A SOUTH INDIAN MAHARAJA
[By Rao Sahib Mahakavi Olloor S. Parameswara Iyer]
1810 A. D. Travancore had a provident escaped a chance of annexation to
the British Raj, by the sudden death of its incapable and unfortunate ruler,
Bala Rama Varma. In default of male heirs, the Paramount Power called a
young princess of twenty to the vacant throne, as an experimental measure.
Rani Gauri Lakshmi Bayi, its fair occupant however, was no ordinary woman, and in less than a yearproved herself to be gifted with rare administrative skill. But it was thought that as long as there was nomale member in the royal family there could be no security for the continuity of the Chera rule in the land.Nothing, accordingly could give greater joy to the people than when it was announced on the 16th April,1813 that their sovereign was most opportunely blessed with a male offspring. All castes and classes ofTravancoreans were jubilant over the event and thanksgiving and prayer went forth from every hearth and heart. It was this royal scion, born on the Swati asterism, under such unique, and it may be added , criticalcircumstances, that afterwards became celebrated in Travancore History, as Swati Tirunal Rama VarmaMaharaja.
Contemporary writers record how, immediately after this domestic occurrence, a white elephant was caught in the Travancore mountains to the intense joy of the queen and her subjects, as the colour of the animal indicated an auspicious reign to the young Raja. All the Pandits about court forthwith agreed that this little prince was the legitimate heir to the throne-an opinion in which Colonel John Munro, Dewan-resident,unhesitatingly concurred. Some casuits, however, expressed their doubts as to whether he could,without manifest impropriety, be proclaimed before he was six months old, because he could not becarried to the presence of Sri Padmanabha, the family Deity of Travancore kings, until he had attained that age. This technical objection was over-ruled on further enquiry when the Brahmin priests discovered that there was no real hindrance to his immediate inauguration, in as much as he couldvery well be proclaimed by he name of Ram Raja which is a title which may in such cases be invariably assumed by the rulers of this State, while for the ceremonies at the temple of Padmanabha, the queen herself could perform them asthe Raja's proxy. Accordingly on the 29th of July of the same year, the British troops stationed at Trivandrumwere drawn out, while the whole of the Travancore military stood on their left. "A throne concealed byscarlet curtains" observes Walter Hamilton "was placed in the hall of audience, which being drawn up, thequeen appeared seated on it, attended by her minister, the second Tamburatti, the children of the formerRajahs and the principal Brahmans and State officers.
A proclamation notifying the accession of the youngRajah was read aloud and he was brought forward and shown to the assembled multitude, during whichtime the queen and every other person continued standing. The British troops presented arms and theirband played "God save the King, "while the music of Travancore made a considerable noise."* On thatmemorable occasion her Highness Lakshmi Bayi spoke as follows :- "At the instance of my householdDeity Sri Padmanabhaswami, I have placed this child of mine on the bosom of the Company and theresponsibility for the future support and respectable treatment of this royal scion shall now rest with theHonorable Company. What more need I say?". It may be easily imagined how this solemn ceremonytouched the heart of the distinguished English soldier whose memory will be gratefully cherished in thisState for centuries to come. Thus, as, accordingly to the laws of succession in Travancore, this prince was theoretically sovereign even while in his mother's womb, he has been known to posterity by the auspicioustitle, Garbhasriman, meaning a person, fortunate, even en ventre sa mere.The noble queen gave birth to another son Martanda Varma in 1815, but two months after this happy event her premature death deprived Travancore of the benefits of glorious and accomplished rule.The two young princes and their elder sister, Rukmini Rani, were now placed in the hands of their aunt,
Gauri Parvati Bai and their father Raja Raja Varma Koyi Tampuran of Changanacheri, the former ofwhome became regent though only thirteen years of age. Those were indeed trying days for Travancore,but the good-natured queen and her sympathetic Anglo-Indian counsellor were able to administer thecountry as successfully as before.Every possible attention was paid by Colonel Munro and the Rani to educate the princes as becametheir position. Malayalam and Sanskrit were the first languages taught. Kochupilla Varyar of Harippad, awell-known Sanskrit scholar and poet of the time, was appointed tutor, while the general up-bringing ofthe children was entrusted to their father Raja Raja Varma, himself a person of no mean literary attainment.The great Rama Varma Maharaja who died in 1799 had indeed, as Bartolomeo says, "learned English for several months and spoke it exceedingly weel," but he had no chance of studying it in his boyhood. The first rulers of the country destined to enjoy this privilege were, accordingly, the young princes, Rama Varma and Martanda Varma.
A competent English tutor, in the person of Tanjore Subha Rao, was obtained for them by Colonel Munro prior to his departure for England in 1819. Along with this newlanguage, several other including Persian, Hindustani, Arabic, Tamil, Telugu,Marathi and Canarese wereadded to the programme of study and separate tutors were appointed for each except Marathi which was
additionally taught by Subba Rao. Even when the two princes were respectively seven and five years old,they learned much more of several of these languages than their age would permit. Eloquent testimony isborne to this fact by Major Welsh, well-known as the officer second in command of the army which putdown Velu Tampi Dalava's insurrection in 1809, but even better as the talented author of "Militaryreminiscences." On visiting the court of Rani Parvati Bayi along with the Resident Major McDowell, inresponse to the invitation of her Highness on the occasion of the marriage of Princess Rukmini Bayi on the25th May 1819, the Colonel observes, "There are two young Rajahs at present in the palace; one of therightful heir to the throne is now seven years old a very fine boy. The other is only three or four.
The twoyoung Rajahs made speeches to the new Resident and the younger on this occasion seemed the most athome; amongst other questions he asked "How are all the gentlemen at Madras?" and sat down verycontentedly on the Major's kee ; the heir-apparent not appearing equally to relish his propinquity to astranger. All through life these boyish characteristics marked the two princes from each other. The elderMaharajah was grave and of a contemplative turn of mind, while the younger was more sociable and in
consequence moving more freely in European circles. Another glimpse of the progress of their educationis obtained from the same author, who appears to have so much liked them at first sight that he paid asecond visit to them, six years later, in 1825. "Being on a tour of inspection", he writes, "during the monthof May and stopping to pass a few days at the residency with Colonel Newail, I had the opportunity ofwitnessing the studies of the young Rajahs in private and forming an estimateof their progressive acquire-ments
On the morning of the 16th at 10 o' clock I accompanied the Colonel in his gig withoutattendants to the fort, where we were immediately conducted to a room in the palace and found them withtheir father, their sister, her husband and their schoolmaster ready to receive us. The elder boy now thirteenseemed greatly improved in mind, though rather diminutive in person. He read a chapter of Malcolm'sCentral India ; the Governor-General's Persian letter on the capture of Rangoon ; a passage in Sanskrit ;another in Malayalam and seemed equally clever at each. He then took up a book of mathematics,selecting the forty-seventh proposition of Euclid, sketched the figure on a country-slate ; but what astonishedme most was his telling us in English that Geometry was derived from the Sanskrit which was 'Jawmeter,'
to measure the earth, and that many of our mathematical terms were also derived from the same sources,such as hexagon, heptagon, octagon, decagon, dua-decagon, etc. His remarks were generally appositebut their language indecent and ungrammatical. This is much to be lamented because with so many studieson hand he can never read enough of English. Correct his idiom, and the master, a very clever TanjoreBrahman, could not speak it much better than himself. His Persian was pure and elegant, but of the other languages, I am too ignorant to offer an opinion. This promising boy is now, I conclude, sovereign of thefinest country in India ; for he was to succeed to the masnud, the moment he had attained his sixteenth year.The younger brother gave us various specimens of his acquirement, somewhat inferior, of course, to thoseof the rising sun of the country, but still very fair." The above excerpt shows what precious intelligenceyoung Rama Varma possessed, especially when it is remembered that even inEurope the Laws of Comparative Philology were not definitely discovered until at a later date.
It, of course, goes withoutsaying that the defect in grammar and pronunciation,
noted by Welsh when His Highness was only thirteen,was gradually remedied
after mature experience and contact with Anglo-Indian society.The prince
is known to have very early evinced a remarkable taste for poetry and music.
As for theformer, it may be said to have run almost in the family as Rama
Varma the great and his brother SwatiTirunal Elaya Raja were both poets
of a very high standard of merit. Music, however, was young RamaVarma's
forte. No sovereign of Travancore, or for that matter, of any part of South
India either before orafter his time, has excelled him either as a musician
or as a composer of songs. This special turn of hisgenius too was discovered
early and clever teachers appointed to instruct him in that line. Before
the ageof sixteen the royal pupil became a past-master, not only in the
numerous languages of his study but alsowhat is even more wonderful, in
the two fine arts for whose patronage in succeeding years his name wasdestined
to pass for a proverb in the country.On the 20th of April 1829 A.D. the
young Maharaja attained his majority and in consequenceassumed direct charge
of the affairs of the State from Gauri parvati Bayi, Highness' aunt. Travancore
wasthen in a very flourishing condition and its finances were buoyant. Colonel
Morrison, a sympathetic Englishofficer, was British Resident, and Venkata
Rao, paternal uncle of raja Sir T. Madhava Rao, "an uncommonlyhandsome,
fair and elegant Carnatic Brahman" according to Welsh, Dewan of the
State. The Maharajawished to appoint his whilom tutor to this high office,
and on the retirement of Venkata Rao close upon theheels of the Resident's
departure, towards the end of the same year, Subba Rao became the controllinghead
of the administrative machinery, which resulted in the occurrence of other
official changes likewise.Subba Rao wished to surpass his popular predecessor
and commenced a uniformly successful public career. Mr. Sankunni Menon notes
that this Dewan had 'at the very outset established a reputation farsuperior
to that of Venkata Rao," and Patchu Muttatu, another Travancore historian,
observes that during "his regime there was peace and plenty in the
land." The Huzur Cutcherry and other public offices whichhad been held
at Quilon, ever since 1815, were immediately removed to Trivandrum and located
inside the form close to the south of the Maharaja's Palace itself.
His Highness celebrated the Tulapurushadanamceremony in the very same year
and after the performance of the Padmagarbhom rite three years later,assumed
the exalted title of Kulasekharapperumal.Notwithstanding, however, the admirable
way in which public affairs were managed by the youngMaharaja and his faithful
minister, ex-resident Morrison had related such tales about it to Mr. S.
R. Lushington,the then Governor of Madras, that he lost no time in paying
a visit to Travancore and satisfying himself of the capacity of its new
sovereign for the duty that he had been called upon to perform. A gubernatorialvisit
was an unprecedented event in the history of this State and speculations
were rife as to how the youngruler would acquit himself in the presence
of the august representative of the Company. A humorous story is told of
the scrupulously solicitous way in which His Highness's father, Raja Raja
Varma, called theMaharaja by his side and gave forecast of the questions
that the Governor was likely to ask him on hisarrival, taking due care also
to instruct him in giving suitable answers to him.
The genius of the youthful auditor could hardly brook such common place tutorian and after the whole sermon had drawn to a close,the paternal anxiety of the Koyi Tampuran was allayed by the unexpected reply, "Supporting it is theintention of the governor to put me some query altogether different to what have been predicted here, willit simply do for me to answer that I have not been taught to reply to it by my father ?" The fact was that HisHighness had enough of intelligence and learning to conduct himself with credit before any one. When theMaharaja shook hands with the Governor rather tightly, the latter, by way of gentle admonition told Maharaja that the proper method of holding a European's hand was to do it less tightly, His Highness, it is related seems to have taken him back by the reply "Whose hands am I to hold, but those of the Honourable EastIndia Company of which your Excellency is the august representative ? I have no other support on earthand am determind to hold the hands of the only one I have as firmly as I can." It need not be added that theGovernor was satisfied even by this maiden repartee of the Maharaja and become highly pleased with his independence, intelligence, and affability. So greatly indeed were the qualifications of Swati Tirunal for rulership appreciated by Mr. Lushington, that two years later, even the subsidiary force stationed at Quilon to watch the movements of the Travancore Government was withdrawn and all responsibility, according to the author of the '' Princes of India", left to the Rajah'. Colonel Malieson says that at this time the new order of government was regarded as firmly established. After emerging triumphant from this preliminary ordeal,the Maharaja was permitted to govern his kingdom with out any more interference from the Madras
Government. The perpetual maintenance of rigid moral discipline was the highest aim of this Maharaja. Bribery and corruption were put down with a heavy hand, and however much a person might command his respect
and affection, once he was found to swerve from the path of duty, he was sure to become a prey to his immediate displeasure.Even such minute matters, as irregularity of attendence in Public Offices, were regularly enquired into and visited with punishment. As an iillustration of the strong moral ideal which the Maharaja always kept in view may be mentioned the fact that when Dewan Reddy Rao returned toTrivandrum from his northen circuit in 1845 after receiving presents from certain private gentlemen, His
Highness sternly refused to give him audience and wrote to him that the disagreeable necessity of a public enquiry could only be avoided by his immediate resignation . Mr. Menon mentions that on another occasions
when a Dewan Peishkar was found quality of corruption the Maharaja at once wrote to him. "As in courselike other mean persons we have dismissed you from your present office. The entire Public Service thus stood in wholesome fear of this sovereign. Even His Highness's own English and Marati tutor Subba Rao,for whom he had the highest respect, was removed from office in 1837, on a suspicion of corruption andthough a commission of European and Indian gentlemen after a prolonged enquiry of about two months adjudged him innocent, His Highest could not be made to reinstate him or his two accomplices. Kochusankara Pillai, Peishkar and Judge Kesave Pillai, in their former places. His Highness allotted a fewhourse every day for public business and introduced the practice of hearing reports directly from each department of administration. Young men of intelligence, experience and learning were entertained in theservice and given ample encouragement . The historical Pachu Muttatu says that in his reign the power of the monarch and the ability of the ministers as well as the wealth and prosperity of the country wereconspicuously great. His Highness, according to the same author, being strongly attached to religion and truth, confided greatly in honest men and punished even the highest officers for dereliction of duty.
personal share that His Highness took in the administration of his country
was so uncommonly large that he has always remained a model for Indian Princes
in that matter.Subba Rao continued to be Diwan until 1837. Besides being
known for his superior penmanship, this officer was in possession of a sound
commensense and activity by nature, which he could turn toaccount, as occasion
required. Until the arrival of ex- Diwan Venkita Rao to take up the vacant
post, Ranga Rao his brother and Sir T. Madava Rao's however, soon quarrelled
with Captain Douglas, theActing Resident, in 1839 and retired on pension.
The services of this able Diwan were, nevertheless, appreciated by the Madras
Government who conferred upon him the title of "Rai Raya Rai"
as a personal distinction. After this,Subba rao was again entrusted with
the ministerial portfolio till his final resignation in1842. General Cullen
who had arrived in Travancore as British Residence in the meantime had brought
with him an intelligent Telugu Brahmin by name Krishna Rao, who held the
position of Head Diwan Peishkarat the time of Subba Rao's Departure. It
was with a view to raise his protegee to the Diwanship that Cullen brought
about the resignation of Subba Rao, but the Maharaja who was intimately
acquainted with every detail of these circumstances could not be made to
do that unconscionable deed. Old Reddy Rao, therefore,who was Diwan of Travancore
from 1815 to 1822, was brought back and again appointed to the Diwanship,the
Head Diwan Peishkar being at the same time permitted to remain in charge
of certain department of the
these officers could not naturally pull on amicably, and on a representation
being made to the British Government by the Maharaja, they allowed him to
act according to his own views in the matter. Krishna Rao was accordingly
dismissed from office and obliged to live at Quilon as he could not set
foot in Trivandrum. As if to wreak his vengeance upon the Maharaja for this
act, General Cullen brought about the expulsion of ex-Dewan Subba rao from
Travancore, a step which considerably wounded the feeling of His Highness
who, as an ideal Kshatriya, had the highest respect for his quondam Brahman
Guru. His Highness succeeded in recalling Subba Rao after few years from
Tanjore, but the estrangement of feeling which the event occasioned lasted
as long as the Maharaja lived. The unpopular administration of Reddy
Rao was brought to a close with the compulsory retirement of that officer in 1845, after which Srinivasa Rao, first judge of the Appeal Court, was appointed Head Dewan Peishkar and placed in charge of theadministration. Ex- Diwan Peishkar Krishna Rao was now living in Trivandrum at the suffarence of the Maharaja, and it was found that Srinivasa Rao, though an amiable man, could not cope with the financial and administrative difficulties which confronted him at every step. One morning a Harikkar was sent to summon Krishna Rao to the presence of the Maharaja. Not knowing for what fresh offence he was going to be taken to task by His Highness, Krishna Rao entered the place trembling with fear, but what must have been his joy when, handing over the royal commission of appointed to the Dewanship, the Maharaja told him. 'Here Krishna Rao, accept your appointment. I forget and forgive all that is past. From this day you are my man and not General Cullen's.
Go work honestly
for the advancement of my country andrender every possible assistance to
Srinivasa Rao' .Krishana Rao is reported to have replied in falteringtelugu.
"Maharaja, I am the slave and waiting boy of your Highness; protect
me, protect me". Krishna Rao, being a man of great natural intelligence
and acquainted with every detail of the administration, administeredthe
country wisely and well.The first work of reform effect was in the dress
and discipline of the Nayar Brigade.
This Brigade was but a relic of the great standing army of Travancore before 1809 and it was a painful sight to see thesorry way in which its affairs had been looked after till then. New accoutrements were now procured andthe officers were ordered to discipline the sepoys in the European fashion. The horses and clothing of the mounted troops were improved and the royal stables repaired, to which a menagerie also was added are long. This was the beginning of the present well-known institution, the Trivandrum Museum and public gardens which under the able management of Rev. Mr. Pettigrew during the administration of Sri. Seshaiah Sastri became so largely developed in extent and importance and a cowstall or thozhuppura was constructed near the palace, where fine cows and bullocks were stationed from all parts of India. Munsiffs' Court for the disposal of petty civil cases in 1822, and a Zilla Court in the next year were established in Trivandrum in lieu of Huzur Court which caused considerable confusion consequent of the overlapping nature of the judicial and executive functions of the State. In 1835 Cundan Menon, an officer in the British service was appointed Huzur Dewan Peishkar and he drew up a code of laws for Travancore, Portions of which still continue to remain vaild as Regular 1 of M. E 1011 (1836). This code, the first of its kind ever promulgated in Travancore, consisted of eight chapters, five of which dealt with civil and the remaining three withcriminal law.
The Dewan became supreme magistrate exfoliation, and the historian of Travancore notes that in the course of a few months the powers of the judicial department inthe State were placed on a permanent footing. In the next year Cundan Menon completed the garden survey of Travncore which hadbeen commenced by Subba Rao in 1831. In the same year the Maharajaabolished duty on 165 articles,on which till then either land or maritime cess had been levied. Having himself been able to appreciate the benefits of English education, His Highness had even as early as 1834 induced Mr. Robert who was then the owner of a private school at Nagercoil to remove it to Trivandrum with a Government grant in aid. Thisbecame the Rajah's Free School in 1836 and Mr. Robert entered the State service. This was followed bythe opening of a few branch schools in other important towns in the State. It was this free school which under the management of veteran educationists in subsequent years like Mr. Ross and Dr. Harvey, laid thefoundation of culture in Travancore. An observatory was opened in 1837 and Mr. Caldecott, the well-known astronomer, appointed to manage it. He published his observations in the Madras Journal of Lit-eratureand Science and the Royal Asiatic Society's Journal. Dr. Brown, his successor and the scientist to whose astronomical labours Travancore owes a good slice of its present day fame in scientific circles, after observing that the Maharaja desired that this country should partake with European nations in scientific investigations, says: His Highness was celebrated though for his love of learning , for a cultivated mind,great poetical powers and a thorough knowledge of many languages, His Highness is well known also for his decision of character and took the whole subject at once under his special protection" A charity hospital in Trivandrum, was sanctioned in the same year and placed under the supervision of the Palace Doctor. The Kodayar Dam and the Varkkalay Tunnel works were projects which early enough engaged the attention of this Maharaja, and Lieutenant Horsley who was put in charge of the experimental Engineering Department then newly organised was first invited to Travancore with a view to the accomplishment of these schemes. But as the country was then not sufficiently wealthy for embarking on such costly ventures, the ideas remained as such for future administrators of the country to mould in to shape. The Irrigation Maramath Department in Nanjinad whose usefulness has been now acknowledged on all hands was also established during this reign. Again, before 1839, all important government publications had to be printed at the C. M. S. Press at Kottayam and the Sirkar did not feel the disgrace of having no printing establishment of its own.
This too was
remedied during this Maharaja's reign and Dewan Subba Rao had the satisfaction
of issuing the first calendar of Travancore in the very same year. In 1840
certain oyster shells were found on the shores of Kadiyapattanam and Cape
Comorin and the Maharaja wished to renew the pearl fishery on this coast
which exports supposed must have been once largely carried on here. This,
too unfortunately remained merely as a scheme. In later years His Highness
became extremely religious and spent a good
portion of his time in worship and prayer, but sympathy for his people was even then known to be uppermost in his heart. In 1844 the Maharaja paid a visit to the famous shirnes of South Travancore and on hearing that his subjects there were suffering from famine and drought, commanded that the paddy accumulated in Government storehouses might be sold at a nominal price to them. His Highess also caused a splendid car to be constructed for his use, which has ever afterwards been the royal vechicle on important State occa-sions. Devotion to religion is one of the most distinguishing characteristics of all the sovereigns of Travncore, but with Swathi Tirunal Maharaja it was almost the ruling passion. People really thought that he was an incarnation of Padmanabha on earth, and on a well-remembered occasion when a big tusker, in the courseof the Arat procession to the sea shore became suddenly mad, striking terror and panic into the bravest hearts present the Maharaja is known to have nailed him to the ground by a simple glance. The Murajapam of 1015 M. E (1840) was one of the grandest festival ever celebrated in Travancore. Large sums ofmoney from time to time, were deposited in the treasury of Sri Padmanabha's temple and His Highness is
believed to have, on the whole, made an offering of thirty four lakhs, of rupees to the Deity. There is no denying the question ability of a procedure of this kind from a strictly financial standpoint, but His Highness'sdevotion to religion was so well-known that nobody had the courage to prevent him from such acts. It washe who first introduced Kulavazhachirappu, or the decoration of the pillars of the rectangular walk around the inner shrine with Plantain bunches, and when on one occasion Diwan Subba Rao complained that, as usual, unripe bunches of Plantain fruit c0ould not be obtained, ordered the immediate accumulation of ripe ones in place of them, an immensely more difficult matter. His Highness is similarly believed to have once called a superior of the State had the natural consequence of which was that he became such forthwith. In whatever manner we might explain these occurrences, now, it goes with out saying that in His Highness's reign he was spontaneously paid almost divine respect by all. He added certain buildings to the palace such as Rangavilas and Puthen Malika and constructed the Vilakkumatam or rectangular line of lights around the temple of Sri Padmanabha at Trivandrum. It is in regard to his lavish religious expenditure that Thorntonalludes in his Gazeteer of India, when he writes that during the latter years of the Maharaja's administration the country was allowed to deteriorate.
It has been
sometimes supposed and not with out reason, that His Highness being a poet
and owning a poet's passionate soul, was driven to seek this consolation,
by the unnecessary interference of the Residence, General Cullen in the
internal administrationofthe country. To whatever circumstance it might
be attributed, His Highness' subjects loved him all the more for the religious
turn of his mind and evinced a respect and affection for him the like of whichhas been met with only on rareoccasions in Travancore. Even if His Highness had not been born as the ruler of a kingdom his name would have beenindelibly written on the pages of history as an accomplished poet and gifted composer of songs. His Highness has composed six excellent works in Sanskrit viz (1) Bhaktimanjari (2)Syanandurapuravarnanaprabandham (3) Padmanabhasatakam (4) Ajamilopakhyanam (5)Kuchelopakhyanam and (6) Navarathnamala. The first is the longest of his works, consisting of athousand
and one verses in praise of his family deity, Padmanabha. Many well-known Puranic episodes are described and the work is divided into ten parts or Satakas. The latter half is devoted to a detailed explanation of themeaning conveyed by the term Bhakti. It is difficult to read this grave ohm and not be impressed with thehigh standard of morality and piety which its author breathes into every syllable of it. The meters are all longand show the time , for as observed by a critic " if easy writing is d- d hard reading easy readingis d-d hard writing too. The second is combination of prose and verse in Sanskrit, technically termed Champu, and is recited every morning then His Highness the Maharaja visits the temple of Padmanabha.
It is the mostexquisite and sublime performance of this poet from a literary standpoint, and for the ten difficult verse in praise of the Deity, occurring in it at the close and ending with "Tasmai Deva Namostu Visea Guru Sri Padmanabhayate it is believedthat there are nearly as many commentaries written by the pandits of the time which shows how much oflofty thought is compressed within that small compass. The third is a garland of ten Dasakas compressing\the story of Srimadbhagavata into a hundred verses, on the model of Narayana- Bhattathiripad's Narayaniya. Every line of this poem breathes a spirit of the loftiest piety . The fourth is the story of Ajamila. Thevoluptuous Brahmin who miraculously obtained salvation by a single utterance of the name of the lord atthe moment of his death, and the fifth that of Kuchela who similarly became a veritable Croesus in no timeby the grace of God. Both these contain verse and songs like Malayalam Kathakalis and were composed for recitation as Harikathas. The Navaratnamala or a Garland of nine devotional songs addressed to Sri Padmanabha. The first of these works has been now printed by the munificence of the Travancore Government, while the fourth and fifth were published during the region of the brother of the author. Uttram Tirunal Martanda Varma Maharaja. The other poems have not yet been printed through the substance of the last has been given in Mr. Sankunni Menon's history *. These poems are not only admired for sublimity of thought, but also for the finish of diction, which they display. In Malayalam he has written the utsavapurabandhan, a poem describing the utsava or ten days' biennial festival in the Trivandrum temple.
This is also
mixture of verses and songs. It has been recently republished by devotional
and amorous songs. In Malayalam, Sanskrit, Telugu, Canarese and Marathi
which are even today sung throughout thelength and breadth of the Madras
presidency. Many of the Malayalam songs were published in UttramThirunal
Maharaja's time. They are even chaster in diction than his verses. There
are many admirablepassage in the Utsavaprabandham it self. Especially the
one ending with "Niranjananbhan Nunam". It ishere worthy of record
that all his compositions ,including even the amorous ones, know of only
one theme,viz, that of his family deity Sri Padmanabha. He is even known
to have positively declined to write on anyother subject arguing it would
be so much waste of time.No one has encouraged literary men more at any
period in Malabar than the subject of our sketch.In his court lived two
of the greatest poets of Malabar viz. Vidvan Koyi Tampuran of Kilimanur
andIrayimman Tampi, the latter of whom was no less a composer of songs than
of verse. In their company theMaharajah felt most at ease and several second
rate poets such as Kochu Pilla Varyar, Ramavaryar andKunjikrishnan Potuval
were equally encourged by him. Vidvan Koyi Tampuran had the title Vidvan
or 'theScholar' conferred upon him by the Maharaja for the completion of
a Sanskrit verse, the first half of whichwas composed by him. Like King
Bhoja of old, his court was the resort of every poet and pandit in India,and
evenSanskarnathajosyar, a Smarta of Malabar, who was one of the cheif pandits
of Maharaja Ranjit Sings's court adorned the royal Vidvatsabha. In addition
to this, numerours songsters, boxers, medicalpractitioners and painters
were entertained by His Highness and received presents from him in propotion
to thier merits. A European Mr. Schieftt received a reward of Rs. 12,000
when he drew His Highness 's portrait. In short there was no science or
art which did not obtain its due share of reward at the Maharaja's Court.
Besides numerous Sanskrit and Malayalam works a memoir of Travancore by
Lieutenant Horsley and an account of the administration of Travncore by
Diwan Krishana Rao in English were produced during this reign. In July 1846,
the Rev. Mr. Bailey dedicated his Malayalam and English Dictionary for which
His Highness promissed to defray the whole expenses, in which he writes
that it exhibited another instance of the Maharaja's readiness to encourage
and patronise liberal education and the promotion of literature among his
subjects. Mr. Peet's Malayalam Grammar was also published under His Highness
auspices, " That the life of Your Highness" wrote Mr. Bailey in
his dedication-letter, "may be long spared and that you may be permitted
to witness the beneficiary results of the efforts now made to promote good
and sound education in the country based on the best principles is the sincere
wish of the author," and this it may be unhesitatingly added, was the
wish of the whole population of Travancore. The will of the Almighty was
unfortunately otherwise , for on the 25th of December in the same year,
His Highness thenonly in his 34th year and there for still in the prime
of youth, was fated to breathe his last. No greatermisfortune could befall
the country, but it might be added that the sucessors of Swathi Thirunal
Maharajahave tried their level best to maintain the dignity and lustre of
the Travancore throne. Sarah Tucker during her missionary tours in South
India visited Travncore about 1849. She says in her South Indian Sketches
about the Maharaja, " He has established a school for native boys in
which English is taught. Though a clever and intelligent man, he is still
held in bondage by the Brahmin; he has evenexpended large sums of money
to become on himself; but thought he has been allowed to purchase someBrahminical
privileges he cannot be fully admitted to the caste, nor can he even eat
with his own Diwanwho is a Brahmin,
author here evidently alludes to the Padmagarbhum and Tulapurushadanam ceremonies.
The Elaya Raja, His Highness's brother, was much more sociable and consequently
she says about him " He is equally intelligent and less bigoted. He
is very anxious for information, fond of readingand has gone through a course
of genera; history with an English gentleman there. On being one dayreminded
that it would incur pollution by something he was touching, he merely answered
"O never mind;a little water will set it all right again' Again on
seeing the way in which English ladies spent their leisure time in needlework,
the Raja observed that it might be introduced into Indian homes. But when
he was askedin replay why in that case he did not himself set the example
for others, he curtly answered that Indian women were too stupid to learn"
If strict adherence to the observance of One's religious rites be misnamed
bigotry, the Maharaja was a bigot every inch of him. No doubt, if possible
he paid his visit to the British Resident only before 8 o' clock in the
morning, both as he openly said to avoid the heat of the day and what might
perhaps have been of greater concern to him, to avoid the touch of castes
and tribes other thanBrahmins and Khatriyas.
were responsible and not he for such orthodoxy. The rule extended to the
female member of the royal household. When according to this talent author
of the South Indian Sketches, an English lady visited the consort of the
Raja of Travancore ' She had to do so at eight in themorning as Her Highness
could not touch food till she had bathed and purified herself after the
visit of aEuropean." Dr. Spencer again, in his Visitation to Travancore,
notes that the Raja was " of a very pleasingcountenance and his manners
striking, simply and gentleman like. He speaks English with perfect fluency,is
an accomplished Persian and Arabic scholar and is in other respects unusually
well informed, having hadthe