The life of Swathi Thirunal was an offering in music to God. A rare renaissance personality, Swathi Thirunal was a king among musicians and musician among kings. His musical compositions and his life were a mutual translation of his devotion to LordPadmanabha, the presiding deity of the Travancore Royal House....
Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma
was a progressive ruler who lived ahead of his times and was committed to the welfare of the people. Being an able administrator his far sighted reforms were responsible for introducing modern medicine, English education and a humane judicial system in Kerala....



Aayilyam Thirunal Gauri Lakshmi Bayi
(AD 986-990 M.E

    Aayilyam Thirunal Gauri Lakshmi Bayi, the mother of Swathi Thirunal, ruled Travancore from 1810-1814. She ruled the state till the birth of Swathi as the sovereign and on birth of Swathi in 1813, as Regent. She died young leaving Swathi, his elder sister and younger brother in the hands of her 13 year old sister who ruled as Regent till Swathi took over.Gauri Lakshmi Bayi was the heir to the throne after the death of Bala Rama Varma in 1810, whose reign saw the uprising of Veluthampi and finally extinction of all reaction to the British. She was barely twenty years old and possessed little experience of the world; for in those days the members of the royal family led a more or less secluded life within the walls of the palace.
  This encouraged a family member of the royal family, Kerala Varma, to contest the right to succession. He refused to take the previous decision of his claims as final. The East India Company had by this time made themselves responsible for the internal security of the state. They had assumed the authority to determine the succession. The Rani invited the Resident for an interview and pressed her claims.

Colonel Munro, the then Resident, sent for the spiritual and temporal dignitaries including the members of the yogam in the Sri Padmanabha temple, the prominent priests and the important officers and took elaborate statements from them all regarding the contention of the Raja and the precedents on the subject. Though some of them at first supported the pretensions of the Raja, they gave an entirely different version when Munro directed them to base their opinions on the records in existence. It was in evidence that the pretender Kerala Varma was clandestinely taken into royal house through the machinations of a clique and made to perform certain auxiliary ceremonies in the temple in the face of the protest of the Senior Rani of Attinal. The contentions of the Thampuran were repelled. Foiled in his attempt, the Raja resorted to persuasion and blandishment which also proved equally unsuccessful. The Rani promptly rejected his proposal that she should adandon the right of succession in his favour. Kerala Varma, however, continued to live at Trivandrum. He abused the kindness of the Rani by hatching many a plot against her. The country was split by factions, partisans of the young Raja and those of the Dewan. Both parties were unprincipled men. But the prince had been a partisan of Velu Thampi and was now surrounded by turbulent characters. The people adhered to no consistent principle. Their enmity and reconciliation were often sudden and apparently unaccountable. Col. Munro therefore found it necessary to maintain 'a kind of balance of power'. While the Resident endeavoured to prevent the prince from adopting any improper measure, he found it expedient to support the Dewan's party thus preventing a coalition. Nevertheless, it was soon apparent that the residence of Kerala Varma at the capital was dangerous to the interests of the country and the safety of the sovereign. He was therefore sent away as a state-prisoner first to Tellicherry and afterwards to Chingleput.

The young Rani possessed a cultivated mind and was gifted with a sound judgment. She was able to resist the influence of evil counselors and sycophants. Her husband, Raja Raja Varma Koyil Thampuran, was competent to give her sound advice in matters of state. She also placed full confidence in Col. Munro and the British Government. The Rani frankly acknowledged in her installation speech that being a young female quite unprepared and unqualified for such a high and responsible position, she could not do better than place herself under the guidance and support of the Honourable East India Company whose bosom had been an asylum for the protection of an infant like Travancore” "To you Colonel," she said, "I entrust everything connected with my country."

Armed with the support of the Resident the Rani soon decided to remove Thampi Iravi from the Dewanship. Her feelings were embittered by the accounts of his misappropriation of certain ornaments and other articles which belonged to the late Dewan Velu Thampi and some of his principal adherents. It was stated that the articles were seized on the pretext that they were to be confiscated to the state, but were misappropriated by the Dewan for his own use. The Rani wrote to the Resident that it was her earnest desire to fulfil her engagements and to strengthen her friendship which had so long subsisted between the state and the British Government. For the accomplishment of that object the removal of Thampi Iravi from his office was indispensable. Seeing that Thampi was particularly obnoxious to the Rani and that his continuance in office would therefore be unfavourable to the attainment of a close and cordial union between the two States, the Resident complied with the request. Munro took the matter to the notice of the Madras Government, and, after securing their approval for the intended step, he wrote to Thampi Iravi to say that as there did not appear in the judgment of the British Government and of Her Highness the Rani to be any occasion at present for the continuance of the office of Dewan, he was relieved from the duties of that situation. The Rani accordingly issued Nittus to her officers announcing the removal of the Dewan and the Resident's assumption of the duties of the administration.

Thus removed from office, Thampi Iravi commenced his retaliation on the Resident. He set up Mallan Pillai, the former Valiya Sarvadhikaryakkar, to lay before the Madras Government allegations against the Resident. But the Government had too great a confidence in the Colonel to give any weight to those accusations. The attempt however recoiled on Thampi Iravi himself. It was resolved that he should quit Trivandrum. Munro fixed Quilon as his place of residence as he thought that the presence of the subsidiary force there would prevent him from doing anything to disturb the peace. But troubles soon arose in Quilon where a conspiracy was set on foot and Thampi was implicated in the transaction. The design was to confer the sovereignty of Travancore upon the Pychy Raja. The chief body of conspirators consisted of discharged sepoys, fakers, and disaffected natives of the province. The European officers were to have been attacked while at dinner, and the barracks set on fire at the same time in order to distract attention, after which the public treasury was to have been given up to plunder. Information having been received by the officers in command, a general parade of the troops was held. Jamadar Shaik Hoossain of the 14th regiment; together with 2 havildars and 22 men of that battalion were called out of the ranks, and placed in confinement. Shaik Hoossian and a Muhammadan private were tried in a summary manner, found guilty and blown from a gun. Two havildars, and 26 privates of the 14th regiment, of whom 16 were Muhammadans, and 10 Hindus, were tried by court-martial, and sentenced to death. They were either shot or hanged, the sentences being carried into execution at Quilon, Cannanore, Seringapatam, Trichinopoly, Vellore, and St. Thomas Mount respectively. Thampi Iravi was seized by the Resident's people as being the chief instigator. The result of the enquiries made by the Resident led him to the conclusion that Thampi and Shaik Hoossain had been the originators of the conspiracy. He and the Pychy Raja were tried by the Court of the Travancore Government. The former was sentenced to death but this sentence was commuted to banishment, and he was removed to Nellore. The Phychy Raja was banished to Chingleput, but was released from confinement in 1815.

On the dismissal of Thampi Iravi, Munro assumed the Dewanship at the request of the Rani and with the approval of the Government of Madras. Munro wrote to the Government that 'the office of the Dewan should be discontinued and that the Resident should superintend the administration of affairs if that measure should be agreeable to the wishes of Her Highness the Rani and the people'. The appointment of the Resident as the minister of the state was opposed to principle. As pointed out by Nanoo Pillai, a former Dewan of Travancore, 'Justice demanded that the Ruler should manage the affairs of the country through her own Minister'. The function of the British Government was only to correct abuses and control the administration of the state. According to the treaty in force the Company is not to impede in any way the course of the rule or administration of the Raja of Travancore's Government; not at all times to possess themselves or enter upon any part of what regards the management of the present Raja's or his successors' country. The Resident was the man on the spot to see to it that the provisions of the treaty were duly carried out. The Dewan was in law responsible to the ruler. The union of the two offices in one and the same person was therefore a violation of the principle. However, Munro entertained the idea of combining the authority as Resident with the powers of the Rani's minister. Though the two jurisdictions were clearly incompatible with each other, the Madras Government gave their approval to that extraordinary scheme. Munro assumed the office of Dewan on the 23rd Edavam 986 (3rd June 1811). He conducted the administration obtaining the formal sanction of the Rani for the various details as well as for modifications of policy. The amelioration of the condition of slaves was an important achievement to the credit of the administration. In Travancore the slaves were always treated with more kindness than it was the lot of that unfortunate class to receive in other countries. But they continued to be bought and sold, particularly in times of adversity. By a royal proclamation of 987 M.E. the purchase and sale of all Kuravas, Parayas, Pallas, Malayans and Vedans, were liable to confiscation of their property and banishment from the country. The total abolition of slavery and the enfranchisement of slaves however took place only in 1030 M.E. The administration of Col. Munro in his dual capacity was fruitful of great good to the state.

On the 6th Medam 988 M.E. (16th of April 1813) the Rani gave birth to a son. The infant prince Rama Varma (Swathi Thirunal) was proclaimed Maharaja on the 29 the July. But the queen –mother continued to rule the state in the name of her son. In presenting the prince to the distinguished audience in a durbar, the Rani said that she placed the child of hers on the bosom of the Company observing that the responsibility of the future support and respectable treatment of the Royal scion shall now rest with the Honourable Company.

In 989 Col.Munro was relieved of his duties as the Dewan. He was succeeded by Dewan Padmanabhan , a native of Trivandrum who had risen by his character and proved ability to the high office of a president of the Appeal Court. It is creditable to Munro’s sense of justice that he himself recommended his appointment as Dewan though in the earlier days he was of the opinion that it was impossible to find a single individual in Travancore who was fit to occupy a responsible position in the public service. In this respect Munro was a shining example of justice and fairness, for he did not advance the fortunes of his own dependents to the prejudice of the permanent interests of the country. "It appeared to be desirable", said he, "that the administration of affairs, particularly of such as relate to the treasury, finance and revenue, and the distribution of justice should be entrusted principally to the natives of Travancore". That arrangement would contribute to conciliate the minds and gain the confidence of the people, and would likewise be productive of other benefits, for the natives of the country have some interests in its prosperity and knowing that they should always be responsible to the Raja's Government would be less likely than strangers to commit great abuses.

Devan Padmanabhan began exceedingly well. He effected certain reforms in the administration of the land revenue by correcting the mistakes of the previous settlement and by making rules for the proper adjustment of public income and revenue. But within five months of his assumption of office he was cut off by small-pox. Bappu Rao who was then a Dewan Peishkar was placed in charge of the administration. On the 3rd Chingam 990 another prince, Uthram Thirunal, was born to the Rani. Soon after, the Rani died in Kanni 990 M.E.(1814 A.D) to the great sorrow of her subjects.

The reign of Rani Lakshmi Bayi, though short, was a bright period in the history of Travancore. She was a clear-headed, sagacious and firm-minded ruler. She respected the traditions of the past, but was anxious to effect reforms which facilitated the evolution of the administrative system, recognizing the needs of the times. She reposed a profound faith in the friendship and good intentions of the Paramount Power. Her personal relationship with the Resident was of a cordial nature. In everything that pertained to the welfare of the state the Rani was always ready to listen to Munro's advice. But when the Resident went out of his way to interfere in domestic matters she was strong enough to resists the attempt. For instance, when Munro advised that the Koyil Thampuran, the Rani's consort, should live separate for a time, she sternly refused to accept the direction. Col.Munro was always ready to give her the benefit of his advice and his assistance. Her consort Raja Raja Varma Koyil Thampuran of Changanasseri also possessed a high sense of public duty and a consciousness of the larger interests of the state. A few minutes before her death the Rani called her consort to her bedside and committed to him the care of her three children and her sister Parvathi Bayi, a girl of thirteen, on whom the responsibilities of the ruler of the state were soon to devolve. Throughout the whole course of Travancore history Rani Lakshmi Bayi was the only queen who reigned on her own right.

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