Monday, March 20, 2017

A Fitting Tribute To a Scholar King

A Fitting Tribute To a Scholar King

Major-General H.H. Maharaja Sri Sir Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar Bahadur
Maharaja of Mysore - 18 Jul. 1919 to 23 Sep. 1974

18 July 2016, a well known circle of Mysoreu, Hardinge Circle was rechristened as Jayachamarajendra Circle (eventually will be shortened as JC Circle) as the city finally honoured the last ruler of the erstwhile Mysuru State with the installation of a full-body portrait statue of the last Maharaja of Mysore. There are still a few more Colonial appendages like Lansdowne Building (it was originally known as Lansdowne Bazaar and was inaugurated by Lord Lansdowne) or the Dufferin Clock Tower or Chikka Gadiyara opposite Devaraja Market (inaugurated by Lady Dufferin) or the Curzon Park (honouring the visit of Lord and Lady Curzon) and Irwin Road.

Hardinge Circle was named in commemoration of the visit of Viceroy Lord Hardinge to Mysore. There used to be a flowery hedged circle with a high post with five domed lights in the middle of the crossroads. The circular garden vanished without a trace yet the name remained, ‘Hardinge Circle’, called raucously by bus conductors, ‘Aardinsurkel.’

Towards Kuppanna park on Mirza Ismail road

The location of the Jayachamarajendra Circle at the culmination of the Albert Victor road is meaningful as we already have the statues of two other iconic rulers of Mysore in a row. KR Circle, as it is known, is a commemorative statue to His Highness Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar whose achievements for the well-being and development of Mysore has been well-documented, likewise the majestic commemorative statue of Chamarajendra Wadiyar in front of the Jayarama and Balarama gate of the Palace.

Hardinge Circle and Mirza Ismail Road (seen in the background, a narrow road) as seen from Albert Victor road
History seems to have ‘overlooked’ the reign, brief though it was, of  Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar. Major-General H.H. Maharaja Sri Sir Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar Bahadur, Maharaja of Mysore. He was born on 18 July 1919 at the Chamundi Vihar Palace to Yuvarani Kempu Cheluvajammanni Avaru and H H Yuvaraja Kanthirava Narasimharaja Wadiyar Bahadur.

Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar had his early schooling at the Lokaranjan Mahal Royal School followed by graduate studies at Maharaja’s College of Mysore University and awarded a BA in 1938.

The death of his father on 11 March 1940 led to the title, ‘Yuvaraja Bahadur’ being conferred on him. The death of his uncle, the Maharaja on 3 August 1940, led to Jayachamarajendra ascending the throne on 29 August 1940 and anointed and installed as the Maharaja of Mysore on 8 September 1940.

Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar was installed as the ruler of Mysore at a time when the winds of freedom were blowing across the country. The nascent freedom fighters had already made inroads in various parts of the State. Mysore was not an exception. Maharaja Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar signed the 'Instrument of Accession' on 9 August 1947 and Mysore became a part of the Dominion of India on 15 August 1947. With an agreement merging Mysore with Indian Union on 26 January 1950, he ceased to be sovereign.

Later he was installed as ‘Rajapramukh’ of the State of Mysore and held this post till 31 October 1956. He was made the Governor of Mysore on 1 November 1956 and continued till 3 May 1964, further he was made the Governor of Madras and he served till 25 June 1966.

The then Maharaja had made certain conditions to the accession of Mysore to the Republic of India and this assurance made by the then party in power was rudely given a jolt when an Amendment to the Constitution was passed in 28 December 1971 by which the position of countless rulers were deprived of their rights as 'rulers’ and the privy purse guaranteed under the accession agreement was abolished. Overnight, kings became ‘commoners.’

This betrayal led to an anguished Maharaja forsake the grand Dasara celebrations; placing the royal sword on the throne he retreated to a private forest reserve near Bandipur.

HH Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar married twice. The first marriage which took place at the Kalyana Mantapa of the Palace on 15 May 1938 was to Satya Premakumari Devi-ammanni avaru, the daughter of Pratap Singh Deo Bahadur of Jigni. The couple had no children. The Maharaja’s second marriage was to Maharani Tripurasundari Devi Ammanni Avaru, daughter of Balananja Raje Urs, an officer in the Mysore State Forces. Both Maharanis died at Mysore in 1983 within a span of fifteen days.

Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar died on 23 September 1974 at the Bangalore Palace leaving behind one son and four daughters (the eldest daughter had predeceased him).

Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar was an accomplished musician in both Carnatic and Western classical music. He was an excellent pianist and there was a time when he expressed the desire to be a concert pianist and play with the great orchestras of Europe. In 1948 he was elected President of the London Philharmonic Orchestra Society. He was also an Honorary Fellow of Trinity College of Music, London (1946) and a Licentiate of the famed Guildhall School of Music.

Blessed with an ear for music Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar discovered Russian composer Nikolai Karlovich Medtner. A contemporary of Rachmaninoff and Scriabin, he wrote several compositions, all of which include the piano.  Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar discovered Medtner when the latter was living in London and in failing health. The Maharaja founded the Medtner Society with the objective of recording all Medtner's works and managed to record several concertos with the London Philharmonic Orchestra whose first president was the Maharaja. In gratitude to his patron, Medtner dedicated his Third Piano Concerto to the Maharaja of Mysore.

The Maharaja was also equally at home in the realm of Carnatic music, both as an instrumentalist and a composer. There are 74 Carnatic compositions by him.

He was also the (Vice) Chancellor of Mysore, Madras, Annamalai Universities as well as the Benares Hindu University. Like his forefathers he was a Patron & Chief Scout of Mysore State between 1940-1956, Chairman of the Wildlife Board of India. He was conferred a Hon LL.D by the Banaras Hindu University (1942), a D.Lit. by the Annamalai University in 1955 and a Hon. D.Lit. from the University of Queensland, Australia.

That he was deeply spiritual can be gauged by his scholarly books: “An Aspect of Indian Aesthetics” (1956), “Dattatreya-the Way and the Goal” (1957), “The Quest for Peace: an Indian Approach” (1959), “The Gita and Indian Culture” (1963) and “Religion and Man” (1965).

It is said that he had visited the ashram of the sage, Ramana Maharishi, in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu. No Palace diarist has recorded this meeting but what is available is a book published by the ashram, ‘Day by day with Bhagavan’ by one Devaraja Mudaliar. In an entry dated 1945, there is Devaraja Mudaliar and others talking to Ramana Maharishi. Asks Mudaliar: ‘It is said that the Mysore Maharaja had come to see you.’ Nodding in agreement, the Sage replies: ‘He just sat quietly. He did not ask any questions. After sometime he bowed and took his leave saying that he would like to live here but the call of his people was too strong.’

Maharaja was also a good equestrian and fond of dogs. Regular visitors to the Palace in the late 50s would normally be shocked when they were in the Amba Vilas waiting to see the Maharaja, they would instead be forced into immobility as a pair of giant hounds wandered in and sat flanking the hapless visitor. The Maharaja would arrive, apologise on behalf of the dogs. “They will not hurt a fly” the Maharaja is said to have remarked leading one of the visitors to comment later on, “but I am not a fly.’ The Maharaja was quite accessible to his subjects and visitors.

Those fortunate enough to have met him would unanimously say, 'A gentleman and a scholar.'
18 July 2016. Unveiling of JC Circle
L-R: Rajamata Pramoda Devi, Maharajakumaris Kamakshi Devi and Indrakshi Devi, Maharaja Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar, Maharani Trishika Devi and Sri R. Rajachandra


PS: Lord Hardinge of Penshurst, British Diplomat and Statesman, served as Viceroy of India from 1910 to 1916. His tenure was a memorable one. King George V visited India and the Delhi Durbar was held in 1911. He also oversaw the shifting of the captial from Calcutta to New Delhi in 1912.
He had friendly relations with most of the ruling princes and this enabled him to negotiate the deployment of native Indian troops to areas outside India during World War I in 1914.
Lord Hardinge of Penshurst

In 1916 after he stepped down as Viceroy, he returned to his former post in England - Permanent Under Secretary at Foreign Office. In 1920 he was appointed as the Ambassador to France before his retirement in 1922. He died on 2 August 1944, aged 86.

This article was published in Star of Mysore on 02 July 2016


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