Journal of Arts & Ideas, no. 14-15 (July-Dec 1987) p. 116.

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Three Playwrights of the Old Mysore Province


THE THREE playwrights chosen for this study are Samsa, Kailasam and Masti Venkatesha lyengar. Apart from the fact that all three are literary giants in Kannada they have very little in common in terms of literary style, attitude towards life, attitude towards society, or politics. However, they were all bom in the last decade of the nineteenth century and brought up in the princely state of Mysore. This seemingly extraneous factor of birth is very important for our present discussion. This is so because the literary and cultural movement of old Mysore in the pre-independence days had many unique features which were linked with the social and political background of the state.

While talking about the background the most significant thing that strikes us is the fact that in the colonial period Mysore was not directly ruled by the British, as was true of most other parts of the country, but had a buffer in between, namely the maharaja of Mysore. These maharajas, whether it was the early Krishnaraja Wadiar or the later JayachamaraJa Wadiar, were mild mannered, knew the arts well, wrote poetry in Sanskrit and had very efficient diwans (ministers) to look after the administration of the state. Sir M. Vishweshwarayya, Sir Mirza Ismail and Diwan Kantaraje Urs were amongst the illustrious diwans of Mysore.

The maharaja with his pious nature and the diwans with their administrative abilities, between themselves effectively cushioned off the anti-colonial anger of the people. In fact the administration of the diwans had earned such a good reputation outside the state that some of the reformist programmes adopted by them even had the approval ofGandhi. When a delegation of old Mysore leaders met Gandhi urging him to allow them to form the Congress Party there, he is alleged to have remarked that there was no necessity for a Congress Party as there was already Ramarajya in Mysore. Police firing atVidurashvatta, resulting in the killing of innocent people, of course changed the situation, and the Congress organization grew rapidly thereafter in old Mysore.

116 Numbers 14-15

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