|Dewan Purnaiah of Mysore /alchetron.com/|
Often described as a “phenomenal prodigy'' by the historians Dewan Purnaiah (Purniya; 1746 - 27 March 1812) alias Krishnacharya Purniya had the rare distinction of having served as the Dewan under three great rulers - Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan, the British and also Maharajah Mummudi Krishnaraja Wadiyar. A great administrator as he was, he served all these three rulers with dedication and integrity and gained their respect and regards. Besides being popular among people, he paid particular attention to Mysore state and and made solid contribution for its early development. His proficiency in many languages, in maths, proper planning and above all sharp memory came handy for him during the hey day. He was wartime military commander while serving under Tipu Sultan. Upon Tipu's death, when the Mysore kingdom was restored to the Wodeyar Royal family, it was Purnaiah who became a mentor to ruler Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar. When the Mysore prince came of age from 1799 till 1810 Purnaiah took the responsibility of governing the state in coordination with the English resident of the East India Company.
|Emblem of Mysore princely state. Rajput Provinces of India|
Born in 1746 CE and raised in an orthodox Madhwa Brahmin family of Mysore, Purnaiah lost his father when he was young - 12 years old and came up in life on his own efforts. Being good at numbers and accounting, his job with a grocery merchant who had contact with Hyder Ali, soon got him better prospects. He earned the trust of Hyder Ali and later headed the accounts department He slowly became the confidant of Hyder Ali. His knowledge of Kannada, Sanskrit and Persian. beside fair knowledge of English was quite helpful to him to run his administration and now Hyder Ali had full confidence in him.
|Mysore princely state. www.zum.de|
|Mysore coat of arms. Wadiyar dynasty. Wikipedia|
Purnaiah 's sagacity and administrative strategy came to light in full bloom when Hyder Ali died in Chitoor while Tipu was camping in Malabar. Purnaiah kept the king's death a top secret, and informed Tipu at the earliest. Till the arrival of Tipu, he kept the body of Hyder Ali embalmed. Out side the place no body knew that Hyder Ali had been dead and the routine life was going on as usual. Since Hyder Ali had many enemies around him to avoid their attack on the kingdom in the absence of Tipu, Purnaiah intelligently kept the demise of Hyde Ali confidential. He never gave room to his adversaries to suspect something and take advantage of the absence of leadership in the kingdom. Credit goes to Purnaiah to save and clear the way for Tipu's succession to the throne. He was the only Hindu member of his Tipu's inner cabinet.
Not many people aware that Purnaiah took part in every military campaign led by Tipu and in the Third Anglo-Mysore War of 1792, he commanded a rocket units with roughly 131 men. Tipu had so much faith in him in the last battle with the British, he had entrusted his eldest son and heir-apparent to Purnaiah's care. In the same war Tipu died in 1799. When the English took over the Mysore kingdom, the administration was in a bad shape. Very much impressed with political and administrative skill and the track record of Purnaiah, Gen. Harris appointed him as the first Dewan of Mysore. Queen Regent Lakshammanni of the Wodeyar Royal family agreed to the arrangement. The minor- king, later Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar, had his training under Purnaiah.
Purnaiah worked hard to improve the quality of life in Mysore state. He gave due importance to public works and many of them even to day, stand as a great testimony to his vision and foresight. Several tanks were dug, including a 9 - mile canal to supply drinking water to Mysore and to meet the agricultural needs. A stone bridge, was built during his time across river Kaveri connecting Srirangapattana with Kirangur and was dedicated to Marquess of Wellesley, the Governor General. The bridge has survived so far for more than two hundred years. It was during his period countless choultries (free food and lodge ) were built in the name of Maharajah of Mysore to take care of the needs of travelers in those days. But, they are known as"Dewan Purniah's Chatras". Yet another contribution of this great Dewan was improving the efficiency of the revenue department and management of lands. He introduced methodical surreys of government land and for better administration and created posts like Shekdars, Amaldars and Tehsildars who are vested with certain powers. Border patrolling and watch became a necessity as there were skirmishes near the state borders, a legacy of early regime.
|Lord Harris Residence, later residence of Puraniah, Seringapatam wikipedia.|
When Krishnaraja Wodeyar attained the age of 16 in early 1810, upon discussion with the then British Resident, A. H. Cole, the administration of the state was legally transferred from Dewan Purnaiah to the king and following year he retired from service in 1811. After his retirement from service in 1811, Purnaiah chose to spend his retirement life in the house known as Lord Harris's House or The Doctor's Bungalow or Puraniah's Bungalow in Seringapatam, near the Scott’s Bungalow and Garrison Cemetery. He died there on 28 March 1812.
Tit bits:01. "The Diwan seems to pursue the wisest and the most benevolent course for the promotion of industry and opulence" (Gen. Wellesley in Kamath 2001, p. 249).
02. Purnaiah gave much importance to law and order situation for smooth administration. If uncontrolled, it will affect the administration.
03. He had no sympathy for Palegars - the local chieftains because of their despotic nature.
04. Soon after Tipu's death in 1799, the British never dispersed funds to the Mutts, durgahs and temples for their up-keep. When Purnaiah took the reigns, he released the funds to the places of worship.
05. He had a close rapport and friendship with Gen. Arthur Wellesley (Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington) when he was in Mysore.
06. His grandson Sir P. N. Krishnamurti, was also Dewan of Mysore during the first decade of the 1900s.