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.