The former Dakshina Kannada (DK) district, apart from giving birth to many freedom fighters, had also funded the liberation movement against the British government.
Mahatma Gandhi himself acknowledged this while delivering a speech at Jnanodaya Samaj Mandir at the Hoige Bazaar here on February 24, 1934.
“The speech in which he thanked the gathering for the scholarship (donation) has been widely documented,” informs renowned physician Dr. GG Lakshman Prabhu.
Gandhi, during his two-day visit to Mangaluru in 1934, which was his third and last, had accepted the request of the founder of Jnanodaya Samaj Mandir, M Thingalaya, to deliver a lecture to the fishermen of the Mogaveera community.
Thingalaya, in presenting a scholarship to Gandhi, was emulating its leader Karnad Sadashiva Rao, who had spearheaded a series of crowdfunding initiatives in the district.
Sadashiva Rao, born to Mangaluru’s wealthiest lawyer, Karnad Ramachandra Rao, immersed himself in the struggle for freedom after resigning from his post in 1920.
According to excerpts from published research, including “Apostle of Sacrifice” and the “Deshabhakta Karnad Sadashiva Rao” memorial volumes, it was Sadashiva Rao who invited Gandhi to pay his first visit to Mangaluru in 1920.
Moved by Gandhi’s moving speech on the non-cooperation movement at Kendra Maidan (now the Nehru Maidan), Sadashiva Rao, his wife Shanthi Bai and his daughters Suguna and Radha handed over all gold bracelets and necklaces to their person at Gandhi.
The gathering followed suit and handed over their jewelry to Gandhi.
The following year, when Bal Gangadhar Tilak established ‘Swarajya Nidhi’ to fund the freedom movement, Sadashiva Rao ran crowdfunding campaigns to support it.
When the non-cooperation movement was withdrawn with the Bardoli resolution of 1922, Sadashiva Rao encouraged members of the Indian National Congress to donate part of their income to Swarajya Nidhi.
He had embarked on a tour of the taluks and single-handedly managed to get 12,000 people to join the party.
The money he collected was an important contribution to Swarajya Nidhi.
When Gandhi launched ‘Khadi Nidhi’ in 1928, Sadashiva Rao raised over Rs 1 lakh including Rs 25,000 from Mangaluru within days.
Organizing Salt Satyagraha and programs to empower widowed children and members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, the chief struggled to make ends meet.
Sadashiva Rao died on January 9, 1937 in Mumbai. His last days in poverty were chronicled in a book.
Some have called it ‘Dharmaraya’ and ‘the Motilal of the South’ in honor of its financial contributions to the struggle for freedom.