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Jaya Chamaraja, the last Maharaja
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My uncle Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar was my great guru, friend, philosopher and guide. He was my beacon light along the corridors of life. He was a royal sage," said late Sri Jaya Chamaraja Wadiyar in an interview with our columnist HSK about 38 years ago in Bangalore. HSK also recalls here how difficult it was to get an appointment with the last Maharaja and how liberal he was as the interview progressed. Some are born great, as Shakespeare says, one acquire greatness through hard work and greatness is thrust on some others.

Jaya Chamaraja Wadiyar, the last Maharaja of the erstwhile native State of Mysore, was great not just because of his birth. Greatness was not thrust on him. He was great not only because he belonged to a great and ancient dynasty. Much of his true greatness was acquired by him through hard work. He was a great soul, having an abiding faith in goodness and humanity.

It is believed that his dynasty had its source in ancient times — in the Yadavas. Krishna was its moola purusha. Jaya Chamaraja professed to be a devotee of Krishna, as he has written in the foreword of his book on Bhagavadgita.

Rajpramukh of Mysore:
If Jaya Chamaraja had owed his greatness to his great dynasty, it would have vanished as soon as India became a republic. All the native States of Independent India, except two, were merged in it. Only Jammu and Kashmir and Mysore continued to be distinct entities. The enlarged Mysore State retained its original name till as late as 1973. The halo round Jaya Chamaraja continued to shine, as ever before. When India attained freedom, he became the Rajpramukh of Mysore. With the reorganization of States on the basis of language, he became the Governor of the neighbouring State of Tamil Nadu.

Relic of the past:
Though the rulership is abolished, Dasara is being celebrated year after year as a relic of the past, and the memory of Jaya Chamaraja comes back like a song. Everything continues as before. But the Maharaja, who was the centre of attraction, is replaced by an idol. The majestic elephant with the golden howdah and other caparisoned and decorated elephants as well as other paraphernalia are still there, except, of course, the Maharaja.

When I had the good fortune of interviewing him on a special assignment, way back in 1968, as he still continued to be the centre of attraction of Dasara, it was rumoured that it would be the last Dasara. It continued even after, but it is a pity that Jaya Chamaraja is no more.

It was an uphill task for us to get the permission to have his darshan. Our repeated appeals to Sri Balaraj, the Private Secretary to His Highness, were rejected. We had to move heaven and earth to procure it. And, at last, thanks to all the Raja's men, we were allowed to meet His Highness, not at Mysore, but at the Bangalore Palace, as he had to go on a foreign tour late in the evening. The time fixed was 6 pm on a Sunday. The time allotted was just fifteen minutes! Though His Highness was not then a Maharaja, all the formalities were to be strictly observed. No footwear, please! You must bow before His Highness while entering the room.

Auspicious moment:
At last, the Muhoorta had come. The auspicious moment after Rahu Kala. We passed through a row of arched doors and at last we were greeted by none other than the Private Secretary, beaming a wide smile. With him were Palegar and Satyagirinathan. No sooner we went before the front door of the room where the Maharaja was seated, than the benign king who ruled our hearts stood up, came forward and, before we could bow before him, he shook hands with us! Perhaps the Raja's men were flabbergasted. We exchanged pleasant greetings and the great Prince made us feel free with his disarming and enchanting smile.

"I know you will have many questions. I am afraid I may not have enough time. Would you come some other day?"
"I would be glad to come some other day also. I request you to spare as much time as possible today, as we have come all the way from Mysore."

The Maharaja just smiled, asked us to take our seats and sat with us. (What a surprise! No 'respectable' distance!). Born as a prince. Became the ruler of an old State. Earned the devotion and affection of his subjects. It was hard to believe that he had become just a commoner like others. Has he been able to accept it, I wondered.

The past events flashed back in my mind:
Born a year after the end of the first World War (1918). Since the British Empire was victorious, this royal scion was named “Jaya Chamarajendra” — the fond son of Yuvaraja Sri Kanteerava Narasaraja, brother of Sri Nalwadi Krishnaraja. Since the ruler had no issues, Jaya Chamaraja was destined to become the ruler in the future.

Younger days:
The Prince's younger days were spent between two great wars. They were turbulent years indeed!

Hark! The Prince is speaking!

“Those who had very great influence over me in my younger days were my mother, Kempacheluvajammanni. The other was my maternal grandmother”.
“My mother was largely responsible in shaping my personality. She kindled my interest in spiritualism - Adhyatma. It has the first place in my life”.
“My mother was a staunch believer of our old tradition. She had a great faith in the Shastras.”

Jaya Chamaraja paused for a few seconds and continued:
“Another great quality of my mother was kindness. She had an open mind and was large - hearted and she always tried to understand others' points of view.”
The Prince was obviously ruminating over the past events. With a faint smile on his lips, he added: “If you do not like another's thoughts and actions don't lose your patience. Try to be calm. Count numbers from one to ten. You regain equanimity. You can clearly see the other's viewpoint.” “I have followed her precept on many occasions and every time I have succeeded.”

Love in music:
It was his mother from whom he acquired his love in music. “My mother was an accomplished piano player. She would forget the whole world when she sat before it.”
“Your grandmother...”
“Yes! How can I forget her? She was also deeply interested in spiritualism. She was also my role model. My mother and grandmother moulded my inner life and made me mentally strong enough to face the harsh realities of life. They showered their affection on me and had sympathy, understanding and forbearance. Their affection was like a solid phalanx in my battle of life. Those days were not only fateful. These two revered ladies were like my guardian angels. Their words often reverberate in my mind.”

“About your revered father and great uncle, the ruler of Mysore?”
“Ah! I was about to come to them. How can I forget my uncle Sri Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar's love and kindness? He was my great guru, friend, philosopher and guide. He was my beacon light along the corridors of life. He was a royal sage, a man of few words — words which always were very effective. The influence wielded by my father was different. He had an open mind and was large-hearted.”

Then my next question was about his education. He had his education till SSLC at the Palace School. Then he joined the intermediate college (now Yuvaraja's College), like any ordinary student, and proceeded to Maharaja's College for his BA. He got the first rank and was awarded five medals.

His experience of college life was unique. In those days, Princes and commoners were not mixing freely. The Prince was a cynosure of all eyes. I am ever grateful to my beloved uncle for his far sight. This experience helped me to equip myself to play the great role I had to play as the ruler of a great State and later as a common and loyal subject of our great nation. I acquired great friends and gained wisdom, thanks to my teachers like Prof. Rollo, Prof. Wadia, Dr. M.H. Krishna, Dr. Gopal, Prof. Satyagirinathan and Prof. D' Souza.

Prof. B. Nagesha Rao (English) was an imposing figure attired in a long silk coat and white trousers, with his white turban sitting on his head like a crown. The students fondly called him Geetacharya. Sri Jaya Chamaraja was in a reminiscent mood. Memories were fleeting before him like live tableaux. He was transported to the living past. It was a replay of his life's past events.

Fateful events:
The Maharaja made a mild jerk, as if reminding us of the events that had to follow: Fateful events! The Second World War. His father, who was on a foreign tour, had to end it. On his way back to the homeland, death struck him. This was a great shock for Sri Krishnaraja. Within the next five months, his sad end came. The young Prince bore these shocks, which were like bolts from the blue calmly. 'This is life', he remarked with a long sigh.

The world conflagration was raging when Sri Jayachamarajendra ascended the throne. What a sudden change! The great powers were engaged in a bloody, fearful and life-and-death struggle. It was a struggle between democracy and dictatorship. The future of the world was hanging in the balance.

Royal couple:
It was three years since he was married to Satyapremakumari, princess of Charakhari State. The couple's married life was not smooth sailing. It had to breakdown, a heartrending experience indeed. He married Thripura Sundarammanni. The royal couple led a life of mutual love and understanding. They had three daughters (Gayathri, Kamakshi and Vishalakshi) and a son (Srikanta Datta Narasimharaja).

But Jaya Chamaraja was not destined to live in peace. The 'Quit India' movement raged. Almost all the leaders were arrested overnight. The leaderless mob became helter-skelter and unruly. Violence was unleashed. The Maharaja was very much pained and he was a helpless and dumb witness to all this, like Sanjaya at the Mahabharatha war. There was darkness all round.

Crucial hour:
It was at this crucial hour that his mother's spiritual guidance and grandmother's worldly wisdom came to his help. He faced the ordeal with equanimity. His position was like that of a tight - rope walker. Though he was the ruler of a native State under the suzerainty of the British, he was not inimical to the aspirations of the people to have self-rule. He was indeed keenly interested in gradually giving the people more and more powers and complete the process started way back in 1881. He knew what was to be done but had no power to translate that desire into action.

The dark days were over. The turbulence ended. The British granted us freedom, but not before truncating our mother-land. The provinces under the direct rule of the British Government were freed. But the treaties entered into by the British with the native rulers were ended and sovereignty was passed on to the Princes. There was considerable delay in Mysore acceding to the Indian union. Certain administrative cobwebs had to be cleared. It was not easy as he was, so to say, hedged in by some imponderable obstacles. At last, the way was clear, but not before the launching of a fierce struggle by the people of the State. He became the constitutional head of the State under the democratic set-up within the Indian Union. The long, dark and painful days were over. What a great relief!

It was not difficult for him to adjust himself to the changed situation. He was neither depressed nor sorry. When the State of Karnataka under the same old name of Mysore was formed in 1956, he was no longer the head of the State — Rajpramukh. It was easy for him — as easy as changing old clothes for new ones: “Vasamsi Jeernani Yatha Vihaya Navani Grihnathi naparani,” says the Gita. After long hours of deep contemplation and introspection, he had attained the state of Sthithaprajna, an unperturbed person.

The Maharaja continued his talk as if in a reverie, like the person lying on the psychologist's table. Not remorseful, no regrets. All that happened was for the good of all concerned, including himself, he said.

Paramatma & Vishwatma:
“I was inclined towards vedantha almost right from my childhood. It was not at all difficult to change to the new situation. We are all parts of Paramatma — the Great Soul, Vishwatma — the Universal Soul. This is ruling over us. Democracy is a practical application of this universal principle.”

“The sudden demise of my father and uncle had struck a severe blow on my mind. My mind leaned more and more towards Adhyatma. I was face to face before the cycle of birth and death. I had to resolve the tangle”.

“At that critical moment came succour — “Isavasya Upanishad.” I studied it with the help of its translation. My mind was steadied. I wanted to read the vedas and upanishads in their original Sanskrit language. I earnestly pursued the learning of Sanskrit.

“Then another thought crossed my mind. I had the good fortune of having the needed facility to learn Sanskrit. How many people have that privilege? Our people must be enabled to have access to this great heritage through their own language.”

This thought urged him to translate it into action. Sri Jayachamarajendra Granthamala was started. Many great scholars were engaged to translate all the great Sanskrit works to Kannada. It was indeed a great achievement, a miracle, so to say. But he was not satisfied. He was aware that a lot more had to be done. The Maharaja continued his Yatra along the path of Adhyatma. He had become a writer himself. He had to put in writing the fruits of his study and contemplation.

His magnum opus was the work on “Dattatreya”. It is a very precious contribution to our spiritual knowledge — Adhyatma. "God has three faces — Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara. The four dogs at His feet are the four vedas. 'Dattatreya' expounds this principle.

Valuable contribution:
His valuable contribution was noticed by no less a person than Dr. S. Radhakrishnan: “This work is the fruit of Sri Jayachamaraja's Sadhana. It is an exposition of his vast knowledge and deep devotion (bhakti).

The pilgrim's progress continued unabated. He “followed knowledge like a sinking star, beyond the utmost bound of human thought.” He wrote a number of books, many of which were published in due course by western publishing houses. Some of them are 'The Aesthetic philosophy of India,'' The orb of the mind,” “The role of water n life,” “Indian logic,” and “Rivers in India's Developing Economy” — a great range of subjects indeed. “Among my publications, there is a collection of short stories also,” he said, with great humility.

We were curious to know about his numerous foreign tours. “They are not for pleasure. They have invariably been study tours.” “He visited Scandinavia to know how that country had solved its border problem. “Perhaps we can apply the same principle to solve our own problem of border,” he observed. He was deeply interested in Africa and South America. The peoples of those continents are also undergoing the process of development. It would be useful if there could be greater understanding between us.

Patrons of art:
The rulers of the State of Mysore have always been great patrons of arts and artistes. Jayachamarajendra had inherited this quality also from his forefathers. Jayachamarajendra had acquired a deep knowledge of Indian music. He was a great composer, a vaggeyakara, and has composed a number of Kritis, some of which are in rare ragas. He was quite knowledgeable in western music also and he was an accomplished performer on the piano and the pipe organ. He had a very vast collection of western music records. He owned a large library of books, many of which were rare works. Among western masters of music, he liked Wagner, Mahler, Bach and Beethoven.

Our conversation naturally was about the different systems of music: “Indian music is basically spiritual. Western music is harmonic in nature — the different notes are played or sung together combining to make a pleasing sound.” The Maharaja liked both the systems.

“Would it be possible to synthesize the musical systems of the north, the south, the east and the west?”
“It is difficult. One can only make an attempt. Each system has its own inimitable features.”

The Maharaja had a great variety of interests. He was an authority on conserving wildlife in a scientific way. He was a great hunter in his early years. He could paint. Collection of stamps was his hobby. Later in life he became a great collector of books. “East is east, west is west”. The twain shall never meet, it is said. But he had met both east and west. Reconciling the two would be most helpful to both east and west.

The rulers of the Wadiyar dynasty did never aspire for acquiring great wealth. When compared to other royal houses, the rulers of Mysore gave away much of their wealth. While accepting the governorship of the Madras State, he gave munificent grants to both Mysore and Madras Universities. He was a great devotee of God Srikanteswara of Nanjangud and Meenakshi of Madurai. He held his Gurus in high regard and reverence. He could speak with great authenticity on the subject of education.

“Education in India is fast expanding. But it has not yet grown deep roots. We need a large army of good teachers and resources as well.”
“It is regrettable that we are quarrelling among ourselves in the name of language. When a decision is taken on the official language, we should all make concerted efforts to develop it. One can never afford to neglect the regional language. English is the window to the world.”

A visionary:
The Maharaja was speaking like a visionary. His sweet impeccable language with the right diction and intonation was music to our ears. He was sorry that two great nations of Asia — China and India — had engaged in a bitter war on the border issue. It was the sacred duty of everyone to safeguard our unity, our way of life and our self-respect.”
“One more question. I promise your highness that this would be the last. We have far exceeded the time allotted to us”.
“Go on. Don't worry about the time,” said the Maharaja.
We had taken more than an hour and a half! He had to leave for Africa.

“What is your vision of India of the future?” The Maharaja closed his eyes. His mind was going back in time, turning the pages of history.
“Diversity was a unique feature of our ancient country. People of different races, colours, religions and cultures have lived here. While encouraging this diversity, we must also strengthen our unity. We often make much of our differences. Unless we change our attitudes and our mindset, we may lose the hard - won freedom.

“The time has come to make the world aware of our culture and the values held high by us. The India - China war posed a challenge to us. Let us face it in the right sense and convert it into an opportunity to make others aware of our great culture. We have what the west does not possess. Vivekananda's message to the whole world should be revived. It is a duty we owe to the war-torn and hatred-ridden world. We have never in the past invaded others' lands. We are lovers of peace. “Let peace rule over the whole world” is our mantra. “Dyowha Shantihi, Antharikshagam Shantihi”.

The Maharaja was in a sombre pose, emitting a faint smile. The picture of the Dasara procession flashed before my mind's eye: A campaign of love and compassion, transgressing all barriers, vanquishing the evil spirits — the guardian angel of a civilized society. The procession winding through the highways of the city, as milliards of bright and coloured lights are winking their eyes in unison, a great mass of humanity lining along the road on both sides viewing their beloved monarch seated in the golden ambari mounted on the decorated and caparisoned elephant and throwing his benign smile on either side. A great upholder of truth, beauty and beatitude. Fled are those days. Can they ever come again?

Courtesy: Star of Mysore

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