A bullet train at high cost
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
MOVE OVER, your lordships.
The stargazers have taken over. Speaking through them, Sree Padmanabhaswamy, the presiding deity of Thiruvananthapuram ( in picture), has made it known that he is not amused by the opening of the temple’s underground cellars which has revealed him as the nation’s richest god.
The decision to requisition the services of five astrologers to conduct Devaprasanam ( divine consultation), the traditional method of ascertaining the wishes of Hindu deities, was taken by Uthradam Thirunal Marthanda Varma ( who controls the temple administration) in consultation with the Thanthri, the head priest who is the final authority on matters concerning temple rituals.
The sequence of events leaves room to suspect that the astrological findings are a command performance aimed at nullifying the SC’s directive to set up a trust to administer the temple, and thus perpetuate the erstwhile Travancore royal family’s control over it.
Marthanda Varma, who is the younger brother of Travancore’s last king, Sree Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma and would have succeeded him if the state and kingship had survived, had taken over the temple administration after his brother’s death — assuming the title of Sree Padmanabha dasa ( servant of Padmanabha). The governments were apparently unaware that he was not entitled to do so.
He would have been able to keep the temple under his control without challenge but for certain remarks he made to a Malayalam daily, claiming the temple treasures were the property of the former royal family and revealed that arrangements had been made to photograph them.
Infuriated by the claim, some devotees moved civil courts seeking injunction against those in control of the temple.
One court, after hearing the plaintiffs, who included the Temple Employees Union, granted an injunction against opening of the treasure rooms.
Marthanda Varma and the temple’s executive officer approached the high court seeking legal sanction for his defacto control over the temple. In a judgment delivered in January this year, justices C. N. Ramachandran Nair and K. Surendra Mohan refused the plea.
The judges concluded that Marthanda Varma did not have the right to administer the temple since he was not the ruler of Travancore. They said Balarama Varma ( Marthanda’s brother) had never claimed that the temple was his property or that of his family. The temple did not figure in his will.
The SC upheld the high court’s findings and constituted a committee to open the cellars and catalogue the treasures.
As the committee was proceeding with its task, Moolam Thirunal Rama Varma,http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif> a relative of Marthanda Varma, filed a petition objecting to the cataloguing of the treasures and seeking a Devaprasanam to ascertain the deity’s wishes.
The court didn’t say anything on this but deferred the opening of the last cellar.
The attempt to prevent the opening of the sixth cellar raises questions and curiosity about what valuable assets or secrets it may contain. The treasures revealed so far have been informally valued at ` 100,000 crore. -- Mail Today, New Delhi, August 16, 2011