Halo around royalty over temple treasure

via R Gopakumar- Thiruvananthapuram - DHNS published on July 3, 2011

The discovery of a huge treasure trove at the Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple here has transformed the profile of the temple known for the reclining pose of the deity Lord Vishnu to one of a sleeping giant.

However, the spotlight has also shifted to the unsung virtues of the members of the Travancore royal family who have been the custodians of the temple all these years. The safe and secure manner in which the treasure was preserved in secret vaults for 134 years shows that the kings of Travancore were truly “Padmanabha dasas” or servants of the lord.

None of the kings from Marthanda Varma to Sree Moolam Tirunal had misused the wealth that had accrued to the coffers as many others had done.  The strange thing about the treasures is that there is no historical reference to the existence of the secret chambers anywhere.

Sources say it was during the time of Swati Tirunal that much of the gold, gems and stones had reached the treasury. The wealth arrived mainly by way of the bounty brought back by the kings from invasions, gifts, penalties for crimes and offerings to the deity from kings all over the country.  

According to chroniclers of Travancore history, it was the tradition of the king to submit everything they earned by way of invasions to Sree Padmanabha Swamy.  During the 18the century, Marthanda Varma had invaded several of the neighbouring kingdoms like Chembakasseri and Kottayam stretching up to Kochi and brought back wealth.

These states were richer than Travancore then as they had sea trade with the Europeans. Besides these, penalties for crimes at that time came mostly in the form of gold ornament offerings to the lord.

There are records to prove that wealth from many smaller principalities were brought to Travancore during the invasion of Tipu Sultan. Journalist and well-known chronicler of Travancore history Malayinkeezh Gopalakrishnan says there was a possibility that Tipu’s invasion plans had prompted the then Travancore king Dharmaraja to bury all the wealth in the cellars.

“Tipu who had invaded Malabar and destroyed many temples there advanced till Thrissur when the news came that the British had attacked Mysore. So, Travancore was apparently spared,” he told Deccan Herald.

Source: http://www.deccanherald.com/content/173304/halo-around-royalty-over-temple.html

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