‘Foundation for IT revolution laid during Wadiyar rule’

Originally established at the turn of the 14th century as a feudal province under the Vijayanagara Empire, the Kingdom of Mysore ruled parts of Southern India as an independent entity for centuries.
Yaduveera Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar.
Yaduveera Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar.

BENGALURU: Bengaluru’s IT revolution didn’t happen out of nowhere. By the end of the 20th century, the city had already been developing into a knowledge centre. First for science, then space research, aeronautics, and later, a place for thinkers, poets, and scientists. So the natural progression was the IT revolution. So the foundation was laid during the final few decades of the Wadiyar dynasty’s rule over the Kingdom of Mysore,” says author-historian Vikram Sampath, who, with his debut book, Splendours of Royal Mysore (Rupa Publications; `595), originally published in 2008, explored the complete history of the royal Wadiyar family, which ruled the erstwhile Kingdom of Mysore for over 600 years.

Earlier this month, marking 15 years since its original publication, a commemorative edition(`2,500) was unveiled by the current head of the Wadiyar family, Maharaja Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar, who also wrote a foreword for the new edition. Born out of Sampath’s childhood curiosity about the Wadiyars, Splendours of Mysore won the Yuva Puraskar in English literature from the Sahitya Akademi and convinced Sampath to quit his job in the world of finance to pursue writing full-time.

“I don’t think people outside of Karnataka had even heard of the dynasty which ruled for so long and had so much to offer. For most people, Mysore is all about Tipu Sultan. So in a way, the book has been a revelation to many,” Sampath says, adding, “Today, when I look back at the book, it gives me a lot of satisfaction. I didn’t think it would last this long, it was supposed to be just one book and I would go back to my regular job that I had in those days. But the fact that it continues to be read across the country, with many calling it a definitive account of the Mysore royal family, is deeply heartening.”

Originally established at the turn of the 14th century as a feudal province under the Vijayanagara Empire, the Kingdom of Mysore ruled parts of Southern India as an independent entity for centuries before accepting British suzerainty, and later ascending to the dominion of India post-Independence. During the final few decades of the Kingdom’s existence, it was an important centre for arts, culture, and science and left a lasting legacy that continues to have its impact today.

“The period between 1880 and 1947, during the reigns of the last three kings of the Wadiyar dynasty – Chamaraja Wadiyar X, Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar, and Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar – Mysore quickly transformed itself into an advanced society, with a lot of social, economic, industrial and cultural progress, despite being in a subsidiary alliance with the British.

Much of that period was under Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar, often called the Rajarishi, or a saint among kings. Gandhi himself had compared Mysore to Rama Rajya. It was the first kingdom in India to have a representative form of government in 1880, followed by a form of bicameral legislature in 1907. Mysore was also the first in extending voting rights to women, implementing reservations to backward communities, animal husbandry reforms, family planning, electrification and setting up a plethora of industries and institutions,” Sampath adds.

In Splendours of Royal Mysore, Sampath not only highlights the lesser-known aspects of the Wadiyar’s role in laying down the foundations for modern Karnataka but also explores the myths and stories surrounding the family. “As someone with a scientific temperament, I have tried to critically analyse some of the myths or stories that surround the royal family.

The most popular one is about the Talakadu curse, which is supposedly the cause behind the crisscross genealogy that the family has had. It was interesting to explore whether it is a curse or a post-doctrine of lapse creation to justify the practice. The Talakadu curse is a living myth and was fascinating to explore and I think also resonated with the readers. But the royal family did not like it, because the myth had been perpetuated by them for centuries. But since this wasn’t a royal family-sponsored book, I was free to do things as I wanted,” he adds.

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The New Indian Express