Last year the whole of Mysuru had come alive much before Dasara celebrations. The reason was the royal wedding that was taking place in the Mysore Palace after 40 years. The five-day wedding was a sight to behold as the young couple Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar and Trishikha Kumari Singh (now Trishikha Devi Wadiyar) tied the knot. Now almost a year later everyone is curious to know how the couple has coped up with the pressures of carrying on the royal legacy.
Senior Journalist N. Niranjan Nikam sat down with Yaduveer and Trishikha who spoke about their new life in the Palace.
By N. Niranjan Nikam
Star of Mysore (SOM): It is more than seven months since both of you came together as man and wife. Is the honeymoon still on?
Trishikha Devi Wadiyar: The first year is always special. Ma (Pramoda Devi Wadiyar) has been very kind and has taught me all the rituals and ancient traditions of Mysore Royal family. Now, I am learning more from Yaduveer, and learning together makes it even more special.
Yaduveer: It’s a magical time. We have a lot of fun together, and we try to give ourselves personal time as much as possible. It is a dual life we are living which is the key to how we live here. Ma has always guided us and we are adjusting well. Even as children, we have watched and imbibed certain traditions unique to the Royal families.
SOM: Yaudveer, you are the titular head of the 600-year-old Wadiyar dynasty. Your mother Rajamatha Pramoda Devi Wadiyar decided to continue the tradition against all odds and anointed you as the Maharaja. How has the going been so far?
Yaduveer: In short, it is very good. It is quite a transformation. Firstly, I wanted to learn everything in order to continue the tradition, and for the most part I’ve imbibed the framework. I have done it because it is my duty to do so. It has been a beautiful two years and I have no regrets.
SOM: Now, you are living in one of the most beautiful Palaces in the world. How has the adjustment to this huge space been like?
Yaduveer: As a child it used to be wonderful. But now that we are settling down here it’s very different in the sense that in the Palace there are a number of ‘Thotti Manes.’ Each Thotti Mane is different. One is for food, the other is for the office, then there is the residential part and you are constantly moving between them. It was very difficult to figure out initially. But now I have got the flow of rooms in the Palace. Also, I love seeing the Palace illumination, it never fails to bedazzle me.
Trishikha chips in and exclaims, Mysore Palace is beyond magnificent. Every day you get to experience something different.
SOM: Trishikha, your father, Harshavardhan Singh said yours was an arranged marriage. How much have you fallen in love with Yaduveer by now?
Trishikha: (Heartily laughs). I have fallen in love head over heels definitely. He is a wonderful man with the most clear heart. I am glad that I am happily married to him.
Yaduveer: We have both known each other as children. Our families always met at parties. My mother and her mother have known each other very well. Before marriage, we spent a lot of time together.
SOM: You both are of the same age?
Yaduveer: Yes, I am slightly older by a few months. When we got married, I had turned 24 but Trishikha was still 23, just like Ma and late Dad who were also of the same age.
SOM: Both of you, it is said, are an intellectual match and you read a lot of books. The fascinating history of Wadiyars itself is a great study. Have you both embarked on this study?
Trishikha: Yes, of course we have, it is like reading an Encyclopaedia.
Yaduveer: We also read the history of other States and compare it with ours. A lot of it has also been romanticised. Hayavadana Rao’s ‘History of Mysore’ chronicling the Wadiyar dynasty is something I am fond of reading, which of course talks about our dynasty from 1399 to 1799.
Trishikha: I enjoy reading up on history as well. Other times my husband keeps telling me many anecdotal stories about Wadiyars which is not there in the books and it is fascinating to listen.
Yaduveer: We have a text on Wadiyars written by a Japanese lady named Aya Ikegame titled ‘Princely India Re-imagined – A Historical Anthropology of Mysore from 1799 to the Present’, which also throws light on a lot of history of our ancestors and speaks volumes about what the contributions of Wadiyars have been.
History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes. It is not my words, of course, but that of Mark Twain. The relevance of history depends on how you interpret it. For instance, if democracy doesn’t stay relevant, then another political landscape will come into play. That is the nature of life.
SOM: The Talakad curse has always been in the background of your dynasty. Have you wondered about it?
Yaduveer: With curses, a lot is subjective. To a great extent it is something people like to talk about just for the sake of intrigue. It’s part of the baggage. But I think we can be a little objective, the Doctrine of Lapse (enforced by Lord Dalhousie during the British rule) is one reason why this myth or legend has persisted. Many other princely families started emphasising on some sort of curse to ensure that adoption would continue their family line. There is a strong correlation between when these stories started to gain prominence and the time during which the Doctrine of Lapse was in effect. There have also been a number of marriages within the Ursu community and you yourself can do the biology and math there.
Trishikha: Goddess Chamundeshwari has been taking care of us and I am confident that She will take care of us in the future too (her thinking is in tune with her mother-in-law who also believes in the reigning deity of Mysuru).
Yaduveer: It is always gossip and much credence cannot be given to it as it sounds like old wives’ tale. We cannot answer it with a full stop.
SOM: Trishika your mother-in-law kept a very low profile and she is also a private person. But now circumstances have thrown her into public life. Since your exposure has been different would you like to be seen by your husband’s side all the time?
Trishikha: Of course, yes all the time. Ma is a good example for both of us. She has handled it with elegance. She has set up an effective template to be followed.
Yaduveer: In Indian shastras and philosophy, depending on the situation, a man and a woman’s status is interchanging. She is very good at certain things and I in certain others. Moreover, each person is different. Our ability to complement each other is what makes us strong.
Trishikha: It is a balance between your strength and weakness. In the end we work as a team and both complement each other.
SOM: Grooming into politics, if it begins at a young age, should be good. The late Wadiyar and now Harshavardhan Singh, who is the Rajya Sabha MP, could be your inspiration. Are you both thinking along these lines?
Trishikha: (Instantly replies) I am definitely not interested.
Yaduveer: It is definitely in my field of vision. However, it is not a decision I take lightly. If I want to do it, I would like to do it because my service would benefit people of the city and State and that is the only reason I want to get into politics.
Politics has a bad name and hence we also need to improve its reputation. You need the right advisors and the right kind of people. I would be lying if I said I have not thought about it. It has multiple personas to it. That is what Ma does very well. She changes her persona depending on the situation. You have to imbibe all the idealism and then decide what you want to do. Too much of anything is not good.
SOM: The two of you and Pramoda Devi Wadiyar participated in the 125th anniversary of Chamarajpet, the first planned enclave of Bengaluru established by Chamaraja Wadiyar X in 1892. How did both of you feel to be a part of this history?
Trishikha: It was a great experience. It’s amazing to see the immense love people have for our family and the respect they have for our ancestors. You realise just how much Wadiyars have contributed. Everyone there was so welcoming and people were so sweet.
Yaduveer: Everyone focuses on what we have lost. No doubt we have lost a lot of material things. But the goodwill we have is absolutely incredible. You cannot quantify it. How much Chamaraja Wadiyar X did with the help of his able Dewan Seshadri Iyer. All of us from old Mysore are proud Kannadigas. But in a metropolitan city like Bangalore we could not believe that there were so many who gave us so much love and affection. It just reflects what our ancestors have done.
SOM: You both are looked up to as role models. Hence, you have to watch every step you take, every decision you make and the thoughts you express. How much of a challenge do you both feel it is?
(They get into a huddle and go on to answer.)
Yaduveer: We both look forward to carrying on the 600-year-old Wadiyar dynasty’s traditions and following it comes naturally to us. We try and commit to our rites and rituals fully and perform our pujas more or less every day.
Trishikha: I chant the Hanuman Chalisa every day. We both go to bed by 9.30 pm. Yadu gets up at 5 in the morning and does Surya Namaskara. I get up at 7, and do yoga.
SOM: In the Palace it is strictly vegetarian isn’t it?
Trishikha: I am a vegetarian. I am a great animal lover and that is the reason I quit eating non-veg long time ago.
Yaduveer: I am also turning into a vegetarian more or less. Only when I go out I eat non-vegetarian food occasionally.
SOM: Do you look up to Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar as your role model?
Yaduveer: He is probably India’s greatest statesman. He had welfare of every person in his mind. He lived by ‘The Dharma’ of a ruler and devoted himself completely to work for the development of the State of Mysore. His stamp is everywhere. He always felt his State is great and his Palace is the greatest. If at all he had any vanity it was about his State and it being the foremost and a Model State.
SOM: Trishikha you have done your post-graduation in Economics. Are you planning to do your Ph.D? Yaduveer, you have a degree in Economics and English literature in your BA. Would you like to do your post-graduation?
Trishikha: I am really looking forward to doing Ph.D and Yadu has always motivated me to pursue higher learning.
Yaduveer: I have to do my post-graduation, it is needed. May be I will do an MBA.
SOM: Would you like to study at Harvard as you have done your graduation from Boston, Massachusetts?
Yaduveer: Obviously. That is the place to be. People aspire to be there.
Both Yaduveer and Trishikha came across as being very articulate and confident. They both see their Royal responsibilities as a privilege and not a burden. That is what will make them successfully carry on the Wadiyar legacy.