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Jaya Chamaraja Wodeyar - A princely scholar

Maharaja Jaya Chamaraja Wodeyar was a prince among princes. A student of history, politics and economics, he did not confine his interest to only these three subjects, but extended his search for knowledge to other areas of interest. Veda and Vedantha, music and art were also his favourite subjects of study. He did not merely absorb knowledge as it came to him from these books. He held many a discussion with the masters of these subjects revealing a mind extraoridnarily keen and penetrating. Not surprisngly he came to be known as a philosopher, both in India and abroad. Organisations abroad invited him to deliver scholarly lectures, while the Government of India sent him as a cultural ambassador.

Jaya Chamaraja Wodeyar thus emerged as a scholar, apart from being a popular ruler. His speeches touched various subjects and whenever he spoke he spoke with a sense of authority. His speeches were not mumbo-jumbo. The speeches made by him during his reign reveal his scholarship in various topics like philosophy, religion, music, art, politics, administration, economics, history and wildlife.

The Maharaja toured abroad several times, delivering lectures and earning encomiums for the schoarly addresses. He also earned fame as a writer of works on Indian philosophy. His famous works were "Dattatreya" "Geetha and Indian Culture" and "Dharma and Human Values".

His speeches bore the stamp of philopshy, with aptly chosen quotations from Vedas or Bhagavad Gita. His speeches did not relate to only to the past ideals and values. He related to them to the most modern science of his day. He delivered three lectures on Traditions, Ideals and Values in the Atomic Age, under the Aggery Fraser-Griggsby Foundation, during his tour in Ghana.

"My view-point is essentially that of questioning layman, who enquires in order to find out the why and whither of human conduct and the achievements of history as well as the prospects of civilisation," he said while referring to tradition and unrest in modern history in the first of the three lectures he delivered there.

"The advent of the atom bomb into a world of varying moral standards and uncertain international friendships has made every one aware for the first time of the awful fact that, if the world ever lost its spiritual and moral equilibrium, it was now possible completely to eliminate life itself," warned the phiolosopher nearly four decades ago. A warning relevant even today.

He further pointed out that the course of recent history has certainly not run smooth, but it has furnished sufficient material for the philosophic historian to compare the merits and defects of opposing systems in action. His second lecture made an estimate of democracy and totalitarianism of the then prevailing situation in the international arena.

Maharaja Jaya Chamaraja Wodeyar made an attempt to explore Education and Values in the Atomic Age. He emphasised that education has a great part to play in assuring the intellectual and moral basis not only for citizenship of the state but also for that world citizenship which is the imperative need of the time. For education adequately to serve the purposes of democracy and world citizenship it should be in a real sense "liberal", said the Maharaja, who and his forefathers were liberal rulers of Mysore with far-reaching progressive programmes and projects, including education.

In his speech, the Maharaja recalled the Indian tradition of non-violence and purity of motive and means, the tradition of ethical and religious approach to all political questions and noted that these had found a perfect embodiment in Mahatma Gandhi. Further elaborating on Ahimsa, the plank on which the Father of the Nation had fought and brought freedom to India, Maharaja Jaya Chamaraja Wodeyar observed, "One could draw up a whole declaration of human rights in terms of ahimsa. If individuals and nations are animated by such a belief in a beneficient Supreme Power, in truth and in human brotherhood, we can look forward to a
future free from anxiety and fear and full of hope and promise of happiness, he said, concluding his scholarly erudition with a passage from Matsyapurana:

May those in distress become happy, May the sins of animate and inanimate beings disappear, May the evils of the universe be destroyed.

Delivering the Independence Day lecture in Mysore in 1959, by when Jaya Chamaraja Wodeyar had lost his place as Maharaja and headed the state as Governor, referred to Mahatma Gandhi at the very outset of his address and paid a "homage of reverence, love and thankfulness to his memory."

"He was not merely the organiser and architect of our freedom; he ennobled our very being. As the apostle not only of truth and ahimsa but also of purity in private and public conduct he raised us, and indeed the whole of mankind, to a higher level of social and political life," the Governor paid tributes to the Mahatma and went on highlight the great responsibility Independence has brought with it for the maintenance of security of the country. "This task has been nobly performed by the three Defence Services," he noted.

His convocation address at Sri Venkateswara University in Tirupati was that of a visinoary. Highlighting the role of education and languages, the Maharaja, a lover of Kannada and Sanskrit and whose predecessors have enormously enriched Kannada literature, remarked: "An independent nation cannot function without its own national language. That English should be replaced by our own language is a patriotic necessity. But so far as university education is concerned at any rate, it appears prudent to delay the change-over until our lingustic consolidation has proceeded further and our own lnaguages have become more adequately equipped
with the machinery of modern learning,--encyclopaedias, dictionaries, reference books, treatises, text books and a widely intelligible vocabulary of technical terms of modern science." He told the students, "the most elaborate code of ethical conduct that any one could draw up cannot go much beyond the simple exhortation of the Upanishad's Satyam vada, Dharmam cara. These should be the watch-words of our public and private life."

At another speech in Madras (now Chennai), Jaya Chamaraja Wodeyar said it has been accepted now that the joy of art is the heritage of all and that aesthetic activity and appreciation are indispensable aids in the enrichment and refinement of the human soul in general.

"Art refines our inner as well as our physical life and provides that satsifaction and joy which acquisitions and activities on a merely material plane can never give. As Nachiketas said, 'na vittena tarpaniyo manushyo'. In other words, man does not live by bread alone. Music and dance, among the arts, have always had a high place in Indian aestehtics. They are conceived as having their origin in the Divine, which is itself described the Upanishads as the quintessence of aesthetic pleasure 'raso vai sah'. Our arts embody the deepest experience and wisdom of mankind, and they have a spiritual import and purpose," the composer-Maharaja said. Jaya Chamaraja Wodeyar had himself drawn spiritual inspiration and solace from music, composing a number of kirtans on "Devi".

Maharaja Jaya Chamaraja Wodeyar's speeches are full of wisdom, punctuated with quotations drawn from vedas and upanishads. Rich in meaning, these quotations were appropriate to the occasion. When it came to his favourite subjects like Veda or Vedantha, he dwelt at length propogating the Indian thought as propounded by several seers and sages of the past. He was a true scholar and genuine ambassador of Indian philosophy.

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