Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Order of Gandaberunda

Fig.0. HH Sri Sir Chamarajendra Wadiyar Bahadur.
Artist: K. Keshavayya. Collection: Mythic Society, Bengaluru
The Royal ‘Order of the Gandaberunda’ was instituted by His Highness, Sri Sir Chamarajendra Wadiyar, 23rd Maharaja in 1892 to confer recognition of : (1) Meritorious service rendered by public servants, (2) Voluntary acts of private philanthropy and (3) Services rendered in the cause of learning. At least 304 individuals were given this Order between 1892 and January 26th 1950. The ‘Palace Annual Gradation Lists’ in the State Archives mentions a few such awardees.
The reason for recalling this princely honour is that 2017 marks 125 years of the institution of Order of Gandaberunda (Figure 1).

Fig.1. Order of the Gandaberunda
For the record, Chamarajendra Wadiyar was officially adopted by Mummadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar on 18-6-1865. His adoption was ratified by the British overlords on 16-4-1867 and it was during the silver jubilee of the ratification of his ascension to the throne that he instituted the Order of Gandaberunda in 1892.

During Krishnaraja Wadiyar the IV’s rule these Orders and titles were conferred from the throne on the European Durbar Day during the Dasara festivities but from 1942 Maharaja H.H. Jayachamraja Wadiyar conferred awards on his birthday festivities till 1949.

Fig.2. Dewan Sheshadri Iyer.
Artist: Felix Wicksler.
Collection: Banquet Hall,
Vidhana Soudha, Bengaluru
But an order or title could not be instituted without the permission and approval of the design from the Viceroy’s office. The Order of the Gandaberunda instituted by Chamaraja Wadiyar in 1892 was  seen as a threat to the supremacy of the King Emperor. It marks the ingenuity of the courtiers that when the Order of the Gandaberunda was designed it was chain worn around the neck with the pendant close to the throat. The British had made it clear that the Order or for that matter any other princely order or title could not be placed in a superior position on the chest to any award given by and on behalf of the King Emperor. The Gandaberunda Order fit snugly at the base of the throat making it quite clear what was superior! Thus cock a snook at the King-Emperor’s diktats! (Figure 2)

Earlier when H.H. Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar wanted to continue giving of the Gandaberunda Order, the Resident wanted to know why there was any necessity at all. H.H. Maharaja Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar’s caustic riposte: “They are merely the continuance of the ancient custom of conferring Birudus and Mana Mariyadas (titles, decoration, souvenirs, Khillats etc) on persons who by their learning, benevolence or services to the public, the State or the Sovereign, have deserved recognition at his hands.” (Dewan of Mysore’s letter to the Resident, September 7th 1920/ Residency records of Mysore/India Office /IOLRR2/ (37/354).

Fig.3. Double-headed Eagle Stupa, Sirkap, Taxashila
The origins of the two-headed ferocious raptor as an insignia may perhaps lie in Vedic mythology as well as in the hieroglyphic etchings found at Mohenjo-Daro and the relief sculpture found at Taxashila (Figure 3).

Fig.4. Vishnu Nidhi of Sritattva Nidhi
It may be of interest to know that H.H. Mummadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar’s magnum opus, Sritattvanidhi contains several references and illustrations of the mythical Gandaberunda (Figure 4).

Fig.5. Berundeshwara, Balligave
In the temple at Balligave in Shimoga district, the Gandaberunda assumes an anthropomorphic form having a gigantic human torso complete with two arms and legs while retaining the twin avian heads. This unique scultpure is worshipped as Berundeshwara (Figure 5).

Fig.6. Ceiling relief, Rameshwara temple,
Keladi, Shimogga District, Karnataka
The ceiling carving of the Rameshwara temple in the town of Keladi in Shimoga District, which was the capital of the Keladi Nayakas, is an evocative depiction of the power of the mythical bird. This relief carving shows a double-headed eagle (Garuda Be-runda) grasping two lions in its beaks and two elephants in its talons (Figure 6).

The unique form of the Gandaberunda led to kingdoms like Chalukyan, Hoysalas, Keladi Nayak, and the Kadambas and of course the Wadiyars using the motif in crests and seals. The Vijayanagar king Achyuta Deva Raya (1529–1542) was perhaps the first to use the Gandaberunda image on gold pagodas (gadyana) (Figure 7).

Fig.7. Obverse and reverse of Gadyana
However, the earliest recorded twin-headed bird clutching two hares in its talons is found at the Hittite temple at Turkey dating back to 14th century B.C.E. (Figure 8)

Fig.8. Sphinx Gate, Hittite temple, Alaca Hoyuk, Turkey
The Gandaberunda honour was classified into several categories. For instance, the Order of the Gandaberunda for Meritorious Service by a Public servant was a precious stone chain with a pendant (Padaka) (Residency Records of Mysore/ IO: RR/2 (37/354): Resident of Mysore to the Government of India, December 23, 1920).

The Padaka consisted of the Royal emblem, the twin-headed bird with wings displayed, all within a wreath open at the top. From the points of which were attached the chain to pass around the neck. The body and wings of the bird and the leaves of the wreath were composed of Rubies, Emeralds, Sapphires interspersed with diamonds depending on the class. There was also another variation in design wherein the Gandaberunda was encased in a gem-studded collet. The Order was suspended around the neck by a golden chain with button shaped flower encrusted with precious stones according to the class awarded.
Fig.9. Original illustration of Class B Pendant.
Collection: Ramsons Kala Pratisthana

By 1944 the Gandaberunda Order was reclassified: A1 reserved for Dewans and chief ministers, A2 for the chief justice, B1 (Figure 9) for ministers and judges of high courts and important Sirdars, B2 for heads of departments, C1 for significant donations to charities, C2 for proficiency in fine arts, and D (Figure 10) for scholars and musicians.

Fig.10. Original illustration of Class D Bracelet.
Collection: Ramsons Kala Pratisthana
The Palace Office Annual Gradation List mentions  several awardees : Rajabhushana Sirdar Mudduraj Urs, Secretary-in-Waiting to His Highness, RajaSabhaBhushana Thumboo Chetty, Karnataka BhashaRathna Mahavidwan Karibasappa Sastri, Rajadharmapravina K.S. Chandrasekhar Aiyer, a retired Chief Judge, Rajakaryaprasakta Dewan Bahadur M.N. Krishna Rao, Rajamantrapravina K. Matthan I-G, Education Department, Rajamantra pravina H.V. Nanjundaiya, a former Chief Judge, acting Dewan, the first Vice Chancellor of Mysore University and founder President of the Kannada Sahitya Sammelan, Rajadharmapravina Dewan Bahadur Ramachandra Iyer, Vastukalasevasakta T. Cheluvachar (Figure 11), Rajamantrapravina Dewan Bahadur Raghavendra Rao who was a tutor to HH Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar and later revenue commissioner and several others whose names have to be left out for lack of space.
Fig.11. Collection: M.R. Rajaram, Mysuru

A variation of the Gandaberunda Order for military service seems to have stemmed from the fact that in the Great War (1914-1919) Mysore State had attached regiments of the Imperial Service Lancers (Mysore Lancers) and the Mysore Transport Corps and it was felt that a war medal be instituted to honor men who had shown exceptional bravery. These were in four classes: First Class, Second Class, Third Class and Fourth Class and promulgated in the Mysore Durbar Orders. (From letters of Lt. Col R. E. Holland, C.I.E., Political Secretary to the Govt of India., to H.V. Cobb, Resident at Mysore, December 1919 –Residency Records/Mysore/ IOLRR/2//36/350/Mysore War Medal)
Two of the awardees of the Order of the Gandaberunda First Class for bravery in the Great War were Col. Desaraj Urs and B. Chamaraja Urs. Col. Desaraj Urs was the brother-in-law of the Maharaja H.H. Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV while Sirdar Bahadur B Chamaraja Urs was the grandfather of Maharani H.H. Tripurasundaramanni Avaru!

Fig.12. Col. Desaraj Urs.
Photo Courtesy: R. Raja Chandra
Col. Desaraj Urs (Figure 12) (attaché in Mysore Military Department) served in Egypt (October 1914-January 1916) and his name was mentioned in the despatches of General Maxwell, Commander-in-Chief of the forces in Egypt. In August 1917 in appreciation of the services rendered by him His Highness the Maharaja in June 1918 decorated him with a first class medal of the Gandaberunda Order.

Sirdar Bahadur Chamaraja Urs saw action in Gaza (Palestine) in November 1917. On the 7th February 1918 Brigadier- General C.R. Harbard, Commanding the Imperial Service Cavalry Brigade ‘mentioned in despatches‘ the bravery of Risaldar B Chamaraja Urs of Mysore Lancers with the recommendation that the Maharaja of Mysore be informed forthwith. The Maharaja honored Chamaraja Urs with the first class Medal of the Gandabherunda Order and the position of Lt. Col. in the Mysore State Forces.

Incidentally the insignia of the Gandaberunda was incorporated in the design of golden cuff-links gifted to Europeans on the Durbar Day during the reign of H.H. Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV (Figure 13)
Fig.13. Golden Cufflink of Gandaberunda

One more interesting tidbit is that among the scores of Gandaberunda insignias found in stained glass, iron fretwork, Stone, stucco and even cement seen at the Chamarajendra Technical Institute (CTI), the Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel, K.R. Hospital, Fire Brigade, several ones in the Palace, the Police Commissioner’s office and other places are not identical. Each seems to have its own unique variation.

To those interested in the memorabilia of Indian princely medals, this writer recommends two eminently readable books: “Indian Princely Medals” by Tony McClenaghan and Wing Commander E.H. O’Toole’s “Decorations of the Indian Princely States.”


Post a Comment

<< Home