Vikram Sampath’s book on the Wodeyar dynasty

What does a sixth-standard student do when a TV serial incorrectly portrays a royal couple, sparking off protests from the people of Mysore? If the 11-year-old in question is Vikram Sampath, the answer is 15 years of research culminating in a 760-page book on the Wodeyar Dynasty. The author of ‘Splendours of Royal Mysore: The Untold Story of the Wodeyars’, published by Rupa & Co didn’t expect his childish curiosity to snowball into this gargantuan project.

Sampath, a graduate of BITS Pilani and SP Jain Institute of Management Research, believes that not being a historian by profession was an advantage: “Since I don’t belong to any ideological school of thought, I could be analytical and objective.” He pre-empted doubts about the credibility of his research by having it evaluated by a historian.

Stating that Mysore was the first princely state to have a democratic system in place, Sampath says that present-day administrators have a lot to learn from the royals of yesteryears about eradication of social evils and infrastructure. The book is a collector’s item, but it’s also an exhaustive encyclopaedia that could be used for academic reference. Noted historian and journalist S. Muthiah observed that while India is a country that’s rich in myths, legends and oral storytelling, it’s about time we “started writing down our stories so that our descendants can know about our lives and the times we lived in”.

SRIYA NARAYANAN

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