Remembering the Maharaja of the people

Jayachamaraja Wadiyar

The Wadiyar dynasty which ruled over the erstwhile Princely State of Mysore had several illustrious kings and rulers. With their statesmanship and people-friendly nature, they have occupied a prime position in the annals of history. One such Maharaja was Jayachamaraja Wadiyar, who was very close to the hearts of his people, irrespective of their caste, creed and religion. 

He was born on July 18, 1919. His father Ranadheera Kanteerava Narasimharaja Wadiyar was the younger brother of Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV, then Maharaja of Mysore.

The young prince was educated at the Royal School. Later he joined Maharaja’s College in Mysore for higher studies, where he was taught philosophy and literature by eminent educationists like BP Wadia, PG D’souza, Sathyagirinath, Y Yamunacharya and K V Puttappa.

He graduated from college in 1938 and in the same year he married Satyaprema Kumari in a grand celebration. Later, he married Maharani Tripura Sundari Ammani in 1944 and they had five daughters and a son -- Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wadiyar.

On March 24, 1940, he lost his father. After a few days, Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV, his uncle and the Maharaja of Mysore, also died. The death came as a huge loss to the state. Jayachamaraja Wadiyar, who was the heir to the throne, was then anointed as the Maharaja in a glittering ceremony. With this began a glorious chapter in the history of Princely Mysore.

Problems of the time

Those were the days of World War II. There was a scarcity of essentials including rice and ragi — the staple food of the common people. Fair price depots had to be established to sell food items and clothes to the people.

On the other hand, all India level political movements had gathered momentum. In Mysore state too, the Quit India Movement launched in August 1942 had its political impact. The leaders of Mysore State Congress were demanding the formation of a responsible government under the aegis of the Maharaja. Hence, the goal of achieving responsible government became a political matter of urgent concern.

When Jayachamaraja Wadiyar took the reins of administration, Mirza M Ismail was serving as the Dewan, who later resigned. After him, Nyapathi Madhava Rao was appointed as the Dewan followed by Arcot Ramasamy Mudaliar.  After India gained independence from the British, the princely states were called upon to join the Indian Union. However, Dewan Mudaliar was against it. This triggered the Mysore Chalo Movement, also known as Palace Satyagraha and people demanded the merger of the state with the Indian Union. Jayachamaraja Wadiyar was among the first Indian rulers to agree to the accession.

The Maharaja was later appointed as the Rajapramukh of Mysore State. He remained in this position till the integration of Kannada-majority regions on November 1, 1956. Following this, he was appointed as the Governor of the reorganised Mysore State. In May 1964, he was appointed as the Governor of Madras State and he continued to remain in the office till November. Again in December that year, he was reappointed. He held the office till June 1966.  

A lover of music

The Maharaja was a great patron of music. He supported both Hindustani and Carnatic vocal. Veene Sheshanna was a great musician of the time. Tirumakudalu Chowdiah, the legendary violinist of the time, and  Veena Venkatagiriyappa were encouraged by the Maharaja. Several other musicians who later carved a niche in their respective fields were patronised by him. The Maharaja had even collected the composition of various musicians of the times.

The philosopher king

Jayachamaraja Wadiyar was interested in philosophy. He was a Vedantin. In 1953, his book Dattatreya - The Way and Goal was published, which provides insights into ‘Darsana’ and ‘Philosophy’. S Radhakrishnan, an acclaimed philosopher cum teacher, has written the foreword to this. His other works Geetha and Culture, Avadhoota: Reasons and Reverence and Atma and Brahma in Vedic Religion are noteworthy.

The Maharaja was also a patron of performing arts. Being a statesman king he made liberal donations from his personal purse to various temples, mosques, churches and animal welfare board. People who witnessed the grand celebration of Dasara during his time still cherish the pomp and gaiety of the celebrations. The Dasara of his time attracted visitors even from foreign countries. The Maharaja who breathed his last on September 23, 1974, is still considered as ‘The Maharaja of the people’.

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