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Exclusive! 'Rs5 lakh crore treasure belongs to Lord Padmanabha'

Jul 7, 2011

The treasure estimated to be worth Rs
200,000 crore found in secret chambers at
the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple at
Thiruvananthapuram belongs to Lord
Padmanabha and nobody including the
government has any right to them,
according to senior bureaucrats, eminent
historians and spiritual leaders.
“All precious stones, ornaments and other
materials found in the chambers opened as
per the directive of the Supreme Court are
well documented. Each and every material
has been accounted for and there is no
confusion about the ownership. They all
belong to Lord Padmanabha, the deity of the
Travancore Royal Family,” Prof MGS
Narayanan, eminent historian and former
chairman of the Indian Council for Historical
Research told DNA.
R Ramachandran Nair, former chief
secretary, Kerala, who played a major role in
integrating the thousands of hectares of
land owned by the Travancore Royal family
into the revenue department of the state
said that treasures are the exclusive
property of the temple and no one has any
right over them. He said offerings have been
made to the temple by kings and traders
from Portugal, the Netherlands, Great Britain
and the Far East.
According to C P Nair, another former chief
secretary, the market value of the treasures
could cross Rs 5 lakh crore mark making
Padmanabha Swamy temple the richest
temple in the world. “I suggest the security
of the temple better be handed over to army
commandos,” he said.
Members of the Travancore Royal Family,
who have an umbilical cord relationship
with the temple, have kept a low profile on
the findings. More than the value of the
treasures unearthed, what is unique is the
strange ties the royal family has with Lord
Padmanabha.
“The Travancore Maharaja begins his day by
worshipping at the temple. If he cannot
make it to the temple, he has to pay a fine,”
Princess Gouri Lakshmi Bayi, the neice of
Uthradam Thirunal Marthanda Varma, the
present title holder of the erstwhile
Travancore state, told DNA.
The princess said it was not proper to
describe the findings in the chambers as
treasure. “It is offerings made by the Lord’s
devotees and hence it is His wealth. They are
not treasures,” she said.
The princess starts her public speeches by
reciting hymns in praise of Lord
Padmanabha composed by her great uncle,
former Maharaja Swathi Thirunal.
Though the Maharaja and the princess
refused to comment about the opening of
the chambers, a member of the royal family
said they were all sad and disappointed over
the action by some devotees who dragged
the issue to court.
“Some of the devotees have taken on rent
the temple premises and they pay only
meager amount like Rs 25 per month for a
shop and Rs 300 for a marriage hall which
charges Rs 35,000 per marriage . When we
asked them to revise the rent according o
prevailing market rates they ganged up
against the palace and went to court. The
Travancore Royal Family has not taken a
single paisa from the temple even when the
State was under severe financial crisis,” said
a princess who too did not want her name
to be quoted.
All Maharajas who ruled Travancore were
known as Padmanabha Daasa (vassals of
Lord Padmanabha). “This is a custom which
dates back to 1750. On January 17, 1750,
Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma, the
then Maharaja, along with members of the
royal family and his ministers proceeded to
the Temple and he laid the state sword
before the deity handing over the territory
of Travancore to Sree Padmanabha. Ever
since the people of Travancore have
regarded the State as Sree Padmanabha’s
possession and the king as his servant,”
said Uthradam Thirunal Marthanda Varma.
Though the exact date on which the temple
was consecrated is not known, there are
official records dating back to 910 AD.
“There are records indicating offerings
made by Raja Raja Cholan and Krishna
Devaraya of the Vijayanagaram Empire,” said
Ramachandran Nair.
Prof Narayanan said the Mathilakam
Documents preserved in the temple
premises show that the entire wealth kept
in the chambers were offerings received
from various dignitaries and royal families
from all over the globe.
“Munroe, a governor of the British province
made an offering in the form of a golden
umbrella,” said Princess Gouri Lakshmi Bayi.
CP Nair who has studied all the legal records
of Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple pointed
out that the covenantworked out by Sir C P
Ramaswamy Aiyer, the then Constitutional
Advisor to the Maharaja has made it clear
that the Temple belongs to the
TravancoreRoyal Family.
“The Maharaja is the Trustee of the temple
and hence the official custodian of the
wealth. The royal family has not touched a
single paise from these offerings. Neither
the government nor the politicians can
interfere with these offerings in any
manner,” said Nair.
He also said that the 1971 abolition of privy
purse enjoyed by former rulers has nothing
to do with the Temple.
Both CP Nair and Ramachabndran Nair were
of the view that the collection of offerings
found in the chambers were the first of its
kind in the world. “We can have some kind
of exclusive Heritage Museumwhere these
offerings could be displayed for the public
to see. It can never be used for any other
commercial or social projects,” they said.
What is unique about the Padmanabha
Swamy Temple which has a distinct
Dravidian architecture is the nearby Arya
Samaj office where non-Hindus can get
converted to Hinduism by paying a nominal
amount of Rs 50 so that they too could
worship in the temple. A modern strategy to
circumvent the age-old rule that only Hindus
could worship inside this temple!
Aarattu, the annual festival of Padmanabha
Swamy Temple, itself is a pointer to the
official status enjoyed by the temple and the
Royal family. The head of the Travancore
Royal family leads the ceremonial procession
and he is accompanied by members of the
police. It is Thiruvananthapuram’s official
festival.
Interestingly, the Marxists and intellectuals
owing allegiance to them have demanded
that the entire treasure be distributed
among the poor in the country.