Devaprasnam at Sri Padmanabha Swamy temple

published on August 7, 2011

Temple treasure: Astrological examination today
VR Jayaraj | Thiruvananthapuram

A Devaprasnam (astrological examination) will be held at the famed Sri Padmanabha Swamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram from Monday to know the Deva Hitam (deity’s response) on the ongoing assessment of the amazing treasures, primarily valued at over Rs 100,000 crore, kept in the secret chambers of the shrine.

The three-day Devaprasnam, being held in the context of the resumption of the process of valuation of the treasure on August 10 by the five-member panel appointed by the Supreme Court, will be headed by chief temple priest Tanthri Tharananalloor Parameswaran Namboothiripad and it will be open to the public for witnessing.

The decision to conduct the astrological examination was taken at a meeting of the Tanthri, other temple priests and the members of the Travancore royal family, the traditional trustees of the temple, the other day. Uthradam Thirunnal Marthanda Varma, the present head of the royal family, also participated in the meeting.

Marthanda Varma had demanded the conduct of a Devaprasnam to know of the deity’s response before opening the second of the six secret chambers in the temple complex for assessing its contents as the door of the cellar was marked with a serpent seal. The royal family had put forward this request to the Supreme Court also.

Devaprasnam, a method to understand through an astrological examination the view of the deity on any particular matter related with a temple, has only rarely been conducted at the Sri Padmanabha Swamy shrine. Temple sources said the last time a Devaprasnam was held here was decades ago to decide on electrification of the complex.

Devotees of Sri Padmanabha believe that opening of this particular chamber might cause unforeseen disasters. A seven-member panel had while preparing the inventory of the articles had found gold, precious stones and rare historical coins stored in the other five chambers. The material value alone of this treasure was put at over Rs 100,000 crore.

“We are told that the serpent seal on the door indicates the holiness of the contents and their mysterious nature,” said Ananthapadmanabhan, a devotee from Pangode, Thiruvananthapuram. “Personally, I am against opening it but you have to honour whatever the court decides. Still, I would say that it should not be opened without holding a Devaprasnam,” he said.

Meanwhile, the five-member expert committee, appointed by the apex court, will deliberate on the establishment of a museum to keep the articles found in the chambers in its next meeting on August 10. The other points of discussion at the meeting would be documentation, storage, retrieval, security and safety of the valuables with historic and antique value.

The committee, chaired by CV Ananda Bose, Vice-Chancellor of the National Museum Institute, comprises MV Nair of the Archeological Department, VK Harikumar, executive officer of the Sri Padmanabha Swamy temple, BV Raja of the Archeological Survey of India and Vikas Sharma, Reserve Bank representative.

The committee will grade the articles from the five chambers that had already been opened and will organize an inventory of all valuables and videograph and photograph them. The apex court had last month asked the committee to categorize the treasure into those having historic and antique value, physical value only and of daily use in the temple.

The experts’ panel will also seek the views of the three-member Supreme Court-appointed monitoring panel headed by Justice MN Krishnan, retired High Court judge, Marthanda Varma and K Jayakumar, Devaswom Secretary, as members. The process of the evaluation had started on August 1.

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