Krishnaraja Wodeyar III
by Jyotsna Kamat
First Published: May 04, 2006
Page Last Updated: April 04, 2014
Mummadi, the multi-talented monarch
Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar of Mysore (1794-1868)
Krishnaraja Wodeyar III, more commonly referred to as Mummadi Krishnaraj
Wodeyar (mummadi stands for 'three' in
Kannada) was a remarkable king who has left a mark of many
memorable traditions. Though he failed in the eyes of the British as
an incompetent administrator, he was loved and respected for his humane,
charitable and kind nature by his subjects, more so for encouraging
several arts and crafts.
Mummadi ascended the throne of newly created state of
Mysore state as child-king in 1799 C.E, after the fall of Tippu Sultan in the
fourth battle of Mysore. His mother the Dowager queen Lakshmiammanni was an
astute regent. She played important role in re-establishment of rule of
Wodeyars. Under her and Dewan Purnaiah's able guidance the boy king
got good training initially.
K.L. Kamat/Kamat's Potpourri
Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar
Illustration from Sougandhika Parinaya manuscript
Lakshmiammanni passed away in 1810 A.D. and Purnaiah, soon after in the year
1811. Thus Mummadi lost both his mentors in quick succession, and was left to fend for himself.
His advisers in governing the state were not
foresighted, or skillful. In the long run, administration of the state suffered.
Mummadi was a man of varied interests. He was a voracious reader and
a good writer himself. He is credited with several book in Kannada of
which 'Shritattvanidhi' and 'Sougandhikaparinaya' are better
known. He knew several languages. Besides Sanskrit and Kannada he
could read and write in Persian, Hindi, Telugu, Tamil
and Marathi languages ; he also knew English.
He played the Veena instrument and patronized great musicians and composers of
his time like Sadashiva Rao, Veena Venkatasubbayya and
Doddaseshanna. Well known commentators of shastras, grammarians
and poets adorned his court.
He encouraged dance, drama and Yakshagana. Viswanathayya,
father of legendary Bidaram Krishnappa, enjoyed his patronage.
Krishnaraj Wodeyar the Third, encouraged graphic arts. A good number of artists were engaged to
paint court-life in all its grandeur.
The art portraiture developed as a fine art in Mysore during Mummadi's
rule. He had
several portraits of well known people of the kingdom painted by the best artists.
Today they form a very valuable resource for researchers because of the visual
clues they provide. He was responsible for the
creation of the Jaganmohan art gallery of Mysore, and built the original
building in 1861. He was greatly
interested in painting. The grandfather of famous K. Venkatappa was
his personal friend.
Mummadi should be credited with documenting a visual
history of his period
Mummadi introduced English education in Mysore state, by starting
Maharaja's English School which paved way for the famous Maharaja's
college and finally, the Mysore University.
The first hospital of English medicines appeared in the capital
city. He greatly encouraged Ayurvedic medicine (traditional Indian medicine) and other native
systems as well.
The capital city was transferred from Srirangapattana to Mysore and
the latter was to become a seat of learning and center of several fine
arts in later years. City of Bangalore was given to British, specially
for cantonment facility.
Mummadi's greatest contribution was in reviving traditional art of
painting which has later acquired the name of Mysore Traditional
Painting. Started as a palace art, it became immensely popular
because of its special ornamentation, delineation, and colorful
presentation. All popular deities of the region came to be presented
in Mysore style of painting. Special mention may be made of
Chamundeshwari, Titular deity of Wodeyars, Rajarajeshwari,
Rama, Krishna, various avatars of Shiva and
Vishnu. There were many pavilions (Tottis) attached to the palaces
which represented traditional style as well as an admixture of
traditional and western art (called "Company Art"). The variety in thematic
presentation of whatever is available today of Mysore School, makes a
glorious chapter in native Schools of Painting.
By then the lithograph technology had come into existence. Many books Mummudi wrote and
got written have profuse pictures and line-drawings. Religious texts
and recitation booklets were illustrated. These were within reach of
common man. No doubt the talented king came to be popular by such
measures and many other charitable acts.