If there is one noble and benevolent king that people of old Mysore State remember all the time… it is Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV.
Maharaja Krishnaraja Wadeyar IV (Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar; 4 June 1884 – 3 August 1940) was the 24th maharaja of the erstwhile kingdom of Mysore. He remained the crowed King from 1894 (when he was hardly a 10 year old,) until his death in 1940; but he actually started taking decisions as King from 1902, when he came to maturity.
He is popularly called “Rajarshi”(Kannada Trans. ರಾಜರ್ಷಿ),the name which was given by Mahatma Gandhi, which literally means “the sage king” for his administrative reforms and achievements.
At the time of his death, Maharaja Krishnaraj Wodeyar he was one of the world’s wealthiest men, with a personal fortune estimated in 1940 to be worth US$400 million, equivalent to $7 billion at 2018 prices. He was the second-wealthiest Indian, after Mir Osman Ali Khan, Nizam of Hyderabad.
He was a philosopher-king, who was seen by Paul Brunton as living the ideal expressed in Plato’s Republic. He has been compared to Emperor Ashoka by the English Statesm Lord Samuel. Acknowledging Krishnaraja Wadeyar IV’s noble and efficient kingship, Lord John Sankey declared in 1930 at the Round Table Conference in London, “Mysore is the best administered state in the world”.
The vernacular name ‘Nalwadi’ Krishnaraja Wadeyar comes from the word “Nalwadi” meaning “the fourth” in Kannada language. It means there were three other ‘Krishnaraja Wadeyars’ before him, who were not as popular or as noble and efficient in those days in the deccan kingdoms of India.
SOME KNOWN ACHIEVEMENTS OF MAHARAJA KRISHNARAJA WODEYAR IV
- He opened ‘Attara Kacheri’ (government offices with eighteen departments for quick disposal of issues before his administration.)
- He built the KRS dam (the first storage dam in southern India) across the western stream of river Cauvery near Srirangapatna and provided irrigation facilities and canal streams to distribute waters to farmers in Mysore area.
- He introduced thrift in his administration and enriched the treasury and was conferred with ‘Navakoti Narayana’ title.
- While all over India citadels of royal families crumbled before the might of British onslaught, the Wodeyars of Mysore through their liberal, progressive and secular outlook and policies retained their dominion till 1947.
- In the long history of Mysore it was under Sri Krishna raja Wodeyar IV who ruled from 1902 to 1940 that the state came to be referred as ‘Model State’ by the British and ‘Rama Rajya’ by Gandhiji.
- With the herald of 20th century Mysore, he witnessed two World Wars, the Great Economic Depression of 1930s, the nationalistic upheaval and communal animosity in British ruled India, all having its repercussion in Mysore too; but because of the progressive policies he stood steady as King of Mysore.
- During his reign in the State of Mysore, there was clamour for job reservations by the socially unprivileged and responsible government by the assertive liberals. Sri Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV overcame all these socio-political-complexities with suave and sobriety.
- He abolished the ‘Devdasi’ system in Mysore; saved hundreds of deprived women who had been subjugated to slavery and prostitution (literally,) by a few wealthy men in the then kingdom of Mysore.
- He gave away over 300 acres of land to create what later came to be known as “TATA INSTITUTE” (presently, IISc) to Jamshedji Tata who pioneered the need for advanced technical education in Bangalore; also gave much needed financial assistance from his treasury to establish the “Tata Institute.”
“What advances a nation or community is not so much to prop up its weakest and the most helpless, as to lift the best and most gifted, so as to make them of the greatest service to the country.” he said when ‘Tata Institute’ came about in Bangalore.
It was this thought which motivated Jamsetji Tata, the founder of the Tata group, to conceive of establishing an institution of advanced scientific education and research, the like of which even England did not have, at the end of the 19th century.
- In most of his endeavors he was ably assisted by high profile Diwans like Sir. M.Visveswara and Sir Mirza Ismail, whose visionary policies resulted in Mysore earning the epithet ‘Model State’ when other States were just fighting with one another; this included periods when other States were falling at the feet of British rulers of India. Mysore was the last State to join the India Union (Independent India.)
I am posting a video clip from Youtube with a song praising him in Kannada by a group of artists.
The theme of the song is: “how can we ever forget nalvadi krishnaraja wodeyar!” (sorry no sub-titles in english are availabe for this song in Kannada at this time)
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