Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Mahatma Gandhi, Mahadevbhai Desai and Krishnarajasagara dam, Mysore

Mahatma Gandhiji, Mahadevbhai Desai and Krishnarajasagara dam, Mysore.
Introduction: Gandhiji was the guest of Mysore Maharaja in order to recuperate from his illness. It was during his long stay in the State of Mysore that both Gandhiji and Mahadevbhai visited the Krishnarajsagar dam on the river Kaveri. The dam seems to have had an impact on both of them. Excerpts from Mahadevbhai’s diary:

Krishnarajasagara dam. Photo: wikimedia commons.

Volume:11, Year June-1927 to December-1927 :
Page 85, 86,87 (Mahadevbhai:): “ I had come to know that Mysore gave a fund of Rs 7,296. In order to give this donation, a public meeting was organised on the last date[1]. In that meeting Gandhiji spoke of the impact Mysore had on him. He had already visited several organisations; on the previous day he had visited Krushnarajsagar on the river Kaveri. The river Kaveri starts from Kurg and cuts across the whole of Mysore region to meet the Bay of Bengal. Ten miles from Shrirangpattan and six miles off Mysore the waters of the river Kaveri have been dammed to build Krushnarajsagar. The waters of Krushnarajsagar are 109 meters deep and the reservoir is spread across 44 square miles; from this, hundreds of miles of fields get water. The state has built a power project near the waterfalls of Shiv Samudra where more water is allocated in summer. The only other place which has such a large dam is Misr [Egypt]. This one can be called the number two. We had met the Maharaja in Bangalore itself. The impression we had of him and what people spoke about him is reflected in this speech. Here I reproduce parts of his (Gandhiji’s) speech:

...The people of Mysore are doubly lucky. Nature has showered its choicest blessings on you, best climate and nature’s beauty wherever one’s eyes can see. To add to this, you have a kind, merciful and a king with high morals. It is like adding flavor to gold. There should not be a single beggar or a poor in such an excellent kingdom.

‘Saw your Krushnarajsagar, I was greatly pleased to see the work of Sir Visvesvaraya. The world’s first number dam of this kind is in Misr and the second is here. One can know the extent of human strength from this. I only pray that where such challenges are being taken up, there should be some service of the downtrodden also…’

Page 142, 143: (Mahadevbhai): “The people of Mysore had postponed giving their donation till the date of departure. To bid farewell to Gandhiji, the assembly of people was larger than ever before...After this, the following speech of Gandhiji was read out by Shri Rajgopalacharya...:

(Gandhiji): ‘...The loving hospitality by the Maharaja and the people of Mysore at the time I needed it the most can be compensated by me only by sharing my innermost thoughts with you concerning the welfare of this beautiful State.

‘The grand development that you have achieved in various spheres satisfies my soul... I have been pleasantly surprised to see the Krushnarajsagar and the iron factory of Bhadravati that are grand symbols of Sir Visvesvaraya’s zeal and expertise...these big enterprises have an essential place in our economic development. Wherever I have gone, I have witnessed sweet relationship between the people and the officials. There is no dispute between the Hindus and Muslims These and for the many other good things that I can count, I thank you and the Maharaja from the bottom of my heart...I consider it my good fortune that I was in such a beautiful place.

‘Though this is a great development, it is not proper to be satisfied with the same. I feel that this development has reached up to the middle class only, and due attention has not been given to the farmers who are the spine of the country as well as Mysore. The donation that I have received from everywhere for the work of Khadi shows that the people of Mysore have faith in the spinning wheel and Khadi...If the use of spinning wheel is made universal, then its benefits will reach the poorest of the poor farmer…"

Page 155 and 159: (Mahadevbhai):  “31-August-1927- Important talk with the principal of Vouris college D. Bore while on a morning walk:
‘ D. Bore (to Gandhiji): Now I will ask you about your views on machines/spinning wheel. Do you believe that all machines should go?
Gandhiji: All spinning that is run through machines. What I want to say is that all the things that are basic necessities of life should not be produced through machines. But dams, iron mines and such other things which are a nation’s natural wealth, need to be developed. You cannot do this without some machines.’


Translation from Gujarati by me)

[1] Date 23-7-27.


  1. Hi Nandini
    Have to thank Shripad for introducing your blog to us on FB. It was illuminating to read the 'lesser known history'. Looking forward to following your blog.

  2. Hey Nandini. Thanks for sharing rare information about Mahatma Gandhi. He was loved by everyone.