Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple at Tiruvananthapuram is currently the richest Hindu temple of the world ever since the dicovery of priceless treasures from the temple few years ago. The treasure contains pirceless ancient artifacts which are thousands of years old and these were hidden for many years.
If we look at the history of the temple, it could date back to the times when Travancore region was ruled by ancient Tamil chieftains who called themselves as Ays. These Ay rulers claimed origin from Sri Krishna’s Yadava clan and ruled the Travancore region for more than 1000 years ever since Sangam age (which lasted from final centuries BCE) to around 12th century CE.
After 12th century the Ays merged with the Chera lineage which moved to Travancore region by 12th century. Later on from 13th century the new merged Chera-Ay rulers of Travancore adopted heirs from northern Kerala and changed their succession system from older patrilineal one into new matrilineal one. The royal family of Travancore follow this matrilineal system to this day.
During the later part of the mediveal era, the temple and surrounding areas came under the power of local landlords named Ettuveettil Pillamar. The Travancore royalty was also divided into various matrilineal branches which gave rise to small local states and there were no unity among them. Thus it was easy for the local landlords to take up the control of matters.
However during 18th century, the new Maharaja of Travancore Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma managed to get rid of the influence of Pillai landlords and unified Travancore once again. After he gained control, he performed a rite named Thrippadidanam in which he surrendered the entire kingdom to Sri Padmanabha and thus became a servant of Padmanabha by ruling the kingdom as his representative. Travancore Maharajas held the title ‘Padmanabhadasa’ or servant of Padmanabha from that time onwards.
In the past few decades certain allegations about mismanagement in the temple popped up, which paved way for the Supreme Court to open the secret vaults of the temple revealing the presence of many hidden treasures inside the temple. An audit of the wealth was taken revealing certain mishaps following which the Supreme Court appointed a five member committee headed by the district judge of Thiruvananthapuram with government officers and temple workers in such a way that government officers will be taking care of the administration while the religious practices will be managed by the temple workers. The Maharaja of Travancore who was managing the temple upto this point was relieved from the responsibility till the time the judgement was delivered in the case.
But ever since this committee was appointed, administrative malpractices affecting the rituals of the temple have been reported. One such accusation was the lack of maintenance of the temple pond in which the nambis (priests) of the temple take a dip before entering the temple for worshipping the lord. The pond, which is considered to be sacred, was not only left without maintenance but also had construction debris and sewage flowing into it.
A petition filed on the same matter by Sri. Gopal Subramaniam who is currently assisting the court as the amicus curiae was heard by the bench of Chief Justice of India JS Khehar and Justice DY Chandrachud and SK Kaul. The bench considered the submission and recommended that besides cleaning the water, there was need for stopping sewage and construction debris from flowing into the pond.
The bench has fixed the next hearing on May 3 and has prevented the government from outsourcing the task considering the importance and promptness of the issue. The bench has also recorded the assurance given by Kerala Water Authority and has given the government two months to clean the pond.
Note: This article is jointly written by Dauhshanti (@ShatruSamhara) and Paanchajanya (@paanchajanyaa)
(Featured image courtesy: www.girikand.com)
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This is very sad news … The Rulers of Travancore never misused the funds & were truly ‘daasas’ of Ananthashayana … It was definitely the cleanest temple in the whole of Bharata & those who worked there also did the work as a Seva more than for just an income. Really sad that things are changing there.