The Great Personality

Continued from “A Prince Among Scholars”

The greatest tribute paid to the Maharajah Ananda Gajapati as a man was perhaps the one by the Tirupati Venkata Kavulu. They extolled his distinction among princes and distinction among men in the oft-quoted line is Of all the Rajahs we hadve seen the Rajah of Vizianagaram the vetta, the knowing one.

The highest attribute of the noblest human being is to be the one who knows. The poets declared that Maharajah Ananda Gajapati, of all the princes they had seen, was vetta. His name itself had a magical charm for the embodied the best connoted by the appellation. It was once again those two poets who said these lines pregnant with significance:

Here is a scholarly praise which, as Kesavapantula Narsimha Sastri observed, can be understood only by those who have a Knowledge of Sanskrit grammar. Ananda is the name of the ruler. Some say it is from the root 'pach' and interpret it as 'katraradhaka' meaning one who gives Ananda to others. Some consider it 'arisa adyantam' and interpret it as 'Karmardhaka' meaning, 'being given Ananda'. The poets took it as 'ubhayapadi,' meaning both.

True to the praise of the poets Ananda Gajapati had a philosophical outlook on life. As a Jnani, the one who 'knows', he gave Ananda and enjoyed Ananda. Deserving the euologistic praise of poets who revealed in such compositions, Ananda Gajapati had a very charming mien and pleasing manners. Not for nothing was he admired as 'Prince Charming'. His bearing was majestic and his words sweet and soothing. He was a 'smita poorva bhashi' the one who would utter words after sweet smiles. He would never hurt others. He was always serene and composed. There was none other who knew the Maharajah so well by virtue of his being so close to him and so devoted to him as Gurajada Appa Rao. Here are some of the traits of the Maharajah as recorded by Gurajada in his Vyasa Chandrika :

“The Maharajah's genius was sharp like a sword. There was nothing that his sight would not be able to reach. He appeared to understand the most minute and the subtlest in a trice.

“When the Maharajah assigned a piece of work to one he would not interfere with that any more. It bothered him to enquire again. He desired everyone should look after his job independently. He gave full liberty to the people working for him.

“When he was talking our hearts would throb in response. We recollect divine experiences. His were not mere discourses. They were messages. He looked at life from a philosophical standpoint.

“His knowledge was boundless. He had deep scholarship in several things. His ideas dazzle like lightning. Immediately after seeing him humility would be automatically generated.

“The great virtue in him was goodness. He was gentle. He was never known to be harsh. He had a virtuous character. A Jnani, a worshipful attitude came to anyone near him.

“He said once: “the external veneer that hides the nature of a thing is useless.”

“We have to bear our sorrows ourselves. We should not make others unhappy by relating our sorrows to them. Submerging sorrows inside, we should make the friends around us enthusiastic.

Whatever may be his dissatisfaction, he would never make it known to others. He would not confide his troubles. He would consider the troubles of others as his own.

“The condition of prostitutes is deteriorating day by day. They must be taught the arts for earning a living. If they are enrolled in the Music college and taught fine arts it would be good. From my revered father's time arts have been developing here. Children of prostitutes are learning fine arts like Music. They should be trained in good character to develop their self-respect. It is necessary to set right their life.

“He never got angry. He had no egotism at all. Knowing his power and ability, acquiring humility, he conducted himself with dignity.

“He was a great critic. He had skill in scenting the tendencies of individuals. He would sharply observe anything said or done by anybody. He weighed his words. He was hurt when there was any deviation from rectitude. He made rules for his own conduct and would adjust his way of life to them. But these principles went on becoming more and more complex. It was his wish that the people around him should follow the rules of ethics. While training them they became more complex for himself and for those being trained by him.

“His experience of life was great.

“His eyes reflected thought. Always dreaming sweet dreams, shedding light his eyes appeared to be ruling Dignity itself. His looks would reach and capture heights of beauty others could not reach. In his looks would be depths unreachable to eyes.

“After his consort's demise sadness overtook him. But he always contained it in his heart with self-control and never allowed his sadness to be visible.”

These notes of Gurajada reveal that Maharajah Ananda Gajapati was stoic, philosophical and resigned in spite of all his activities and endeavours. He was a real Jnani whose inner self nothing touched. He was like the proverbial water drop on a lotus leaf.

Ananda Gajapati never believed in wielding power. He was a Rajarshi. He never craved for earthly power and pelf. He was never anxious for his installation though he took over the administration on his revered father's demise as a matter of pious duty. Nothing came nearer to his heart than maintaining and upholding the prestige of the Royal House. As a vetta he knew what was destined to happen. He knew the implication of his horoscope and it was widely believed that he calculated the time of his passing away right to the second and had it collaborated by astrologers. The fact that he permitted an adoption in his will testifies to his knowledge of what was to come. He bore everything with cheerful resignation and devoted his time to fostering the ancient values.

He was of Santa Swabhava. Nothing ever upset him. A serenity that passeth understanding enveloped him. He was reverent to elders and always defended the truthful and weak. Two instances would be enough to illustrate this. Adibhatla, in his autobiography “Na yeruka” (p 228), recorded an instance of the prince defending him when a charge was brought against by an old and jealous Vainika: Why should he swear at all ? Perhaps he said it. Everyone has his own talent. Why all this hullabaloo? Perhaps he does not want to speak a lie.” Turning to Adibhatla he read out a poem he composed himself that the virtuous one would never stoop to speak falsehood, He said that he had composed it himself. When Adibhatla repeated it at once and praised it, the Maharajah was pleased. He defended him once again saying: “Please keep quiet: While he is singing sweetly why do you make trouble. He (Adibhatla) is independent. After all what are we before him who has been awarded prizes by the Maharajah of Mysore?”

There was another incident in which he defended Lingam Lakshmoji Pantulu. This was recorded by Gurajada in his diary : On 3rd July, 1895 the Maharajah spoke about restraining anger and abstaining from hurting others.

While teaching boys, Lakshmoji used the phrase 'no any', Sarma in the presence of boys pointed it out as a mistake. Later the Maharajah himself cited that usage from Newman and explained with humility that he would not consider finding the usage a matter of pride. Thereupon the Maharajah softly corrected Sarma and said: “In society if one tries to criticize others, one should be prepared to be criticized. The Book of Human Life should be read well. If one does not do it one would become useless. Patience and capacity to please others are tokens of this kind of training the Maharajah declared with his characteristic humility and sweetness that when one knows the other to be in the wrong, one should be delicate, soft and gentle in calling attention to the mistake.

Maharajah Ananda Gajapati has become a living legend in these parts of the country. Innumerable are the anecdotes related about his physical prowess, generosity and nobility. It has been believed that he could bend a silver rupee between his thumb and forefinger. He could squeeze oil from gingelly seeds. He once repelled the attack of a tiger unarmed. When a sepoy wanted to shoot it down Maharajah Vijayarama Gajapati, his father, restrained him with dignity and taking this as a cue to show his prowess, the prince killed it with blows from his fist. A bodybuilder came to his court once offering to show his feats of physical strength. He challenged the Mallas of the Rajah's Court. The Maharajah told him that he would witness the exhibition of the man's strength in the evening and rose to have his morning meal. He spoke to a servant and took the Vastad with him to dine in his company. The food was served but there was no oil or ghee. There was only a bowl of gingelly seeds. The Maharajah squeezed the seed and oil came down from his fist. The vastad tried to do the same in vain. There upon the prince squeezed the vastad's fist which held the gingelly and blood oozed. Then the vastad fell at the Maharajah's feet. Ananda Gajapati praised him saying that his own feat was nothing. It was also believed that the Maharajah would go up the stairs of Moti Mahal on horseback.

Anecdotes are also related about his kind-heartedness. He would go around the camp during his travels in the dead of the night and see whether every one of his retinue was comfortably asleep. His personal nobility and generosity are believed to be phenomenal. It has been sung by poets too. Once a cook in the Divanam had stolen a gold plate off which the Maharajah dined: The thief was apprehended and produced before the Maharajah. When the erring cook had confessed himself to be guilty the Maharajah forgave him and asked the officers to let him go with the plate declaring it to be a gift from him. Though he was promptly dismissed, a pension equivalent to his salary was granted to the cook who confessed that he had been driven to the crime to buy his brother a wife.

Maharajah Ananda Gajapati was a staunch feminist and a social reformer in his own right. He caused a survey to be made of the child marriages and the 'sulkas' (price) taken by the fathers of the brides. He made efforts for legislation to be made for abolishing the heinous practice of Kanya Sulka (bride price). He took special care to start schools for girls and encouraged proposals for starting educational institutions for women. He wanted to ameliorate the condition of the down-trodden prostitutes for whom he had a genuine human sympathy. He had great concern for the welfare of the common man and never cared for expense to improve his lot. Though a ruling prince he had socialistic ideas at heart. He encouraged people to be patriotic and was a patriot himself. Gurajada recorded in his diary how the Maharajah encouraged the idea of liberty in the staff of his educational institutions. He started a debating club of which he made Gurajada Appa Rao the Vice President. The college staff had great patriotism and nationalistic feeling and those were also in tune with their loyalty to the Maharajah. It would be surprising to read from Gurajada's diaries there used to be Congress Meetings in which the lecturers were participants. Their lectures were caused to be published in the journal,Harp, under the editorship of one of the lecturers.

It was not merely scholarship and the fine arts that the Maharajah loved. He also promoted goodness and worked endlessly for the welfare of the poor with singular large heartedness. The Samsthanam was the most hospitable. According to the Raj Purohit visitors from Nellore District to Ganjam District would be extended hospitality for forty days and before departure would be paid money for Samvatsara Grasa (money that would see them through a whole year). People used to come to visit Vizianagaram whre the Maharajah used to hold Durbars on Sravana Pournami. Vijaya Dasami and other special occasions.

The Maharajah was such an ardent lover of music that he used to forget himself listening to melody. Here is an anecdote. One day while the Maharajah was on his way to the morning meal. Adibhatla went to him and expressed his desire to render a pallavi. The Maharajah graciously allowed him his wish. Thereupon the Vainic started producing exquisite melodies on the Veena. The connoisseur sat through the performance spellbound. The passage of time was forgotten. Adibhatla suddenly realised that it was past 2 p.m. and asked the noble Lord for his forgiveness. The enlightened prince replied: “What if the meal time is long past? I am well fed.”


The Passing away of the Maharajah

Maharajah Ananda Gajapati passed away on the 23rd of May 1897. His sudden demise engulfed ordinary men and the thinking alike in great sorrow. Those who suffered the pangs of grief most were those who had the privilege and fortune of being close to him and had intimate personal contact with him. The Jnani the Maharajah was, he had a foreknowledge of what was coming and he accepted everything with a fortitude hard to come by in ordinary mortals. With his passing away a glorious epoch in the History of the Telugus came to an end all too suddenly.

Gurajada Appa Rao wrote in his diary: “This year proved for me the most disastrous. The Maharajah – whom I loved more than I loved my wife and children or parents – passed away. His character and personality attracted ripe minds by spotless Satvikata, hearty benevolence and divine truth drew their inexpressible admiration. Our lives were all intertwined with his. I would do anything for him. His order was the standard. A great light disappeared from the world.” Later, in an essay in Vyasa Samputi he wrote: “Immediately after the passing away of the Maharajah his ideals ended with him. No one goes anywhere near them. No one ever recollects. Everything appears to have been forgotten. He was always straining himself for great ideals.

Gurajada Srirama Murty was another of the many poets who recorded his great grief with touching vividness. Asrutarapanamulu records the poet's intimacy with the great Maharajah besides paying a tribute to his literary and cultural eminence. He recounts in this elegiac composition, among several other things with cheeks bedewed with tears of thoughtful gratitude, the prince's affection for him in carrying him on his shoulders when the poet was suffering from fever. Though the Maharajah was busy with Holkar's visit he went to see the poet and said. “Why should you be here alone suffering from fever? Come, the Holkar would be here.” The grief-stricken poet reconciles himself to reality asserting that it should only be Divine will that the hero who could kill a tiger unarmed should succumb to a fever. Peace had to be brought back to the minds of people shaken by sorrow and he undertook to compose Vedanta Sara. That had been the end of an age and an epoch ever to be remembered by all thinking minds all over our glorious Telugu Bhoomi.

(The author of this monograph wrote Telugu “Gapatula Gaadha”, in (927words) which was aired in AIR, Visakhapatnam, on 8th April, 1993. carried it in their Stories slot on 18th March 2018)

Appendix I

Summary of the history of the Vizianagaram Royal Family

This family belongs to the Solar race of Subehdar Rajaputs of historical repute. Vizianagaram and Odeyapore being the offshoots of the same genealogical tree of which Ramachandra of the Ramayana constitutes the main stock, according to all the Puranas of the Hindus.

“Hand-book for Madras” by Edward B.Eastwick pp 339-340

The Maharajah of Vijayanagaram claims descent from the Maharanas of Udepur, and is of the Vasishta Gotra, or Clan of the Sisodhya branch of the Grahilot tribes. A brother of the Maharana emigrated to Oudh, and in the 529, A.D., his descendant, Madhavaranah, marched with 5 clans into the Deccan, and conquered the country from Ramanad to Katak. His capital, was Vijayanagar, afterwards transferred to Baizwada. His descendants reigned over this kingdom for 921 years. In 1512 they were subjected by Sultan Kulu of the Golkonda dynasty. Under the 5th King of that line an ancestor of the present ruler of Vijayanagaram was made Subehdar of the N.Sarkars. The Emperor Aurangzib confirmed the Subehdar in his office, and gave him a two-edged sword, which is still used in the coat-of-arms of the family. In 1817 the father of the present ruler (grandfather of the present writer)made over his estate to Government, to clear off his debts of 2,000,000 Rupees. In 1827 he again made over his estate and died at Banaras leaving a debt of Rs.1,100,000. His successor, the late Maharajah Vijayarama Gajapati raj III was recognised in the place of his father in 1845, and had several honours conferred on him by the British Government. Lord Northbrook obtained for him the title of His Highness, and had his name enrolled among those of chiefs entitled to return visits from the Viceroy. He was clear of debt and distinguished himself by many acts of charity. His son was born December 31st, 1850, and a daughter is married to His Highness Maharaj Kumar Singh, cousin and heir apparent of H.H. Maharajah of Rewah. The area of the country is 2,000 square miles, with a population of 800000 persons.”

The Rajahs of Vizianagaram obtained the title of Gajapaty by right of conquest after the battle of Nandapoor, in the Northern Circars in the sixteenth century. They never paid chouth (a form of payment) to the Maharattas nor any money as tribute to the French.

Appendix II


His Highness the Maharajah Mirja
Sri Ananda Gajapati Raj.Manya Sultan
Bahadur of Vizianagar, G.C.I.E.,
May it please Your Highness,

It is fabled that when the ancient demi-god of your noble race was making a causeway across the sea to rescue his consort from captivity, the faithful squirrel brought at the end of its tail a few grains of sand, not indeed hoping to advance the high enterprise in any appreciable degree, but to show an inclination to serve. Ten years ago, when the question was engaging Your Highness attention of saving a very helpless section of our woman-kind from a galling type of slavery fraught with the germs of social demoralisation, a humble servant made a feeble effort to arouse public opinion on the subject by exposing the evil in a popular drama. The success that attended its production on the boards, and demand for copies from various quarters, emboldened him to publish it. No one is better aware than the writer himself how great are the imperfections of the piece, and how unworthy it is of presentation to such an exalted personage and ripe scholar as Your Highness, but he has ventured to seek Your Highness's indulgence, as he deems it the highest honour and his greatest ambition to be permitted to dedicate the fruits of his intellect poor though in merit to a Prince with whom knowledge is an absorbing passion and whose appreciative encouragement of letters, has attracted to his court, literary stars of the first magnitude and inaugurated a brilliant epoch in the history of Telugu Literature.

I have the honour to subscribe myself
May it please Your Highness
One Ever Loyal to The Ever, Loyal.

Appendix III

The end of the fifteen years war between the English and the French for the Sovereignty of India from 1744 to 1759, A.D


The writer has had the pleasure of receiving a communication dated June 1st 1894, from the Collector and Agent to the Governor at Visagapatnam F D A O. Wolfe Murray, Esq. requiring from him an answer to an enquiry of the India Government regarding the Vizainagaram Treaty with the British Power in the last centry, embodied in a letter under date 23rd April, 1894 addressed to and forwarded by the Chief Secretary. The Hon'ble Mr.John Frederic Price, C.S.I. Madras to the address of Mr Wolfe Murray. The above mentioned communication of the India Government, copy of which was returned as desired to Mr.Wolfe Murray with a covering letter from the writer, dated 23rd December 1894, was the result of his request made in person to the foreign Secretary. The Hon'ble Mr.W.J.Cunningham, C.S.I for the insertion of the Vizianagaram Treaty in Aitchison's Treaties. And the reasons for his request to the Foreign Secretary are stated in para 5, second page, and para 184, forty-third page. (See Appendix V)

The writer regrets the unavoidable delay owing to the length the letter has assumed on account of his anxiety to make a full representation of the relations that existed between the English Power and his Family, and of the services rendered by his ancestors to the English cause in the middle of the last century, which services, in importance, he believes, stand second to none, when compared with the aid rendered to the English Government by other Chiefs in the Indian Empire.

Appendix V

Anandaraj who had thrown the gauntlet to the French and repeatedly invited the English to send but “a small assistance of Europeans.” (Cambridge's War in India page 369) adding that he would drive away the French from these parts, and who, on his own account, even before the English Forces had left Calcutta, or even the message of Lord Clive reached him, hoisted the English flag, in place of the French, at Vizagapatam, on 2nd September, 1758.

Pag 183. Although perhaps this act was accomplished not quite disinterestedly, yet, in view of the difficulties of communication with Calcutta, In view of the uncertainty of the fortunes of war, in view of the spontaneity of his action, in view of the ultimate brilliant achievements of Col.Forde's expedition, in view of his efficacious exertions for frustrating the ambitious designs of the Franco-Mahomedan league, by strongly adhering to the English cause at a most critical time, with the ultimate success of the Nizam being detached from the French interest, in view of the direct establishment of the British Power in Southern India-In this respect claiming priority in the legal and material services rendered, over every Native State not excluding the Nizam himself, and in view of the continuity of subsequent historical facts manifesting manifold advantages to the paramount power as well as to ourselves upto the present day ; well may we be proud that the sam flag which was unfurled then, still affords its gratifying shade not only here, but spreading from end to end of the land of India, wafts unprecedented peace and prosperity to neary 300 millions of people.

In conclusion I beg to repeat that the insertion. In Aitchison's Treaties of this Treaty with the summary of the history of the Vizianagaram family given below, can in no way detract from the work, but on the contrary may be conducive to the enhancement of its harmony, and certainly to the glory of the family of the Rajahs of Vizianagaram specially as mentioned on the second page, many of the Treaties in Aitchison's work, in the form of entry, being similar to the treaty in question as indirect quotations without seal and signature of the contracting parties.

ADMIRALTY HOUSE, MADRAS                      I have the honour to be,
FRIDAY                                                               Sir,
                                                                             Yours most obedient servant,
December 14th, 1894                                           Ananda Gajapati

Select Bibliography

Ananda Gajapati – Vizainagaram Treaty Vest & Co,. Madras 1894
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Donappa t – Andhra Samstanamulu, Sahitya Poshanamu Andhra University Series No.85, Waltair 1969
Francies.W – Madras District Gazetteers – Visakhapatnam 1915
Narasimhastri Kesavapantula : Samsthanamulu -Sahityaseve A.P.Sahtiya Akademi, Hyderabad 1975
Naravana Das Adibhatla – Melubanti (Welcome Press, Guntur, 1974)
Naa Yeruka Welcome Press, Guntur, 1976
Perannasastri Mula : Srimadananda Gajapattiyam – Sahiti Bharati, Vizianagaram 1982
Ramam Krovvidi Motimahal Vizianagaram, Sept.1982, A P S A Aid
Sarma A,V.D – Vizianagara Zilla Charitra-Samskruti MANSAS, Vizianagaram 1983
Sastri V.L.el al : Encyclopaedia of Madras Presidency Madras, 1922
Seshagiri Rao Burra: Gurajada Appa Rao Gari Diareelu Reprinted from Andhra Vara Patrika
Subrahmanya Sastry D.B. Unpublished private diaries
Venkatasastri Chellapila – Kathalu-Gadhalu Venkateswara Publications, Kadiyam, 1957
Venkata Rao Nidadavolu : Vizianagara Samsthanamu, Andhra Vangmaya Poshana A.P.Sashitya Academi, Hyderabad, 1965
Venkata Subrahmanyastri D.B. Vijayanagara Vijaya Yatra Vizianagaram 1937
Magazines and Souvenirs of Maharajah's College, Vizianagaram.
Diamond Jubilee Souvenir of Maharajah's Sanskrit College, 1940, Centenary Souvenir of Theosophical Society, Vasistha Lodge, Vizianagaram, 1984


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

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