Sunday 20 January 2013

The King who preferred never to speak

He spoke but only once during his entire lifetime. Today, he is known as the deaf and dumb King of Mysore. Yet, despite not being able to or not wanting to speak, he governed his Mysore State well.
What is more this King was a great patron of arts and literature. He himself has written 14 Yakshagana plays. Though his reign was short-ten years-it saw the golden age of Yakshagana and laid it on a form foundation.
This was Kantirava Narasaraja Wodeyar the second, the Ruler of Mysore from 1704-1714. Born on December 27, 1672, he ascended the Mysore throne in 1704 at a comparatively young age of 32 years.
The only son of  Chikka Deva Raja Wodeyar, he had a sedate and quiet childhood. His father, the reigning King of Mysore, and his mother Devaraja Ammani, brought the child up with a lot of love and affection.
However, they soon became concerned when even after five years the young Narasaraja did not speak. Seeing that the prince showed no inclination whatsoever to communicate, the worried king proclaimed that whoever made the prince speak would be rewarded handsomely.
A person called Gopala Bhatta came forward to make the prince speak. He performed many rituals and prayed to the Sun God and then called upon the young Prince to speak. To everyone's surprise, not only did the prince speak, but he also revealed some facets of his past life.
The prince said that in his previous birth, he was a potter in Kashi or who had bee regularly attending a discourse on the Bhagavath Gita by ascetic called Krishna Bhatta.  One day, after the discourse, the ascetic left the book on the Bhagavad Gita behind.
The potter then sold the book and bought milk for the ascetic with the proceeds of the sale. When the ascetic came to know how the potter had purchased the milk, he cursed the potter that he would be reborn as a mute prince and that he would later become a king. The ascetic also stated that he himself would be reborn as the mute king’s son, as an atonement for trying to enlighten a low class person like the potter with the teachings of the Gita.
The King, Queen and assembled people listened in wonder to the tale of the Prince. After having narrated the story, the prince became silent and never spoke again.
A well endowed person, he marred twice. In 1693, he married Chama Ammani of Yelandur. Subsequently, he married Cheluva Ammani of Kalale.
His father died on November 16, 1704 and Narasaraja was coronated on November 30, the same year. He is believed to have succeeded to the throne through the influence of the minister, Tirumalaiyangar.
He reigned under a series of Dalavai Regents all of whom hailed from the Kalale family near Nanjangud. Since he never spoke, he came to be known as Mooka Arasu (the dumb king). Yet, his rule saw Mysore rise to great heights in literature and arts.
He has authored 14 Yakshaganas in various languages in Kannada script.
Since Narasaraja Wodeyar II remained silent throughout his rule, it has sparked controversy among historians as to whether the king was really mute or simply preferred to perform his duties in sign language and written communication.
Historian say his silence did not appear to affect either him or the Mysore Kingdom. He not only managed to hold on to the Kingdom but also defeated the local chieftain of Chikaballapur.
A polyglot, the king was proficient in Kannada, Sanskrit, Telugu, Tamil and Prakrit. He is today mainly remembered for his contribution to Yakshagana. He introduced sangeeta (music), nataka (drama) and natya (dance) in Yakshagana.
His works  were discovered at the Government Oriental manuscript library in Chennai and later transferred to the Adhyayana Samasthe inMysore. These works comprise  of songs, Sanskrit shlokas, KannadaVachanas, Telugu padya, dvipadi (two liners) and Sangatya (compositions meant to be sung to the accompaniment of a musical instrument).

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