The Tragic Story of the ‘Gandhi of the South’

Mahatma Gandhi launched the Non-Cooperation Motion, considered one of his first experiments with large-scale satyagraha, not in August however on the fourth day of September, 1920, however Independence Day month appears like a very good time to carry it up. Not the Motion itself, monumental because it was, however its impression on younger and stressed Indians who, with their newly woke up nationalistic instincts pissed off by the Rowlatt Act of 1919 (which authorised the police to arrest suspected ‘terrorists’ with out motive and imprison them with out trial) and their anger stoked by the bloodbath at Jallianwala Bagh solely a month later, had been desperately on the lookout for an organised revolt to pour their energies into.

A 38-year-old lawyer Karnad Sadashiva Rao, the scion of a affluent household of pros from Mangaluru was one of many first recruits for the non-cooperation motion from Karnataka.

The Non-Cooperation Motion, and its easy transient – a non-violent withdrawal of Indian labour from British-run enterprise – was simply such a revolt. Considered one of its very first recruits from Karnataka was38-year-old lawyer Karnad Sadashiva Rao, the scion of a affluent household of pros from Mangaluru. By the point of his tragic, premature loss of life 17 years later, he had contributed a lot to the nationalist trigger in his theatre of labor that he was hailed because the ‘Gandhi of the South’.

As a boy, Sadashiva Rao was beneficiant to a fault. A lot to his lawyer father Ramachandra Rao’s annoyance, he usually gave away his textbooks and pens to classmates who couldn’t afford them. On her half, his mom,Radhabai, quietly nurtured that unselfish spirit, which he would deploy, usually to his detriment, all through his life.

After graduating from Presidency School, Madras, Sadashiva Rao bought a level in legislation from Bombay College earlier than returning residence to start his authorized apply. All that fell by the wayside, nonetheless, as he plunged into the thick of the nationalist motion, constructing the Congress Get together within the state, travelling from village to village to unfold the gospel of Gandhiji’s Sarvodaya – the social and financial growth of a neighborhood as an entire – and creating consciousness, on the grassroots degree, of Swaraj or self-governance.

Eager to stroll the Sarvodaya speak, he based, along with his spouse Shantabai, the Mahila Sabha, which labored to rehabilitate widows not solely by educating them vocational abilities but additionally organising their remarriages at any time when doable, a lot to the disapproval of Mangaluru’s conservative neighborhood. Not that Sadashiva Rao would let that type of factor faze him – quickly after, he was organising neighborhood kitchens for Dalits exterior the very temples that might not admit them. An excellent believer in holistic training, he additionally arrange a college known as ‘Tilak Vidyalaya’ in his personal home, the place Hindi, spinning, weaving, and handicrafts had been taught to eager college students, age and caste no bar.

Tragedy struck in 1923, when Sadashiva Rao misplaced two of his kids and his loyal helpmeet Shantabai in fast succession. Distraught, he headed to Sabarmati Ashram for succour and sanctuary, however needed to rush again to Mangaluru quickly after to arrange reduction camps, from his personal funds, for victims of a horrible flood that had ravaged it. His many stints in jail, the place he refused mosquito nets as a result of not all prisoners had been entitled to 1, weakened his well being significantly.

On 9 January 1937, proper after he had attended the 1936 Congress Session at Faizpur, the place he had uncomplainingly slept in a moist, chilly cottage, Sadashiva Rao, whom the towering Kannada litterateur Shivarama Karanth admiringly known as ‘Dharmaraj’ – the king of righteousness, handed on, solely 56.

In an odd twist of irony, considered one of Bengaluru’s most upmarket neighbourhoods – Sadashivanagar – is called after this nice philanthropist, whose personal appreciable inheritance was so diminished on the time of his loss of life that there wasn’t even sufficient left to cowl the funeral rites.

(Roopa Pai is a author who has carried on a longtime love affair along with her hometown Bengaluru)

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