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A road for a genius

21bgfrRamanna

21bgfrRamanna

In Bengaluru, BVK Iyengar Road, like Avenue Road, is a prime place for commercial activities connecting Kempegowda Road with Mysore Road. Perhaps there are hardly any Bangaloreans who have not walked on this road. A genius and statesman lived in a bungalow on this road about 150 years ago. They may also be ignorant of what BVK stands for, and the invaluable service rendered by BVK Iyengar to the Mysore Province.

B.V. Krishna Iyengar

B.V. Krishna Iyengar

One of India’s most brilliant nuclear physicist, Dr. Raja Ramanna, was the great grandson of BVK Iyengar. In his memoir Years 0f Pilgrimage, published in 1991, the renowned scientist narrates the unique contribution of his predecessors to Old Mysore State. He also portrays an era of administration which had a committed and disciplined think tank. BVK Iyengar was one such luminary, a bureaucrat of bygone Bangalore. The book also contains as an appendix, an authentic account of Krishniengar’s life sketch in brief by a junior colleague of his, VN Narasimmiengar, written in 1919 and published in the Mysore Social Review.

Dr. Raja Ramanna

Dr. Raja Ramanna

Krishniengar’s father, Bindiganavale Venkatappa or Venkatiyengar came to Bengaluru somewhere around 1800. Soon he rose to a position of considerable influence and resources, and being in the confidence of fouzdar (Commissioner) Thimmapparaj Urs, made himself indispensable to the agents of the Maharaja’s Government, conducting pecuniary and political transactions with the British military authorities in Bangalore. With marvelous tact, patience and shrewdness, he was able to procure the required funds in exact time, and there by earned the reputation as the Savakar (Banker) and was widely referred to as Pai Mestri - a Paymaster. He built his imposing red coloured house at the junction of the present Kempegowda Road and BVK Iyengar Road.

Krishna Iyengar, whose name the road bears, is the third son of Paymaster B. Venkatiyengar, born around 1825. He entered the public service around 1841, as a judicial Accountant in Mysore. Being a promising young man, he was taken in hand by Major Montgomery, who was the superintendent of the Ashtagram division in the early days of Sir Mark Cubbon’s commissionership. The Young man’s remarkable intelligence, quick grasp, suave persona and level-headedness had pleased his master and other superiors. He rose rapidly to be the trusted Judicial Sheristadar of the Superintendent’s office in Mysore in 1847. It was a rare achievement for such a young age. VN Narasimmiyengar writes that a first rate painting of this young man was made by a famous British artist Sperling. The art work projected him as a specimen of Indian Manhood.

In 1858, he was promoted to the office of Principal Sadar Munsiff at Tumkur. Here, he modified various lengthy procedures of the trial, much to the relief of the litigants. He conducted the trials directly with suitors and witnesses in his simple and expressive Kannada. As a rule, his judgments rarely exceeded two sheets, and delays and wanton waste which were rampant earlier were reduced to a larger extent. His plain, direct and illuminating methods were much admired by people at large, and the European officers of the division.

In two years, his excellence earned himself another promotion in 1860 as the Head Sheristadar of the Judicial Commissioner’s Court at Bangalore. Here again, he became more popular and influential. He came into close touch with the elite of the European officers of the British Commission. When a demonstration was made by the Bangalore Citizens for petitioning the Supreme Government in favour of continuing for some more time, the Commissioner Sir Mark Cubbon, Krishniengar and his friend SD Krishnaswamy Iyengar were able to rightly guide the meetings.

However, Sir Mark Cubbon’s failing health compelled his departure from his beloved Bangalore by 1860 to his motherland, Ireland. But he died at sea on the way.

He was followed by Lewin Bentham Bowring as Commissioner. He brought about lot of reformations in the administration of the province including building an exclusive and magnificent building, Attara Kutcheri to be the headquarters for Mysore Province administration.

It did not take long time for him to assess the administrative acumen of Krishniengar. When the post of Deputy Commissioner of Kolar fell vacant in 1864, he was at once nominated for the same. Many senior’s eyebrows were raised and all kinds of mishaps and failures were predicted, as Krishniengar was the first Indian Officer in Southern India to be put in charge of a District, which till then was the prerogative of Europeans.

Within few months, he fully able to justify his nomination. He also proved the efficiency and trustworthiness of Mysoreans in the higher and more responsible posts under the British Government.

Though the Commissioner held him in high esteem, it was shaken because of Krishniengar’s active support to The Maharaja Krishna Raja Wadiyar III for his petition in restoring his kingdom to its rightful sovereign. Bowring was bitterly hostile to the Maharaja’s claim.

The Maharaja wrote a letter on July 25, 1864 urging Krishniengar to use every opportunity through his English friends and agents in Great Britain to plead his cause. He knew that Krishniengar was one of the few Mysoreans who had a very close association with the British Officers and also had the ability to convince them to take the decision in favour of the Mysore king. With the help of a few of his close associates of his caliber, he ran an organised campaign in favour of the King. He also took an active part also in the adoption of a son and heir to the state by the King.

To be continued

Sureshmoona@gmail.com

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