Friday, February 01, 2008

A Unique Photograph

It was my usual surfing for news from Malayalam newspapers, and I was quite amused to see the attached photograph as it appeared in the Kerala Kaumudi daily of 1st February 2008
The photograph shows the patriarch of the Travancore Royal family HH Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma and his niece HH Aswathy Thirunal Gowri Lakshmi Bai calling on the venerable saint, Matha Amritanandamayi at Her Trivandrum Ashram.

There is nothing unusual in the Royal family members calling on a saint. History is replete with many such instances from our recent past. Tippu Sultan giving special reverence to Sringeri Mutt also could be seen in this context.
What is more revealing is the extremely pious and simple ways of the Travancore Royal family. In the photo, HH Aswathy Thirunal is seen squatting on the floor before the mother. In caste ridden societies in India where the rich and the powerful often wielded much attention and stuck on to the supremacy of their caste, such approach from a senior member of the Royal household is often unbecoming.
The ostentatious lifestyles and indulgences of the Maharajas of many princely states have been subjects of much discussion and writing by Raj authors like Charles Allen, William Dalrymple, Paul Scott etc.
Swami Vivekananda of course had described Travancore as a lunatic asylum. No doubt, we have come a long way! These types of simple actions in day to day lives are better reflections of our civilization than those proclaimed by the politicians on the stages made for their own propaganda.
Dubai, 1st February 2008


mcquest yb said...

Vivekananda was too hasty in calling Travancore a lunatic azylum. For understanding its background, kindly read his conversation with Sundara Rama Iyer, when SV stayed at Travancore for seven days. This conversation/narration is available at, under the head "reminiscences".
If you still have doubts, pl. see 133 reviews at:

Murali RamaVarma said...

I must thank you for your comment and would like to bow before your profound scholarship.

I rate "Sriramakrishna Vachanamritham" as one book which shook the very core of my existence. Despite reading much into Sriramakrishna and Vivekananda, I had not read those wonderful first hand observations and writings of SV which made a deep impact.

I thank you most sincerely and hope to be in touch. By the way, are you preferring to be rather anonymous?

Murali RamaVarma said...

Once again, let me thank you for your mail.

I read the two articles by SV written with great clarity and with
profound sincerity of purpose.

This first-hand account about Swamiji was most informative. The
observations of Swamiji about meat eating and about Nairs in the
social hierarchy seem interesting.

kindest regards,

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