Lord Vishnu’s royal servants guard his riches – The Times of India

Lord Vishnu’s royal servants guard his riches – The Times of India

Ananthakrishnan G, TNN | Jul 5, 2011, 02.32am IST

The head of the Travancore royal family Uthradam Thirunal Marthanda Varma (carrying sword) at Padmanabha Temple.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: As Sree Padmanbha Swamy temple’s glittering gems are valued and tagged, it’s not just the diamonds that shine but also the royal family of the erstwhile princely state of Travancore.

It’s an ode to the family’s unflinching devotion and integrity that not a penny has gone missing from the billions stored in the cellars of the centuries-old shrine administered by the royals.

Uthradam Thirunal Marthanda Varma, current head of the royal family, refuses to comment on the stock-taking exercise till the last paisa is counted. “Till then, only my eyes would speak,” he insists.

What makes the family’s story vis-a-vis the temple all the more compelling is that the rulers always knew of the riches, yet never touched them. “The riches are mentioned in the book “Pradhanapetta Mathilakom Records” (Important Mathilakom Records) compiled by acclaimed Malayalam poet Ulloor S Parameswara Iyer and published in 1941. They also figure in the “Kottaram” (Palace) manual which runs into 12 volumes,” says noted historian M G Sasibhushan. “These records refer to the sacred cellars from which treasure is being dug out.”

Observers talk of the symbolic significance of the practice of royal family members dusting sand off their feet when they emerge from the shrine. “It was meant to convey that the family members would not take home or misappropriate even a speck of sand belonging to Padmanabha,” they say. In fact, the present head, Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma, religiously follows the rule of paying of Rs 151 and 55 paise to the temple if he fails to make it to the shrine on any day.

Unlike other royals, the Travancore family has stayed away from opulence with descendants more inclined towards art and culture.

“There was also a rule that the affairs of the palace should be run from the proceeds of its spice business and not with money from the state treasury,” says Sasibhushan. This is followed even now. The present ruler’s nephew Moolam Thirunal Rama Varma, next in line to head the family, runs the Aspinwall Company, which to this day supplies pepper to Buckingham Palace and many more European royals,” Sasibhushan says.

Though the kingdom of Travancore lapsed in 1949 following the Instrument of Accession with the Union of India, the management of the temple remained with the royal family by virtue of a covenant.

Travancore extended from Kanyakumari (now in Tamil Nadu) in the south to Aluva (Ernakulam district) in the north. Padmanabhapuram (now in TN) was its first capital, but this was shifted to Thiruvananthapuram by Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma, better known as Dharma Raja, so called because he refused to let go of refugees who had fled Malabar following Tipu Sultan’s onslaught. He succeeded Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma, first ruler of Travancore, and is credited with formation of the state.

The family, which ruled over erstwhile Travancore, has had a long lineage of visionary rulers. In fact, it was a bold move by the first Marthanda Varma in 1750 that inextricably bonded the temple and the palace. The king donated the wealth of the kingdom to the deity Padmanabha (Lord Vishnu) and ruled the state as “Padmanabha Dasa” (servant of
Padmanabha).

Some important names in the family are Swathi Thirunal (1813-1846), legendary Carnatic musician, who promoted English education and the last king Chithira Thirunal Bala Rama Varma (1912-1991), who abolished the death sentence making Travancore the first territory in India to do so. The last king issued the landmark Temple Entry Proclamation in 1936 doing away with the ban on “untouchables” entering temples. C P Ramaswami Iyer, then Diwan influenced the king’s decisions.

SC to hear petition on Kerala temple ownership | Padmanabha Swamy temple | inventory | The New Indian Express

By IANS
05 Jul 2011 09:09:01 PM IST

SC to hear petition on Kerala temple ownership
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Ahead of the apex court hearing a case related to the Sri Padmanabha Swamy temple, a petitioner whose plea to the Supreme Court led to an inventory of the treasure lying in underground vaults below the shrine Tuesday voiced his unhappiness over people linked to the stock-taking speaking to the media.
“I will advise everyone who has been asked to do the job by the supreme Court to follow the directive of the court. I will certainly bring the reaction of the person to the attention of the court,” said T.P. Sundararajan to the media here on Tuesday.
He was reacting to an interview given to a TV channel by retired high court judge C.S. Rajan who said that it was an amazing sight to see such a large quantity of jewels which one can never see in a lifetime and it was indeed a rare experience.
“This is not a treasure as you the media has been reporting. In fact, this is the contribution of the royal family of Travancore to the temple over the years. They have given this to the temple over the years, what they received,” said Rajan.
“None can say what the value is, it could be more or less than what is being said in the media. We have made a proper inventory of the entire items,” said Rajan.
He also said that they have recorded all the contents of the five chambers in five books and hence it is going to be a record.
“We will submit an interim report to the apex court, and this is not the main case because the main case in the apex court is to whom this belongs,” said Rajan.
Speaking to IANS, a royal family source said that on Wednesday the case of the stay given by the apex court against the Kerala High Court ruling was coming up for hearing.
“Early this year, the Kerala High Court had asked the state government to take over the temple and the temple had sought a stay from the Supreme Court, which was received. This case is coming up for hearing tomorrow and we will put all the things before the court,” said the royal family source.
Sunderarajan has been given police protection after angry reactions from the public on why he went ahead with a petition to the apex court, which has led to the stock-taking. He said that he does not fear anything.
The stock-taking that began last week continued till Monday with a break on Sunday when five of the six chambers were inspected and the contents accounted for.
The seven-member committee appointed by the apex court is expected to meet on Friday here again and Wednesday’s case is going to be keenly watched.

The Hindu : News / National : Treasure belongs to temple, says M.G.S. Narayanan

Published: July 6, 2011 04:24 IST | Updated: July 6, 2011 04:46 IST
Treasure belongs to temple, says M.G.S. Narayanan
R. Madhavan Nair

AP Police commandos patrol the premises of Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, in Thiruvananthapuram, on Tuesday.

While there is no bar on spending the treasure found in Sree Padmanabhaswami Temple for public welfare, only the temple authorities, including the erstwhile Maharaja of Travancore, is competent to decide how it should be spent, according to the former Chairman of the Indian Council of Historical Research, M.G.S. Narayanan.
Speaking to The Hindu on Tuesday, Dr. Narayanan welcomed Kerala Chief Minister Oomen Chandy’s statement that the treasure belonged to the temple. He said Mr. Chandy deserved appreciation for foiling attempts by certain vested interests to create confusion in the minds of people about the ownership of the treasure.
Claims being made by self-styled experts and historians were not based on documentary evidence. They were coloured by political and communal bias, he said.
There was documentary evidence to prove that the treasure belonged to the temple. The Travancore Manual, prepared by Nagamayyah in the early 20{+t}{+h} century, made it clear that the temple administration was under the management of “ettara yogam” (a group of eight-and-half persons), and this was interpreted by many historians to mean eight Brahmins and a member of the Travancore royal family.
Dr. Narayanan read out passages from the manual, which said the temple enjoyed annual revenue of Rs.75, 000, and it was independent of the government. The manual also indicated that the temple coffers contained huge quantities of money, gold and precious stones, being “offerings of ages.”
“There can be no doubt about the ownership of the temple and its wealth. Only the temple authorities, including the former Maharajah of Travancore, can decide how its money could be spent,” he said, according to documents studied by scholars.
However, Dr. Narayanan conceded that the instrument of accession governing Travancore’s integration with the Indian Union was not examined to find out if there was anything relevant to this issue. He felt that unlike several temples from where huge caches of gold and other valuable were plundered, the valuables kept in the vaults of Sree Padmanabhaswami Temple and a few other temples in other parts of the State remained beyond the reach of invaders because they could not get past the Western Ghats. Another reason was that no one, including the king, dared to steal temple property those days since it was widely considered a heinous sin.
Dr. Narayanan believed that the treasure must be offerings from devotees as well as from the king himself. Besides his usual offerings to the deity, the king also made offerings to atone for the grabbing of the valuables by his army from less powerful kings and their wealthy subjects in neighbouring places during armed invasions that were not unusual those days.
However, he said, it would not be correct to contend that since the temple wealth included valuables seized during conquests, it should be treated as “people’s money.” This was because all valuables, including those from the king, became temple property once they were offered to it.
Rubbishing the claim that the treasure should be brought under the purview of the Indian Treasure Trove Act, Dr. Narayanan said only unclaimed valuables came under its ambit. “The valuables belonged to the temple, which is a private property of which its deity is the legal entity. Its authorised trustees who manage its affairs are the competent authority to decide how its wealth should be spent.”

One thought on “Lord Vishnu’s royal servants guard his riches – The Times of India

  1. The trust members of the subject temple stands aloft in devotion, piousness, morality and integrity comparative to the mediocre present rulers, politicians and the people who want to earn at others ‘ toil and amass immeasurably without any limit

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