MAHARANI KEMPANANJAMMANNI OF VANI VILASA SANNIDHANA
The name of 'Sri Vani Vilasa' is to Mysore what Queen Victoria is to the British. Maharani Kempananjammanni of Vani Vilasa Sannidhana [in full] occupies as high a place as any in the annals of Mysore history. Her contributions to the citizenry, in her roles of Maharani-regent and as mother of Nalwadi Krishnarajendra Wadiyar, one of the most illustrious rulers of our country, stand aloft. She was considered as a rare gem in our erstwhile princely state.
Kempananjammanni was born in 1866 to Narase Urs and Kempananjammanni [same name] of Kalale. When she was five, an efficient teacher was engaged to educate her on Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagavatha. She was a brilliant girl with amazing gifts of sharp memory and grasping power. People adored her unique skill of memorization of stories on Sita, Savitri, Draupadi, Damayanti and Ahalya and also for her remarkable qualities like patriotism, humility, nobility, kindness, affection and generosity.
When Kempananjammanni was 12 years old, her mother decided to get her married. Since Narase Urs was known to the Royal family and also that her fine prowess had reached their attention, a proposal was made for the young Maharaja Sri Chamarajendra Wadiyar. Both parties agreed.
The Palace was in debts due to drought in Mysore at the time, 1878. But it was decided to proceed with the marriage in spite of the prevailing conditions. As it so happened, the rain-god rescued the situation with a great bounty just a couple of days before the royal wedding which took place on 26.5.1878 and appeased everybody.
In 1881, the famous Rendition of Mysore was carried out and the British handed over the rule back to the natural prince [Sri Chamarajendra Wadiyar was now 18], after 50 years. In 1884, Nalwadi Krishnarajendra Wadiyar was born to the royal couple. In quick succession, they also had another son in Kanteerava Narasimharaja Wadiyar and three daughters.
Sri Chamarajendra Wadiyar, on one of his annual visits to Calcutta in 1894 [to the Court of Viceroy who resided there], developed diphtheria and died there, thus abruptly cutting short, a promising reign that lasted only 13 years. He was just 32 and had already left his mark as an excellent leader. His death suddenly created a void as prince Krishnarajendra Wadiyar IV was still in minority. The unexpected tragedy was regarded as a great national misfortune throughout India and was deplored by the British Government as an Imperial loss. The royal family plunged into great sorrow and the citizens felt orphaned. Such was his stature.
The burden fell on Maharani Kempananjammanni. It was here all her sterling, divine qualities came to the fore, as she courageously stepped forward to play her beloved husband's responsible role in such a crisis. She was nominated as Maharani-regent, a post this saviour faire held for eight tough years [1895-1902] and served the people with great aplomb, dignity, devotion, discipline and distinction. She earned the respect of one and all for the fabulous way she held fort.