Satri in the open courtyard.  Several educational institutions invited Sastri and felicitated him.

 

To be continued...

This is the fifteenth part of the English translation of the Second essay in D V Gundappa’s magnum-opus Jnapakachitrashaale (Volume 6) – Halavaru Saarvajanikaru.

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:

Arjun is a poet, translator, engineer, and musician. He is a polyglot, well-versed in Sanskrit, Kannada, Hindi, English, Greek, and German. He currently serves as Assistant Professor at Amrita Darshanam - International Centre for Spiritual Studies at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Bangalore. His research interests lie in comparative aesthetics of classical Greek and Sanskrit literature.

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