Karnataka Sahitya Sammelana

At sahitya sammelana, scholars hark back to the days of Wadiyars, Tipu

Cultural troupes and children performing during the 83rd Akhila Bharata Kannada Sahitya Sammelana procession that began from Mysuru palace premises on Friday.  

Expounding the contributions of Hyder Ali, Tipu Sultan and the Wadiyars in the formation of Karnataka, scholars at the 83rd Akhila Bharata Kannada Sahitya Sammelana analysed the economic and political conditions that shaped the decisions of these personalities.

The consensus was that while Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan filled the power vacuum that existed in the 18th century and laid the foundation for a modern State, the Wadiyars who came later focussed on art and tradition, paving the way for conservation of culture.

Prithvi Datta Chandra Shobhi, a historian, set the ball rolling by propounding the view that the Mysore kingdom was one of the many regional powers that existed after the decline of the Mughals and was obscure to the world outside with no special claims to distinction. “Yet, within a span of 40 years of the rule of Hyder and Tipu, the British Empire faced twin threats — of the American Revolution and the Mysore kingdom,” he said.

He added that the rise of the princely state to a power that threatened the British Empire by the late 18th century could be attributed to the genius of Hyder and Tipu in harnessing resources and modernising the military.

The 18th century, after the collapse of the Mughals, saw the rise of regional powers where military adventurers such as Hyder and Tipu too had prospects which they harnessed to the fullest. “While the Mysore kingdom expanded, the revenue doubled and this led to the creation of a new administrative mechanism, which in turn paved the way for the formation of a modern State on the foundations of what the British built,” said Mr. Datta.

While the present debate on the atrocities committed by the rulers cannot be dismissed, the actions should be seen as a fallout of political decisions rather than religious ones, he said.

Preserving tradition

N.S. Taranath spoke on the contributions of the Wadiyars, who by offering patronage to fine arts and literature helped in the preservation of local traditions. He cited the literary works of Mummadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar and his treatise on iconography— Sritattvanidhi — and 50 other works.

Apart from patronising fine arts, the later Wadiyars were instrumental in fanning the wave of educational and administrative reforms that led to the establishment of schools that produced a new generation of educated classes in whom the idea of political freedom was ignited. More than 800 primary schools were established across the Mysore kingdom, besides 50 English-language schools and 30 Sanskrit institutions. Also, an archaeology department was set up by them, the scholar said.

He described Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar (1902-1940) as the greatest of the kings as he “created the modern Mysore State with stress on education and industrialisation”, which saw the establishment of 393 industrial units providing jobs for nearly 55,000 people. The measures initiated by the Wadiyars, including the formation of a representative assembly, introduction of reservation and enactment of free education, were the forerunners of future political institutions in democratic India, Dr. Taranath added.

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