Jayachamaraja Wodeyar Bahadur (July 18, 1919 –September 23, 1974) was the 25th and the last Maharaja of the princely state of Mysore from 1940 to 1950. He was a noted philosopher, musicologist, political thinker and philanthropist.
He was the only son of Yuvaraja Kanteerava Narasimharaja Wodeyar and Yuvarani Kempu Cheluvaja Amanni. He graduated from the Maharajas College, Mysore in 1938, earning five awards and gold medals. He was married the same year, on Sunday, 15 May 1938. He toured Europe during 1939, visiting many associations in London and became acquainted with many artists and scholars. He ascended the throne of the Mysore on September 8, 1940 after the demise of his uncle Maharaja Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar.
He signed the Instrument of Accession with the Dominion of India on the eve of India attaining Independence in August 1947. The princely state of Mysore was merged with the Republic of India on January 26, 1950. He held the position of Rajpramukh of the State of Mysore from 1950–1956. After the integration of the neighboring Kannada-majority parts of the States of Madras and Hyderabad, he became the first Governor of the reorganized or unified State of Mysore, 1956–64 and later was transferred as the Governor of the State of Madras (Tamil Nadu), 1964-66.
He was a good horseman and a tennis player who helped Ramanathan Krishnan to participate at Wimbledon. He was also well-known for his marksmanship and was highly sought-after by his subjects whenever a rogue elephant or a maneating tiger attacked their immediate surroundings. There are many wildlife trophies attributed to him in the Palace collections. He was responsible for the famous cricketer/off-spin bowler, Mr. E.A.S. Prasanna's visit to West Indies as his father was otherwise reluctant to send him.
He was a connoisseur of both western and Carnatic (South Indian classical) music and an acknowledged authority of Indian Philosophy. He helped the Western world discover the music of a little-known Russian composer Nikolai Karlovich Medtner (1880–1951), financing the recording of a large number of his compositions and founding the Medtner Society in 1949. Medtner's Third Piano Concerto is dedicated to the Maharaja of Mysore. He became a Licentiate of the Guild Hall of Music, London and honorary Fellow of Trinity College of Music, London, in 1945. Aspirations to become a concert pianist were cut short by the untimely death of both his father the Yuvaraja Kanteerava Narasimharaja Wodeyar in 1939 and his uncle the Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV in 1940, when he succeeded the throne of Mysore.
He was the first president of the Philharmonia Concert Society, London in 1948 See below copy of the programme sheets of some of the earliest concerts held at Royal Albert Hall on April 13, April 27 & May 11, 1949.
Walter Legge who was invited to Mysore by the Maharaja in this regard has stated:
"The visit to Mysore was a fantastic experience. The Maharajah was a young man, not yet thirty. In one of his palaces he had a record library containing every imaginable recordings of serious music, a large range of loud speakers, and several concert grand pianos.....
In the weeks I stayed there, the Maharajah agreed to paying for the recordings of the Medtner piano concertos, an album of his songs, and some of his chamber music; he also agreed to give me a subvention of 10,000 pounds a year for three years to enable me to put the Philharmonia Orchestra and the Philharmonia Concert society on firm basis..." This largesse proved sufficient to transform Legge's fortunes in 1949. He was able to engage Herbert von Karajan as conductor. The repertory the Young Maharajah wished to sponsor like Balakirev Symphony, Roussel's Fourth Symphony, Busoni's Indian Fantasy etc (all distinctly recherche !) did not balk Karajan !. This association produced some of most memorable recordings of the post war period.
Maharaja also enabled Richard Strauss's last wish to be full filled by sponsoring an evening at Royal Albert Hall by London's Philharmonia Orchestra with German Conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler in the lead and Soprano Flagstad singing his Four Last Songs (Going to Sleep, September, Spring, At Sunset) in 1950.
Maharaja was equally a good critic of music. When asked by Legge to pass judgement on recent additions to the EMI catalogue, his views were as trenchant as they were refreshingly unpredictable. He was thrilled to Karajan's Vienna Philhormonic recording of Beethoven's fifth symphony ('as Beethoven wished it to be'), held Furtwangler's recording of the Fourth symphony in high esteem and was disappointed by Galliera's account of the Seventh Symphony which he would have preferred Karajan to record. Above all he expressed serious doubts about Toscanini's recordings. 'The speed and energy are those of a demon', he wrote to Legge, 'not an angel or superman as one would ardently hope for'. One of the reasons he so admired Furtwangler' Beethoven was that it was 'such a tonic after Toscanini's highly stung, vicious performances'.
After becoming Maharaja, he was initiated to the Indian Classical Music (carnatic Music) due to the cultural vibrancy which prevailed in the Mysore Court till then. He learnt to play veena under Vid. Venkatagiriappa and mastered the nuances of carnatic music under the tutelage of Veteran Composer and Asthan Vidwan Sri. Vasudevacharya. He was also initiated in to the secrets of Shri Vidya as an upasaka (under assumed name chitprabhananda) by his guru Shilpi Siddalingaswamy. This inspired him to compose as many as 94 carnatic music kruti's under the assumed name of shri vidya. All the compositions are in different raga's and some of them for the first time ever. In the process He also built three temples in Mysore city: Bhuvaneshvari Temple and Gayatri Temple, located inside the Mysore Palace Fort, and Sri Kamakaameshwari Temple, situated on Ramanuja Road, Mysore. All three Temples were sculpted by the maharajs's Guru and famous sculptor, Shilpi Siddalingaswamy.
Many noted Indian musicians received patronage at his court, including Mysore Vasudevacharya, Veena Venkata Giriyappa, B. Devendrappa, V. Doraiswamy Iyengar, T. Chowdiah, Tiger Vardachar, Chennakeshaviah,Titte Krishna Iyengar, S.N.Mariappa, Chintalapalli Ramachandra Rao, R.N.Doreswamy, H.M.Vaidyalinga Bhagavatar.
The patronage and contribution of Wodeyars to carnatic has been researched in the 1980s by Prof. Mysore Sri V. Ramarathnam,Retired First Principal of the University College of Music and Dance, University of Mysore. The research was conducted under the sponsorship of University Grants Commission, Government of India. Prof. Mysore Sri V. Ramarathnam authored the book "Contribution and Patronage of Wodeyars to Music" that was published Kannada Book Authority, Bangalore.
He also sponsored the translation of many classics from Sanskrit to Kannada as part of the Jayachamaraja Grantha Ratna Mala, including 35 parts of the Rigveda. These are essentilly Ancient sacred scriptures in Sanskrit till then not available in kannada language comprehensively. All the books contains original text in kannada accompanied by kannada translation in simple language for the benefit of common man. In the history of Kannada literature such a monumental work was never attempted ! As Late H.Gangadhara Shastry - Asthan (court) Astrologer and Dharmadhikari of Mysore Palace - who himself has contributed substantially in the above works -has stated that Maharaja used to study each and everyone of these works and discuss them with the authors. It seems on a festival night (on shivaratri), he was summonned in the middle of the night and advised him to simplify the use of some difficult kannada words in one of the books.
The following is a list of books published under this series:
maMtrashAstra -sahasranAma - upaniShat
(while writing the above titles in English transliteration rules as per popular free software http://www.baraha.com/ is used)
Both the Maharanis died in 1983 within a span of 15 days.