Sri Padmanabha Swamy’s Treasure

Gold soothes me.Money relaxes me.So I often do the accounts when I wish to relax.Being surrounded by wealth makes me feel good .BTW I don’t have to own any of it to feel good.

The past couple of weeks I have been really stressed out.There are so many things that need to be done that it’s hard to sit down and get any one thing finished before I have to switch over to doing something else.

One of the main ways I have been relaxing,is following the news  stories covering the Supreme Court ordered inventory of the treasure of the Sri Padmanabha Swamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram.

The principal deity of the temple is Sri Padmanabhaswamy ie Vishnu in the “Ananta-sayanam” posture ie in the eternal sleep of Yoga-nidra on the serpent Ananta.Vishnu is part of the Trinity in Hinduism.He is the Preserver.Lakshmi the Goddess of Wealth is his consort.The current temple was built by the erstwhile rulers of Travancore.

Here is a list of what the newspapers have reported as having been discovered in the cellars that have been opened up so far:

* Three sets of golden crowns of the kings of Travacore,including the Kulasekhrara Perumal crown
* Gold and silver utensils, golden umbrellas,pendants and a large number of golden batons,gold plates,gold lamps
*a golden ‘anki’, or full-length dress, for the reclining Padmanabha, made in 16 parts; an ornament studded with diamonds for the deity’s chest, two coconut shell replicas of pure gold
*Gold statues of Krishna,Vishnu,elephants etc
*Ornaments like gold kasu mala (necklace made of gold coins), ‘sarapalli mala’ also called ‘avil mala,’ gold waist bands called ‘udyanam,’-studded with diamonds,each weighing 2kg,poothali necklace, kolusu vala (anklets), chandra padaka and a big, gold sarapalli mala called ‘Bheeman sarapalli mala.There are around 1,000 Sarapalli chains, longest of which is 18 feet and 4 of these weigh around 2 kg each. Total weight of these, including one of 10 kg, is more than a quintal
* Long ropes of gold like the traditional coir rope of Kerala
* Hundreds of gold coins kept in bags and wooden boxes.Aside from Indian coins like those from Vijayanagara there are European coins as well such as French coins of the Napoleonic Era , the Dutch East India Company’s coins, Portuguese coins, Roman gold coins called Aureus, Roman silver coins, Venetian Ducats and Greek Drachmas
* Belgian diamonds, each costing around Rs 5 crore.Gems like pearls, emeralds, rubies, sapphires
*Gold and silver bars weighing 1-2 kg each
*Heaps of gold nuggets
*Belgian Glass

wealthymatters.comThe horde itself is astonishing but the ways by which it was amassed and the traditions of its guardians is even more fascinating.If the treasure survived to the present day its mainly due to the efforts of the Maharajas of Travancore who took great pains to protect this wealth from being plundered. At the same time due to their extremely honest and charitable nature they ensured that the wealth grew in only one direction.

The Travancore kings followed a lot of traditions most of which were followed with the sole interest of protecting the wealth of Sri Padmanabhaswamy. One of the traditions which is being followed even today by the Maharaja’s family is the wiping of their feet before leaving the Padmanabhaswamy temple. This is done to ensure that they do not carry even a single speck of sand with them that belongs to Padmanabhaswamy temple.

Another tradition that is strictly followed by the Travancore family is the taking up of responsibility by all male members to protect the wealth. The Travancore State was dedicated to Sri Padmanabha and He was treated as the King. When the male members of the Royal family attain the age of one, the boy is given responsibility to protect Padmanabhaswamy’s wealth and is called ‘Padmanabha dasan ‘or the ‘Servant of Padmanabha’.

Even the Travancore state emblem has a sign that reads ‘Dharmamanu Kuladheivam’ which roughly translates to ‘ Righteousness is our family deity’. This is the principle followed by all the members of Travancore royal family.

The Travancore Maharajas  started a tradition in which money was donated to the temple during every birthday or any function taking place in the family. The Maharaja also made it a point to give a fine to the temple whenever he couldn’t visit the temple as the kings were supposed to visit the temple every day. The kings’ commanders, merchants and other devotees also  made donations.Thus it was more like one way traffic, money went in only one direction that is towards the temple. Over the passage of years this slowly started accumulating to a huge value and today it stands at a value more than 100,000 crores.

The foreign items in the treasure are explained by stories such as those below:

Admiral Eustatius De Lennoy, who led the Dutch East India Company’s forces which Anizhom Thirunal’s Travancore  forces defeated in 1741 in the Colachel war, made donations to the Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple. That’s why there are Dutch coins, Belgium cut-glasses and Portuguese coins in the vaults. Admiral Eustatius De Lennoy ultimately became the Valiya Kappithan (commander-in-chief) of the Travancore forces of Anizhom Thirunal.

Colonel Munroe, who was the British Resident in the Travancore kingdom during the 19th century, had made gifts to the temple. InSree Padmanabha Swamy Temple, Aswathi Thirunal Gouri Lakshmi Bayi says that Colonel Munroe, in gratitude for a favour done, “submitted to the Temple, along with a gaily decorated horse, a big circular gold-plated umbrella with green glass stones suspended all around the frame. This accompanies the Deities during the Siveli processions at the time of the festivals, even now.”

If all the Mathilagam records (in Tamil, Vattezhuthu, and in Malayalam, Kolezhuthu, on palm leaves), which are royal records dealing with the Padmanabhaswamy temple, are transcribed, details of the period to which the riches belong and who gifted them to the temple will be available.As the Supreme Court has called for a report on the origins of the treasure we are sure to hear many fascinating stories as archaeologists and historians go about studying all the old records.

If you want to catch a glimpse of some of the finds from the cellars and listen to some devotional music,do take in the video below

About Keerthika Singaravel

One Response to Sri Padmanabha Swamy’s Treasure

  1. bubbles says:

    Howdy, this is a good article. You receive my vote for Sri Padmanabha Swamy’s Treasure Wealthymatters and I am going to bookmark this blog now.

  2. Donte says:

    Astonishing find!

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