Noble Scion of a Noble House

Continued from “The Beginning of the Glory”

Sri Ananda Gajapati was born on the 31st of December, 1850. He was the second of the three children. Narayana Gajapati (10-2-1850 to 29-9-1863) was his elder brother and Appala Kondayyamba, famous as Rewa Rani Circar, was his sister (16-2-1859 to 14-12-1912). With the advent of the enlightened rule of Maharajah Ananda Gajapati, education, literature and music received a tremendous fillip and Telugu culture throve considerably in his times. Noble scion of a noble family, already known widely for both munificence and cultural magnificence, Ananda Gajapati Raju was also granted the personal title of Maharajah. He was a Member of the Madras Legislative Council for many years and was created a 1892. The glory that was Vizianagaram and the grandeur that was the Royal House has been handed down to this great personage, the subject of this monograph. He was held in awe, reverence and admiration as the most cultured and munificent, the most erudite and graceful, the most accomplished and humane of all the princes of Vizianagaram till this time. Satavadhani Challapilla, an eminent poet widely travelled and acclaimed for his erudition and imaginative achievement, actually saw the splendours of the great lord's court. He wrote in an essay published in Krishna Patrika sometime in 1941 : “I do not think there would be anybody who would disagree with the statement that in Andhra Desa the reverence for Samsthanams and reverence for Scholars ended with Ananda Gajapati.” The same view was said to have been expressed by the veteran journalist, Sir C.Y. Chintamani in a lecture he delivered on December 8, 1935, at Maharajah's College.

Ananda Gajapati learnt Sanskrit under the guidance of eminent scholars like Bhagavathula Hari Sastry, Mysore Bhimacharylu and Mudumbai Narasimha Swamy. Major Thomson and Lingam Lakshmoji taught him English. Rajamani chetty, a close friend of Ananda Gajapati, wrote in his Ganikamanivilasam that Ananda Gajapati was proficient in Latin and French too. He was undoubtedly a polyglot and savant of his times. Trained by eminent scholars and teachers, the prince imbibed a great reverence for his ancestors and their achievements. The noble scion of a noble family, he had the greatest veneration for the noble traditions his forbears had established and the pride he had for the achievement amid the deserts of the Royal House prompted him to do everything he did with thoroughness and large-heartedness. The following is an extract from his wonderful composition, the work of an eminent historiographer, Vizianagaram Treaty, written in 1894. We see here an historian with a flair for recapturing the past as part of reality.

The advent of the Rajahs of Vizianagaram to the Kalinga country and the origin of their achieving its over lordship, which is not only one of the most renowned ancient countries in India but perhaps in the world, will be seen from the following quotations :-

“Pliny, following Megasthenese (Madras Manual V 11, p 130) in his Hist.Nat. VI. 21 says

‘Gentes, Calingae proximo mari, supra Mendei malli quorum mons Mallus, finisque ejus tractus est Ganges’

The following quotation from Huen Tsang, from Hobson Jobson (p 373) by Yule and Burnell, is interesting as it is descriptive of the state of civilisation, in this part of the world.

In ancient times, the Kingdom of Kalinga possessed a dense population, in so much that in the streets shoulders rubbed, and the naves of wagon wheels jostled; if the passengers but lifted their sleeves an awning of immense extent was formed.

Pelerius Bouddhistes 111 92-93

Revd.T.Foulkes in his article 'On the Civilisation of Dekhan down to the sixth century B.C. (Indian Antiquary. Vol.VIII, pages 2 and 3) proves that the Kalinga Kingdom was in a civilised state even so early as the seventh century B.C. It is mentioned as a most ancient kingdom in all the Hindu Theogenies extant placing it even before the great epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

In Cunningham's Ancient Geography of India (p.516) we read. “The original capital of Kalinga is said to have been Srikakalm, or Chikakol, 20 miles to the South-West of Kalingapatam”.

However, this may be, the following quotation from Sri Krishnavijayam, a work of the 17th centruy mentioned in the District Manual of Vizagapatam by Mr.Carmichael as an authority on our family matters, shows that the title Gajapaty came into our family after the battle of

Nandapur when the Pusapaties overcame the Gajapaties of Katak, in the latter part of the fifteenth century.


When Tammiraj conquered his foe at Nandapur, he obtained the title of Gajapati. He subdued with overwhelming forces Bellamkonda and took possession of its resources. He captured the hill-fort of Srirangaraj and triumphed over odapalled. He subdued Ravusingana and deprived him of his usurped title. He spared Bahadur Khan who implored his pardon.

Again in Ushabhyudayam, a work written in the 18th Century, we find the following:


When at Nandapur, he overcame the array of elephants; he became legally entitled to the title of Gajapathi. He took Bellamkonda, the hill-fort of Srirangaraj and Odapalle, and

broke the enemy's power.

The Krishna Vijayam mentions the earliest date of the “Manya Sultan” in our family having been acquired by Timmaraju in the following manner, between A.D.1446 & 1523.

Another fact of great antiquarian interest is that of bridging over the Godavery, so early in the beginning of the 13th Century, according to an inscription at Bezwada which was also recorded in the Makenzie Collection of Inscriptions deposited in the Oriental Library, by one Annala Devaraju.


He constructed a bridge over the high-flooded Godavari for the purpose of saving life and thereby achieving fame.

He is also famous for abolishing tax on women, in introducing coin in the place of bartering, in inventing a rod for the measurement of land and for the jungles reclaimed. But the particular spot where he spanned the Godavari is yet to be traced out ; as he was the ruler of Rajamundry, probably it would be in the vicinity of that place. The genealogical account in the inscription identifies him as a descendant of Madhava Varma, the founder of our Family. But the above mentioned work does not deal in detail regarding the Rajahs before the 14th Centruy ; consequently we see no mention of this prince or his bridge in that work.

But the title of Gajapati from the most ancient times was always owned by the Lords of Kalinga.

Rev.T.Foulkes, in his article on the civilization of Deccan down to the sixth century B.C., Indian Antiquary VolVIII, p.6 9sic).

“In the absence of an English translation of this portion of the Raghuvamsa the passages which refer to the Deccan may be quoted here from the Rev.J.Long's analysis of the poem in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Vol.XXI, p.454.

‘Having conquered the Bengalis, who trusted in their ships, he erected pillars of victory on the islands of Ganges. Having passed the Kapesa river by elephants, under the guidance of the people of Utkal (Orissa) Raghu arrived at Kalinga. Mount Mahendra (a mountain in Orissa near Puri) received from him a shock, as from the mahut's goad the stubborn elephants head, Kalinga's monarch, mighty in elephants, in vain attacked Raghu like Indra attempting to cut his wings. The soldiers decorating the place with betel leaves toasted their success in the wines of Narikela (Coconut toddy).

The original sloka in the Raghuvamsa of Kalidasa itself runs thus:


The Lord of Kalinga, mighty in elephants, repelled him (Raghu) with missiles, just as the mountains stoned Indra who had clipped their wings.

This extract reveals Maharajah Anand Gajapati's awareness of the glory of the Gajapatis. No wonder that it had become the driving force and his life's ambition that the tradition to which he had been a heir should be preserved and fostered. His lifework crowned with success stands evidence to his worthy zeal and noble ambition.

Abhinava Andhra Bhoja that Maharajah Ananda Gajapati really was he was lord among princes, a scholar among scholars, and an accomplished litterateur and connoisseur of art, an embodiment of the highest cultural values. His personal traits, his commitment to the ideal of highest learning, his patronage to education, culture and the arts would form the subject of this monograph. It is not an easy task even to outline the invaluable contribution of so generous an aristocrat, so humane a ruler and so noble-minded an individual. The writer is hard put to acquire the necessary material from which to gather biographical information for in those days the historical sense was yet not ripe and no systematic and scientifically acceptable attempts appear to have been made to collect the diaries, memoirs and papers of this great luminary. Numerous articles on Maharajah Ananda Gajapati, though mentioned by scholars and researchers, are unfortunately not available.

A sincere attempt, however, has been made in the following pages to recapture the glorious personality of this great personage as reflected mainly in the literary works. Though it has been the endeavour to give a reasonably full picture, any omissions, if brought to the notice of the writer, would be gratefully acknowledged and sincere efforts made to incorporate fresh information in the succeeding editions.

Abhinava Andhra Bhoja

Maharajah Ananda Gajapati had been acclaimed through the Telugu speaking world as Abhinava Andhra Bhoja, a title which he richly deserved both for his personal accomplishments and tastes as also for his patronage of scholars, poets, literateurs and artists. Bhoja was known for his princely grace, wisdom, splendour and literary patronage. His love of fine arts was phenomenal. Maharajah Ananda Gajapati spared no effort to make Vizianagaram the centre of learning, a Banaras in Andhra Desa. His court was a regular meeting ground for men of varied attainments. As Satavadhani Chellapilla wrote in his essay published in KRISHNA PATRIKA in 1941: “The respect shown for scholars and poets in Vizianagaram Samstanam is extraordinary. There are zamindars who gave pensions to scholars but they did not often give opportunities for the scholars and poets to hold Goshtis. The practice at Vizianagaram is different. The Maharajahs set apart time for such literary meets. Whatever may be the busy schedule the Maharajah (obviously the reference here is to Ananda Gajapati in particular) would attend the Goshti, spend some time and leave to attend to other things only after taking the blessings of the assembled men of letters and artistes. During the rule of Ananda Gajapati, the practice did not change a whit”.

Maharajah Ananda Gajapati revered tradition and exerted himself to the utmost to uphold and maintain it. Though he was a great patron of individual talent, he was firm when it came to maintaining the unwritten code of decorum and tradition. Though none equalled him in progressive views and broadmindedness, in some matters he would not budge even an inch but would stick to the accepted old ways. A Bhoja that he really was, he had such respect for tradition. He maintained a gorgeous and resplendent court but then he did it in a most traditional way. Sri Chellapilla recorded this instance in his writing: Mahamhopadhyava Paravastu Rangachary never went to Vizianagaram though he lived nearby, only at Visakhapatnam. The great scholar went about in a planquin and would insist on that mode of transport even in the fort campus; he would insist on walking in his wooden sandals and would sit in his own decorated seat. The Maharajah could not accept the idea of inviting him since tradition demanded of him to show regard to venerable veterans of his own court and the Mahamahopadhyaya's demands, if complied with, would be putting a slight on the scholars he revered.

Coming to the mighty stalwarts who formed the Diggajas of Maharajah Ananda Gajapati's court the following were the most renowned of them. Mudumbai Narisimachari who reared the scholar in the prince, his brother Varaha Narasimha, Kolluru Kama Sastri the poet, Peri Venkata Sastri, the master of Shastras and his son Peri Kasinadha Sastri were the distinguished gems in the diadem of the splendours of the illustrious court. Maharajah Ananda Gajapati did not merely spend his time with the scholars: he assigned them projects demanding of them the most strenuous application. He revered scholars but loved the Shastras more. He wanted the greatest of Sanskrit classics to be translated into Telugu. He commissioned the translation of Dharma Sastra, Vyakarana, Tarka Sastra, Nyaya Sastra, Gana Sastra and Natya Sastra. He assigned specific tasks to Kolluru Kama Sastri and Manda Narasimha Suri. Besides poets and scholars of Ananda Gajapati's court all his contemporaries acclaimed the Maharajah as the greatest of patrons of literature comparable to Sri Krishnadevaraya of Hampi Vijayanagaram.

Special mention must be made of the generous financial support extended to the Western Scholar Max Muller when the latter was looking for funds for the second edition of his translation of The Rig Veda by the enlightened prince. Ananda Gajapati took all knowledge and learning for his province. At the same time, he loved sports and pass times. Raja-mani Chetty was one of his favourites in the court. Rajamani Chetty came to Vizianagaram from Madras having heard of Ananda Gajapati's literary enthusiasm and love of sport. The prince's literary enthusiasm was indeed contagious. Rajamani Chetty, who was himself a man of no mean literary merit, was regularly present at the literary get-togethers. He acquired a flair for writing. Inspired by the learned company. He also acquired another desire to have his praise sung by no less man than Bhagavat Kavi Mudumbai Narasimha Swamy, his patron's guru. Sri Mula Peranna Sastri related the following episode in his poetic of Maharajah Ananda Gajapati. The Sreshti requested Narasimha Swamy asking him how his poetic excellence cast a spell over him to write a poem about him. The graceful poet readily obliged him and as the Sreshti was getting into his carriage, a poem was handed to him. Ananda Gajapati himself praised the poem and honoured the poet with a gift of Rs.128 and respectfully asked him to consider the meagre amount for the time being a lakh of rupees for each letter in the composition.

Ananda Gajapati's court was adorned by musicians of great merit and attainment, the greatest of the times from several parts of the country. Vizianagaram Samsthanam attracted patronised and promoted fine arts, chiefly music. Veena Peda Gururaya charyulu came from Tanjavur in the late 18th Century and settled down at Vizianagaram. He was the Chief Court Musician in the court of Raja Narayana Gajapati. Vijayarama Gajapati grew up in Banares in the company of poets, musicians and scholars. Ananda Gajapati excelled his forbears in that he was an accomplished musician and Vainika himself. As has been poetically remarked he would command art to acquire art. Under his patronage thrived the Violin exponent Kaligotla Rama Raju, Rudra Veera exponent Kavirayani Ramanayya and Lakshminarayana, Hinusthani musician and maestro Muhaba Khan, Vocalist Manwar Khan, instrumentalist Nishavalli Khan and Sitarist Abdullah Khan.

Ananda Gajapati's court was a busy hive of street activity. It was a veritable honeycomb, a source of the two noblest of things, sweetness and light. Artistes, not only those who belonged to these parts but to the entire country with their varied degrees of excellences were encouraged by Ananda Gajapati. Researchers like Vissa Apparao recorded that several were the musicians who received encouragement from this eminent prince. Among the innumerable such particular mention had been made by scholars of Durvasula Suryanarayana Somayaji, Ganti Bechi Sastri, Garimella Ramalingam, Gummaluri Venkata Sastri. Karri Padmabba Swami, Mukkamala Subbarayadu and Viswambharudu, Nirghtam Krishnayya and Sripada Venkata Krishnayya.

Ananda Gajapathi was aware of the patronage Indian music was receiving at centres like Calcutta, Bombay and Poona. He used to attend whenever he had an opportunity musical concerts in Calcutta with men like Raja Jitendarmohan Thakur. Poona Gayani Samaj was a society founded (for the purpose of promoting our classical music, mainly Hindusthani music and it was encouraged by the British) on the 13th of September possibly in the year 1894. It has been mentioned by scholars that liberal donations from the Maharajah reached these bodies. Having been lifted with a genuine and abiding flair for music Ananda Gajapati attracted artistes from distant places like Bidaram Rachappa from Mysore. Dr.A.V.D.Sharma mentioned in his book that Ananda Gajapathi had in his court an Italian Band set consisting of forty eight players and a Sahanai troupe with twelve players. It was also popular belief that Ananda Gajapati tutored the eminent Veena Venkata Ramana Das. None excelled Venkata Ramana Das on the Veena.

In those days it was felt, as was recorded in the Annual Report of Poona Gayani Samaj for the year 1895: “From a European point of view there are two drawbacks with regard to Hindu music, viz; want of a notation system and of harmony. As for a notation system Mr.Chinswamy Mudaliar M.A., of the Madras Secretariat, had already reduced to European staff rotations, about three hundred native pieces, and printed solely with European materials in his publications “Oriental Music in European Notation”, and if the system is finally approved by European professors of music the Gayan Samaj will try its best to adopt the same.” The need for recording music in the form of notation having been felt keenly, Ananda Gajapati contributed to the publications of notations. He helped and funded the publication of Gayaka Siddanjanam and Swara Manjari written by Pachchur Singaracharya brothers of Madras who meant the book primarily for learners of music.

Reputed actors and stage artistes too were part of Ananda Gajapati’s court. The Maharajah liked witnessing performances of plays in Sanskirt and also in Telugu. In the year 1874, during the reign of his father Maharajah Vijayarama Gajapati, a dramatic society, Jagannadha Vilasini came into being. This happened to be the first well organised society in this part of the country. But at the inception stage only Sanskrit plays were put on boards. This Nataka Sabha used to give performances in important cultural centres like Pithapuram and Madras. Abhijnana Sakuntalam, Vikramorvasiyam and Veni Simharam were the plays usually selected for performance. The chief of the actors was Butchi Sastry and the society was also referred to as Butchi Sastry Troupe. Maharajah Ananda Gajapati liked witnessing the performances by renowned actors. In those days there was a famous actor in Madras called Gomatham Srinivasa Charyulu. He was known as Indian Garric. Ananda Gajapati invited this great actor to his court. He also patronised G.C.Srinivasa Charyulu who wrote a play in English on Harishchandra. Ananda Gajapati liked the play and permitted the play-wright to insert two of his own stanzas in the concluding scene of the play. Under the dateline 8th November, 1887, Gurajada Appa Rao recorded in his diary (published by Burra Seshagiri Rao in Andhra vara Patrika): The Maharajah's Dramatic Society, Vijayaram Dramatic Academy, an experimental theatre put on boards Sakuntala. The Maharajah came.” Sri Ananda Gajapati identified himself with art and excellence, with artistry and nobility.

The Maharajah had a forward-looking temperament and progressive views. He it was who orignally initiated social reform. Gurajada Appa Rao who wrote the epoch-making play Kanyasulkam dedicated it to the Maharajah. (The Dedication as well as his preface to the first edition of the play in 1897 are included in this work as appendices). The playwright, a loyal servant and a faithful follower, extols the Maharajah as one 'with whom knowledge is an absorbing passion' and adds that his appreciative encouragement of letters has attracted to his court literary stars of the first magnitude and declares that the Maharajah inaugurated a brilliant epoch in the history of Telugu Literature.

A man of the highest attainments, an ardent lover of learning, a born prince who had a taste for the best and the highest in everything, he knew how to draw the sweetest and the brightest from everything he experienced around him. The title with which Maharajah Ananda Gajapati came to be referred to as Abhinava Andhra Bhoja stands testimony to the fact that after Bhoja Raja the one having the qualities of such greatness was the only one in those times, that was Maharajah Ananda Gajapati. He had no peers and no superiors in matters of virtues and attainments, Truth and Sahridaya. It is well-nigh impossible to affirm with any degree of certainty as to whether the court shone as it did because of him or that he had shone because of his court for the Maharajah and his court were inseparable. Together they shone as a mighty galaxy of intellectual and artistic luminaries.

Continued to “The Patron of Arts and Letters”


More by :  Dr. Rama Rao Vadapalli V.B.

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