When the Maharaja’s son failed an examination


Jayachamaraja Wodeyar with Queen Elizabeth during her visit to Bangalore (courtesy Wikipedia)

Star of Mysore editor-in-chief K.B. Ganapathy reproduces this delightful anecdote from the January issue of the Kannada magazine Uthana, published by Haldipur Vasudeva Rao:

“Mysore Kingdom was being ruled by His Highness Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV (also known as Nalavadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar). He had adopted his brother’s son Jayachamaraja Wodeyar as his heir apparent to the throne as he himself did not have children. During his reign, the University of Mysore was established.

“Jayachamaraja Wadiyar was studying in the intermediate class in the University. T.S. Venkannayya was the head of the Kannada department. Working with him in the department were Thi. Num. Srikantaiah and K.V. Puttappa (Kuvempu) who had just then completed his post-graduate study in Kannada and joined the department as a teacher.

“When the results of the intermediate examination was announced, it was found that the heir apparent to the throne Jayachamaraja Wadiyar had failed in Kannada examination.

“Some days after the results were announced, a call came for T.S. Venkannayya from the Palace to meet the King. On the appointed day and time, the Durbar Bhakshi (Palace Officer) came to Venkannayya’s house in the Palace vehicle and took him before the Maharaja.

“As Venkannayya was waiting in the designated place, the Maharaja came in and the former got up in reverence greeting the Maharaja. Acknowledging the greeting, Maharaja requested Venkannayya to take his seat but he continued to stand waiting for the Maharaja to take his seat.

“However, the Maharaja remained standing waiting for Venkannayya to sit down first out of reverence to a teacher — educationist. Finally both resumed their seats simultaneously. Then followed a brief conversation between the two in the following manner:

Maharaja: The Prince has failed in the exam…

T.S. Venkannayya: Yes, Your Highness. The Prince has failed in Kannada.

Maharaja: What should be done now to make him pass the exam?

Venkannayya: Your Highness, the Prince has to write the exam once again.

Maharaja: Still, if he fails?

Venkannayya: He must be given private tuition.

Maharaja: Okay, will you give him the tuition?

Venkannayya: No, Your Highness. Except in the University classes, I do not teach outside.

Maharaja: If so, how to solve this problem?

Venkannayya: We have one youngster Puttappa who has recently joined Kannada Department. He is very good in teaching. I will entrust him the responsibility.

The Maharaja accepted the suggestion and entrusted the responsibility to T.S. Venkannayya and got up, an indication that the interview was over.

Venkannayya too got up, but in the meanwhile, as arranged before, the Durbar Bhakshi brought a silver tray full of fruits, betel leaves and a gold tasselled shawl and held it before the Maharaja who, after honouring the teacher with the shawl, presented him the silver tray with fruits.

Durbar Bhakshi dropped Venkannayya at his house in the Palace vehicle.

As Venkannayya emptied the silver tray, a surprise awaited him. There was an envelope with one thousand rupees — a huge amount for those days. When Venkannayya sent the silver tray back to the Palace, it came back with the assurance that the tray too was for Venkannayya.

It weighed 108 tholas!

Also read: My daddy, His Highness, the Maharaja of Mysore

Once upon a time, at the Maharaja’s study circle

When Bishen Bedi bowled from the Maharaja College end

Mutton chops, mudde and saaru with Srikantadatta Wodeyar

The maharaja’s elephant that made me a photographer

Rama, Rama rajya, and Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar

Why the Maharani sold her diamonds and jewels

The policeman who stopped the Maharaja

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17 Responses to “When the Maharaja’s son failed an examination”

  1. Ramapriya Says:

    It shows the king’s generosity, if anything, and concern about his son’s education, little else. The princely class of less than 1% of India ruled over 99% of the populace; ergo, no aristocracy anecdote can ever be ‘delightful’

  2. chanakya Says:

    Had it been in case of Devegowda in place of Maharaj and Kumaraswamy, student with KPSC Krishna as teacher, conversation would have been:

    DG-Krishna, what the hell? KS failed in Kannada!
    KK-Yes lord;
    DG-What can be done now?
    KK-We cannot recall the results as they are official out; with government help, pass a resolution to hold supplementary exams in the coming month.
    DG-But what if that idiot KS fails again?
    KK-Who asks KS to sit and write exams; my lord, this is a great opportunity for me to show my loyalty towards your family. I shall arrange a impostor.
    DG-Good! and make sure that KS gets a master degree also in same way. Now get lost.

  3. K Jairaj. IAS retd Says:

    How typical of the ethos of princely Mysore. First, the great king– Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar, a picture of propriety , grace and regal bearing, as a ruler should indeed be. Then, the Teacher– Venkannaih, respectful but adhering to his duty always by Telling the ruler that he could not give private tuition even to the next ruler. And, finally, the choice of the tutor…. Puttappa who embodied the best in humanity and himself a Vishwa . manava. This anecdote brought tears in my eyes when I realised that the Wadiyar dynasty had come to an end with the passing away of Sri Srikanta Dutta Wadiyar.

  4. N.Paramasivam Says:

    I endorse Sri Chanakya reply wholly.

  5. FirstReality Says:


  6. Alok Prasanna Kumar (@alokpi) Says:

    Call it cynicism, but if the exact same sequence of events had happened now, we’d have called it bribery of the teacher!

    I can see the headlines now

    “Your Hard earned Tax money ‘gifted’ to Teacher to ensure Maharaja’s son passes exam!”

    “‘Prince’ can’t pass exam without Daddy’s help”

    “Five things wrong with the Maharaja’s Gift to teacher”

    “You’ll never believe what Third World Ruler gave this lucky teacher to makes sure his son passes exam!”


    “Vote NaMo for PM”

  7. Gouri Satya Says:

    A concocted story! Maharaja Jayachamaraja Wadiyar was a scholar in Kannada. He did not fail in the exam. Kuvempu was not his teacher at all. At that time, he was in Central college, Bangalore.

  8. siriyaala Says:


    ದಯವಿಟ್ಟು Bengaluru, Mysur ಅಂತ ಬಳಸಿದರೆ ಬಹಳ ಸೂಕ್ತ. ನಾವಲ್ಲದಿದ್ದರೆ ಇನ್ಯಾರು ಕಾಳಜಿ ವಹಿಸುವರು, ಅಲ್ಲವೇ?

  9. Sanjeeva Says:

    Who is greater! The King who considered Acharya Devo Bhava, or the Teacher who had the courage and dignity to say no to a king!. (I didn’t know Utthaana is still published! I have not seen any copy in any of the book stalls).

  10. Manava Says:

    I do not believe this anecdote. What I have heard in my younger days in 1950s about Jayachamaraja Wodeyar from my father’s friends who were academics there was that Wodeyar was a bright student. He probably took private tuitions to achieve better. I tend to agree with @Gouri Satya’s version as it was closer to what I heard at that time. I accept that Intermediate examinations were tough to get through, but then Maharaja’s College had excellent academic staff, and that Wodeyar was good in his studies. These anecdotes suffer from provenance issue.

  11. A JOURNALIST Says:

    @Gouri Satya – Kuvempu had joined Maharaja’s college as a lecturer in 1929. He was 25 years old. King Fourth Krishna Raja Wodeyar died in 1940. It is quiet possible that Kuvempu taught Jaya Chamaraja Wodeyar.

  12. DHL Says:


    Different Take on DG; Kumaranna.

    DG to KK: Kumaranna has failed Kannada; Solve his problem.

    KK to DG: No Problem; Hence forth all Ranna’s work are KumaRannas. Pampa is Kumarampa.

    You dont read your own works to pass an exam.

  13. sanjay Says:

    Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar was born in 1919. Kuvempu joined Maharaja’s college in 1929. By the time the Maharaja was in college he had left to teach at Central college Bangalore (in 1936). Anyway even if their paths overlapped by a year – in 1935 say – Kuvempu would not be ayoungster who had just joined the institution by any means.

  14. A JOURNALIST Says:

    Why is this K Jairaj crying? Why is he adding IAS (Retired) suffix to his name? When he was an IAS officer, he had no humility.

  15. Voice of Youth Says:

    Today’s politicians should learn the lesson from Maharaja. Maharaja should give a private tuition to our leaders and politicians. We wish that today’s politicians would have like Maharaja. Unfortunately, we just can wish. There is no harm in wishing and dreaming about good things, sometime, dreams and wishes come true.

  16. NS Rao Says:

    Whether the subject anecdote is real or fake – it doesn’t matter. Fact of matter is how near it is to truth that we are hearing today’s version of the story on the comments list – on ಮಣ್ಣಿನ ಮಗ and ಮಣ್ಣಿನ ಮೊಮ್ಮಗ! And how much more improvement would it be for ಮಣ್ಣಿನ ಮರಿಮೊಮ್ಮಗ if he writes any exam OR ಮಣ್ಣಿನ ಮರಿಮೊಮ್ಮಗಳು when she grows up!!
    ಜಯ ಭಾರತ ಜನನಿಯ ತನುಜಾತೆ!

  17. Vasudev Says:

    Regardless of whether it’s a concocted story or bullcrap as per some of you, it’s a moral story like the many we have read in Ramayana and Mahabharata between two people highlighting their sincerity, honesty and integrity which perhaps was true of that generation in our erstwhile Royal Mysore. It’s very sad not to see that in the vast majority not just in Mysore but the entire country now. Too many maNNina makkaLu have mushroomed in the past several years ruining things for the rest!

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