A graduate in English and Economics from Boston University, the 27th titular Maharaja of Mysore Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar epitomises the grand tradition of the Wadiyar Dynasty, founded by Yaduraya Wodeyar in 1399. In an interview with Dipankar Chakraborty, he mentions the closeness of the people of Karnataka and their personal relationship with the Palace in Mysore. He says he has no intention of joining politics and is happy to join in the efforts to make India a world leader.
He spoke about his marriage to Rajkumari Trishikha Kumari Sing of Dungarpur Royal Family of Rajasthan, his childhood and his present role as titular King of Mysore. He says Parliamentary democracy in India has taken a huge leap forward towards a more transparent people-first government. He also spoke about Swami Vivekananda’s visit to Mysore Palace in 1892.
Q. What role do you envisage for yourself as the 27th titular Maharaja of Mysore?
A: The role of the custodian is purely ceremonial now. Our first and foremost duty is the continuation of the traditions that our forefathers have handed down for many centuries. Alongside this the people of Karnataka, the new avatar of the erstwhile state of Mysore, have always had a close and personal relationship with the Palace at Mysore and it is my honour and privilege to continue this association and see that the bonds we have with the people of Karnataka remain a source of endearment of our culture and unique heritage.
Q. Can you please tell us something about your childhood?
A: I was born in Bangalore and did my education there. After the 12th Grade I went to the US to finish my undergraduate degree. I completed the same with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Economics and English. My childhood was a very happy one and I’m privileged to be a part of this family and have such good idols to look up to in shaping my own ideals and aspirations.
Q. How do you plan to carry forward the legacy of Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wadiyar?
A: No two individuals are the same. I think one has to be true to one’s passions and one’s aspirations when shaping one’s own legacy. That said, honouring our ancestors by continuing their many endeavours is of the utmost importance. My father Sri Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wadiyar continued the traditions of this household through much hardship. Despite our privileges and rights being taken away, he ensured that our legacy lives on and our centuries old traditions continue. I think this is the most admirable contribution of his and continuing this tradition and passing it on to my forerunners will be a means of honouring his legacy.
Q. How significant has been your marriage with Rajkumari Trishikha Kumari Sing of Dungarpur Royal Family of Rajasthan?
A: The most important aspect of any marriage is that the couple have a loving, caring, and nurturing relationship, and this is certainly true of my marriage. We both have helped each other become better individuals and at the same time have pushed each other to achieve our individual goals. Furthermore in my wife, I have found someone who cares about preserving our traditions very deeply and also in having similar aspirations.
Q. You have done your graduation from Boston University in English and Economics. How has this helped you understand the dynamics of Karnataka and the Indian economy and work for the people?
A: It gave me a better worldview and understanding of the mechanics of how an economy works. Primarily, however, it pushed me toward assessing our many environmental concerns from an economics viewpoint, which I believe will ultimately have to answer the challenges of our environmental concerns. I think economic policy and reform will be the means to solve our environmental crisis and bring about a more sustainable means of conducting ourselves and our businesses.
Q. How do you see the working of Indian Parliamentary democracy over the last 7 decades?
A: I think it has taken a huge leap forward, and is making strides toward having a more transparent, people-first government. Importantly, we are reshaping the narrative of our country on our own terms. This will highlight our unique culture and also see that our civilisational roots are preserved.
Q. Do you have any plans of joining national politics and play a larger role in the development of the country?
A: No. But I am most happy to support Bharat’s causes and our aspirations to grow into a world leader.
Q. Can you please tell us about the importance of the annual Dasara festival? Do you have any plans to make it an all India and international event?
A: In Mysore, the Dasara festival has been celebrated from time immemorial. The Dasara represents the symbolic victory of good over evil. We find reference to its importance throughout the Puranas and its rituals are a celebration of an ancient tradition. The Dasara festival, or more precisely the Sharan-Navaratri and Dasara festivities, referring to nine days before the tenth day celebration or ‘Dasara’, is a Dharmic tradition that has been carried on for over four centuries by our family and for time immemorial by various Kingdoms before us.
In Mysore the Dasara is primarily concerned with the celebrations of Goddess Chamundeshwari’s victory over the Asura, Mahishasura. It also celebrates Lord Rama’s Pattabhisheka, Lord Indra’s victory over the demon Vritra, and even the churning of the cosmic ocean that resulted in the creation of life. The Markandeya Purana, Rig Veda, Kalika Purana and other texts of antiquity are the main points of reference for the festival. The rituals and Vidhis observed during this time are of tremendous importance and are performed for the welfare and prosperity of the state and country. During the time when we maintained our own sovereignty the rituals also were performed so that the kings may be victorious in their wars. Today it is performed for the success in our every endeavour.
Q. What ideas or dreams do you have about making Mysuru a world class city?
A: Mysore’s uniqueness lies in its ability to maintain its ancient legacy alongside making relevant changes so as to not be obsolete in an everchanging world. If Mysore has to shine once again, we must ensure that we remodel our identity and focus our efforts towards a city that is at the forefront of sustainability, environmental awareness, and at the same time true to its cultural roots.
Q. Please tell us about your various socio-economic welfare projects currently underway in Mysuru and Karnataka?
A: My primary focus has been toward making Mysore a Cyber Security Hub. A white paper was released by my foundation regarding the same and we have been making strides toward ensuring that Cyber Security will become an economic driver for our city. Other than this initiative, we continue supporting efforts at bettering our educational infrastructure in and around Mysore via many social organisations in the city.
Q. What kind of role do you expect the Central and states government to play to keep alive the glorious traditions of royal families and palaces in various parts of the country?
A: The government must always be a supportive pillar for institutions such as ours, which have traditions being carried on for many centuries. However, at the end of the day, it is up to us to ensure that this heritage is kept alive and passed on to future generations.
Q. Do you also keep in touch with other royal families in the country?
A: Yes, of course. We are related to many and are on cordial terms with many more families.