‘My daddy, His Highness, the Maharaja of Mysore’

Deccan Herald has an interesting feature today to mark Father’s Day. Four people of impeccable pedigree have been called upon to remember their dads, and among those walking down memory lane is Meenakshi Devi, the daughter of the erstwhile Maharaja of Mysore, Jayachamaraja Wodeyar.

***

“The word ‘No’ was never there for anything with him. He was kind hearted and generous to a fault. As a father, he was one of the best persons in the world. He used to be very fond of all his children. He used to spend time with all of us in spite of his busy schedule.

“The moment I think of my father Jayachamaraja Wadiyar (that is how he used to sign), the last king of Mysore, the image that comes to mind is his tall (over 6 ft), handsome, regal bearing, with a slant when he walked and his goodness. All this and more is true of him.

“We are six children, five daughters and a son to our parents. Gayathri Devi, myself, Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wadiyar, Kamakshi Devi, Indrakshi Devi and Vishalakshi Devi. As children we all went to the Palace School inside the palace premises itself. Daddy used to discuss various subjects when we were studying in school and college. His favourite subject was history.

“Though we had a sheltered life in the palace, Daddy brought us up the same way any father would bring up his children.

“Whenever my mother went to Bangalore, Daddy would spend a lot of time with us. He would take us all to Chamundi hill in the yellow and red sports Rolls Royce car, which he himself would drive. Of course we also had a Daimler and Austin Prince.

“The other special moments that I can recall is when I used to ride piggyback on him as a child.

“He never discriminated between us children. He got us to learn horse riding. He always used to take us out shooting when hunting was still allowed. My first experience was a tiger hunt when I was 14-year old. We went to Omkar, a favourite hunting place of my father which lies between Begur and Kakanakote forest range. I shot a spotted deer with Daddy’s supervision.

“Another time we had gone to the Kakanakote forest. I had a camera in my hand. I suddenly spotted a tusker and I was very excited. My Daddy with his typical sense of humour said, “Enamma, kaielli camera itkondu photone thegithaillavalla”. (What, child, you have a camera in hand and you are not taking a photograph).

“He never scolded any of his children even once. My mother was more strict and she used to cane us once in a way when we became very mischievous. When the privy purses were abolished in 1969, he was very upset though he did not show it.

“My Daddy’s last days were a bit traumatic. The biggest blow for him was the passing away of my elder sister Gayathri Devi of cancer in July 1974. He was not able to take the blow as he was very fond of her. He passed away the same year in September.

“He died in the Bangalore palace. To this day even after 33 years I have not overcome his death because he died at a young age of 55.”

(As told to N. Niranjan Nikam)

***

Also read why Jayant Kaikini‘s father licked him after a bath: He was an atheist till death

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20 Responses to “‘My daddy, His Highness, the Maharaja of Mysore’”

  1. prathibhanandakumar Says:

    Thanks for posting this. Due to space constraints the write up was edited. Love to post the full write up here.
    prathibha

    Jayanth Kaikini on Gowrish Kaikini
    ——————————————-

    The earliest memory I have about my father, Gowrish Kaikini, is that, whenever I went to play in the beach I would return home and he used to make me stand on platform and give me a bath and to check if the salt water is totally cleaned he would lick me once to see if I still tasted of salt! If yes he would wash me once more.

    I was never ‘scared’ of him, as usually children feel towards their fathers in the conventional way. He was always there for me.

    He lived up to the ripe age of 92 and till the end he was an atheist. Some young atheists grow old to become believers. Not my father. I remember, when I went to visit U R Ananatahmurthy when he had a by-pass surgery, he curiously had asked “was your father an atheist till he died?!”. It was an interesting question at an interesting point. Till the end may father never bothered god. He used to say ‘he must be very busy with issues like war, famine etc, why bother him?’ He was an atheist in a place like Gokarna, surrounded by strong believers. (a documentary film on him is aptly titled “Aastikara madhye obba naastika’, meaning an atheist amidst believers.)

    He never went dry in terms of creativity. He wrote 56 books and look at the kind of works he has written. He was like Shivaram Karanth. Karanh, S B Joshi, Sriranga and Bendre were his mentors. He worshipped them. S B Joshi was dry intellectual. Bendre was more ‘warm’ creative. My father wanted both. I remember going with him to Dharwad. Both Joshi and Bendre used to fight if we went to the other one’s house first!. My father struggled to balance the two.

    Another interesting thing about my parents is that theirs was a love marriage. In those days it was very rare. It was also a late marriage. He married when he was 40 and I was born when he was 45. He married his student. He was teaching her to play the harmonium. My mother said that as he was teaching he held her fingers to guide them on the harmonium. Very romantic!.

    He was the first Marxist in Kannada. He wrote the first book on Marxism in Kannada in 1940. It was published by Minchina Balli Prakashana. He wrote several books on the best of the west and east. ‘Paschimada Parthibhe’, ‘Marxvaada’, a science book on Thomas Edison and others. He was interested in anything which would help man to evolve. He had extraordinary expertise in music. He was a scholar in Kannada, Hindi, Marathi, Sanskrit and English.

    An example for his selfless service is the way he wrote for Dinakara Desai’s Janasevaka, a literary magazine, published from Ankola. He wrote a political column, a literary column and a comment on news called ‘Vaarada Uppinakai’ under the pen name of Adige Bhatta. He used different names. He wrote literary criticism under the name Vaishvanara. He was the first one to write about Adiga’s ‘Chandemaddale’, when he was a lecturer in Kumta college.
    I did not know the significance at that time. In fact I hated literature because the house would always be filled with people who would sit for hours discussing literature. As and when some left others would come and join. There used to be regular demand for tea or coffee. My mother would ask me to find out how many were there and I used to count and tell her. Even after midnight these writers, scholars were not leaving.

    Those days, literary sammelanas were events to go with family. Writers would come with their families and I remember going with my parents to several such sammelanas and meet many writers. Collective domesticity existed. Literature is meant for that.

    In high school my father was also my teacher at school. There was not much difference at school. He was affectionate and nice to all the students. He did not know money. My mother managed everything. He was a father figure to all. The Halakki tribes used to come to him for all their problems. Very backward. He would pay the fees himself for Halakki boys and girls who wanted to get educated. He really helped hundreds of them get educated.

    At any point I felt neglected. But at some point I did feel that all were equal for him, including me. No special treatment for me. Hundreds of students used to come home to get tutored. We were all treated well. It was his philosophy of life and he lived it well.

    He was like a councilor for the entire North Karnataka. People would come to him for all and any problem. Those who missed the afternoon bus would come home and stay till the night bus or go the next day even.

    He has written foreword and after word to almost all the writers of our district. I used to get irritated for that and tell him about it. He however used to smile and say “he or she has not committed a crime, but is trying to engage in a language activity. First let us welcome a writer into the community. Let him or her write. We will evaluate them later or he or she will find out how they fare on their own and improve” was his argument. I used to criticize him for that then but now after he is dead, I have realized that is a fantastic way to get engaged with the next generation writes, Hence I write foreword and after-word to any new writer who asks me. It is my way of taking on my father’s spirits.

    Another peculiar thing was that my mother used to address my father in the singular! In those days it was a very strange thing to do. I always prayed that my mother should not call him in the singular when my friends came home!. As if, there was something wrong in our family. It was very funny. But that shows how they were one to one in those days itself. He always encouraged her to do her own things. When my mother got involved in political activities she would go for meetings and he would cook and take care of me.

    My father never came to Bangalore. Once when the sahitya sammelan was held in Bangalore he was invited to participate. But he had earlier agreed to inaugurate a fishing boat of a fisherman in Tadadi. He did not want to go back on his words and refused the sammelan invitation and went to Tadadi to inaugurate the boat!.

    When he was sick and admitted into the hospital in Manipal, I stayed with him for six months. Large number of students would come to visit him. We spent some good time there talking. His death came smooth. Mentally I had sent him earlier than his physical end. He has become so much a part of my mind that physical detachment was not complicated when he died. He lives in me

  2. jeevarathna Says:

    Well Kp, it looks you obviously has not read the June issue of Hi Blitz ! Your friend Maharja of Mysore ( a.k.a SDNR Wadiyar) has stooped so low that he has once again slandered his much revered father the late Maharaja JCRW ! May be that is why Nikam had to turn to one of the daughters for this beautiful paean !

  3. Gouri Satya Says:

    SDNR was never in good terms with his father, unlike JCW’s daughters.

  4. Anonymous Guy Says:

    Random thoughts on reading this article:

    Some elder in the family told me of an incident:

    Seems his highness used to receive people for ‘high tea’ on occasions (if I remember right probably after people got married etc.). And this was probably after the privy purse was abolished. And the people who went and observed carefully would be saddened to see that his highness’s clothes were actually frayed and so was the furniture in certain places…

    Dont know if this story is really true, but it was a big deal for the person who was reminiscing about this (he like many old people I know used the word ‘highness’, not his highness or the Maharaja, just ‘highness’).

    Also heard of the story of the contractor chamaraju (of humble origins) and how part of the palace land in Bangalore will belong to his family as a result of some dealings etc.

  5. jeevarathna Says:

    GS,

    One may not be in good terms but to slander him in public shows demeaning character of a person.

    AG,

    Look every house (Palace) may not be in perfect trim always. Even in Rajbhavan or star hotels one can find faults if you look around. But see the worthy son says : after his fathers death he did not have money to pay for taxi from Bangalore to Mysore. He had to teach at gangotri and run a small travel agency to make ends meet ! But the truth of the matter was He was the owner of Three Star Hotels in 1974 ( Hotel Bangalore international, Rajendra Vilas and Fern Hill ) and if you need a greater fibber and unworthy son don’t look any where else

  6. Anonymous Guy Says:

    Jeevarathna,

    I am not criticizing or telling anyone off. I am not aware of the times of the Maharajah’s rule, so I cannot personally even make any comments.

    Just recounting some random stories I heard from others.

    And most of the old folk seem to have immense respect for the ‘good old days’ and the rule of ‘highness’ and other such things. And I am sure for good reasons!

  7. Gouri Satya Says:

    Jeevarathna,

    I am not slandering him. This was the talk of the town (Mysore) for a long time and more so when JCW died.

  8. jeevarathna Says:

    GS,

    I am sorry i never said you did ! I am talking about this article in a magazine called Hi Blitz wherein SDNRW has said what i have recounted here.

    Ag,

    Again, no issues with what you have said , even i am a midnight child , so i have also heard about good old mysore and maharaja’s and nothing more !

  9. Doddi Buddi Says:

    Rathnajeevi and GS,

    It is quite clear ole SKDNRW was ill-quipped to cope with the modern life. He is untalented and except for the accident of his birth, he has been a ‘royal’ disappointment!

  10. Aruna Urs Says:

    Doddi Buddi – well said! Indeed a Royal DUD – it could have been even worse if not for his able and entrepreneurial wife.

  11. jeevarathna Says:

    PDW an able & entrepreneurial wife ! AU you must be joking. Nothing that is known in public domain except that the lady is also a Gold Medalist in Hindi and a so called Fashion designer along with her RD !

    Any way it is not our concern. My reason for getting anguished was not about the failure of the son’s of the famous parents being duds or intellectuals. The moot question is whether SDNRW or S.Gopal or the likes of them have any moral right to write ill about their iconic father like JCRW or Dr.S.R long after their death ?

  12. Vinay J Says:

    A lion gives birth to a lion, and not a lamb.

    But it’s not true in the case of a human being though.

    Royal family is one whose members behave in a royal manner. It’s not about how many jewels are present in your crown, but it’s your shining character and noble actions that make you a king.

    We all have the ability to be ‘lions’, but we prefer to be ‘lambs’ because it’s easy!

  13. vinay Says:

    @ VInay J ..u rock man :)))))

  14. Sword Master Says:

    The curse for building a useless palace in the midst of a hamlet full of shacks and dilapitated homes. Shame on the kings of Mysore. The rich gossipy good for nothings of Mysore will never grow up. In the end, more goossip, that’s it.

  15. Ranga Says:

    Dynastic comparisons are not worth it. We could say the same about Bushes. I have seen the HH in palace when my student’s father an IAS officer was his secretary( Huzoor secretary).HH behaved really dignified at lin public, and am not prepared to talk ill of him.

  16. Pulilkeshi the Last Says:

    I don’t care if His Heaviness was a good father or not. I do however want to see his fabulous wealth returned to the people. Today, if possible.

    The man told his daughter: “You have a camera on you, yet you are not snapping a picture of the elephant.” How is this an example of his sense of humor, unless it was an act of self-deprecation of his being a mammoth himself, as is his offspring?

  17. For Mysore Says:

    Well I am really disappointed to see the views shared over this portal….

    It shows how ignorant quiet a few of them are. The contributions of the Wadiyars of Mysore are so immense and enormous that their contributions have been etched in the annals of history perpetually. Guess one should do his homework before speaking so lackadaisically. Yes it may be a fact that SDNR Wadiyar is not as illustrious as his Father or any other ancestor but was he given an opportunity. He has been pushed constantly into litigations, not allowed to freely enjoy his properties, had ill advisors, always compared to his father when he is an individual himself. Let him live his life the way he wants to. Today we live in a democracy – so does he; so treat him as an equal. Don’t compare him to his ancestors and tarnish his image saying that he is a blemish. He has contributed to the people in every way he possibly could. His views are his personal. There are ups and downs in any relationship, he must have had a lean phase with this father but that does not make him a black sheep. He has expressed his affection and respect to his family on many occasions. We as humans always look at pulling someone down never have we encouraged or appreciated anyone; even with regard to our own relatives.

    Well guys your comments are so disturbing. Try and speak pleasantries see how nice you would feel; Hope you take this in the right Note…

  18. NS Rao Says:

    I saw that Kum. Jayalalitha comes to Chamundi Hills to worship on her birthdays. Anything special about it? Just curious.
    O Enlightened ones – please shower your enlightenment.

  19. ESWARAMOORTHI.P Says:

    I saw that Kum. Jayalalitha comes to Chamundi Hills to worship on her birthdays. Anything special about it? Just curious.

  20. common man Says:

    @NS Rao, @ESWARAMOORTHI.P

    Its also a talk of town that Kum. Jayalalitha is the daughter of Jayachamaraja Wodeyar.

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