Padmanabha Swamy Temple Musings

in Wealth


I m a serf, slave and more

Dust under your feet

Held captive not in chains

But in beloved bondage

Of truth eternal.

I seek no rights, demand no claims

But beg the bounty

Of your love

Oh Sire! Sree Padmnabha!


These are lines from a verse on Sree Padmanabha   by Princess Aswathi Thirunal Gowri Lakshmi Bayi, a member of the Royal  Family of the former princely State of Travancore  and  the niece of HH Sree Chithira Thirunal Rama Varma, the last ruler of the State.


A poet and a writer, the Princess in her work entitled  Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple (2000) in the concluding chapter writes about the institution of Sree Padmanabha Dasas. [ In rough translation ‘Dasa' means a slave]:


"As the scrolls of history unravel, the Sree Padmahabha Swamy Temple and the Throne of Travancore came to be more and more interlinked, sharing a common fortune. If in the course of its evolution Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple was initially owned by the State and its sovereign,  with the Thrippati Danam of Marthanda Varma the Great, this Temple, and its presiding Deity Sree Padmanabha Perumal, came to own the State. The historic Deed of  Dedication which was an epoch-making event took place under the asterism  Revathi on Wednesday the 5th of the Malayalam month of Makaram in the year  925 ME corresponding to the 18th or 19th  of January 1750 AD. With this, all the lands falling within Travancore including future additions, all rights and privileges enjoyed by the rulers  and the status of Supreme Monarch of the State came to be vested in ‘Sree Padmanabha  Swamy'. So also the personal insignia ‘Sree Padmanabha Dasa' enjoyed  by the Travancore Royalty became converted to the official designation of all the male members of the family as the  cherished title of the highest honour. It continues as an unbroken, ongoing tradition."


The temple shot to fame with the stock taking of the Lord's wealth!... Lord's wealth? YES… because the rulers  of the land  were only  ‘dasas' and the wealth belongs  to the Lord. This includes gems,  over one thousand necklaces, crowns,  gold coins- some of Napoleon's age and much more…


When India became independent, monarchy was replaced by democratic rule. The royal family became commoners and were given  a pension.  Early this year (2011), I had to visit the palace  as a member of the Centenary Celebrations Committee of  my college which was set up a century ago by the then  ruler of Travancore state.  I was quick to notice that the present royal family doesn't lead a luxurious life nor do they flaunt wealth. They  don't  even lead the kind of life Super Stars of the film industry and business magnates of God's Own Country  today lead!


Had the rulers of the State of Travancore during the transfer of power, grabbed enough wealth and spent it little by little unnoticed by nosey democratic leaders, they too could have lead a cushy life! It naturally appears that they dared not touch the Lord's wealth. The lines quoted in the beginning of this write-up by a member of the royal family  gives a hint of this.


Some disgusting debates

The Media in the state of Kerala, saw in the stock taking of the Lord's wealth the news scoop of a life time. Now everyone in the street is asking  the question: To whom should the wealth go? To the people…? To the government…? To the royal family…? Wealth, which none knew the existence of for nearly six decades is now  under  the gaze  of prying eyes!


What is in store?

God's Own Country, Kerala has a strange precedence of disappearing artifacts. Rare treasures in museums get replaced by duplicate artifacts. Some get stolen and will never get traced. Though the security of the temple has been beefed up,  who knows one day some crooks might dig up a tunnel and lay their hands on the wealth.


Oh Padmanabha


Thousands have started pouring into your temple now deemed the richest temple on planet earth. Will you relax in peace in your ‘shayana' posture anymore? Will the presence of the ‘invisible lion' in the temple, protect your  wealth? I conclude with  a few lines from the  verse quoted  in the beginning:


If I be yours

Your mantle of grace

Needs must descend

It is your right to care

For your own.

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Chandrasekharan Praveen has 1 articles online

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Padmanabha Swamy Temple Musings

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This article was published on 2011/09/05
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